Monday, October 8, 2018

Inspired Prayer - Study

In prep for a local fellowship to pray and seek God's will I put together a study on Inspired Prayers if you are interested. I found it helpful to go through scriptures and see which prayers worked, and what went into them. There are of course other examples but these stood out. I found a few themes which I put in bullets at the beginning.

These are just a few examples of inspired inquiries and below them a few things and patterns that stand out to me about each.

-Answers from God seem to most often come as a result of inspired inquiries. As opposed to vain repetitions, praying to be heard of others, praying without any intent to do anything about the answer received, praying and “fainting” as Nephi puts it “Pray always and not faint”. Faint = almost loose consciousness or care so little about the prayer you either fall asleep or are otherwise distracted or maybe too faint of heart to exercise faith to believe you'll receive.

-Answers from God are often the result of a very specific kind of “labor”. Not labor to see what everyone else thinks, or what the internet has to say. It’s a different kind of labor. Labor which also includes differentiating between one’s own desires, will and thoughts, and God’s.

-Arriving at the right question is important to getting an answer

-Having the right heart, humility, meekness also seems to be key to asking the right question and getting an answer. Often this involves intercession or petition in behalf of others.

-If the question and heart are right you almost don’t even get to finish the question before God answers.

1.     40 Yrs in Mormonism Denver Snuffer
Folks, in general, have your skulls so junked up with the crap of the Internet that you don’t even have the capacity to labor (the way it needs to be labored) in order to solve the questions that need to be solved. It is labor for anyone seeking to know God. It is labor over the Scriptures. It is labor always under the extreme difficulties caused by these parties of religionists who will speak in opposition to one another always contending, always claiming “Lo, there” when there is nothing “there” to offer. He (Joseph Smith) was one day reading: “…the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” 

-This kind of labor is more like pondering, studying scripture, assessing opposing views and considering them and coming to the right conclusion.

2.    40 Yrs in Mormonism Denver Snuffer
 Look at the next verse of Joseph’s account (verse 30): “While I was thus in the act of calling upon God…” While he was in the act of calling upon God! If you are in the right way with the right faith looking for the right answers, you don't even get to finish the sentence. God knows what you have need of “before ye ask Him.” (Matt. 6: 8) That's from the Sermon on the Mount. Christ tells you that. That horrible aching, the longing, the hollowness, the emptiness within you is what Christ is intended to fill. That is His purpose in coming to His temple. 
3.      Denver Snuffer-That we might become One fireside
Let me give you a description of the Prayer for the Covenant: It took months of pondering, testing, questioning beforehand, before I even dared to ask. The idea that presented itself to my mind was that Joseph’s prayer at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple was a pattern to be followed when some great event involving God was to take place. The House of the Lord was one such event in Kirtland but having a new volume of scripture was at least equally important to that. Therefore, a prayer to God asking for His acceptance was an idea that continued to press upon my mind.

But it concerned me that the idea of my offering that prayer may be based on my own will, and not heaven’s. Before proceeding I questioned my motive, my desire, and why I would even ask. I was haunted by the continuing impression that it needed to be done and was required of me. Finally, when the idea could not be shaken from my mind I determined it was not my own thought but God’s beckoning voice telling me this was an obligation I needed to act upon and not suppress. I want you to think of Joseph’s description that says: “Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of [my] heart. I reflected on it again and again[.]”

Joseph did not act hastily when the impression came to him. He couldn’t shake it. It persisted. He reflected upon it again and again. I don’t know whether that’s days, weeks, or months, but I can tell you before the Prayer for the Covenant was offered, for me it was months because if it isn’t of God I have no right to step forward and do something. I ought not be volunteering for things of that nature. At length I determined that I should act on the impulse and therefore I ought to offer a prayer for the acceptance of the scripture. When I began to compose the prayer the content was provided by inspiration from Heaven and not my own words. It took me nearly 200,000 words to write a history of the Restoration from the time of Joseph to the present, in a book that’s fairly lengthy. The Prayer for the Covenant, coming by inspiration, only took a few pages and stated in more concise terms, more correctly the history of the Restoration from the beginning until now. The Prayer for the Covenant, the Prayer for the Scriptures, is not me being clever and insightful and succinct. The words were given, and the words are God’s view of what has happened.

There are those who have claimed inspiration on very important matters who make decisions quickly. Almost as soon as they finish a prayer asking for something they assume the first thing that pops into their mind is God’s infallible answer. I do not doubt that may happen. It has happened to me, but for the most important things I have found that careful, ponderous, and solemn thought and meditation over time produces God’s will and word with clarity that does not happen in haste. 

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First impressions matter but seems like you can test them by not being in a hurry but instead letting time and labor and ponderous thoughts prove the answer.

-States he didn't dare to ask before pondering testing and questioning. Why is that?

4  3rd Nephi 9:4 (RE) 
And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue without ceasing to pray unto him. And they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire.

-Another example of prayer where the words the disciples of Christ pray are not their own but are given by the Spirit. TSC says they were in a circle, praying in unison. I don’t know if this means they were all speaking the exact same words like in the LDS temple or were speaking all at the same time but saying individual things. Not sure…

5  Ether 1:11 (RE)
O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee, for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the Heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee — because of the Fall, our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires. Behold, O Lord, thou hast smitten us because of our iniquity and hath driven us forth, and for this many years we have been in the wilderness; nevertheless, thou hast been merciful unto us. O Lord, look upon me in pity, and turn away thine anger from this thy people, and suffer not that they shall go forth across this raging deep in darkness, but behold these things which I have molten out of the rock. And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man. Therefore, touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness, and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea. Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to shew forth great power which looks small unto the understanding of men.

-Recognizes his unworthiness before a Just and Holy Being.
-Recognizes weakness. No pride at all. No feeling better/superior than others
-Seeks to keep commandments they have already received. This is the basis for the prayer, seeking to obey commandments.
-Recognizes God’s mercy
-Confesses openly
-Soft heart
-Asks for mercy and pity and for God to turn away anger (which is justified and reasonable given the people’s poor behavior)
-Asks for specifics
-Intercedes for others
-Expresses faith in God’s power after having actually performed labor and done something. As contrasted to "taking no thought before hand save to ask".

6.  Alma 13:10
And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did bow down before the Lord upon his knees, yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying, O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God, and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me? And I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead.

-“If there is a God”. He’s uncertain about even basic things like God’s existence, yet even faith that tiny and fragile gets an answer.
-Willing to drop all sins to know God.
-Although not explicit, there’s a degree of “confession” in this prayer that confesses his sins and lack of knowledge. 
 
Referring to the Alma 13:10 prayer Don't mistake me, I do not think it is necessary to physically engage in this kind of display. But when the display is an extension of what is in the heart, it is absolutely fine. But when what is in the heart is right, it doesn't matter how it's displayed, because God looketh on the inner man. This King was so overtaken by what he had heard, that he was not ashamed to prostrate himself in front of the foreign missionaries. He was not ashamed to cry out in the depths of humility. He didn't care who saw it. He didn't do this for to be seen. He didn't care that he was being seen. He did this because at that moment, that was what he was. He was seeking grace from the throne of grace.

It is not that you are brilliant and a shining light of knowledge to qualify you to know God. Instead it is what is in your heart. How has your heart been prepared? If your heart is open to receive, because it is broken, and your spirit contrite, then you are ready.

It is not that you are brilliant and a shining light of knowledge to qualify you to know God. Instead it is what is in your heart. How has your heart been prepared? If your heart is open to receive, because it is broken, and your spirit contrite, then you are ready. -Denver 40 years in Mormonism Talk 7. 

7.   Nehemiah 1:2 
And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven and said, I beseech you, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keeps covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments. Let your ear now be attentive and your eyes open, that you may hear the prayer of your servant which I pray before you now day and night for the children of Israel your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against you. Both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments which you commanded your servant Moses. Remember, I beseech you, the word that you commanded your servant Moses saying, If you transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations. But if you turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them, though there were of you cast out unto the utmost part of the heaven, yet will I gather you from there and will bring you unto the place that I have chosen to set my name. Now these are your servants and your people whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, I beseech you, let now your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who desire to fear your name, and prosper, I pray, your servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.

-Fasted, Prayed, Mourned for weaknesses and failures
-Petitions humbly, meekly,
-Intercedes for others
-Confesses openly the errors and sins
-Uses prior commandments (and desire to obey them) as basis to make petition

8. Mckay’s inquiry prior to the Lord’s Answer to the SOP”
Denver, Some time ago you told me that once we agreed on a document you could take our document to the Lord and ask Him on our behalf if a yes/no vote in general conference (like the covenant in Boise) is sufficient for adoption? Today online we voted 189 for and 6 against adoption of the Lots Statement of Principles and the witnesses of the conference vote in Layton today estimated that 99% of the 376 attendees voted “for” and 1% “against” adoption. We do not want to be like the early saints and assume we have accomplished what the Lord required of us even as we fail. We would much prefer another chastening from the Lord if it gives us an accurate view of our standing on this assignment than to assume we got it done “by the skin on of our teeth”. (Orson Hyde) Please join with us in asking the Lord to accept or reject our effort to write a statement of principles and add it to our scriptures and inform us of our standing on this assignment. McKay
-Interesting fact on this. The reference he makes “some time ago” was a conversation where Denver did say he would ask the Lord about whether a vote for an SOP was sufficient for adoption. Denver said he would, but only after/if there was an actual document to take to the Lord. Appears he didn’t/wouldn’t ask as a matter of theory or philosophy, Denver would only ask as a matter of practical reality where there was an actual document in hand. I found that significant. Praying about theoretical things or praying to get an answer so as to relieve you of having to perform any labor doesn’t appear to work.

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