That is for sure a loaded question to ask anyone. I once had a priest friend tell me that God can give us several answers if we really open our eyes to what He's saying. And sometimes, it boils down to which 'answer' is the best out of several good ones...
I have been faced with this dilemma a lot more since I really try to 'listen' to what God is telling me. And as usual, my disclaimer is that this is my opinion. Like everyone else in the world, I have an opinion and this is my story. And hopefully you'll see how green your grass is, too. So stick with me for a bit and see how crazymomma does things in regards to prayer/discerning God's message.
I never used to pray. I'm fairly confident, the only 'prayers' I said before my reversion back into the Catholic faith involved me crying my eyes out in a pillow begging God, no, screaming at God, to MAKE THAT BOY LOVE ME! Or another classic 'prayer' I had was, God, why did you make me so ugly? I wasn't the most attractive, red headed, glasses, braces, tall, super skinny, waist starting at the boobs child, so as you can imagine, I was the butt, literally, of many hateful jokes about my looks. So of course, during those times, I turned to God.
But that was about it in my faith. I am pretty sure that once my parents stopped going to church after my younger sister was confirmed, that I literally drove myself to church for that simple fact- that I could take the car to Church. period. Cause I certainly wasn't there to grow in my faith. At least, not in my mind. But perhaps, being there, receiving Jesus in the Eucharist (ignorantly of course) God was planting that seed that would one day, once watered ever so gently, bloom, into what I am still blooming into today.
So my prayer life didn't really start going anywhere, or doing much of anything until I started really rediscovering my faith. My faith journey has been ongoing since 1997. That's when I first started teaching in a Catholic elementary school. My prayer life had a match struck to it. A co-teacher literally lit a fire inside me that slowly began to burn. Slowly. My prayer life was still the typical asking God for things, and telling Him how I wanted it to be, but something was changing. Albeit, it would take probably 12+ years for it to really evolve into what it is today.
Still, I had a hard time determining God's plan for me. After all, wasn't prayer, telling God what I wanted (which isn't a bad thing, please understand) and then telling Him how I wanted it to play out? (which is kinda a bad thing, if you think you have that kind of cosmic control over a God of the Universe).
I wanted to have children as soon as we tried. I wanted to live in a big fancy house as soon as I found one. I wanted to quit teaching as soon as I had my first child. I wanted...I wanted....I wanted.
Never once, in my newly lit fire brain did it occur to me I should actually sit and listen to what God wanted from me. Not until I started to seek out spiritual direction did I even begin to have a clue what a prayer life even involved. I began to meet with a priest once a week and as he attempted to help me declutter my brain and put together my faith, he encouraged me to sit before Jesus in the Tabernacle and really, really, just try to listen. It was something I was certain I could NOT do, since my brain was always on constant motion (and unfortunately to this day, still is!) but I would give it a valiant effort.
I can not say I heard God's audible voice the first time I sat there before the Tabernacle, nor have I heard His voice since (or at least the voice I believe would be God's, like a Darth Vader type voice, or the 7Up guy's voice from back in the 90's? Remember his voice? hahahahaha- he said that....) but I have heard His voice and actually have started really seeking His voice each time I sit and pray and really try to just 'listen.'
It's not a deep voice from above. Sometimes, it's the voice of a child in my home. Sometimes, it's the cry of a baby I'm holding. Sometimes, it's the story I've just read on the computer. Sometimes, it's a great book I've just finished. But I 'hear' His voice. And if we all would really sit and listen, we would all hear His voice. Sometimes, I get in such a rush through the day, I forget to really listen for it. I forget to really even sit and pray and just listen to Him. My thoughts race on some days, or I find I've wasted half a nap time (which is my "free time" on the computer) perusing Pinterest or Facebook reading articles and pinning meal ideas I may try in some distant future. But when I remember, I sit and I really tell Him how much I want to just listen. Just sit and be quiet and try to hear Him speak. Sometimes, a song will come on my Pandora Christian station, or my car radio, or my headphones and it will be His voice speaking. Sometimes, I'm reading a certain scripture passage either from the day's readings, or from my bible study, and I hear His voice.
I've had to learn to really trust what I'm discerning. Sometimes, the plans God lays before us are all good. And we have to really decide for ourselves which plan He has laid before us that we will choose. Sometimes our choices don't always have to be about choosing the "right" one from the "wrong" one! It can be two really good choices, which could lead to two really good outcomes. Our free will comes into play as we decide what to do.
My newest prayer endeavor involves where we are to retire. I've written before how I was worried that in choosing to move away from our current location, wasn't what God wanted from us. I prayed He would correct my thoughts (yes-I'm still in that 'God fix me' mindset at times!) and begged Him to show me the correct path.
Nothing has shown up that we are wrong in our decision. Actually, if we, my husband and I, compare our stories to what we've 'heard', we've actually heard Him telling us to follow our hearts to where we want to be. He will take care of us. So I know, that regardless of what happens, He has 'spoken' to our hearts and shown us that we will be OK with whatever we choose.
It's so important that we really trust and let go of all those things that hold us back. Moving so many times has almost made it too easy for me to let go of things. I sometimes worry it's 'too easy' for me to move from one area to another. As though I have no roots planted anywhere, but then something comes into my heart that assures me, I need no 'roots' here on Earth to have my deep relationship with Christ. His Love is what I need and His Word is what I cling to.
I am not perfect. I am no where near it. I see my faults so clearly sometimes, I am almost ashamed to lift my head to Him, but I know He knows how beautiful I am and perfect in His eyes. I am a clay pot. I am in the Potter's Hands and I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am constantly being reshaped and remade in His eyes as I grow in my faith and in my Love for Him. I just need to listen and I'll hear Him say it, too.
Be still my heart. Allow me to hear you, Lord, and discern Your path for me. Comfort me always. Lift my heart even when it feels trapped beneath a beam. Guide me on Your path and never let me go. How great You are God. How great You are. May my heart always be full of Your complete and utter beautiful love for me.