Don't Let Your Prayers Get in the Way of Your Relationship with Your Father in Heaven *

It is so much easier to just pray a list of "thanks" and "asks" than it is to have an active, open, and honest conversation with Father in Heaven.  I'm pretty sure that for me "praying" has gotten in the way of talking with Him.  You should know that I have prayed all of my life, and more now than at any time in my past as I struggle to overcome addiction.

 I have also had many answers to prayers, and even quite a bit of direct personal revelation along the way, so I was caught a bit off guard when my counselor suggested that I wasn't being very open and honest with God.

He specifically challenged me to talk with Heavenly Father about the things that frustrate me, or even the things that make me angry.  After a bit of discussion I had to admit that there were some frustrations I had that went something like this:  "If, as a weak mortal, I can never actually keep every single commandment, then why should I even believe in the possibility of perfection at all?  What's the point?  I know I can't be happy living unrighteously, but I am unable to live righteously.  How is that just, kind, or loving of You to have put me in this situation?"

That is a pretty frank, open, and honest discussion and, as scary as it seemed, I committed to have that discussion with Father in Heaven.  It is something that I had a really hard time doing because I love Him and I don't ever want to be mad or frustrated with Him out of respect, and because lashing out at a perfect God doesn't seem like a very smart thing to do in general.  But my counselor challenged me on that excuse by saying, "but aren't those real thoughts and feelings you have?"

I admitted that they were, and that there really was no way to work through them other than having that conversation with Him.  So, I worked on mustering the courage to discuss it with Him, and finally decided to take a drive up the canyon to give it a sincere try.  At the risk of possibly being to open about a very personal and sacred exchange, here's how it went (because the Spirit says I am supposed to):

First of all, it took quite a bit of "ranting", waiting, and listening before the conversation started.  In fact, I almost gave up in frustration of not hearing any answer at first, but just before I walked away I heard Him ask me this first question.

Father:  Who says you are unrighteous?
Me:  I do
F    Who are you to proclaim yourself unrighteous?
M  But, I'm a sinner
F    Are you sinning right now?
M  No
F    Then you are righteous right now aren't you?
M  Yes, but I'll sin again
F    Yes, you will
M  So, then I'll be unrighteous again won't I?
F    Yes, but you aren't right now
M  So, I'm supposed to be alright with being righteous and unrighteous for the rest of my life?
F    Yes
M  Won't that get in the way of me doing the best I can?
F    Why would it?
M  Because I'll feel like a hypocrite, and my faith will waiver
F    If those two things keep you humble and cause you to stay close to me, then you should rejoice that I'm allowing you to have them for the rest of your life
M  But I feel badly that I will fall short
F    Then you should never have agreed to come to this earth.  You knew you would fall short.  We talked about it and I told you that I would redeem you after you had fallen short.  Do you still trust me?  You did before you came.
M  I do.
F    Then trust also that I know how and when to do that for your maximum benefit.   That day will come, but not until the usefulness of this life is through.  Until then, learn, be OK with imperfection, lay off of yourself, give yourself the same amount of mercy you give to others--you give them quite a lot.  I don't want you to be miserable, and you don't have to be.

Live up to my standard for you, not your own. Stop presuming that you know what is best for you, and start trusting that I do--mistakes, hypocrisy and all. Know that all I require of you is your best, and that your best is good enough for me even--no, especially--when it falls short.  I'm good with you.  Please be good with yourself for once.
M  Thank you!

It was a very sobering experience, and it was a wonderful exchange.  It was authentic and real.  It was merciful beyond what I deserved.  It addressed precisely what I needed at that very moment and wasn't just part of a list of "hopes" that I might have prayed a hundred times before.  It was a miraculous breakthrough for me, and it strengthened my testimony of who He is, and how He feels about me more than possibly any other exchange I have ever had with Him in the past.

I have been working on making this my regular, "always open prayer" throughout the day, but it's not easy yet.  It's not that He isn't there--I have personal proof that He is--or that He isn't willing to talk, it's that I keep holding back on being authentic and real, and I fall back into hiding behind "prayers" because that is much easier, less scary, and what I have been used to doing all my life.

I have been wondering why it has taken me so long to see that my communication with my Father in Heaven needed work.  It is probably because open, honest, real communication takes faith.  It is scary.  It feels like a risk.  This is true whether it is with God, or anyone else who you love.  I fully expect that my exercise of faith on this point will save me in the end.  I mean, what is salvation if it isn't walking and talking with God?

I hope you take this post for what it is--me being open and honest with you, even though it is a bit touchy sharing something so personal.  I do so because I care about you and hope that my experience will help you in your own recovery.  Please know that this was an answer for me specifically.  I encourage you to muster your courage to have this type of conversation with Heavenly Father for yourself, and get your own answers.  I know you can do it, and I know that if you reach out to Him openly and honestly, He will reach back to you in mercy.

I hope you will join me as I continue learning to truly walk and talk with God.

* Submitted by Bruce, a trusted friend

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