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  1. I don’t have much  to add but wanted to say that I really enjoyed listening to this episode and the discussion of how our approach prayer can change over time and evolve.

    Also appreciated the idea that prayer can include expressions of anger. This is not an idea that is embraced by many mormons. But in my experience, to bottle up these intense emotions has distanced myself from God and prevented me from finding resolution and healing. At this point in my spiritual progression, prayer is very much about sharing my heart with God – telling him what I feel and letting Him into my emotional world. I don’t really know what to ask for these days but through prayer I feel like I am coming home to God. At the end of the day and I find great comfort in that constant.

    It is truely validating to hear others express their honest perspectives and experiences on subjects that so incredibly personal. Thank you all for sharing. 

  2. I was really interested in the Alma and Amulek story… I have trouble with this story, but I really didn’t understand the explanation. Any one else?

  3. To sum it up briefly, Alma offers Amulek an explanation for why God would not intervene to prevent the deaths of the women and children. Later, however, while undergoing severe trials themselves, Alma’s and Amulek’s captors demand the very same thing of Alma: an explanation for why God would not intervene then or now. This time, however, Alma says nothing, implying, in my mind, that his original explanation could not do the work he had hoped it would do: provide a justifiable explanation for God’s non-intervention. 3 times his captors demand such an explanation and three times Alma is silent. Finally, Alma cries out to the Lord, asking how much longer they were to endure. I was trying to use the story as an illustration of when our sufferings seem so great that the only legitimate response is lamentation and crying. Explanations and reasons have no place. You see this with Job, Joseph Smith, and even Jesus, on the cross. The lament, to me, is a kind of anguished, yet holy prayer. 

  4. I have a number of different thoughts questions.
    Tech question) Why can I only post comments from my droid? On my Windows 7 laptop with chrome and explorer I can’t. I don’t see a place to comment. Is it a Word Press thing? Sorry for asking it here.

    Now on to my kudos. Excellent podcast! I loved hearing your points. In fact I took notes so I could better comment.
    In portuguese, they use thee and thou, but they also just call god Dad (pai) I loved that familiarity calling him Dad.
    On my mission in Brazil, our MP encouraged us to gesture, pray with our hands, like Brazilians do when taking to one another.
    As a priest we had a down’s syndrome friend my age. Our bishop never even mentioned why we didn’t make him repeat sacrament prayers. Andy couldn’t pronounce clearly, but he blessed every week, and it was touching every time. When one of the rest of us made a mistake, he would come over, kneel with us and point out where we made a mistake and stay with us. It was always such a loving, comforting gesture. I loved that bishop.
    Prayer was the reason for my wife and my faith crisis. But I’m so glad it happened, because I didn’t know God when I was praying. I was raised in the faith precedes the miracle era, with god as a santa claus wizard genie in the sky. As I came to accept him as my councilor/therapist, I could pray again. Tying this to the atonement, I believe in the empathetic healer model. God just wants to heal us, and authentic self disclosure is how he does. Personally, I don’t believe God intervenes directly in our lives, but he inspires us, and others. When I took the pressure off of God to do things for me, I grew to love him again and confide. All I ever ask for is guidance.
    Finally, I heard someone say we should think of the word intimacy so meaning “into-me-you-see”

    1. Hi Brian,

      Sorry on the tech probs. I truly have no clue about any of that. Does anyone have anything to suggest?Great additions to the discussion. Love hearing about the Portuguese prayer pronouns and the openness of your mission president on prayer gestures, etc.! Awesome on bishop’s compassion. I have also heard and like that “into me you see” play on that term!

      Most of all, love your sharing your story on the shifts in your faith and how these affected your prayer life. Thanks, so much!

  5. Beautiful stories of prayer. It was very touching to hear Tresa describe the prayer given for her son. It is neat to learn how people approach personal prayer very differently from public prayer. I never made that leap. Not my spiritual gift, I guess.

    I wonder if some of the changes in attitude about prayer reflect a broader change in society regarding the relationship between the individual and authority. It seems like God was referred to as our father/king in the earliest Christian texts, but the norms of fatherhood/leadership have changed through this time. We see a spectrum from the rigidity and authority of the pater familias all the way to the almost-your-best-friend dad honored today.

    I think the relationship we expect from God is mostly modeled after the expectations we have of parents and leaders in the culture we inhabit. Our society currently prefers high-attachment parenting and shepherd leadership. This preference is reflected in our prayers, i.e., our relationship to God. We don’t like authority, We see formality and reverence as emotional detachment. We see vulnerability and intimacy as the deepest form of a relationship. Therefore, our favorite prayers and worship forms are generally informal and deeply personal.

    1. Good observations, Jacob. Thanks! 

      It’s one thing to note the shift in prayer attitudes as coinciding with shifts in cultural views. You’re silent, though, on whether you see these as positive shifts. I do. I’m remembering from previous discussions your hesitancy about postmodernism, where you don’t seem to want to think of such things as positive. Is there something similar going on here? Are you just observing, or are you also cheering the shifts you name?

      (You, of course, don’t have to answer if you don’t want to!)

      1. I don’t know whether the changes in attitudes about authority,
        leadership, fatherhood, and our relationship with deity are in the right
        direction. I see strengths and weaknesses in both approaches. So, I’m not confident in my opinions about these changes. I do think, however, that a post-modern approach wouldn’t allow a moral judgment about this transition tenable. A post-modernist would say different cultural approaches are equally valid, right? Each one is “correct” in its own context.

        Y’all should definitely do a podcast on moral absolutism vs moral relativism. I struggle with picking sides on this argument. I just finished reading “The Moral Landscape” by Sam Harris. I thought it would be a compelling read, but I found it rather disappointing. He’s a clear communicator and excellent thinker I just didn’t find anything new or innovative in the material he presented.

        I guess currently my working view on morality is that there is a core subset of morality that is universal (or nearly so) that could be considered absolute. The rest of morality is so much a product of the time and culture it is thriving in. This is easy to see. A pure moral relativism just seems to render morality nearly useless. So I’m gonna go with a hybrid theory for now. 🙂

        1. Hi Jacob, We’ll have to have a good discussion about our views of what postmodernism is and is not, as it seems to come up a lot when we have our exchanges in these comments sections. You’re right that some postmodernists might claim “equally valid,” but those would be extreme rhetoricians (as the claim itself would have no weight either). I’m mostly grateful for postmodernism for helping alert us to all that “we” contribute to our experiencing of the world, and I feel no compulsion to take those blessings and then force the next move of “there is nothing better/worse, more/less helpful or important, etc.”

          I am already kind of playing with the idea of doing a podcast on pragmatism as a method for helping clear out some of the fog on big philosophical/religious/moral questions, so I’ll take your note here about moral relativism and be sure to include a good section.

          As always, thanks for joining in the conversation!
          Dan

  6. Prayer can become a paradox in the light of an omniscient God.  I’ve realized that the greatest need is to maintain that connection, to be open to guidance.  It is though prayer (and our requests) that we can acknowledge God’s hand in our life, and in that way we can be truly grateful.

    I think that sometimes words fail, and you just have to open your heart and say, “Take a look, this is what I’ve got.”  I also love the BoM advice that we ‘pray over our flocks and our fields.’  I think we really need to be more connected to God in even the difficult but mundane things of life.

  7. I had an experience on my mission in Japan.  In being troubled by all the usual attendant anguish of being a new missionary, I was taken aback by a Shinto shrine.  When I stood in front of the shrine, and peered in at the altar, (it doesn’t always happen, but fortunately it did at this necessary first time for me) I saw myself reflected in the mirror.  (A stand in for God?)  I found it incredibly revealing.  It was, at the time a kind of message of, ‘I know you,’ and, ‘the answer is within you.’  (Incidentally, I don’t generally like or hate mirrors.  But since even before my mission, I hadn’t had enough hair to even need a mirror.)  I suspect prayer is also this sort of needed introspection; the focussing of a mirror onto ones heart.

    1. Love both of your comments, Bitherwack. Thank you! Totally with you on prayer as way to gaze into a mirror.

      The mirror analogy also has a wonderful history in spiritual development discourse. In Fowler’s Stages of Faith, for instance, Stage Six is to have ourselves so aligned with the Divine or Universal will that we are a perfect mirror of it. Tons of mirror stuff (even recognizing the unreality of the mirror and mind, etc.) in Zen Buddhism, too.

  8. This comment section is not displayed when I use the Explorer 9 browser, but it is when I use Firefox.

    I have several comments. I agree with the idea of the “twenty-something” spiritual crisis. (or could come later or perhaps earlier.) It seems that to really feel close to God that you first at some point have to be broken down and experience some degree of alienation. It don’t know fully why this is, but it seems to be.

    One idea that wasn’t brought up much is the idea of having a prayerful heart of a prayerful attitude. I like the idea of having a formal on-the-knees prayer, and then listening and having an ongoing conversation with God in your thoughts at times during your daily tasks. I believe that listening is more important than “multiplying words.”

    Although over time I have felt closer to God, maybe like a friend or a son, it is still very important to me to be submissive to God in recognizing that he has has wisdom and power far beyond what I have. I come to God with my ideas and requests, but always with the understanding that “if you have a better idea, let’s go with that.” I ask God for his greatest blessings for me (not knowing fully what they are), even if they involve trials before receiving them. Then comes patience. Answers may come in minutes, days, years, or decades.

  9. Great discussion, sorry for getting to this a little late, busy with the holidays and having a new baby 🙂
    A few things came to mind, from my own personal experience as a lifelong member, and what I have seen from parayer and the other issue charismatic behaviour being a thing of the past.

    First Joanna, is a lot like me in that she wishes she could some how listen or view some archives that show when or where the Church decided ( if it ever truly did) to tone down the charismatic behaviour, whether it’s while we pray or give a talk. I know the pulpit pounding days WERE a part of our Church. Early  presidents did so. Look on You Tube and search for George Albert Smith. I guarntee you wont sleep through any of his talks.


    Second, on my mission, my mission president was one of these charismatic pulpit pounding, in your space preaching characters, and I loved him and really looked forward to his Zone Conferences. He gave one on Prayer. He talked about he how will walk aorund his house talking openinly to God, pounding his fist in the sky when his prayer is heavy, that sort of thing. He really showed that you just need to open youreslf up and just let it out !

    Lastly, and sadly, about 2 months ago a poor Priest had to say the Sacrament prayer 7 times ! He has what can easily be described as having a speech issue, not quite a stutter, but her slurrs his words, he is hard to understnad in general. He is a sweet boy, and i felt the whole ward squirm, with each new attempt at the prayer. Eveuntally they had the other priest just say both prayers. I cant imagine God up there saying ” Nope Nope, cant quite figure out what the fellow is trying to say, make him do it again so I can bless this bread” 

    Keep up the good work Dan and Company.

    1. Congrats on new baby, Ryan! Hope all continues to be well and this will be a fantastic year! 

      Appreciate all your comments (though not fun to hear about the 7 attempts. Arrgh!) and encouragment. Thanks for jumping in!

  10. Just listened to the podcast and it really touched me.  I don’t know if I can say alot now…I will probably have to listen to it a few more times.  It has opened a floodgate.  I was blocked, and this has really helped release something.  I am a convert of about 6 years or so, and I just don’t feel like I quite “get it right”.  I don’t go to the Temple as much as I would like to, I can’t seem to manage a calling, yet I love this Church, I am a Mormon to the core.  This podcast helps me feel like there is room for me too…a 47 year old woman, going through an endless divorce, whose children won’t go to church, and don’t even live here.   Don’t get me wrong, my ward is wonderful, and I have never had one of “those” prayer talks, although I can imagine who would give them.  Most of my issues come from inside myself, and this podcast reached in and touched me deeply.  Thank you.  I am a subscriber…hmmm I better check, it might be to Mormon Stories, I don’t remember which one.  Maybe this year I can afford both. PS…posting from google chrome in windows 7 laptop.

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