Answers to Prayer

Answers to Prayer


An important and
comforting doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ
is that our Heavenly Father has perfect love for His children. Because of that perfect
love, He blesses us not only according to our
desires and needs but also according to His
infinite wisdom. As simply stated by
the prophet Nephi, “I know that [God]
loveth his children.” One aspect of that perfect
love is our Heavenly Father’s involvement in the
details of our lives, even when we may not be
aware of it or understand it. We seek the Father’s
divine guidance and help through
heartfelt, earnest prayer. When we honor our
covenants and strive to be more like
our Savior, we are entitled to a constant
stream of divine guidance through the influence and
inspiration of the Holy Ghost. THE SCRIPTURES TEACH US:
“For your Father knoweth what things ye have need
of, before ye ask him,” and He “knoweth
all things, for all things are present
before [His] eyes.” The prophet Mormon is
an example of this. He did not live to see
the results of his work. Yet he understood that
the Lord was carefully leading him along. When he felt inspired to include
the small plates of Nephi with his record,
Mormon wrote: “And I do this for a wise purpose;
for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings
of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not
know all things; but the Lord knoweth all
things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me
to do according to his will.” Although Mormon did not
know of the future loss of the 116 manuscript
pages, the Lord did and prepared a way to
overcome that obstacle long before it occurred. The Father is aware of
us, knows our needs, and will help us perfectly. Sometimes that help is
given in the very moment or at least soon after
we ask for divine help. Sometimes our most worthy
and earnest desires are not answered
in the way we hope, but we find that God has
greater blessings in store. And sometimes our
righteous desires are not granted in this life. I will illustrate through
three different accounts the ways our Father
in Heaven may answer our earnest petitions to Him. Our youngest son was called
to serve as a missionary in the France Paris Mission. In preparation to
serve, we went with him to purchase the usual
shirts, suits, ties, socks, and an overcoat. Unfortunately, the
overcoat he wanted was not immediately in
stock in the size he needed. However, the store
clerk indicated that the coat would become
available in a few weeks and would be delivered to
the missionary training center in Provo prior to our
son’s departure for France. We paid for the coat and
thought nothing more of it. Our son entered the missionary
training center in June, and the overcoat was delivered
just days before his scheduled departure in August. He did not try on the
coat but hurriedly packed it in his luggage with
his other clothing and items. As winter approached in Paris,
where our son was serving, he wrote to us that he had
pulled out the overcoat, tried it on, but found
that it was far too small. We therefore had to deposit
extra funds in his bank account so that he could buy another
coat in Paris, which he did. With some irritation,
I wrote to him and told him to give the
first coat away inasmuch as he couldn’t use it. We later received
this email from him: “It is very, very cold here. … The wind seems to
go right through us, although my new coat is
great and quite heavy. … I gave my old one to [another
missionary in our apartment] who said that he had
been praying for a way to get a better coat. He is a convert of several years
and he has only his mom … and the missionary who baptized
him who are supporting him on his mission and so the coat
was an answer to a prayer, so I felt very
happy about that.” Heavenly Father knew
that this missionary who was serving in France some
6,200 miles away from home would urgently
need a new overcoat for a cold winter in Paris but
that this missionary would not have the means to buy one. Heavenly Father also
knew that our son would receive from the
clothing store in Provo, Utah, an overcoat that would
be far too small. He knew that these
two missionaries would be serving together in Paris
and that the coat would be an answer to the humble and
earnest prayer of a missionary who had an immediate need. THE SAVIOR TAUGHT: “Are not two
sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall
not fall on the ground without your Father. “But the very hairs of
your head are all numbered. “Fear ye not therefore,
ye are of more value than many sparrows.” In other situations, when
our worthy desires are not granted in the way
we had hoped, it may actually be for
our ultimate benefit. For example, Joseph
was the son of Jacob, and he was envied and hated
by his brothers to the point that they plotted
Joseph’s murder. Instead, they sold him
as a slave into Egypt. If ever a person might have
felt that his prayers were not answered in the
way he had hoped, it could have been Joseph. In reality, his
apparent misfortune resulted in great
blessings to him and saved his family
from starvation. Later, after having become
a trusted leader in Egypt, with great faith and wisdom,
he said to his brothers: “Now therefore be not grieved,
nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither:
for God did send me before you to preserve life. “For these two years hath
the famine been in the land: and yet there are five
years, in the which there shall neither
be earing nor harvest. “And God sent me
before you to preserve you a posterity in the
earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. “So now it was not you that
sent me hither, but God.” While in college,
our oldest son was hired into a very
desirable part-time student job that had the
potential to lead to a wonderful, permanent
job after graduating. He worked hard at this
student job for four years, became highly qualified, and was
well respected by his coworkers and supervisors. At the end of his
senior year, almost as if orchestrated by heaven
(at least to our son’s way of thinking), the
permanent position did open up, and he was the
leading candidate, with every indication and
expectation that, indeed, he would get the job. Well, he was not hired. None of us could understand it. He had prepared well,
interviewed well, was the most
qualified candidate, and had prayed with great
hope and expectation! He was devastated and crushed,
and the entire episode left all of us
scratching our heads. Why had God abandoned him
in his righteous desire? It wasn’t until several
years later that the answer became very clear. Had he received the dream
job after graduation, he would have missed a critical
life-changing opportunity that has now proved to be
for his eternal benefit and blessing. God knew the end from the
beginning (as He always does), and in this case, the answer
to many righteous prayers was no, in favor of a
far superior outcome. And sometimes the
answer to prayer that we so righteously,
desperately, and earnestly seek is not given in this life. Sister Patricia Parkinson was
born with normal eyesight, but at age 7 she
began to go blind. At age 9, Pat began attending
the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind in Ogden, Utah,
some 90 miles from her home, necessitating her boarding at
the school–which included all of the homesickness that a
9-year-old could possibly experience. By age 11 she had completely
lost her eyesight. Pat returned home
permanently at age 15 to attend her local high school. She went on to
college and graduated with an undergraduate degree
in communication disorders and psychology, and
after a heroic struggle against doubting university
admissions officials, she entered graduate school
and completed a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. Pat now works with 53
elementary school students and supervises four
speech-language technicians in her school district. She owns her own home
and her own automobile, which friends and
family members drive when Pat needs transportation. At age 10, Pat was
scheduled to have yet another medical
procedure to address her diminishing eyesight. Her parents had always
told her exactly what was going to happen in
terms of her medical care, but for some reason
they did not tell her about this particular procedure. When her parents did tell
her that the procedure had been scheduled, Pat, in
the words of her mother, “was a mess.” Pat ran to the other
room but came back later and said to her parents
with some indignation: “Let me tell you what. I know it, God knows it, and
you might as well know it too. I am going to be blind
the rest of my life!” Several years ago, Pat
traveled to California to visit family members
who were living there. While outside with her
three-year-old nephew, he said to her, “Aunt
Pat, why don’t you just ask Heavenly Father
to give you new eyes? Because if you ask
Heavenly Father, He will give you
whatever you want. You just have to ask Him.” Pat said she was taken
aback by the question but responded, “Well,
sometimes Heavenly Father doesn’t work like that. Sometimes He needs you
to learn something, and so He doesn’t give
you everything you want. Sometimes you have to wait. Heavenly Father and the Savior
know best what is good for us and what we need. So They aren’t
going to grant you everything you want in
the moment you want it.” I’ve known Pat for many
years and recently told her that I admired the fact that she
is always positive and happy. She responded,
“Well, you have not been at home with me, have you? I have my moments. I’ve had rather severe
bouts of depression, and I’ve cried a lot. However,” she added, “From the
time I started losing my sight, it was strange, but I knew that
Heavenly Father and the Savior were with my family and me. We handled it the best way
we could, and in my opinion, we handled it the right way. I have ended up being a
successful enough person, and generally I have
been a happy person. I remember His hand
being in everything. To those who ask me if I am
angry because I am blind, I respond, ‘Who would
I be angry with? Heavenly Father is in this
with me; I am not alone. He is with me all the time.'” In this case, Pat’s
desire to regain her sight will not be granted
in this life. But her motto, learned
from her father, is “This too shall pass.” President Henry B. Eyring
stated, “The Father is at this moment aware
of you, your feelings, and the spiritual and temporal
needs of everyone around you.” This great and
comforting truth can be found in the three
experiences I have recounted. Brothers and sisters,
sometimes our prayers are answered quickly with
the outcome we hope for. Sometimes our prayers
are not answered in the way we hope
for, yet with time we learn that God had greater
blessings prepared for us than we initially anticipated. And sometimes our
righteous petitions to God will not be granted
in this life. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell
said, “Faith also includes trust in God’s timing.” We have the assurance
that in His own way and in His own time,
Heavenly Father will bless us and resolve all
of our concerns, injustices, and disappointments. To again quote King Benjamin: “And moreover, I would desire
that ye should consider on the blessed and happy
state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed
in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they
hold out faithful to the end they are received into
heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state
of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that
these things are true; for the Lord God
hath spoken it.” I know that God
hears our prayers. I know that as an
all-knowing, loving Father, He answers our
prayers perfectly, according to His
infinite wisdom, and in ways that will be to our
ultimate benefit and blessing. I so testify in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen.

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