This week at church the sacrament meeting talks were about prayer and they were awesome (there were three, and I seriously loved them all -- it was a great meeting).
Now, I'm a fan of prayer (probably most religious people are) and I've tried to make it an integral part of my life. Our family isn't perfect at that, but we do our best.
However, one of the messages that was shared really stuck out to me and got me thinking.
There is a scripture in Alma 27:27 that reads, "Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings and He will direct thee for good..." Now, don't think that I've been running around just blabbing a list of "gratefuls" and "I wants" at the Lord my whole life without trying to listen to His counsel, but this speaker laid things out for me in a way I hadn't considered before. Instead of working out all of my thoughts (which can be a pretty in depth process when you're trying to research and solve a problem in life) and then coming to the Lord with my conclusion, his talk suggested a different path and I kinda like it.
The speaker talked about what it means to counsel with the Lord. He said when we pray for something we need to really talk it through WITH the Lord (not just before we go to Him). The picture that came to my mind while he was speaking was that of a board room where a business type was making an important presentation to share holders while asking them to approve a proposal. He has done is due diligence. He has put together a power point and he knows the needed numbers and has fancy colored hand outs. He's thought through the different angles and questions that might come up. He isn't walking in there scattered and fumbling. He is well prepared.
So here's maybe how our presentation with the Lord should run.
First, we should tell the Lord what we are asking for. Now, I don't mean we should just name the thing --"Please bless me with a million dollars" -- but we should explain to Him what it is we're looking for and why we really need it. Now, obviously, He already knows this stuff. However, this gives us the opportunity to be open to inspiration about the purpose behind our request. Maybe, as we do this, we will more clearly see that this is a selfish or silly thing to ask for. Or, maybe we will really feel the depth of our need and will be able to share that with the Lord. Or, maybe the Lord will help us understand there is a different thing altogether that would better solve our problem. Maybe we're headed down a completely wrong path. What we're really going for is being open to the guidance of our Father in Heaven while we tell Him about our need/desire.
Next, we should share with the Lord the things we have already done to try to solve this problem. We should list off the steps we have taken and the ideas we have tried. We should describe the research we have done and the decisions we have come to. Again, this doesn't change the mind of the Lord, but it opens our minds and hearts to feelings and insights that we might not have seen before. We shouldn't do this with the attitude of "here, see, I've already tried everything so now just give me what I want" but more and attitude of "this is what I've done and I've pretty much exhausted my thoughts on this one, do you have a different notion about what I should do?" Again, we must work to leave ourselves open to direction from our Heavenly Father because (remember) His way is the way that will most bless our lives even if it's not the way we have in mind.
Finally, we present our conclusion. We summarize our feelings and thoughts on what has gone on in our "meeting" and reiterate what we are looking for and allow Him to respond. We also MUST remember to conclude with the attitude of "not my will but thine be done" because while the Lord deeply desires to bless us, those blessings are His to give not ours to demand. Then we get up and head out with every intention of continuing to do what we need to do to make things happen and faith that God will guide our steps. We trust that the Lord will guide us as we move forward.
Anyway, I was grateful for this insight. It's something I'm going to try to do better in my life.