I had a very bitter thing happen to me 8 years ago. It has never been resolved. I have prayed to God all these years for intervention which has never come. How can I honestly express my feelings of utter and complete frustration to God in prayer without murmuring? I have lost a lot of my faith in Him because He has let this go un-addressed for so long. How can I express my honest feelings to Him without murmuring? I feel inhibited if I can’t express myself honestly.
There is a difference between murmuring and feeling frustration. That can even be true when feeling frustrated with God. We aren’t perfect and we can all have moments where we do not understand God’s will in any given circumstance. I doubt anyone who has ever lived has never had a “Why!?” moment, and felt somewhat abused by the Almighty.
The trick is to put aside those feelings. Or, as we might view it, to put aside the natural man.
I think one thing that gets lost sometimes is that faith is a two way streak. It is one of the gifts of God, yes. But it is also a choice. We choose to have faith or not. It does not exist on its own without our input.
So, we feel frustrated with God. What do we do about it. Refuse to pray? Is that faith? Pray anyhow? Ah ha…now we’re showing some faith.
Faith is acting in spite of things. If we knew all things it would not be faith. Apply that to your situation. You don’t understand why God has let something go un-addressed (from your perspective) for so long. So, what do you do about it? You can respond by turning away or turning toward Him, right? In spite of the fact that you do not understand, you choose to trust Him or not. That is faith. Choosing to trust him even when you do not see evidence that you should.
But let’s get more specifically into your question.
Do you suppose that God is unaware of your frustration? I suspect you know that He is well aware. So how can you possibly not be honest with him. Even if you weren’t He hears what isn’t said. You’re honest with Him whether you choose to be or not. It cannot be helped. He knows. So you may as well be honest in your prayers.
Honest about your feelings does not need to translate to disrespect. We can honestly and clearly express our frustration without being disrespectful. And that, I believe, is key to the difference between when a frustrated response turns into a murmur.
Talk to God honestly. Tell him your feelings. Tell him how frustrated you feel. Tell him you are struggling with anger or a loss of faith or whatever it is. And then beg Him to help you bring the Spirit into your life in greater abundance. Plead with Him to soothe your pain. Bow yourself in humility that He will succor you in your trials. And then, add these words to the prayer, and mean them:
“Thy will be done.”
I am embedding a video of a talk given by Elder Bednar at a recent CES fireside. Please take the time to watch it.
Here is the important part I want you to carefully digest:
Two days following the operation, I visited John and Heather in the hospital. We talked about the first time I met John in the mission field, about their marriage, about the cancer, and about the eternally important lessons we learn through the trials of mortality. As we concluded our time together, John asked if I would give him a priesthood blessing. I responded that I gladly would give such a blessing, but I first needed to ask some questions.
I then posed questions I had not planned to ask and had never previously considered: “[John,] do you have the faith not to be healed? If it is the will of our Heavenly Father that you are transferred by death in your youth to the spirit world to continue your ministry, do you have the faith to submit to His will and not be healed?”
I frankly was surprised by the questions I felt prompted to ask this particular couple. Frequently in the scriptures, the Savior or His servants exercised the spiritual gift of healing (see 1 Corinthians 12:9;D&C 35:9; 46:20) and perceived that an individual had the faith to be healed (see Acts 14:9; 3 Nephi 17:8; D&C 46:19). But as John and Heather and I counseled together and wrestled with these questions, we increasingly understood that if God’s will were for this good young man to be healed, then that blessing could only be received if this valiant couple first had the faith not to be healed. In other words, John and Heather needed to overcome, through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, the “natural man” (Mosiah 3:19) tendency in all of us to demand impatiently and insist incessantly on the blessings we want and believe we deserve.
Dearest Frustrated, I know that you hurt. I feel for you. I do. But if we can put off the natural man and truly turn to the Lord by offering ourselves up to His will, I know that we can be healed through the Atonement of our Savior.
I want to testify to you of this. I have experienced His healing power. It is a hard thing to do. It is hard to submit to His will, especially when His will is that our concerns go un-addressed, or that we be not healed, or that we fail, fall, or hurt. Sometimes His will is pain for a time. Sometimes families fall apart. Sometimes loved-ones die. Sometimes we lose jobs, homes, health, friends. These things are so difficult to pass through at times and it can be so very hard to hold on to hope and faith. But if we submit our wills to the Fathers he will heal us through the Atonement. It may not be the mortal healing we would desire, but assuredly as He lives, if we submit to Him, He will heal us.