Should we ask for signs when we pray?


#1

Trying again…

Hello all,

I asked this question in the AA forum, but I guess it was the wrong forum. I am coming in to the faith, have learned much, and have much to learn, still. Here is my question: Suppose we are praying about something big like a career or job change, and don’t quite know if it is right for us. Are we, as Catholics, supposed to ask God for some sort of “sign” that we are in or out his will for us with regard to praying for certain things? Are there scriptures that discuss this? I happen to know some Catholics that do this, and am wondering if this is really the way God works.

Thanks in advance,
Sherilo


#2

I am not an expert on prayer, but I’ll share my thoughts.

First, God already knows what you want and need - that’s not why you want to pray to Him. God wants you to pray to Him because He likes talking to you! So get into the habit. Just like with anyone, if the only time you talk to them is when you want something, your conversations will be less effective.

Second, your will doesn’t mater - only God’s does. So you can ask for something, and it’s only if God wills it to be so, will it happen. Add on top of this, that God loves us all infinitely, repeat infinitely, so whatever is done is what is best for us overall. So for example, it may actually be correct for you to take the job that turns out crummy, for example - in God’s will, you will learn a life experience that is very valuable to you, or you will make an impact on someone’s life, or you will meet a friend - you don’t really know the whole picture with God, and probably won’t until you get to Heaven.

 So, given all this:
  1. I ask anyway! And I always preface by saying “If it’s Your will to do so God, ….” Why do I ask anyway? “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6) So I will draw closer to God, and closer to understanding His will, by praying!

  2. I do believe God will answer, some way, some how – you just have to keep an eye out for it. Again, it may not be what you asked for, but you will see evidence that He loves you and is taking care of you. “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am.” (Is 58:9)

  3. And it’s important to pray anyway, because God told us to. If you read Ephesians, you will see that our Faith grows through prayer, almsgiving (charity), and reading of the Holy Word.

I hope this is a good start for you – there is a TON in the Bible about praying – why, how, your spiritual state, the promises of prayer, what to talk about (repentance, confession, praise, and above all thanksgiving and asking for blessings), and more.

To close, remember this – since you asked about the Holy Spirit – “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. 27 And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26)

 God bless you!

#3

No


#4

You’re not “supposed to” ask for a sign, but if you want to, I think there is little harm in it!

Many people who have asked St. Therese of Lisieux to intercede for them, have received a sign that their prayer has been heard and will be answered, in the form of a rose that they have received in mysterious circumstances.


#5

[quote=awalt]2. I do believe God will answer, some way, some how – you just have to keep an eye out for it. Again, it may not be what you asked for, but you will see evidence that He loves you and is taking care of you. “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am.” (Is 58:9)

[/quote]

Thank you for your response. I do pray a lot and about everything. And like you said, I have seen evidence the He loves me. I just somehow did not feel right asking for a “sign.” I do know people, however, who have asked Mary or one of the saints as Urquhart mentions for a sign and feel that they received one. So, I was just wondering if I was missing out on something by not asking. I think that I will just continue to pray for God’s will like I have been doing.
Thanks to all.


#6

There are signs all around us. The Holy Spirit is like the wind that you cannot see but you can see, hear, and feel its effects. Like the wind, it is good to orient your activities to take the wind into account so it can work for you instead of against you. The trick is knowing how to read the signs. By “read” I don’t necessarily mean to know in a verbal sense, but rather in an intuitive way is quite sufficient in many cases.

My thought is this reading is done generally in our “peripheral” consciousness rather than our “focused” consciousness. We are taught to use the focused consciousness in school, but never the peripheral. It’s a shame, because this peripheral consciousness can process gajillions more things at the same time, observe patterns, and provide many clues about which way the wind is blowing, so to speak. When needed (such as if it detects something dangerous or attractive) it can call upon focused attention to further process the information. This may roughly correlate to “eyes of faith” which are normally stifled by sufficiently focused attention, as in blinders on horses.

Instead of asking for a sign, how about praying for the Lord to open your eyes to see what His will has for you?

Here’s an example of praying to open eyes:

[quote=2 Kings 6:15-17]Early the next morning, when the attendant of the man of God arose and went out, he saw the force with its horses and chariots surrounding the city.

“Alas!” he said to Elisha. “What shall we do, my lord?” “Do not be afraid,” Elisha answered. “Our side outnumbers theirs.” Then he prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes, that he may see.” And the LORD opened the eyes of the servant, so that he saw the mountainside filled with horses and fiery chariots around Elisha.
[/quote]

Alan


#7

you can probably ask for a sign, but not demand it or place conditions on God. for instance, at a charismatic prayer service I simply asked the Holy Spirit to guide me in making a career decision so that I would be following God’s will for me, and if it pleased him to manifest any of the charismatic gifts at that time I would accept it as a sign of submission of my will to that of the Holy Spirit. I was slain in the spirit and received the gift of tears. prior to this I was not a believer in the so-called charismatic gifts, now I am. since that time I have always found it much easier to discern God’s will when it is time to make a decision, and to follow it. The oppositional tendencies inherent in my character have been mitigated since that time.


#8

[quote=puzzleannie]you can probably ask for a sign, but not demand it or place conditions on God. for instance, at a charismatic prayer service I simply asked the Holy Spirit to guide me in making a career decision so that I would be following God’s will for me, and if it pleased him to manifest any of the charismatic gifts at that time I would accept it as a sign of submission of my will to that of the Holy Spirit. I was slain in the spirit and received the gift of tears. prior to this I was not a believer in the so-called charismatic gifts, now I am. since that time I have always found it much easier to discern God’s will when it is time to make a decision, and to follow it. The oppositional tendencies inherent in my character have been mitigated since that time.
[/quote]

Thank you for that beautiful story! :slight_smile:

Alan


#9

Dear Sherilo,

May you abide with confidence in the goodness and kindness of Our God! Depending upon the great importance of the issue you take to Him in prayer, and your ability to sense His reply to you, He will be gracious in accomodating us. When we are spiritually mature, there is little need for signs, since the person has learned to listen to God’s still quiet voice.

I remember having a very awesome inspiration to do something for God which I had never done before, and I was afraid I had imagined it. To test the inspiration before I acted upon it, I put a “fleece” before Him, asking God to bring further confirmation of his guidance. Blessed be God, He answered with my sign, and I went forward in His name. The inspiration bore great fruit for the person to whom I was sent.

May I suggest that your sign not be something like asking the sun to dance? :smiley:

Carole


#10

Here’s a song (sign) for fallen away Catholics (like myself) that i
heard on the radio the other day.

It just needs a little interpretation. :slight_smile: (See my footnotes below)

Artist: The Eagles
Title: Take it to the limit

Chapter 1 :wink:

1 All alone at the end of the of the evening
2 And the bright lights have faded to blue
3 I was thinking ’bout a woman who might have
Loved me and I never knew
4 You know I’ve always been a dreamer
(spent my life running ’round)
5 And it’s so hard to change
(can’t seem to settle down)
6 But the dreams I’ve seen lately
Keep on turning out and burning out
And turning out the same

7 So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
8 And take it to the limit one more time

9 You can spend all your time making money
10 You can spend all your love making time
11 If it all fell to pieces tomorrow
Would you still be mine?

12 And when you’re looking for your freedom
(nobody seems to care)
13 And you can’t find the door
(can’t find it anywhere)
14 When there’s nothing to believe in
Still you’re coming back, you’re running back
You’re coming back for more

So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time

Take it to the limit
Take it to the limit
Take it to the limit one more time

My Footnotes:

1:1,2 Ok, here Mr. Eagle describes the feeling one may have when fallen away from the church.

1:3 “Woman” - The Bride of Christ; The Church. Also, possibly “Mary” as Mother of the Church.

1:4-6 Mr. Eagle talks about his dreams in life that never came about…

1:7 “Highway” - The holy highway described in Isaiah 35:8 i.e. “the Church”.

1:8 “Take it to the limit” - Coming back to the Church and Sacraments.

1:9 Sounds like my boss at work!

1:10 Hard to interpret verse, but in a nutshell, Chastity as the better alternative.

1:11 Here Mr. Eagle wonders if there’s still any hope for him after living life his own way.

1:12 Outside the Church is confusion. Come to know the truth and the truth will set you free.

1:13 “The door” - Christ himself.

1:14 Mr. Eagle describes darkness, sin, and becoming a slave to sin.

Maybe i’m just reading into it a little too much…

But then again…:wink:


#11

Dear Carole,

That’s what I’ve been doing wrong. I think I vowed to submit my will to God if the sun would only trace my name in cursive on the Sunday after a full moon. At least you’d think that from my pride level. :o

Alan


#12

There’s nothing wrong with us asking God for signs in order that we might know His will. That’s really nothing more than asking God to communicate with us in some mode we can perceive and understand. What we should not do is demand that give us some specific sign, and presume that if God does not give us exactly the sign we expect, that He is not communicating with us.


#13

Rather than asking for signs, which never has worked for me, a pastor once suggested that we pray about a course of action, then go ahead and do what we think is right. If it’s God’s will, the doors will open, and if not, they’ll close.
He was not a Catholic, but a holy man who loved God, and I think it good advice.


#14

Caldera,

That was really lovely! I’m also edified that you find God even in the simple things around us like a song! We have kindred spirits, dear friend, for I do the same. One song that especially “spoke” to me was “The First Time Ever I Saw His (Jesus) Face,” and you can guess the rest … ahh!

Carole


#15

[quote=Viki59]Rather than asking for signs, which never has worked for me, a pastor once suggested that we pray about a course of action, then go ahead and do what we think is right. If it’s God’s will, the doors will open, and if not, they’ll close.
He was not a Catholic, but a holy man who loved God, and I think it good advice.
[/quote]

Viki59,

This is wonderful advice. I , too, have not had success asking God for signs. Lately, I have been asking and asking God to show me which way to go and I feel as if doors have closed. Perhaps this is the way God communicates with me?


#16

Dear Alan,

:rotfl:

To be honest, I was fairly convinced my inspiration was a product of my imagination, so I did not expect the sign to take place. When it did, I had to muster up some courage and obey. The beauty was finding it all fulfilled, to my surprise, but it did not take away my natural fear and trembling when I acted upon it.

I think that when the initial leading comes from God, He will also inspire the sign as we pray to learn His will.

We can err here, by overdoing it in the realm of asking for signs, especially in the mundane things of life that need no decision. “Give me a sign as to whether I should cook bacon or ham for breakfast with my eggs?” (Can you tell I haven’t had breakfast yet?) It would have to concern a pretty important decision, I believe.

Carole


#17

Hi Gianna,

What a pretty name!

This is wonderful advice. I , too, have not had success asking God for signs. Lately, I have been asking and asking God to show me which way to go and I feel as if doors have closed. Perhaps this is the way God communicates with me?

I like Joseph’s statement: **That’s really nothing more than asking God to communicate with us in some mode we can perceive and understand. **


Sometimes God speaks in subtle ways other than signs, and very often He will “quicken” our spirit to recognize it. It takes time to trust these subtler quickenings, for we think that it has to be a neon light.

Here’s an example that might help you. My sister-in-law was unable to conceive for 8 long years after their first child. I knew that, for she confided her sorrow to me many times. One day, just before mass began, I felt a deep longing to pray for Barb to conceive and I poured out my heart to God. Unknown to me, the first reading was about Elijah coming to visit a lady, and prophesied that next year she would have a son. Coincidence?

I think God moved me to pray at the moment He knew the answer would be available. (The Shepherd always goes ahead of the sheep, huh?) I was so excited, for I felt God was speaking to me for Barb, and I called her after mass. True enough, she became pregnant, and not only had that child, but two more almost back to back!

Many times I have found that the daily and Sunday readings at mass are very guiding and correspond to something going on in my life. Perhaps you could pray about this, and if you don’t go every day, check the on-line readings at EWTN.

There are many ways God speaks to us — maybe others can chime in here with examples.

Carole


#18

Personally, I think we should never ask God for a ‘sign’ Isn’t there a scripture reading about putting God to the test? Uh huh? Doesn’t Christ tell us we won’t get a ‘sign’? Uh huh? I think the only signs we get are those God gives us through his love. To ask for a sign is to put God to the test…not a good thing to do. You might not like the answer when you do that :slight_smile:

Instead, have faith and as our beloved Pope JPII said “Be not afraid.”


#19

Dear Gracie,

Personally, I think we should never ask God for a ‘sign’ Isn’t there a scripture reading about putting God to the test? Uh huh? Doesn’t Christ tell us we won’t get a ‘sign’? Uh huh?

The scriptures you are remembering have little bearing on this, if you look closely at them.

Exodus 17: 1, 2, 7 From the desert of Sin the whole Israelite community journeyed by stages, as the LORD directed, and encamped at Rephidim. Here there was no water for the people to drink. They quarreled, therefore, with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to a test?”

The place was called Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled there and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

This reference is to the community doubting God’s goodness, especially after they had just seen Him deliver them through the Red Sea. They were angry at God because they had no water, doubting His ability to provide for them. Far different than asking for His guidance as we have been discussing here.

All the crowd was astounded, and said, “Could this perhaps be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man drives out demons only by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons.”

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” He said to them in reply, "An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.

In Mt. 12: Jesus had just cured the demoniac.
Do you see why Jesus promised no sign in this incident? Again, the heart of the Pharisees was evil, insinuating that Jesus used evil power of the devil to cure the demoniac, and they demanded further proof of who He was by performing a sign for them.

Again, that is not what we are talking about here — a good person who loves God and asks for deeper conviction in the form of some perceptible guidance, possibly a sign, in order to carry out His will.

I hope this has helped you.

Carole


#20

Hiya Joysong,

I believe God does work in mysterious ways at times, but we need to be careful when we try to look for hidden meanings in things so we don’t end up deceiving ourselves. :slight_smile:

Anyway, i’m glad you enjoyed it.

By the way, i live in the Northeastern part of Pa. (above Philly):slight_smile:

Take care.


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