A few weeks ago a young mother gave a talk in sacrament Meeting.  One item that caught my attention was when she told us about speaking to a close friend whose son was debating whether he should play soccer on Sunday.  The friend’s son had made the championship which required him to play on Sunday.  The mother of this boy told him to pray about it.  But she was worried what would happen if he came back and said he prayed, and God told him it was OK to play on Sunday.  Then what!

The speaker and her friend talked about it, and decided that if this happened, the mother would just tell her son to go back and pray again.  While the speaker didn’t say it, the message implied what that the young boy should pray until he got the “right” answer.

But who is to say what the right answer is?  We are taught since primary that we can pray and God will give us answers to our prayers.  But what if these answers fall outside the orthodox teachings of the church?  The standard rebuttal is that “you got that answer from Satan”

Could it be possible that this young boy would be an influence to somebody on this team by actually playing on Sunday, befriending him, and one day converting him, a la Steve Young?   If the answer is already predetermined by the mother or some perceived church doctrine, why even pray?

So, as I’m wont to do, I turned this into a flow chart.


As you can see, this could turn into an endless loop.  Only if the approved answer is received can one escape. Much like the false confession given by a suspect after hours of harsh interrogation just to stop the torment, the person receiving the wrong answer will soon realize that they must give the “approved” answer to get out of the loop.  And what does one learn from this? It is better to just give in, lie, and give the answer expected than to try and fight it.

Not all prayers can fall into this endless loop. Only those that have a perceived “right answer”. If one is praying about which house to buy, there is really no correct answer, and any feeling you have one way or the other will be correct for you.  But there are many other prayers that can turn into this endless loop.  When we pray about a calling, there is only one acceptable answer. When we pray to get personal confirmation to a new directive from the prophet, or a new policy, there is really only one answer, and the flow chart above will work well.

Have you ever been caught in the endless payer loop?  If so, what were you praying about?