And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. – 1 John 5:14-15

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. – James 4:3

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. – John 15:7

Pray without ceasing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:6

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that since the death of my friend, I have suffered from a crisis of faith. It got bad enough that I turned over my Sunday posts to the wisdom of Michael Dodd, because I could not find the faith to write an uplifting and inspirational post. Four things have helped me recover my faith. One, God never abandoned me. We may not have been on speaking terms, but he was still with me and in my heart. Two, John (The Closet Preacher) helped me to see that sometimes tragedies happen, but they aren’t God’s fault. I’d always believed that all things happened for a reason, but John helped me realize that sometimes there is no reason. Three, one friend told me that maybe God had brought my friend into my life to help prepare me for my move to Vermont and that he had served his purpose for God. While I don’t think that I was his only purpose, I do believe that God put him in my life for a certain period of time to help me. I don’t think I was ready to let go of that help, but God had other ideas and my friend is now there with the Heavenly Hosts and is still looking down on me and continues to help, which brings me to my fourth reason. The other day, I was going through some old emails, particularly those sent by my friend. The email below was from him (though I took a few personal paragraphs out). As I read it, I realized that my faith is continuing to grow and that my friend would be saddest by the crisis of faith that I experienced after his death.

So I thought I’d send you a couple of things I heard today at church. Just because they meant something to me and I wanted to share.

First thing he did was ask anyone with an iPhone to raise their hands. Then he asked how many of us use Siri. Then he posed this question. Why is it so easy to turn to Siri or Google for trivial answers, but so hard sometimes to turn to God in prayer to get answer to life’s most important questions or to get his guidance in our lives. Wow.

Then he talked about our approach to prayer. Is it more like picking up the phone, placing a take out order, then hanging up thinking that’s all we need to do or do we take time to meditate and think about the things we want to talk with God about? And he purposely used the word WITH not TO. He said we need to approach prayer as if we are engaging in a conversation, but respectfully because God is our Heavenly Father. He is our father so we can think about him that way and have a conversation WITH him. He also said not to worry if our prayers are clumsy or not perfect. God knows our hearts and will listen.

He then talked about receiving answers to our prayers. He said most prayers aren’t necessarily answered on our knees. Sometimes they are so we need to take time to listen during and after our prayers. But they often come thru other people or other means. And we will know that we received an answer because we will know it in our hearts and God communicates spirit to spirit.

Then he gave us three important things we need in order to receive answers to prayers

  1. Faith that we will receive answers
  2. We need to seek for answers not just ask and sit back waiting. He said we need to do our part. Asking is the first part, acting is the second. We should study scripture or other uplifting words, or meditate and study it out in our minds, and share our questions with others.
  3. Recognize how answers come. Listen to who might be inspired to give us direction. In all cases, we will receive a confirmation in our minds and hearts that we receive the answer if we are truly open to receiving answers regardless of what the answers may be. Sometimes the answer is no or to do things a different way.

Then we ended the meeting by singing “Sweet Hour of Prayer”. I’m guessing you know this hymn and may even sing it in your church. Anyway the song and words are beautiful and really meaningful.

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your Sunday posts. They always get me thinking. And this time it got me to act. Thanks for your friendship and always being there to help, inspire and humor me. I feel very fortunate to call you my friend and hope that I am able to return that friendship back as much as possible.

And so I will end this post just like that preacher did about eighteen months ago. May God Bless you all.

Sweet Hour of Prayer
By William W. Walford

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!
Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!

The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
And gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!
Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!

Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!
Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!

May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight.
This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise
To seize the everlasting prize,
And shout, while passing through the air,
“Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

One response to “Prayer

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