How Seeking His Will Changes Prayer

As to be expected, this week has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster but we have good news.  After hounding and persistence, I was able to get my radical hysterectomy scheduled for this Tuesday (as opposed to June 23rd).  I consider that a small miracle and blessing to get this cancer OUT of my body as quickly as possible.  On another positive note, the tumor is only 1.1 cm which means the recurrence rate is low and the results of my PET scan show no cancer has metastasized throughout my body.  It did however, show suspicious lymph nodes which they will only be able to confirm once he has sent them to pathology for examination.  As of now, there is a good chance I will not need radiation and chemotherapy.  If I do however, require it, the cure rate is 98%.  I am feeling positive!  Thank you for all of your prayers; they were felt and I was carried and uplifted this week.  You are truly God’s hands.

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Last week, as I scoured the Internet searching for answers to a never-ending stream of questions about this cancer diagnosis (which by the way, I don’t recommend doing), I came across a thread that disturbed a little hornets nest within me.  I wish I could find it to quote it exactly, but I quickly shut it down, never to look back.  The gist of the post was that God wanted all people to be healed and have everything go right in their lives, and that if things weren’t going well, it was because they weren’t praying hard enough or having enough faith.  She then went on to explain her exact prayer prescription for obtaining a full healing for her cancer–and mine too.  To make matters more annoying, there was a steady stream of comments below thanking her for her amazing post and faith.

Let me state for the record that I am not discounting her faith or ability to obtain a miraculous healing. 

I also can’t stop thinking about another friend whose shoulder I cried on about my husband’s job search and the natural frustration we were feeling.  With good intentions, she told me that God wanted us to have a job along with all of our hopes and dreams (to include a bigger house and newer car) and that we needed to keep praying.

This too, felt entirely wrong, and yet I do believe God wants good things for His children.

When religions or people teach or spread the notion that God will give us exactly what we want if we pray hard and are righteous enough, it actually detracts from accessing God’s love, healing power and tender mercies.  One is left only to focus on how they ought to do MORE, what they are lacking, and how unloving and unfair God is when prayers aren’t answered in the way they had hoped.  Even worse, this idea may cause one to lose faith all together.  I have walked that line in the past, and feel the need to clear up this misconception.

I can’t help but think of all the good people in the world who are living or who have lived with debilitating trials and have seemingly never overcome them in this life.  I think of all the injustices that families face in third world and war-torn countries.  I think of righteous Saints who nearly starved and froze to death on the plains while seeking religious freedom.  I think of innocent children who die before they are accountable and their heart-broken parents.  I think of Prophets who were martyred for their beliefs.  I think of the perfected Jesus Christ, himself.

Were their prayers not enough?  Was their faith lacking?  Maybe in some cases.  But more than likely, not. 

Instead of rainbows and lollipops at our beck and call, God wants us to learn something.  Something about patience, something about suffering, something about miracles, something about love, something about mercy, something about others, something about ourselves, something about enduring well, something about empathy, something about Jesus Christ. Something about Godhood.

In order to gain this knowledge, sometimes our prayers are seemingly unanswered as He uses time and trials to distill understanding and experience upon us.  In this process, we sometimes feel forgotten, even forsaken.  

Trusting in His plan for our family may well be the hardest things we have ever done.  Prayers, fasting, faith, obedience and more prayer has yielded entirely different results than we had hoped for.  It has required accepting that economic disaster is something beyond one’s control despite all efforts to avoid the ramifications.  It has required accepting unemployment and underemployment for my husband despite his relentless efforts, capability and education.  It has required accepting that our health is often not in our control after nearly dying in childbirth, a baby hospitalized with whooping cough, and now a cancer diagnosis.  It has required accepting help from other people despite desires for complete independence and self-reliance.  In short, it has required me to relinquish control and put myself at the mercy of something bigger than myself.  It has required me to acknowledge our nothingness before an all-powerful being and our complete dependence on Him for all that we are and will become.  It has required acknowledging that the outcome of ALL things is in His hands.   Surely His plan for us goes beyond a one size fits all prayer prescription.  He knows us personally, and what we need to grow eternally–not just in an immediate sense.  Sometimes trials aren’t what we want or how we see our lives going but surely, in the end, we will have gained more than we have lost.

We truly must trust God enough to say, “Thy will be done,” as a caveat to any request we make of Him.

Last week, I found myself asking “Why pray if ultimately, God’s will for us prevails and the outcome is in His hands?”  And then I was reminded that the purpose of prayer is to show obedience by acknowledging Him so that He can bless us according to our need as He sees it.  Secondly, it enables us to align ourselves with an all-knowing, perfectly loving parent.  He won’t necessarily take away our trials, but rather lead us through them to teach us something about ourselves, and something about Him.  If we trust Him, He will mold us into the very best possible version of ourselves even if it requires walking through the valley of the shadow of death, or facing any myriad of insurmountable trials.

There are no promises that prayer will remove one’s trial or make it easy – but there is eternal purpose in it- and because of that, we can find peace and strength to endure. 

“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”  Job 23:10

 

 

 

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10 Comments

  1. Genny Rafferty

    I love this. Spot on. You are such an amazing woman!

    1. Ali

      I love you Genny. So glad that we worked together. I know that heavenly father has blessed us with this friendship.

  2. Kristen Elrod

    This made me think of my favorite quote from the Bible Dictionary under Prayer: “The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”
    So when people type, “praying for you” in your fb posts, though they seem insincere, they have the power to bless us!!!
    Love you!!! Praying for you!!!

    1. Ali

      I love that explanation from the Scriptures. It is so wonderful. I thought about that a lot since you reminded me of it.

  3. So thankful we have the Savior who gives us the strength to bear our burdens This scripture came to mind reading your blog: Matt 11:28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
    Appreciate your post. It is spot on.

    1. Ali

      Thank you for the reminder. His yoke IS easy. So grateful for the gospel.

  4. ANich

    I’ve been mad at God lately and have felt forsaken. I really needed this, thank you, Ali. Love you and miss you a lot.

    1. Ali

      So sorry to hear that… Please let me know if I can help you. I know that you are a special person and I’m so grateful for our friendship.

  5. Aup

    Well said Ali. I would have been upset reading those things also. All of that and this reminds me of Job.
    I feel one of the hardest things we have to learn over and over again is being willing to submit to the Lord’s will and timing and have faith and trust that it is what is best overall.
    I do think prayer is helpful in comfort and that their are times that we will be granted the desires of our heart if it is part of what is best for us and the plan. It is all so hard at times, especially in the midst of trials.
    I’m sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis, I had no idea. I’ll be praying for you guys!

  6. Ali

    Thanks Auprielle for your kind words. I cannot believe your brother is going through stage four lung cancer. What a frightening and surprising discovery. Are you holding up OK? It’s funny because when you are thrown into these trials somehow you muster faith and peace from places you didn’t know existed. Your family will definitely be in my prayers. They work wonders.

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