God answers all our prayers; but his answer may not be what we asked for
■ By Rhonda Tretsven / Contributed
As a child, I learned to pray before I went to sleep every night. I was taught to thank God for all that had occurred that day and what I wanted for friends and family. The image to whom I was praying looked a lot like the white-bearded older gentleman depicted in Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This is the painting where God’s index finger is trying to touch Adam’s finger. It always helps to know who you are talking to.
Over the course of my lifetime there have been disappointments, which I understand we all have experienced at one time or another. So often I prayed for things to be resolved or an outcome to be changed. It was at these times I felt ignored. “Hello, hello God? Are you there?” I often wondered, “Can I really talk to God? And does “he” really hear me?”
Yes, the divine did hear me or rather I should say, God is good, 365, 24/7. However, it was me who was not listening. You see, I was married to an outcome – an idea that I felt was the way it had to be, an absolute of the truth, my story. After all, I gave the creator of all-that-is my explicit instructions in FULL detail of my concerns and needs and how it was going to turn out in the end. Right? Oh so wrong. What I was asking the divine is to take care of whatever it was but not trusting the process to be for the highest good either for myself or the situation. I didn’t let it go and worse yet, I put doubt on it because I could not trust with a full heart.
Years ago, as a newly-minted minister, I received a phone call from a congregant whose daughter was seriously ill. I prayed with the family for their daughter’s return to health. The outcome, after several weeks, was that the child died. The parents could not understand why God would take their daughter. We prayed, didn’t the divine hear our prayer?
Yes, but when we prayed for the health of the child, God said “Yes.” The truth of health for her (soul) was to step out of the human body of suffering and pain and into the light of infinite love. Love was the outcome of the request. It is often difficult to see love, but it is always present. Every life changing experience is an act of true love; however we may not always accept it as that. There is love even in tragedy.
The outcome of losing their daughter was that mom and dad decided to write children’s books about life situations for kids, like divorce, sickness and death – real-life tough discussions that parents can’t always have with their children.
So, what about life? Are you really sure that God hasn’t answered your request? What we want might not always look like what the divine desires for us, and God always wants more. The invitation is to review your prayer list and look at how things really turned out. What changed that opened you up to a better experience? I often refer to them as AFGO’s – another fine growth opportunity. We are stretched and not always in the direction we feel we want to go. Prayer changes things. What I understand is that I no longer ask “how,” I just accept and “know.”
A small plaque hangs in my kitchen on the wall over my sink given to me by a colleague, it reads, “God hears all prayers, sometimes he says “Yes”, sometimes he says “No”, sometimes he says, “ARE YOU KIDDING?!” and so it is…Amen.
Rev. Rhonda Tretsven is the senior minister at the Church of Religious Science, 40450 Stetson Ave. in Hemet, known about town as “The Domes.” She speaks the first three Sundays of the month.