I am just another member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints airing my personal opinions.
This "hands-on" is in the form of what we call a personal testimony.

My personal ideas and interpretations.

I hope it's useful. If not, I hope you'll forgive me for wasting your time.

Above all, don't take my word for the things I write. Look the scriptures up yourself. Your opinion of them is far more important to you than mine.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Getting Different Answers to Prayer

Something I've learned as a Mormon is that two people can ask what is apparently the same question and get different answers, and both be getting them from God. They may use the exact same words, and still get different answers.

Let's look at a few examples.

One person with ovarian cancer asks God what to do, and God tells her to have surgery and chemotherapy. Another person with ovarian cancer asks God what to do, and God tells her to change her diet.

Both end up getting well.

Okay, let's throw a third woman into the mix. She has the same problem, gets her answer from God, and she follows it and dies.

Some people will argue that this is proof that there is no God.

No two women are the same. The first appears to have been in a health situation where she needed to have the surgery. The second appears to have been in a health situation such that changing her diet removed the causal mechanisms of the cancer. The third appears to have been in a situation where God wanted her to return to her heavenly home. Maybe she needed to do things for her family over there that she couldn't do here.

Logically speaking, the above paragraph is hypothesis.

Facts: There are women who have had surgery and been healed. There are women who have changed their diet and been healed. And there are women who have taken other paths and been healed.

And there are woman who have not been healed.

We do not know all the causal relationships. And we most definitely do not have access to God's mind as to why certain people die while others live, at least not in every case. Not in very many cases at all.

At best, we can sometimes get a glimpse of God's mind and will towards us in cases which involve us or people close to us.

The point is that we are all different. We should not expect to have the same experiences. We should not expect the exact same answers when we pray.

Another well-known example is when a guy prays about a certain girl and gets revelation that he should marry her. But she prays and gets revelation that she should not marry him.

He does not know her situation perfectly, nor does he know all of her needs and wants. It may well be that, given his needs and wants and what he knows of her, she would be right for him. And yet it may at the same time be that, given her needs and wants, he would be wrong for her.

Thus, different answers. They seem to be asking the same question, but they are not.

Let's try another example. Two people pray about the truth of a certain book of scripture, say the Book of Mormon. One receives an answer that he should read it and learn truth from it. The other receives an answer that he should not read it.

Now, I can't say that both are getting answers from God, but I have learned that I also can't say neither is. Nor can I say that either is not.

How can this be? Either the book is true or it isn't.

Well, a person who, for reasons we may or may not know, reads passages such as 3 Nephi 12: 48 (Matthew 5: 48 -- "Be ye therefore perfect, ....") and simply can't see any other course but straight A-plusses at school, a mission to Russia where he converts and baptizes Putin, and marriage in the temple to a former Victoria's Secret model, might have reason to think twice about reading the Book of Mormon.

Or, especially, if he reads about Ammon defending Lamoni's flocks (Alma 17) and thinks it means he should run around at work or at the store with a sword.

On another hand, when I started reading the Book of Mormon, every time I read the word "repent", I thought the Lord was accusing me of being evil for not being perfect. But after five years of regularly reading it, I figured out that my understanding of perfection was as wrong as my interpretation of the intent of the call to repentance. That is to say, I quit thinking that I had to meet yesterday's arbitrary ideals yesterday.

I found truth in the Book of Mormon through reading it.

Sure, my answer was to read it in spite of my improper interpretations.

Others may have different paths to the truth, paths that require them to believe for a time that the Book of Mormon, as they understand it, is false. That does not seem to me to be a permanent problem.

It is far more important for each person, as an individual, to come to trust God, to understand that He wants us each to receive as much happiness (and truth) as we, as individuals, are willing to receive.

Now, we should not be surprised if we get similar answers to those others get, but we really should not be surprised to get different answers.

And it would help all concerned if we were more supportive of each other in seeking truth, even when we get different answers.

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I have no problem with differences of opinion, but seriously abusive comments will get removed when I have time.