Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Natural Prayer

October 25th, 2017 by G.

Image result for lehi vision

God answers our prayers in many ways.  Yes, no, maybe, wait . . . and sometimes He answers through the natural world.  If you pray to find keys and you sit down to think and sit on your keys, you have had your answer.  On a more high-falutin’ plain, they call this “natural revelation.”  God’s will and plan as expressed through the world he has created.  This could be his specific will for a person or group as expressed through homely events like the sitting on the keys, or through the rise and fall of nations.  It can also be his general will as expressed through natural laws.  The existence of limits, consequences for choice, and suffering all point to aspects of God’s plan and have to be incorporated into any understanding of agency and growth.

We also pray in many ways.  There is such a thing as natural prayer.  What we do expresses our desires to God  just as much as formulating those desires does.  What we do is also a petition.

The Book of Mormon starts off with petitionary prayer followed by natural prayer.

First, Lehi earnestly prays for Jerusalem.  In response, the Lord appears in a pillar of fire and showed him many things.  As a sequel, on returning home Lehi had a dream vision where he was also shown many things including the iniquities and coming fate of Jerusalem.  As far as Nephi records, Lehi was never explicitly commanded to preach repentance to Jerusalem.  But Lehi rightly understood that his vision meant something, and he obeyed the implied command.  That is all Chapter 1.  Lehi has his life threatened and quickly his situation becomes untenable.

Ch. 2 begins with another dream.  Not with a prayer.  To what prayer is this dream an answer?  Nephi does not record any.  From the record at hand, it appears that the only prayer Lehi offered was a natural  prayer.  He put himself into a bad situation by obeying the Lord’s commands, so the Lord responded to his natural prayer with an answer.  The answer was to leave Jerusalem, trek, and found a new nation in a promised land.  Heckuva answer.  That is Chapter 2.

Now that I see the pattern in the first two chapters of Nephi, I see it elsewhere.  In obedience to God’s commands, the Saints get into difficulties.  This natural prayer, whether or not accompanied by formulated prayers, is then answered by God.

When we get a command and foresee difficulties with it, we should not be sure that martyrdom and enduring mortal suffering is what God commands us.  It may be, but it probably isn’t.  He probably has a follow up revelation in mind.






Comments (6)
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October 25th, 2017 06:04:30

Mark Andrew Clifford
October 25, 2017

I read many, many worthwhile things on this site, and this is one of them.

October 25, 2017

Another way of stating it would be that you get your revelations/directions one step at a time. Receiving the next revelation/direction in the series is contingent upon obedience to the previous.

Example: Acts chapter 8. Philip is told to go south towards Gaza. After he does so, he sees a chariot. He is then told to catch up to the chariot. After he does so, he hears the guy reading Isaiah. At that point he knows what to do.

If you break the chain, you won’t know what might have resulted.

Bruce Charlton
October 26, 2017

This seems like a very important insight – probably needs to be hammered home with follow-ups.

October 26, 2017

Under this definition, one’s whole life could be a prayer. I like that idea.
While reading Bookslinger’s example, the examples of Joseph in Egypt and Daniel spring to mind.
This is worth thinking on.

November 1, 2017

Very interesting. I’ll be looking for examples of this.

Steve Reed
November 5, 2017

I loved this post, it reminded me of some thoughts in Kevin Christensen’s “A Model of Mormon Spiritual Experience” article which you can find here: http://oneclimbs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/model_of_experience.pdf

He covers some of these same thoughts and there are some great quotes he provided that I think you’d be interested in if you like this line of thought.

“One understands oneself to be addressed [by God] through events … A person replies through the speech of his life; he answers with his actions. Events in daily life can be interpreted as a dialogue with God.” – Ian Barbour, Myths, Models, and Paradigms, 55.

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