This week I was reflecting a lot on my relationship with God and my thoughts on prayer. I had a lot of different thoughts, and I will see if I can effectively summarize them.
Typically it is just when I start to think things are going pretty well, and I am emotionally and spiritually back to where I was before all of this craziness with infertility started is when I fall back on my face and realize that there is no going back to what I was like before infertility. There is only going forward. And I can choose to go forward in faith or I can choose to simply go forward without it.
On Friday I happened to catch a few minutes of Dennis Prager on talk radio. He was talking to a lady that whose sister had died a premature death. Her belief in prayer was now being threatened. Dennis Prager brought up some good points. He asked her “When you have heard of the millions upon millions who died prematurely [before]…how did you reconcile that with your faith?” She responded that she “accepted it as a part of life, and honestly doesn’t know”. Prager then stated that a “very big mistake within major religions… is to assume that our requests will be answered. In the vast majority of instances, God says no.” To which I would reply—"No" is an answer, just not the one we were hoping for. Which doesn’t necessarily help me feel any better, and occasionally makes me feel bitter.
He then went on to give another example of how a lady called him up one day and informed him that she now believed in capital punishment for murder. This was not due to anything he had said to convince her, but due to the fact that her brother had been murdered.
When I heard this, I knew I was in the same situation—my relationship with God and feeling about prayer was being threatened due to my negative feelings with infertility. When others dealt with infertility or loss, I was so naïve about what they were going through and accepted it as part of the trials in life. But now that I was STILL going through it, it wasn’t so easy to brush away. Would I lose my faith over it? That was the question.
At times I have accepted God’s will, at times I have been angry, and at this point in time I was tired and confused. Would I now after everything turn my back on God because in my weakness to accept His will it seemed like He had turned on me? I would be the one to lose in a battle against God. That much I knew. I fully believe in the doctrine of my religion and I had made a commitment to myself and to God that I would act accordingly to these doctrines. So who would be the liar and go back on their promises now? It would be me. And if I faltered, then God would be off the hook. It’s crazy the way my mind thinks. God can do whatever He wants, who was I to force His hand? I knew that wouldn’t work.
And on top of all this, I was having a problem with prayer, again.
Going back to Dennis Prager, in his radio broadcast he continued by saying that when we pray “we shouldn’t say please give me X, Y, and Z,” instead we should say, “because I believe in you and love you, I would like you to know what I would like.”
All that my mind registered from hearing that was “since God typically says no, why am I bothering to ask Him for help?” Also the phrase: “unmet expectations create frustrations” came to my mind. I thought, "that was my problem—I was expecting God to help me, and when He wasn’t, I was feeling frustrated." So my solution was to not ask for His help. I began to pray again, and didn’t ask for anything, but I was still feeling frustrated and upset. I think it was because I didn't believe He would help me if I asked.
On Sunday I was poking around on my church’s website and ended up reading a talk by Rex Pinnegar about prayer. (“Peace through Prayer,” Ensign, May 1993, 65 ) Peace through Prayer
This was the part I especially liked:
“There is terrible suffering in our world today. Tragic things happen to good people. God does not cause them, nor does He always prevent them. He does, however, strengthen us and bless us with His peace, through earnest prayer.
“It is not the usual purpose of prayer to serve us like Aladdin’s lamp, to bring us ease without effort,” Elder Richard L. Evans wrote. “Prayer is not a matter of asking only. It should not be always as the beggar’s upturned hand. Often the purpose of prayer is to give us strength to do what needs to be done, wisdom to see the way to solve our own problems, and ability to do our best in our tasks.
“We need to pray … for strength to endure, for faith and fortitude to face what sometimes must be faced.” (The Man and the Message, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1973, p. 289.)
It was the Lord himself who taught us by His own example how to find peace when the answers we receive are not what we asked for. On the eve of His crucifixion, with “soul … exceeding sorrowful, even unto death,” Jesus knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed to the Father, saying, “O my Father, if it be possible [and he acknowledged ‘all things are possible unto thee’], let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matt. 26:38–39; see also Mark 14:36.)
We can only try to imagine the anguish the Savior felt when we read in the Gospels that He was “sore amazed and very heavy” (Mark 14:33), that He “fell on his face” and prayed not once, but a second time, and then a third (Matt. 26:39, 42, 44). “Father, if thou be willing remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42.)
We cannot imagine the anguish of a loving Father, who, knowing what had to be done, accepted His Beloved Son’s willingness to suffer for all mankind. In this agony Christ was not left alone. As if the Father were saying, “I cannot take it from you, but I can and will send you strength and peace,” “there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.” (Luke 22:43.)
If we, like the Savior, have the faith to put our trust in our Father in Heaven, to submit to His will, the true spirit of peace will come as a witness and strength that He has heard and answered our prayers.
If we resist the inspiration of God and turn from His promptings, we are left to our own confusion and lack of peace.
Sometimes, when our prayers are not answered as we desire, we may feel the Lord has rejected us or that our prayer was in vain. We may begin to doubt our worthiness before God, or even the reality and power of prayer. That is when we must continue to pray with patience and faith and to listen for that peace.”
Reading this helped a little bit. Now I just need to put it into practice. I like that last paragraph, I think it summarizes how I was feeling.
I hope that those of you who are going through hard times will be able to find some peace through your trials.