Praying honestly

I read a BYU devotional recently that mentioned something I’ve come to learn is very important. Praying openly and honestly is critical to bring change in my life.

I seek healing. I seek peace. I seek understanding of the situations I experience every day.

For me, prayer is a critical part of that. I have to be actively engaged in my healing, and I have to be completely honest with Father in my prayers.

Prayers often reflect my mental state. They are happy when I’m happy, they are dejected when I am dejected, but I always try to maintain a strong portion of gratitude. This is likely helpful, but not the subject of this post.

When I’m most depressed, when the world has piled itself on top of me (or when I’ve dug a hole, jumped in, and decided to fill it from the inside), my prayers often lack honesty. Only when my problems become so insurmountable that I cannot escape them alone (when I recognize how little control I have) do I elaborate the exact difficulties I have to God.

The is also true when things are going well. When I’m doing well, when life is full of blessings, I maintain gratitude, but my prayers are usually less specific than when I’m very troubled.

These things should not be.

Prayer is a method of engaging in honest, specific self-reflection. It has divine implications if you allow it to, but I believe the words of Jonathan Sandberg are accurate for me:

In your prayers, be sure to speak openly, sincerely, and directly to Him who is your loving Father. Sometimes I fear our prayers are too vague and too passive to bring about the spiritual support we need.

God requires us to know ourselves. He knows us perfectly. We must grow to that same knowledge. Even if we don’t like the things we discover and learn, acknowledging them specifically in prayer can be the first step to healing and overcoming them.

Specificity in prayer is important. It’s far more important to say, “Father, help me have the strength to fight through my apathy today” than to say “Uh, please help me to get some feelings.”

“I’m really unmotivated right now. All I do muster the desire to do and execute was say this prayer. Please grant me a little more strength to move forward with __[collecting tax documents, opening the mail, packing my clothes, writing more code]__.”

Praying honestly brings out honesty that is critical to my progress. By acknowledging my shortcomings to myself and to God in prayer, I fulfill the scriptural injunction in Ether:

If men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness

and I learn more about me. I learn to identify the source of my challenges. From there I can make progress and grow. From there I learn God

[gives] unto men weakness that they may be humble [don’t I know it?]; and [he says] and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

My weakness isn’t yet strength. My weakness might change from prayer to prayer.

But praying honestly, admitting areas of weakness, asking for help, asking specifically, and asking for strength to move forward is necessary to my personal growth.

On finding peace through self-doubt and assistance

Last week was my last week teaching. For reasons outlined in my previous post, as well as many professional reasons, I felt it was necessary to step away from full-time teaching and focus on other endeavors.

It was a difficult choice to make. My mental state made it hard to believe I was doing the right thing: I was abandoning the students who needed me and the students I knew I could help. I brought them things they had never experienced and never seen before. And I was leaving them to pursue personal interests and money. I was leaving them behind for filthy lucre.

However, there is something to note. I needed to take care of myself. The more time I spent at school teaching, not being prepared, and not able to succeed as I envisioned I should, the more I would have spiraled downhill.

I asked myself all the questions you would have: can you stick it out another semester? You’re teaching all the same classes, doesn’t that make it easier? You’re leaving a consistent paycheck for an unknown future. Why?

To those I say, I considered them all. I included the knowledge that I wasn’t my intellectual best and asked those around me who knew my struggles for guidance. I prayed and pondered and felt I was making the right choice.

I investigated jobs that would be more consistent. For now,that’s not the way I need to go. (I have a potential job offer outstanding, and that might change things; however, I would have to be strongly inspired to know it was the right choice.

For now, I am where I am. For now I am balancing the passion of video games with the creative desire to build a company and a brand.

I have a partner. I have support in the business, and I have someone I can lean on when I don’t have the ability to drive the business forward.

More importantly, I have Partners. I have a Savior who understands my individual struggles. I have a Father who knows what I need to develop into a Son of character and success.

I keep them in mind as I move forward in faith. For that is the only path to true success.

Jesus Logic

At first this may sound a little blasphemous. It’s not, I promise. (As an aside, I freaking hate toaster ovens. I can’t even toast things properly.)

In Toronto I met a lot of people whose opinions about Jesus varied. “He was a good guy.” “He was a fraud.” “He taught good things.” “He was the Son of God.” “He was a charlatan.”
While opinions are well and good, we can know Truth. We can know exactly what Jesus was/is/will be. The Spirit will guide us to this knowledge as we are prepared.
However, what helps me is whether things make sense. Regardless of what my mother claims, I feel I am a logical person whose opinions are based in fact and reason. Thus we shall take a lawyer-influenced look at Jesus and His claims.
We know Jesus taught many things taken as truth and as beneficial. However, are they really? Can we really trust a man who claimed he was the Son of God? In a court case, if a witness is proven to have lied on the stand, even once in hours of testimony, the entire testimony is often discounted and the witness is assumed to have lied about everything. This must happen because picking truth from lies is impossible.
Similarly, we can put the testimony of Jesus on trial. Without doubt, the claim that he was the son of a God and a mortal woman is the most questionable he ever made. If someone can disprove that claim, the entirety of his teachings falls apart. Thus the Beatitudes become useless–for they are obviously taught by a liar, His commands to love one another become unnecessary, etc.
Following that track, any teaching that has come since derived from Jesus’ words is also false, any teaching from other perceived great men (Ghandi, Confucius, Mohammad, etc) agreeing or citing Jesus must also be taken as false. As you can see, claim Jesus is only a great man and not 100% what He said He was leads to the disruption of much of the moral code the world follows.
However, if He is the perfect Son of God–a knowledge any willing person can gain–all of His teaching (even the ones you don’t like) must be true (because He could not lie) and must be followed in order to gain the Eternal Life He promises to His disciples. This is the case because the Son of God would have full authority to speak on any subject, and His words would be eternal law. Thus evaluating Jesus’ claim to divine sonship is the crux of most arguments about Christianity.
So the decision comes to you. Will you throw away the morality of the world by believing He is less than what He claimed to be, or will you discover whether He is the Son of God?
My knowledge is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He died and was resurrected so each person who ever lived may gain Eternal Life by following His teachings. Logic supports it and the confirmation of the Spirit irrefutably confirms it.

Unclog the Flow

A good friend of mine just blogged about small and simple things making great changes in our (and others’) lives. It triggered a thought that came tome about 7 months ago.

Each of has what I’ve termed a ‘spiritual artery.’ It is through this artery that the Spirit and His promptings flow from our Father. However, like an artery in our body, this spiritual artery becomes clogged (and much more easily than a bodily artery). What we must do, is work every day to clean our artery out. In cleaning it, not only are we more open to the flow of the Spirit, we learn what more we can do to make more room in the artery for the Spirit to flow.
The more we follow the Spirit’s promptings, the more promptings we will have. There are many things the Lord has told us we can do to open our spiritual arteries. This guidance comes through scriptures and prophets. Little things we can do are read the scriptures daily, pray often, attend church weekly, serve our fellow men, share our faith, comfort a friend in need, correct some our our wayward behaviour, etc. Each of these things will open our arteries wider and wider. Also we are developing a relationship with our Father. This is one of the steps (with a few sub-steps) to becoming children of our Father in Heaven. This is a perfecting process, allowing us to follow Christ’s commandment in Matthew 5:48: ‘be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’
However slowly, I am working toward that perfection. I slip daily, but Christ is there as my friend and my brother. Through Him all can be made right. Unclogging our spiritual arteries is a process through which we must all go.
Will you start (or continue) yours now?