Which frequency are you on?By: Guest
Today’s guest post is from An Imperfect Saint.
I am 36 years old. I was born “under the covenant” and was active in the church from the time I was small. I have had a few times where I was functionally inactive, but the longest time was about six months. I was molested as a child, and raped when I was a teenager. I have been married three times. I have four children. At times I have hoped to be part of the wheat and have felt that I was one of the tares.
I was excommunicated at one point, and have dealt with the church disciplinary system on several occasions.
I want to talk in this post about one of the most important lessons I learned during the thirteen (13) months that I was excommunicated.
I met with my bishop a lot during the first few months after I had been excommunicated, and regularly throughout the year. During the first interview with my bishop he asked me if I WANTED to stay active and return to the church. It took me a few minutes to get over the shock that the question brought on. I had made several incredibly personally destructive choices. I knew that I had purposely chosen to break the covenants I had made in the temple, and I knew there was no way to try and lie to myself, or Heavenly Father, by hiding what I had done. Despite those choices, I hadn’t lost my testimony. In fact, voluntarily submitting to a disciplinary council was really a confirmation of my testimony and faith, at least for me.
In tears, I asked my bishop if he thought I should leave the church. He told me that he didn’t think I should, but that he wanted to make sure that it was my choice to meet with him, and my choice to follow the suggestions that he would give me. When I assured him that I did want to know what I could do, I expected a long check list and homework assignments that would make me think about repentance, covenants, and probably a few other topics that I would understand to be important once I had completed them.
Instead of something really complicated, he gave me this simple formula:
1) Read the Book of Mormon every day.
There was no certain amount of time or number of pages that he gave me, just that it must be daily.
2) Pray at least 3 times a day, every day, no matter what.
There were some times that I had only prayed in the morning and found it was 8:00 pm when I was saying my second prayer. The third prayer was sometimes only an hour later. I tried not to cheat on this, but there may have been five or six days I only prayed twice. I really stuck to this goal, even when I was struggling to feel it was anything more than me talking to myself.
There was one really important thing I learned while I was working on goal #2. I learned that there were a lot of times that I was praying, talking to Heavenly Father, and I wasn’t feeling like I got an answer to my prayers. I could feel that someone was listening, I was even pretty sure that someone was talking back, but I couldn’t hear the response. My heart, or spirit, or mind wasn’t accepting the messages coming in. I talked about this several times with my bishop and he encouraged me to keep praying, no matter how frustrating it was to know there were answers out there, but I wasn’t finding ways to hear them, so I couldn’t apply them to my life. I really began to wonder if Heavenly Father was listening and sending answers, or if I needed whatever medicine they give to people who should be hearing voices in their head and don’t, or who hear voices in their heads and shouldn’t.
In the end, my answer to this dilemma was deceptively simple. I started reading the scriptures before and after I would pray. I would start by reading the first five verses of a chapter, and then I would pray. Sometimes the prayers were short, and other times I would get off my knees and realize half an hour had gone by. I would give myself time to go get a drink of water or milk, find somewhere comfortable to sit, and then I would finish reading the chapter that I had started before my prayer. It wasn’t magic, I didn’t have all the answers to my prayerful petitions come in the chapter I was reading, and sometimes I still felt that there were promptings I was blocking because I didn’t know how to interpret them. I did start getting some answers though, and that gave me the hope to keep going.
I certainly wouldn’t set myself up as a perfect example to follow. That job was neatly filled by the Savior, and I am grateful that I can follow Him, and suggest His life and teachings to anyone who wants advice on how to live. I will say that I can’t try to follow in the footsteps of Christ if I am not reading my scriptures daily, and am not praying regularly.
About halfway through the year I was excommunicated, my bishop asked me if I knew where a copy of my patriarchal blessing was. I admitted that I hadn’t read it for at least seven or eight years, and I had no idea where it currently was. He had me fill out a form to request a copy, and I received it a few weeks later, in the mail. As I read through the blessing for the first time in years, I was especially drawn to the counsel that told me to pray wherever I am, whenever I need guidance, and to talk to Heavenly Father in my own language and as thoughts came to me. It goes on to tell me to pray as I am driving, studying, cooking or walking down the street. That additional reminder that I needed to see prayerful communication as a constantly ongoing process, not directly tied to time on my knees, was the thing that allowed me to turn the dial on my spiritual radio closer to the position that would allow me to hear Heavenly Father’s messages more clearly.
That is my story.
Have you had a time where you felt like Heavenly Father was listening to you, and was sending messages to you, and you just couldn’t understand? What did you do that helped you to be able to “hear” better?
Lastly, how much of a role does prayer play in your daily life, your relationships with other people, and your faith? If it doesn’t play much of a part in your daily life, do you feel like you need it, and why or why not?
I can’t wait to hear your experiences.