Do you get what you ask for?

Do you get what you ask for?

Spirituality can be confusing. I can remember sitting in prayer services listening to testimonies about stuff like how god helped someone find a good used car. Then next Wednesday night that same person is convinced that god helped them find a mechanic to fix the car that god found for them the week before. This reminds me of the Arsenio Hall routine “Things That Make You Go HMMM?” But I’m a believer and I’ve prayed many the mighty prayer over the years.

I have to admit that a few decades ago I too prayed more than a few prayers for the mechanical good health of my vehicles.  Now with a semi-successful career I can afford better vehicles so I should be praying prayers of gratitude. John Lennon, however, once said “God is a concept by which we measure our pain.” Car problems aren’t much of a pain these days so cars don’t remind me to pray. Oh but there are other triggers. Never seems to be a shortage of prayer triggers does there.

My career, used to be a reoccurring prayer theme, especially before I had one. Now I’m a computer programmer. My current position with the state puts me in the category of civil servant. When I graduated high school a couple months before Woodstock, civil servant wasn’t what I had in mind. But here I am … part of the establishment. I have a 45 minute commute. I enjoy driving and am able to use commute time to think my own thoughts and even find time to do a little praying. I think back on those “career prayers.”  As I start the day driving into a gorgeous sunrise, reflecting on my career, I often look up into the heavens and declare, “Lord … what was I thinking?”

Something I heard in prayer service more than once was to be careful what you pray for because you might get it. At the time I guess I pictured God reviewing our prayer requests and using some of them to “teach us a lesson.”  I knew that wasn’t how it worked but the actual process wasn’t all that clear. It still isn’t … but I may figure it out yet.

In the past my preferred reading genres have been things like science fiction, fantasy, westerns, action adventure, teen, young adult, and murder mysteries. About 4 years ago I added the spiritual genre to the mix and am now familiar with spiritual buzz word concepts like “living in the now,” “attitude of gratitude,” “positive affirmations,” and “the power of attraction.” My reading and personal experience tells me that getting what you ask for is somehow tangled up with the power of attraction.

The power of attraction is largely about self talk. Let’s say you get up in the morning and tell yourself, “OH what a wonderful day!” On your morning commute you may drive by a meadow full of wildflowers with lambs and calves frolicking in the sunshine.  On the other hand, if you started your day telling yourself, “OH what a miserable day!” You are more apt to drive by a raggedy old field full of yellow jackets and cow pies! Same pasture, but in a cause and effect kind of way your experience is based your focus. Cause and effect is very physical and predictable, a process or procedure to follow. Positive affirmations will result in better life experiences because your focus is on the positive things in life. But there’s something a little mystical happening here too.

I went through a period where it was really hard to go to work. I’d get up dreading the day. I decided to work on my self-talk. It went something like this.

Alarm sounds. “ARRHHGGG! NO NO NO!” Anxiety attack complete with dry heaves. “Ok stop!” Pant pant pant. “I am joyful!” At least I’m trying to be. Panting is slower now. “I am healthy.” Deep breaths. “I am wealthy.” Feeling better now. “I am living the life abundant.”   At least I will be when all these positive affirmations kick in. “I am at one with the warm fuzziness that is the universe.

It’s hard not to feel joyful when you’re laughing. How can you not laugh when telling yourself how you are joyful and healthy … between anxiety induced dry heaves. It will be a good day. I’ll be a little more assertive and get together with that co-worker who’s been too busy to go over that stuff for the project we’re working on. I’m gonna get out of the house sooner than usual and not have to worry about getting to work late. I’m going to get to work so early, I’ll have time to swing by and get a breakfast sandwich. Going to be a great day.

Ok I did all that stuff you do in the bathroom and I’m on the road. Still feeling good, and riding high. Didn’t get on the road as soon as I’d like, but it’s turning into a great day. Won’t have time to get the breakfast sandwich but maybe I’ll go out to lunch, and buy it then. Or I can get it Monday. It’s a good day and one way or another, that breakfast sandwich is mine.

Ok I’m at work. Co-worker showed up in my cube shortly after I got in and things are falling into place. We’re having a good time and getting lots of work done. Knock on the cube wall. Another co-worker. “Harry we had a birthday celebration in our group today and we have some food left over, how would you like … a breakfast sandwich!”

So prayer works and I ate the breakfast sandwich to prove it. But why the breakfast sandwich God? Why couldn’t you teach me the lesson with a lottery ticket?


8 Responses to “Do you get what you ask for?”

  1. Mary Schramm Says:

    Thanks Harry I’ve had those mornings, days and evenings when I have been less than happy about my current status, and like you reminded myself how lucky I am and that I do have a really good life. But it is great to be reminded to look at the good and not the bad. I will look for my “breakfast sandwich” to show up soon. Attitude is everything.


    ya! well !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. sandy Ledesma Says:

    You are a good writer, Harry, I enjoyed reading this and love the subject matter. More please!

  4. Lucinda Sage-Midgorden Says:

    Harry, What a funny account. Life does come at us as we talk to ourselves. If we talk negatively, that’s what we get. I do look for the wild flowers and prancing wild life. And when something not so good comes along I ask, “What is this trying to get me to look at?” It is so much better than cursing. Though sometimes the cursing comes first and then I remember to ask. The cool thing I always get the answer and then I can work on that issue and clear up one more aspect of my life.

    Remember, you can have the lottery ticket but you have to be specific. Do want just the lottery ticket or a winning lottery ticket and how much do you want to win?

  5. Michele Torrey Says:

    You sage, you. Thanks for the insights — you’ve put me in the zone. No cowpies today.

  6. Debi Friedrich Says:

    I enjoyed this so much, you’re a good writing and I can’t wait to read
    more. I really need to stop jumping over cow pies, and enjoying that
    breakfast sandwich more!!

  7. Susan Gregory Says:

    Harry, following your advice and FINALLY back on your blog trying to catch up. I embrace the whole what you expect is what you get mantra, it truly seems to ‘work’ for me. And, like Cindy Sage, if something not so good happens I feel there is a reason/lesson. John is making me breakfast so I’m going to hurry and read your next story …

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