Overcoming discouragement

When we appear to be getting no answer to our prayers, perhaps we need to gain a new understanding of what prayer is.

If, despite our prayers, things don't turn out as we think they should, it's tempting to become discouraged. At one point after a difficult experience, I felt disappointed and began to ask myself why my prayers hadn't been more effective. For weeks this thought taunted me: "Maybe I don't have what it takes and should just give up."

Then a testimony given at a Wednesday evening meeting in a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, caught my attention. The testifier, too, had not been wholly successful in hearing and following God's answers to his prayers in a particular situation. Instead of losing hope, however, he was grateful, because through the experience he'd realized some progress in his understanding of God. Considering his and my contrasting responses to less-than-ideal situations showed me this: he was seeing his human experiences as opportunities to improve his understanding of God; I'd been seeing an understanding of God as a way to improve human experiences. Somewhere along the way, I'd got my priorities confused.

May 25, 1987

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