When Praying Doesn't Really Pay

This weekend my husband and I took a trip to Boise, Idaho. It's where I grew up, where my family lives, and only three short hours away from where we currently live.

My husband went fishing, so I was going to pick him up on my way out of town Thursday evening. I left around 5pm, in the blazing heat of the day. I packed my two cats into a carrier, and a duffel bag into the trunk, and headed out. (I'm one of those "cat" people. The kind that has a calendar, leash, and ultimate scratching post/cat tree.) My husband was about twenty miles away, and at around mile 17 my car went from 85 miles per hour, down to 75, down to 65 as I tried to gas it. I pulled over to the side of the road, and my car died.

I sat there, allowing the sun to creep into the windows, diminishing all traces of air conditioning. Cars sped past me, rocking my little car with their 85 MPH wind wake. I carefully got out, and took my panting cats out of the inferno-esque car. I didn't see this one coming. A cop pulled over and gave me the low down on how long I could leave my car abandoned on the side of the road. I sat in the small amount of shade my car provided on the side of the road. My enormously over-sized movie star glasses made my face drip with sweat. I promised that my car wouldn't be one of those with the bright orange sticker on it, and spray paint on the windows left for dead on the highway.

My husband drove his truck and came and got me. We drove a mile into American Falls with the A/C blasting and got a corn dogs and chocolate milk shakes. When we came back to my POS Neon, she started up again. We slowly made our way back to town, and my husband followed me - but not before the same cop could pull him over for swerving. (His steering is going out.) My car died at the off ramp stop light, and our cop friend came and pushed me. He finally said, "Looks like you two need a new car."

While my husband isn't Mr. Mechanic, he got a new Radiator and A/C relay. Whatever that means. We decided to leave the next morning (without our felines), assuming it was fixed, and said extra hard prayers to the effect of, "Please let us know if the car is going to die BEFORE we leave. Please don't let us get stranded. Please, please, PLEASE!!!"

170 miles later, my car died once again in the blazing heat of the day. 65 miles away from Boise. We were under a bridge. The only shade for 20 miles in both directions. If you're not from any state in the west, here's what to expect: Sagebrush on top of sagebrush for miles in all directions, pavement so hot it makes your tires melt, and wind that will tear your skin right off. While I was secretly appreciative for the shade, we both tried not to laugh, cry, or yell and stayed calm. What now? We waited a few minutes until it "cooled down" (assuming that was the problem) and continued to the next town. Consisting of a restaurant/convenience store and a Mocha Hut, the small village of Hammett was of no help. Other than the refuge we took in their air conditioning. We continued, and it died again on the freeway. We turned on the heat to cool the radiator, rolled down the windows, and tried to putt-putt our way there stopping for an oil change at Wal-Mart in Mountain Home. (40 miles from Boise.) And to wick away our sweat-drenched bodies.

At around 5:30pm we arrived. Seven and a half hours from the time we left at 10am. A trip that should have taken all of about 3 hours.

The weekend went great. My husband and brother gave my car an internal makeover, and we made it home today just fine.

Maybe praying DOESN'T work all the time? Maybe Heavenly Father has a different plan for us in the way of car repair. I guess if I had never payed attention to the problems NOW, I could have had this problem while driving to get my endowment, or driving to Boise again to get sealed. Now THAT would have been bad. Do we just make excuses for unanswered prayers? Does He always have a reason? I wouldn't be lying if I said I didn't think so.


Anonymous said...

We can never understand what happens when our prayers seem unanswered. Whether it's to serve another cause, to help us learn something, or perhaps what you said, so that it doesn't happen later when it's REALLY important.

Anytime something bad happens to me and I feel like my prayers are unanswered, I listen to this song:


Marsha said...

If we felt that answered prayer was only the ones that went our way, then I guess we'd have to say that God doesn't always answer prayer. But He does. We as parents don't always give our children what they want and ask for. But always give them what they need. God is the same way. But sometimes His Providence is hard. Sometimes we feel like we are not getting what we need. He always has a purpose to everything He does. Some times it is not evident to His children immediatly. Sometimes the reason comes later down the road or maybe not even until He takes us home to heaven where we can see it all from His perspective clearly. I have had many hard providences in my life when it felt like God was not answering my prayers, but I don't regret any of them as I look back, because these were the times God taught me valuable life lessons and how to trust Him even more. Recently, I got the news that I would need surgery. I had prayed that it would not be the case, but the verdict remained. I had to have it. Just the day before the surgery, our speaker at church said that faith is trusting when you can not see. God used this statement to bless the socks off me when I went in for my surgery. The doctor blindfolded me. I could not see anything. I could only feel the pulling, pushing, grinding, drilling and water dripping down my cheek and neck as he removed the infection from my jaw bone. I could not see, all I could do was trust. It was a life lesson that I will not soon forget. God taught me in a vivid way that when I can not see the outcome and it seems my prayers are not being answered, that I can trust Him for He is working His good purpose in my life, just as the doctor was working his good purpose to remove the infection while I was blindfolded and could not see.

Cliff said...

You know, I think Heavenly Father always listens to prayers...but he doesn't answer every prayer, simply because it isn't necessary. Or, at the very least, the answer is "no".

Would it make my life easier if after praying I found my wallet? Yes. Is life about being easy? (sigh) Not really. Life is meant to be a test and sometimes that test is how much mundane crap we have to tolerate (with patience, of course).

I was discussing this with some friends tonight and we talked about the times that we recieved "unconventional" answers to prayers. There was one time that I literally got, "It's not going to happen, just deal with it," as an answer to the prayer. Fortunately the Lord often speaks to us in the way we will best understand. :-)

Anonymous said...

I found your blog..and I went back and read every single post.

This is such a relief from those reallllly awful conversion stories...you know the one's where they were Mormon already and just didn't know it type scenarios.
I so appreciate your honesty.

The whole perception of being abnormal from a non-LDS perspective and from an LDS perspective ..is out there. And it's great to read about how you deal with being in the middle of it and finding your way.


Carrie said...

Answers to prayers are funny things, and that tricky Heavenly Father of ours sure likes to test our patience...I guess it all comes down to faith in the Lord, and trust that He knows better than we do in what we need.
And in response to your car issues, it just might be a blessing in disguise...after all, are you a little wiser about cars now?
ps...I absolutely adore this blog!

Brian Phelps said...

Unanswered prayer? Sure, the car DID break down, but you did say it was under the only shade for 20 miles.

Maybe the car broke down in these circumstances to save you from it breaking down in a really dire situation. Or because He wants you to get a better car to prepare you to partake of even greater blessings He has in store for you -- if you are obedient.

I've experienced unanswered prayer in response to repeated prayer about a very personal topic for some time, a topic over which I feel powerless. I have faith the He will answer me in His time, when He knows I am fully ready.

Anonymous said...

My Dear friend everything happens for a reason, some times we are so humans, it's so easy to now the answer of every single 'pray'(most of the time is a... help please!) we were created by GOD ,it is in us not to loose the natural hability to be as one with him, we know all the answers to most of our prays.(I said most because, in proportions we tend to ask in our prays, insted of thanking for everything we take for granted, but there's a reason for everything that comes in our path, and that's the thing, it is in us to understand why?, to pay attention to the answers, to be open to learn, to understan the way GOD talk to us, for that! we need to leave our 'so human way of thinking' and practice more the way of GOD.I'll give you one simple,but, so huge example of growing up and start making the way back to practice the universal language,wich is in us............ LOVE it's the easys way to catch up, what we all us human's,stop practicing within the very first years of our life, then the rest start to appear and supprise!! now we begin to understand the reason of such a beautyful gift life is and what we make of it is the meaning of life itself.

Thank you for let me share this with you all.I also will like to apologize for my grammar and spelling mistakes, I'm from Argentina and my name is Bruno Pantano.

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