I think that many of the people I know and that know me would consider me to be a religious person. I would like to think that this is true. I certainly try, most of the time, to be a man of faith and belief. I say most of the time because, well I am a man and life is hard; I like to think that I try more often than I fail.
I am sure that there are things that I do that aren’t in accordance with my beliefs. I am sure that I would be embarrassed were I to be on TV 24/7 for a year. I would probably lose credibility for some of the dumb things I do. I certainly recognize them for what they are AFTER they happen or I do them, but I am not very good at recognizing them BEFORE. My consolation to this situation is my hope that everyone else has the same problem and they aren’t doing any better at this whole living thing than I am.
I know that makes it seem like I am justifying my behavior by the behavior of others; maybe, I am. I would also propose that it is a coping mechanism that helps me make it to the next day. I know that tomorrow gives me the chance to try it all over again and hopefully not make the same bunch of bad decisions. I get to tomorrow and can be resolute in trying to be just a little better than I was the day before. In many ways it is a vicious cycle, because sometimes I am actually worse than I was the day before. I do know this; that to quit and believe my failures are permanent isn’t acceptable.
I am happy that I have a religious influence in my life that helps me through the hard times. I am happy to have learned that I am not entirely on my own in this endeavor of living life. I am grateful for a wife that helps me along the way, I am happy that I survived the learning experience of parenthood to my now-grown children, and I am grateful for prayer. Prayer and praying have had a profound impact on my life. When I do it right, and most of the time I admit that I don’t, it is a wonderful and profound experience.
Prayer, to me, is an opportunity to communicate with an Eternal Heavenly Father; a God that has granted me an opportunity to experience this earth life so that I can grow and mature. This Heavenly Father is a Being that has provided me a means to receive counsel from Him by addressing Him in prayer. He set no limit on the number of times I can come to Him in prayer. He has no standard for what is too small to go to him. He is willing to listen and assist as long and as often as I am willing seek Him and to listen and do as instructed.
Several years ago I was faced with a decision related to my employment. I was given the opportunity to go to work at a location where I could be an employee of either of two companies. The same job but as a contractor I would need to be employed by a support company that already had contracting mechanisms in place. Now that is not a bad thing, except that I had close personal friendships with the management teams of both contractors. It had the potential to make enemies and destroy bridges and relationships if it wasn’t handled correctly.
I admit the decision nearly caused paralysis to my thought processes. Both of these organizations had contacted me about this position and both had great influence with the employer. Both were companies and individuals that I had worked with in the past and I had no desire to sour those relationships. I needed a solution that would be the best for me and for my family. I needed some real insight and inspiration. I needed an answer to prayer.
Now, I have had some very wonderful experiences with prayer in my life. I have seen prayers answered when they were offered by others. I have seen the quiet comfort return to fill a place that was previously filled with chaos, conflict, and concern. I have felt and heard the answer to prayers that are so sacred that I have only shared them with a few in my family. I know what the answer to prayer is and I know how to hear and understand that answer. When I pray, really pray, I have to invest in that experience. It takes the right surroundings, the right mental attitude, and the right preparations. Each of these plays a key in getting an answer. When I approach my Heavenly Father in prayer I know I will receive an answer.
As I approached my Heavenly Father in prayer I was humbled again by the opportunity that is mine to know that I would receive guidance and counsel from a knowing and loving Father that cares for me and my family. When I asked which company I should join for this project the answer was clear and distinct. There was no doubt I had received an answer, it was exactly as I had expected the experience to be. The feelings and the understanding were clear. There was no doubt I had received the answer to my prayer.
The answer: It doesn’t matter.
The answer, plain and simple, it doesn’t matter. What? What doesn’t matter? How is that an answer? The implications to my mind were staggering. How can this not matter? What are the implications to it not mattering? Does the question not matter? Or is it even simpler than that? Could it be just that simple? What if the answer was that it didn’t matter which company I worked for! What if the answer really was that it really didn’t matter which company I worked for. Baffling!
Since I knew it was indeed an answer to my prayer I needed to understand what it meant. After thinking about this for several days and trying to understand the scenario with the new perception that it doesn’t matter, I knew that it really was just as simple as it not mattering. I made the decision and proceeded with living my life. If it didn’t matter why should I worry about it? I made a decision based on what I knew and what I expected. I knew that I wouldn’t need to worry about all of the other thoughts and concerns that had been so pressing on me. I saw over the course of a few months how things really worked out and the relationships were all maintained. Everything worked out fine.
What I learned later was that the decision to take the job was the really important decision (being on that job mattered to me and others). The circumstances that mattered were that I was going to be in the right place at the right time to make the next decision about my life because I was working where I would have an opportunity to do something even more dramatic. It made no difference whether I was getting paid by one contractor or the other. So, it doesn’t matter, is the perfect answer. It is certainly one that made me think and analyze the circumstances and to better understand the situation before I got there.
As I look back at that experience now, it seems so clear how right the answer was. I am lucky to have had that experience for it taught me that sometimes I am asking the wrong question. I sure felt like it was the right question at the time, but the experiences that followed prove otherwise. I will use this experience to remind me that sometimes we will ask the wrong question and get the right answer. It is our job to ponder what we have learned from prayer to better our lives. It also reminds me that sometimes we make the right decisions on our own. We can also ask the right questions at the wrong time and the answers may not come until the right time. The key is to know that an answer will come; we have to know how to recognize an answer to prayer. We also have to refine our ability to ask appropriate questions at the right time. To me, it seems that we have to break the problem down to the right level, to the right questions, to actionable steps. The answer will come when the time is right if we are listening. When you next approach prayer I would encourage you to think about what answer you would expect for each of your requests and what you would do if you got one of those answers. When I approach prayer in this manner I find that I get better answers that help me in life; and, help me do something with the new found knowledge I have gained through counsel from a loving Heavenly Father.
If you “Pray for World Peace” what are you doing to bring it about or what would you do to bring it about? Have you ever had an experience where your prayer was answered and it made you really wonder about the answer. Have you never prayed with a desire to receive an answer?