Sometimes I think we miss answers to prayers because we look for the wrong answers. We expect to have God answer our prayers in the way we asked, in faith, and that may be the problem. Well, that may sometimes be the problem. God often answers our prayers by granting the blessings we’ve asked for. And sometimes He just says, in so many words, “no…” But I really believe that I may be missing some of the blessings that God grants because I limit His options as far as answering my prayers. For instance…
It may seem small, but Nephi experienced this exact situation. In 1 Nephi 7, Nephi is tied up by his brothers. He prays for the strength to burst the bands that are holding him down. Rather than blessing Nephi with strength, God looses the bands and they just fall off. Now, I don’t know why this particular prayer was not answered in a way that exactly matched Nephi’s pleading. Technically, Nephi could say, “I’m not sure God answered my prayer. I asked for power to break those bands, but that never happened….” Of course, I doubt Nephi felt ignored and I’d bet he quickly recognized that God did answer the prayer, but in a different way than Nephi had pictured. Elder Bednar’s recent conference talk teaches me that similar things happen all of the time.
I’ve already discussed Elder Bednar’s talk on subtle and significant blessings. There’s more. In the following teaching, notice how Elder Bednar explains that not all prayers are answered in a way that directly matches our pleadings/desires:
Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience.
Notice that Elder Bednar keeps saying, basically, “We ask for this, and God gives us that.” Technically, Nephi asked God to touch the muscles in his arms. Instead, God touched the ropes and they fell. Nephi may have missed that blessing if he sat around complaining that God never made him stronger. Do we miss some answers to prayers because they don’t match, exactly, our pleadings and desires? I believe that my faith will strengthen as I discern the answers to my prayers, especially when God decides to answer in a way that doesn’t fit my exact vision for what I hope will happen as a result of prayer.
I testify that as we are spiritually attentive and observant, we will be blessed with eyes that see more clearly, ears that hear more consistently, and hearts that understand more fully the significance and subtlety of His ways, His thoughts, and His blessings in our lives.
These views are personal, and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...