Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Receiving Answers to Prayer

Once a month, in the Ensign and Liahona magazines, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives a special message to its readers.  This month the message was written by President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor to President Thomas S. Monson, on the topic of prayer.  I will be quoting parts of his message on this page, but if you are interested in reading his full article you can do so here:  The Voice of the Lord.

I have touched on the meaning of prayer in the post - "Back to the Basics:  Prayer" - and if you'd like to learn about that you can visit that post.  This time, to follow along with President Eyring's message, I'd like to talk about answers to prayers, and how they are received.

As mentioned in my previous Prayer page, prayer is "a reverent communication with God during which a person gives thanks and asks for blessings." (LDS Guide to the Scriptures - Prayer).  If we are going to speak to the Lord, it is only natural that he answer us, thus creating that communication with God.

How do we get answers to our prayers?  Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve, has said, "as in the gospel itself, the first principle is faith."  He then goes on to say that following faith one must have humility (The Lord's Way, pp. 33-34).  President Eyring echoes these words, saying, "Humility and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are the key."  If we are humble and believe that God will answer us then we will receive his answers.

Taking from President Eyring's article, we learn why we need faith and humility:
"Over and over in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord requires faith and humility before he gives His help.  One reason for this is that His answers may not come in the way we expect.  Neither will they always be easy to accept."
He continues with the example of his ancestor:
"My great-grandfather Henry Eyring prayed fervently to know what he should do when he heard the restored gospel taught in 1855.  The answer came in a dream.

"He dreamed that he was seated at a table with Elder Erastus Snow of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and with an elder named William Brown.  Elder Snow taught the principles of the gospel for what seemed to be an hour.  Then Elder Snow said, 'In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to be baptized and this man [Elder Brown] ... shall baptize you.'"
Although it is a rare occasion for prayers to be answered in such a way, it can happen in a vision (see 1 Nephi 8:2; Acts 10:10-16).

Many times answers to prayers can be found in reading the scriptures.  This is not strange when one realizes that many recorded scriptures are simply the answers to prayers asked by prophets in ancient times.  Answers to those prayers can help answer our prayers.  I remember a few years ago needing help with some problem I had.  After going to the privacy in my room I prayed about it and once I opened my eyes I saw my Book of Mormon.  Opening the Book of Mormon I found a scripture with my answer.

Among the most common ways a prayer is answered is through the whispering of the Spirit.  In an interview with Mr. Wallace, of 60 Minutes, Gordon B. Hinckley was asked how he communicates with the Lord.  President Hinckley answered him with by quoting from the book of 1 Kings.
"And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind:  and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:  and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire:  and after the fire a still small voice" (1 Kings 19:11-12).
The Book of Mormon also speaks of the Spirit of the Lord, the still small voice:
"They heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center ... and did cause their hearts to burn" (3 Nephi 11:3).
That scripture ends by saying it caused their hearts to burn, which is another way to receive an answer - through feelings!  Oliver Cowdery, scribe to Joseph Smith, was told in answer to his own prayer that the Lord will "cause that your bosom shall burn within you" (D&C 9:8).

The final way to receive an answer that I will mention in this article is through other people.  They may not know it, but often times an answer to prayer comes through others.  I know families that were in need of food and prayed for a way to receive some when a neighbor decided to bring over some food.  I've seen this happen with other things, such as a person needing yard work done and a neighbor offering to help.

If we look out for such things mentioned above (and even others not talked about) we will see that the Lord does answer all of our prayers, in his way.

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All photos on this blog post are taken from the LDS Media Library.

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