“Go Ahead. Pray for It!”

Like Mary, I’m a “ponder it in your heart” gal.  There’s a running dialogue in my head to God, a constant prayer in my heart which is a lovely, comforting thing. But sometimes it means I find myself praying for help with really silly things. Things that some would say are inappropriate supplications–like trying to find a parking space, that my jury duty will be cancelled, or trying to find Vodka for my 10 year-old’s birthday party. Okay, that last one requires some explanation.

We are a house of JK Rowling fans, so it was no surprise when Georgia wanted a Harry Potter themed party.  Let’s do potions, I suggested, and started researching how to make simple perfumes and lip glosses. All the perfume recipes called for alcohol, and I just assumed it meant the rubbing variety.  Silly Mormon me.

Stocked to the gills with essential and perfumed oils to which Georgia had given Hogwarty names, I decided to reread the recipe.  OOPS. I needed a “scentless alcohol, like Eveclear or Vodka. Do NOT use rubbing alcohol!” I started to freak out as there was no way I could get to the liquor store and back before the dozen girls arrived.

When I panic, my prayers intensify. I don’t remember the words exactly, but my plea was one that I never thought I’d utter, “Dear Lord, I need me some Vodka stat!” As soon as I spoke it aloud I knew immediately I had to call my visiting teaching companion.

“Linda, I need Vodka!”I was preparing to launch into my bizarre explanation but she cut me off: “How much? I have a liter and can be right over.” I burst out laughing and said a second prayer of gratitude for the well stocked shelves of my dear gourmet friend.

A trivial and possibly inappropriate request? Sure, but when I examine the Savior’s life, his sermons and doings are filled with small, ordinary things: lost coins, stray sheep, widow’s mites, lilies of the field, loaves of bread.  As a mom, my life is ruled by the ordinary, the trivial, the small. I deal with lost lunch tickets, stray gerbils, the multiplication of fractions, and lots of owies, both physical and emotional. As a Mormon, it can be tempting to look at the Savior, the creator of heaven and earth and feel like my trials and traumas are pretty inconsequential by comparison. But I truly believe that is not how God sees our lives. There’s a lovely scripture that reassures us regular folk that our efforts are not beneath the Lord’s notice: “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”( D&C 64:33)

After all, Jesus’ first public miracle was to turn water into wine for a wedding feast. If the Lord cares about party beverages, why wouldn’t he care about Georgia’s party favors? I’ve truly come to believe that God is mindful of all our trials and triumphs.  If it matters to us, it matters to Him. And that is no small thing.

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20 Responses

  1. Wonderful post, Heather!

  2. Ana says:

    I just love it that your VTer had vodka in her house!

  3. Caroline says:

    Best visiting teaching story ever! You should tell this to your RS at your next VT conference thingie 🙂

    I think the question around praying about trivialities is an interesting one. It goes to the heart of how Mormons generally conceive of God, and that’s a personal God. One who is involved in our daily lives. I personally am attracted to it, and i too have had those running conversations with God.

    The only problem I run up against logically is what do we then do when God doesn’t answer our prayers. About big important things. Righteous things. Like to heal a dying child. If God cares enough to help me find keys, why doesn’t God care enough to help my innocent child? That’s when I feel better stepping back and conceiving of a more distant God, or one who is highly, highly constrained.

    Is it possible/logical to believe in a God who is very involved when good things happen to us, but not at all involved when bad things happen? That’s the God I’m most comfortable with.

  4. Kelly Ann says:

    This is fabulous. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Any good VT companion should be able to lend you vodka in a pinch!

    In my ward, I have trouble finding a neighbor who can help out when our corkscrew opener dies.

  6. Marjorie Conder says:

    I do believe we receive not because we ask not. I too have prayers running throughout my life and had many (too many to count) times prayers have been instantly or at least timely answered. Of course we all do/have wondered about the “big” prayers that seem to go unanswered or even unheard. After a lifetime of ponderings , it makes sense to me now that often we do not see the BIG , cosmic, beyond this world picture. I have have found comfort and even knowledge in this realization. But such feelings and knowledge have been hard won. I think I really am at a point in my life now where I can say, “Thy will be done.” I feel I can ask for anything (even vodka) if that need had ever happened, and if it would be to my good (or those about me) it would happen. As an example, I am at particular risk for senility overtaking me. And if it is going to happen it will probably be in the next 10 years. There was a time when I was absolutely panicked about such a possibility. I have made it a matter of prayer and I have an assurance that prayer has been heard. I do not have any assurance that senility may or may not catch up with me, but I can say, I am perfectly at peace about the issue.

    My bottom line is like the OP I can ask for anything in faith, and those good and needful things on this eternal journey will be given in a timely way

  7. Kristen says:

    I share Caroline’s issues, yet at the same time cannot deny my experience with the little things. Or the things that are big to me, but would never matter to anyone else.

    Thank you for this lovely story and scriptural reminder. I read the scriptures so zealously when I was young, that I stopped reading in the last few years because I know the words so well they seem to run together. Finally, to see that scripture with fresh eyes!

  8. EM says:

    Reading your article made my day. Thanks for that. I operate in the same way, which is a testament to me that the Lord micro-manages our lives; and anything that is important to us, big or small; insignificant or otherwise, it’s important to Him. I feel that when I operate like that then I’m in a place that I can feel comfortable in saying those types of prayers whether I’m on the run or in my quiet moments.

  9. Stephanie2 says:

    This is a beautiful message.

  10. Aimee says:

    I have never known a better story teller, Heather! You have a way of making an anecdote truly unforgettable and this charming post is no exception! I adore you!

    I think the idea I like most in this post is the idea of freeing yourself to have the kind of dialogue with deity that comes naturally to you and the idea that if you want to invite God into these moments with you, go for it.

    I personally have come to terms with a God who’s not much of an interventionist. While this means on the one hand that I’m uncomfortable asking God for anything beyond ways to enlarge/mature/soften/forgive/fortify my own heart and relationships, I still feel the presence and love of the divine in an intimate and daily way. This relationship has been a balm to my soul when real tragedies have unfolded around me. Instead of asking God why something happened, accepting that much of the chaos of life is out of God’s hands has freed me to receive the grace of divine love in the midst of it all.

    Which is rather how I feel after reading this post. Thank you for always being so good for my soul!

  11. Becca says:

    Oh Halo–that was beautiful. I am totally with you. The small things matter to Him.

  12. Corktree says:

    I’m also not sure how I feel about an interventionist God. I guess I could see how enlightening our minds (for something that we have control over and are able to affect) wouldn’t be intervening per se. And that would explain why miracles aren’t always granted. But I still get frustrated with why some of us don’t get the answers we are desperately seeking and asking for, or why some are healed and others are not. I don’t really believe that there is a destiny for some to die and others to live, so I don’t know what to do with that.

    It IS nice to feel a personal connection and watchcare from deity, I just don’t know if I’ve ever experienced anything that wasn’t wishful thinking in this area. Actually, I’m just really prideful and tend to take credit for too much in my life.

  13. Parry says:

    Thanks for sharing your amazing storytelling talent with us! I choose to believe that divine intervention for the “small stuff” only happens when that stuff has greater ramifications. For example, I don’t think that Heavenly Father cares which parking space I get at Costco unless one space would mean that I get hit by another car thus making me late to my 8-year-old’s first swim meet.

  14. Jesse says:

    I am not a shopper. I don’t like it, so it surprised me when, a year ago, a friend convinced me to go to a toy sale benefiting our local children’s museum. While there, I saw a doll and felt strongly that it would be a good thing to buy it for a neighbor child. Although the idea was persistent, I fought it off, thinking I was caught up in the materialism of the moment. Surely, God would not prompt me to buy something so silly as a doll, I thought.

    Later that week, the same neighbor child talked to me about how much she wanted one of those particular dolls. We don’t live in an affluent neighborhood, so I’m not sure if her parents could or would have bought her one. The one I saw was probably a tenth of the regular price.

    Later still, I told my friend who had convinced me to go shopping about my conversation with my neighbor child. She scolded me soundly and explained her belief that God cares about whatever seemingly silly things we are interested in. He wants us to have whatever moments of happiness he can provide given the twin constraints of our agency and a fallen world.

    I think about my friend’s ideas quite a bit…especially as I watch myself doing the same thing for my children: buying my daughter dinosaur puzzles, snuggling my son after his 2-year shots, taking my daughter with me to city meetings and using her drawings to illustrate my comments.

  15. Olive says:

    Very cute story…but I dont think God really “intervened”, lol. You took a moment to reflect on your problem, and thought of someone you would know who had some. I think thats how prayer works…giving us a moment to stop and figure it out instead of freaking out and falling to pieces. 🙂 I’m not sure God really prompts the radio dj to play our favorite song, or for the light to turn green, or for your friend to have vodka in her cupboard just so you could call her one day to ask for some! Its a nice way to view life, I suppose, imagining God is directly, minutely involved with every tiny thing that happens in our life, but I think most of the time life just happens and He’s there observing and comforting…but not pulling strings.

  16. Hydrangea says:

    I love your story (and shout out to Rowling) You would think that with the way Mormons view prayer, that they would be remarkably the luckiest, healthiest, least accident-prone people around. But that isn’t necessarily the case. Often to our disappointment God, as a breakable rule, uses natural laws and consequences.
    I believe that what God expects of us is the faith that he is capable of answering even the smallest of prayers and our acknowledgment that he is aware of our needs.

  17. AnneW says:

    Wish I could have been at that party! I love this story and you’ve told it beautifully.

  18. Jill says:

    Hahaha! I got nervous during an episode of 24 once and started praying for Jack to dismantle the bomb on time. It took me a second to realize what I was doing

  19. Anna says:

    This tickled me to pieces!

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