A friend said that she had a personal relationship with God and that she prayed to Him. She also said, "He doesn't answer, but I hope He is listening!" I know He does listen and answers our prayers. We are the ones who need to learn how to listen. We need to learn how to recognize His answers. Rarely does God get our attention by causing bushes to burn, or by sending a bright light and speak to us in a clear voice as He did to Paul. How can we know His answers?
I think first we need to understand and accept that we are dealing with a being who knows everything and has all power. He is also a loving Father who wants to help His children. We need to learn how to communicate with Him. Here are some ideas on how to have better communication with God.
(see the Lord's Prayer at the bottom of this post)
- Want to Listen - God respects the freedom He has given us to choose right and wrong. He is not going to grab us, shake us, and say, "Listen Kid!!!" He will instead send soft, subtle messages to our minds. If we don't want to listen, I'm sure He is sad because He knows what is going to happen to us, but He does not force us. As a mother of adult children, I understand this. I can only help my children if they want to listen to me.
Quiet the Static - If we are always rushing around and constantly listening to blaring music, we may not be able to hear that "still small voice". Some have used the analogy of an old time radio. You must carefully "tune in" if you want to hear. It's true. I have to remember, "be still and know that I am God". When I set aside quiet time to pray, I can feel God near me and can communicate with Him.
- Show Respect - This is your Heavenly Father, a God, you are talking to, not a chum.
- Express Gratitude- Thank Him for all He has given you. Don't be the spoiled brat who never says "thank you". He is not going to give us more if we don't appreciate what we already have.
- Be Personal - Remember you are talking with your Heavenly Father. He loves you.
- Ask in the Name of Jesus Christ- The Savior has told us to ask the Father in His name for the things we need. I've found that I have to specifically ask for what I want. He usually doesn't just jump in without my asking. With my own children, I've learned that I need to wait til they ask, or they won't appreciate the help.
- Truly Be Willing to Follow His Counsel - If you don't intend to implement the advice the Lord gives to you, you can't expect him to tell you anything. I feel that way when people want my help, especially my children. If they only want to hear what they have decided, there is no sense even saying anything. Their mind is already made up. All they want me to do is confirm their decision. As my husband said, "God does not take orders like a restaurant."
- Have Faith - You are asking a God for help. He knows the end of all roads. Sometimes I think I am just looking through a small slit in a fence. What I see is there, but I don't see much. Heavenly Father sees everything. He knows what really is best for me in the long run.
- Accept the Lord's Wisdom and Timing - Once we thought a job would be just right for us. My husband studied many hours for the test, but did not get the job. We felt confused. We had had a strong feeling that this job was right for us, but he didn't get it. He applied the next year and got the job. Only then did we learn that this job would require many months of training in another state. If we had gotten that job the year before, he would have been gone during our youngest's last year of high school and our daughters wedding. I could not have managed by myself with my serious health problems. We have learned to accept that the Lord not only knows what is best for us, but when it is best for us
- Do All You Can, THEN Ask for Help - Have you ever felt annoyed when someone asks for help when they haven't done what they could do? As a mom and teacher, I've felt that way many times. I tell them that I'm not going to do it for them. Heavenly Father is willing to help us, but only after we have thought out the problem, done our research, and done all we can do to help ourselves. We have to act. One spring I saw a mother robin on our driveway. Her fledgling (as big as she was) was following her around. I watched. It was funny! The mother kept eating the cherries which had fallen off our tree. The fledgling stood on the cherries with its mouth gaping open and frantically calling to be fed. The mom, trying to help her child survive of its own, kept ignoring young bird. When we ask for all to be done for us with no effort on our part, I think we also get ignored.
- Accept His Answer - After you have thought something out and explained to the Lord what you want to do, you may feel a warm feeling, an assurance that this is the right decision. I love that feeling! Sometimes you can have a confused, unsettled feeling. That is the answer-- No. Don't keep asking, or He just might let you do it. Believe me, you don't want to do this. I have found out the hard way why I shouldn't do something. It isn't very pleasant. I'm learning to accept, "NO".
- No Answer - God usually communicates to us in feelings, but what if you don't feel anything? If you have done all you can to communicate with God and you don't get an answer -- what then? There have been times when I haven't told one of my children or a student, the answer. I knew they were capable of figuring it out for themselves. I also knew they needed to gain confidence in themselves and their abilities. Some of the most special moments in my life have been when I have seen a child "work it out for themselves". I'll always remember their sparkling eyes and smile of triumph.
- Abandoned? - Did I abandon my children or students? Of course not. I was always there. I cheered at each small success and stopped them when they were going the wrong way. Our Father in Heaven does the same thing. He gives us a comforting feeling when we are going the right way, and a dark confused feeling when we are headed down the wrong path.
- Quick Answers- Once I was asked to teach a little girl to read. We spent about twenty minutes introducing a few very simple words and reading things like "Cat Sat" and "Big Pig". She smiled and informed me that "she could read now". I tried to keep a straight face (not very successfully!) and tried to explain that there were a lot of other words she needed to learn to be able to read. I think Heavenly Father must smile when we think we have all we need to know when we only have taken the first small step. (He must have a great sense of humor to love us!) Some answers come a little at a time, a thought here, an idea there, over a lifetime. I have come to understand my health problems a little at a time.
- Patience- I've learned not to introduce multiplication until a student has addition and subtractions down pat. It would be too overwhelming to them. The Lord understands us and give us a little at a time as we are ready. When we show we can handle and implement what He has given us, He gives us more.
- Look for Answers - God answers us in the best ways for us. He answers in the way that will help us grow. Mainly, He communicates through a feeling of peace or a feeling of uneasiness. We can feel these feeling more when we pray, read the scriptures, and meditate. Sometimes He sends a thought. Often I'll feel that I should send an email to a friend, then find out later it was just what that person needed at that moment. Sometimes we are another person's answer. Look closer at all those "coincidences" in your life. I've come to realize that the more I accept the things that happen for my good as help from God, the more "coincidences" I have.
- Learn from Experience - There have been many times that I have felt that I should do something, such as add bell peppers to my diet, and it has been a "learning experience". Actually, I became so ill that I thought I would die! Now I know for myself that I can not eat any food that has even been near a pepper. I learned a lesson I will never forget! I'm grateful that my Heavenly Father allows me to learn for myself. Often this is the only way I will listen, learn, and change.
- Power - Of course you have to always pray that the Lord's will will be done. We might think it is best that a person lives, but is it? Do we really know enough to make decisions like that? I sure don't! Prayer connects us with the power of God. It helps us to feel closer to our Heavenly Father; therefore loved and of worth. Prayer is a gift. We never need to be alone. We can have happiness in this life as we learn to pray.
This is a great talk about how to pray and recognize answers to prayer. I have learned a lot from it.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.