Answers to Prayer by Guest Author
on November 15, 2011 |
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which church is often mistakenly called the Mormon Church), I believe in the power of prayer. I received a twofold answer to a prayer while studying the scriptures and reading Doctrine and Covenants 12:5–6: “Therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you. Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.”
I had been asking for guidance and strength to manage my course load in school at Brigham Young University as I transitioned from serving a two-year mission for my church. Before reading this section, I listed a number of blessings I had seen in my life lately. As I read verse 5, the Holy Spirit came upon me and urged me strongly to pray for this guidance again. I did so, and pled in my heart for a sure direction to take—anything to send me in the right direction. As I listened for the answer, my attention was directed almost immediately to the next verse of scripture. In a dramatic irony that only Heavenly Father can produce in such a moment as this, I read these words after my prayer, “Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments.”
The Holy Ghost witnessed to me strongly that these verses had deep personal implications for me; then and always. I know this answer came from God, directly to my soul through His written word. These are the same words that millions of others have read, yet with the Holy Spirit, they taught me deeply about myself. This was the first part of my answer.
The second part came immediately after the first. I realized that the Holy Spirit directed my focus to the next verse for the answer to my prayer. In doing so, He taught me to keep moving forward in all things. I may never have received that first answer had I kept my eyes closed, hoping and pleading for a dramatic expression of divine revelation. It was in front of my nose, and all I had to do was read. How simple—yet I forget this one lesson so often. I have applied this to my school work with wonderful results. If I am stuck, behind, overwhelmed, or stressed, simply moving forward steadily brings me back around. This revelation to me came after pondering the blessings I have received, reading the scriptures, and praying.
I learned a timely lesson about recognizing the Lord’s voice from Doctrine and Covenants 18:34–36. I had heard this scripture before, but I hadn’t read the verses very closely until I read the paragraph in the Doctrine and Covenants student manual by Elder S. Dilworth Young as he quoted Brigham Young:
In 1835 the Twelve were chosen, as you know, and on one occasion they were called together and given their instructions. Oliver Cowdery was the spokesman; and after having given them some very powerful and heartwarming instruction, so moved was he, himself, that he had to stop two or three times to weep. He finally read the revelation [now designated as section 18].
Brigham Young was so impressed by it that he copied it in his laborious handwriting into his diary. I am impressed by it likewise. These are the words:
These words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore, you shall testify they are of me and not of man; For it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another; and save it were by my power you could not have them; Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words (D&C 18:34–36).
The thing that impresses me about this is, and I have never thought of it before, when I read a verse in the Doctrine and Covenants I am hearing the voice of the Lord as well as reading his words, if I hear by the Spirit.
Now I have heard it said many times by men that they have often asked the Lord for a special testimony and oftentimes haven’t had it. They seem to want to hear the voice of the Lord. I confess I have often wanted to hear the voice of the Lord, without knowing that all these years I have been hearing it with deaf ears. This woke me up.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1963, p. 74.)
I too have wanted manifestations of the Holy Spirit to hear the voice of the Lord. I have even had measureable doubt as to if He would speak to me as He spoke to His prophets. Like Brigham Young, I have heard His voice and read His words for years past. My whole life has been filled with the words of God spoken to me. The lesson I learned is that I have been hearing them to some extent with deaf ears. The meaning of “deaf ears” was communicated to my spirit by the Holy Ghost. I hadn’t had sufficient experience for these words to carry enough weight to change me. I have changed through the Spirit’s counsel to my soul to listen with new ears. God’s words are everywhere.
Another lesson in asking and receiving came from Joseph Smith as he and the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon sought for the vision of the brass plates promised in D&C 17:1. It was Joseph’s initiative that left an impression on me. I was surprised to read in the Doctrine and Covenants student manual that he and the three witnesses simply decided on a day to attempt to obtain the promised vision:
Not many days after the above commandment was given, we four, viz., Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and myself, agreed to retire into the woods, and try to obtain, by fervent and humble prayer, the fulfilment of the promises given in the above revelation—that they should have a view of the plates. We accordingly made choice of a piece of woods convenient to Mr. Whitmer’s house, to which we retired, and having knelt down, we began to pray in much faith to Almighty God to bestow upon us a realization of these promises.
I had assumed that the Lord had in some way or another told them when and where and how this vision would occur. It seemed of great enough importance to warrant His direction. Instead, He waited for Joseph and the others to ask Him. This fact should not have come as a surprise, because in every other instance, the Lord waits for His children to ask. The scriptures are full of versions of the phrase, “Ask and ye shall receive.” In fact, that is the phrase that encouraged me to ask and receive the answer to my prayer in the first place. Joseph didn’t receive any visions until he asked God which of all the many churches and sects was true. I cannot expect to receive blessings that I do not ask for. When I do ask, in faith, I receive. The part that stumps me most is knowing what to ask for. It is profound to me that Joseph was so in tune with the Holy Spirit that he knew that it was right and that it was time to ask the Father for the promised vision. I would just as soon not think to direct the Lord as to when I was ready for such an experience, but would wait for the Lord to show me when He thought the time was right. Joseph taught me to be bold in asking for that which I desire in righteousness, in faith, that I might receive; and I will do so.
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