As a young mother, I watched some of my children express doubt because their prayers were not always answered immediately or in the way they wanted. I, myself, felt that God’s love for me was manifest in the blessings I received at His hand. So when trials came along, and lasted a long time as they often do, I had the feeling that I had displeased my Heavenly Father in some way and was not worthy of the blessing I badly needed. Then I read, again, the counsel from these two great prophets and I realized that my children and I both needed to learn that hope and faith always precede the miracle. Answers to prayer, and especially miracles, do not happen in order to prove our faith is justified. I told my children that asking for blessings to prove there is a God makes faith unnecessary, and that is not the way God operates.
I know God is there and hears my prayers and loves me, weak as I am. I have learned that “no” is an acceptable answer to a requested blessing. Thanks to Ether and Moroni, I continue to have faith that Heavenly Father’s wisdom is greater than my own, and that is what I now share with my grandchildren.
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Many of us have moments in our lives when we wonder if we should stop trying to achieve a goal we once felt was extremely important. In The Book of Mormon, Ammon and the other three sons of Mosiah experienced those same feelings. They wanted more than anything to help the Lamanites come nearer to God. But the harder they tried, the more hostile the Lamanites became. At a moment of real discouragement, Ammon recounts, they heard the words of the Lord quoted above.
Ammon and his brothers were men of God, but they still became depressed because of the difficulties they were experiencing. I have always found it astonishing that Ammon used the word “comfort” to describe how the Lord helped them, because the Lord did not give them what we would call comfort today. He asked them to return to the hostile Lamanites and try again.
So they returned and got spit on, stoned, put in prison, and run out of town. But eventually they baptized thousands of these once hostile Lamanites. They had astounding success.
So when I am disappointed, or when I become discouraged, I think about Ammon and his brothers. I have never been stoned, or spit on, or run out of town. No one has ever attempted to murder me, as some of the Lamanites did to Ammon and his brothers. So I pray, and fast, as did Ammon and his brothers. And then I have confidence that the Lord will give me success as he did them.
I have experienced the benefits of prayer and fasting. I know that the Lord can give us help when we need it. I love The Book of Mormon. It has answers for the problems we face in our lives.
I have many examples of the Father answering my personal prayers. I’ve learned through personal experience that when I’m really troubled I can go to my Father in Heaven and He will answer my prayers. For instance, when we were moving from Dallas back to our home in Utah, rather than let the movers handle them we personally packed up and set aside some very valuable papers and documents we would need when we got home. We spent a month visiting family and friends and touring significant spots in the United States. When we finally arrived home and unpacked everything in our Volkswagon bus, the papers we needed were missing. I could not remember where I had packed them, and they were nowhere to be found. That night I pleaded with my Father in Heaven to help us locate the lost items, and went to bed, sleeping soundly. Early the next morning, just before dawn I had a dream and in that dream it was revealed to me, as in a movie, exactly what we’d done with the documents and where we could find them: the night before we were leaving Dallas, a friend headed directly to Utah volunteered to save us space by taking this small trunk and holding it until we would arrive a month later. We happily accepted the offer, and in the scramble of packing and saying goodbye never gave it a second thought. None of us had remembered that transaction until it was revealed to me.
I have had many such experiences, the Spirit speaking to me in the early dawn when my mind is cleared and prepared to listen without distractions. I know He is there and He cares.
In college I was terrified of messing up big decisions. I would get really worked up about what boys to date, what job to take or what major to pursue. I had a strong desire to do what is right, but fretted over what was the best route. I remember one night I was particularly anxious about a decision and I had a thought to look to my scriptures. I opened the Book of Mormon to the above verse. Even though this was written hundreds of years before my time and the man who wrote it was facing trials totally different than mine, I felt like God was speaking me. I had felt lost and unsure and this scripture offered a plan and a promise. I have always felt it important that it tells me to do my part by preparing my mind, not just wait around for an answer. Adequate preparation combined with both faith in God’s love for me and a little bit of patience has become the equation that helps me resolve any problem I come across. I truly come back to this scripture whenever I am feeling overwhelmed and it simply gives me peace. I love the Book of Mormon. I love the feeling of comfort and peace I get when I read this scripture. I am so grateful to feel God’s love and guidance through the Book of Mormon.
My soul hungered. My legs were burning from the climb. A moment’s rest at the top of the mountain was a needed reprieve. Beads of sweat pooled where my bicycle helmet met my forehead. Behind me I glimpsed the hair pin curves and twists of the narrow asphalt road exposed between the openings in the dense pines and oaks.
The view was spectacular, but my mind was elsewhere. During the arduous press up the incline, the words I had read were stirring deep in my heart. A seventeen year old boy raised in the Mormon faith, I had often heard my parents speak of the joy of the saints. I wanted to know with greater surety of the things of God. My heart was filled with desire for assurance and conviction of what I had been taught and what I hoped and professed to believe. I had felt God’s love for me and felt he cared when I prayed to him. Jesus’ teachings in the Bible were profound and brought out the best in me. My desire was to ask God about something else: the Book of Mormon.
I remembered the story of Enos, a hunter. He had been out hunting in the forest. Like me, he reflected on what his father had taught him and was filled with desire. Like him, I decided to pray. Climbing a large boulder and kneeling in the moss, I vocalized my desire to know what I believed to be true. I cried out for help. I pleaded for God to help me be a better person. I wrestled with the intensity of my soul, a wrestle that did not fully begin that day or end that day. I felt the love of God. My faith in Him and His Son grew. I trembled with the distinct knowledge of his love for me.
Like Enos, I turned my thoughts to others, and I knew of God’s love for all mankind, for each of his children. I felt strongly that God loves each one individually and I prayed for my family, my friends, and then for those I did not know, and finally for those I didn’t even like.
My conviction of the Book of Mormon solidified. I felt the truth of that book. God had given answer to the desire of my soul. I did not see angels, I did not hear a voice, but I felt deeply of God’s concern for me.
My journey that day had been a hunt that brought me nearer to God. Life is full of twists and turns and mountains to climb, replete with highs and lows, pain and joy, and sorrows and happiness. I still have much to learn and I still make mistakes. I know better that God cares about me, and that the story of Enos’s hunt in the Book of Mormon brought me closer to Him. My journey in life remains a hunt that draws me nearer to God.