Monday, October 6, 2014

Thoughts on Prayer

Dear Children,

I want each of you to know how God answers prayers. I also want you each to know that you were an answer to prayer. Your very existence was prayed for each and every time. I have many stories on answered prayers, and you may have heard each of these before ... but I'm writing them down here so that you'll have a simple place to look when you are ready for truth.

First, as much as I love the country song of my childhood, there is no such thing as unanswered prayers. God answers every prayer, but the song is right about one thing, He won't always answer them the way you'd like them to be answered. This brings us to the most important aspect of this conversation. How you pray and what you pray for matter.

Sometimes it is appropriate to beg for things. Even silly, inconsequential things. I can't even tell you how many times I've stopped a frantic search and pleaded with God to "help me find my keys, wallet, phone, etc, etc, please, please, please." One of two mirarculous things always happens during these kinds of prayers. Either, my mind clears up and I know exactly where to go to find the missing item, "down to the laundry room, really God?" But down I go, only to spot my phone on top of the washing machine the moment I enter the room. Always, always thank God the moment said missing item is found. These moments of clarity and prompting are amazing, and one of the simplest ways I know God is real. He. Is. Real. But, if this clarity does not happen, I'm simply reassured to move on with my day. Sometimes I don't handle that advice well, and I get mad at God for not helping. Which is 100% the wrong attitude, and probably part of the reason why He wouldn't help me to begin with. He is a parent, afterall. But even when I'm told to "move on," things do always work out. Like the time God told me I wasn't going to miraculously find my car registration renewal form. "Move on." So move on I did, and guess what, on my way out the door I saw our former registration receipt (which I swear we always keep in the car) . And the DMV has a super easy to fill out renewal form. See, God's great and even when His answer isn't what we want, it's always an answer. He always listens.

Second, timing is everything. During your father and I's honeymoon stage at USU I lost my keys. It was a pain and we searched everywhere but couldn't find them. God didn't seem to have an answer to my begging, but honeymooning left me in enough bliss that I never got angry with God. I just "moved on." After over two weeks of using the spare car key and playing hide and seek with our one remaining house key, I was at the student center computer lab finishing up a portfolio for an Education class. I went to the front desk and asked for a three ring hole punch and the student employee threw open a couple of drawers, checking to see if they had such a tool.

"Those are my keys!" I shouted as the second drawer flew open. She hurried and shut the drawer. Most lost and found rules are that you must identify the item, not see it and claim it. I sensed by her glare that she was not about to surrender my keys to me.

The student employee in charge heard my excited outburst and saw her glare. He quickly decided to intervene. I described every detail of every key chain and each key. He nodded to her to open the drawer and check my descriptions. She tossed the keys in her hand, still not sure she trusted me when her boss said "give them to her, they're clearly hers."

I have no idea why God waited over two weeks to answer those prayers. But I do know I'd finally come to accept the fact that my keys were gone forever, and just then God helped me find them in the bizarrest of ways.

If God has time to know my misplaced keys are stuffed in a campus computer lab drawer, He has time to know every detail about your life. You can take anything to Him in prayer. He knows how and when to answer. He knows which answer is best for you and your spiritual growth.

Finally, God expects you to work. When your prayer is a search for an answer to a question, God expects you to have answers already prepared for Him, and He will either confirm or deny them. If you want to know if The Book of Mormon is true, you must read it. You must decide for yourself if you believe it. Then, you must ask God to confirm to you that you know it is true. If you have decided it isn't true, He will not confirm that belief. You will feel discontent and confusion. He will not confirm falsehoods and He will not deny truths. But you must search and ponder the answers yourself. After all your effort, you can take your answer to Him and He will confirm with peace or deny with stupor of thought. Learn to discern peace and stupor.

In closing, I'd like to combine the importance of timing and the importance of work. There will come times when you are trying to find direction in your life. Where should you attend college, who should you marry, should you serve a mission, what career path should you take? Life has so many different opportunities and many of them are good. You will want God's assurance when you pick the path that is right for you. But again I reiterate how important it is for you to do your work. When I applied to college it wasn't until after I was already accepted to USU that I asked God whether or not USU was the place for me. I'd already done all the work, and He confirmed my efforts.

Before your father asked me on our first date, I told God I was ready for marriage and I asked for His help in the process. Before your father asked for my hand in marriage, I told God how much I loved Ben and I asked for His confirmation of our relationship. When your Dad asked to marry me, I already knew my answer and God's.

But there was a time when I could not figure out God's purpose for me. I'm sure you've heard this story before, but I'm going to write it down here so that it is saved in perfect memory for you.

I always had a desire to serve a mission. My life was planned out and nothing was going to stop me from getting a college degree or serving a mission. The later was coming easily, I loved my time at USU. At the close of my second year I knew it was time to go on a mission. I didn't find an apartment for the following year, and I fully expected to be filling out my missionary papers. But God did not confirm my prayers. I didn't let go of my righteous desire, but I didn't move forward in my effort to serve.

I scrambled to find an apartment for the coming school year, and even on move in day there was one last change to my room assignment. I began my third year of college in turmoil. I loved USU and I felt like I was in the prime of life, but I was approaching 21 and I knew the dreams of my heart were finally available to me. I spent hours and hours stressing over my decision. I found little comfort in my prayers.

Finally, I realized I needed intervention. I needed a Priesthood blessing. Throughout my time at college I had the good fortune of asking your Uncle Matt or Uncle Jon for such blessings. But this time around I knew I needed someone who wasn't aware of my weighty life choice. I needed someone who wouldn't even ask why I needed a blessing of comfort.

The best Home Teacher I ever had between the ages of 19 -31 was just the right person. The words he spoke were from God and I finally had peace. I still did not know whether or not I should serve a mission or abandon the idea all together, but I knew that God would answer that prayer. You see, I'd had so many stupors when I told God I wanted to go that I eventually tried telling Him I didn't want to go. But that was a lie and it resulted in continued stupor. This left me so confused.

The answer I received from that priesthood blessing was to simply stop asking. The timing was not right. God would provide an answer when the time was right, and until then I was to relax and enjoy the life I was living. It didn't take more than two months to find my answer. But for the first time that entire year of college I was at peace. I stopped worrying about serving a mission and simply enjoyed the most wonderful year of friendships and Education I ever had. God needed me to enjoy that college prime before I moved on to greater things.

The answer came crystal clear one Saturday night. "If I pray to God right now and tell Him I want to go on a mission He will finally say 'YES!' Miraculously, my papers were submitted to Church Headquarters within the next 48 hours. I had already done all the work I possibly could up to that point, God finally confirmed my heartfelt desires, and I began my missionary service on the exact day and with the exact people God had designed for me.

Accept the answers God gives you. Remember that timing is just as important as what you are praying for. And make the sacrifices required to receive the answers you need. I love you dear children. And my love is small in comparison to your Heavenly Father's. He answers your prayers. All of them. 

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