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Answers to prayer

"When answers to urgent prayer don’t seem to come, it can be that we don’t understand some truths about prayer, or because we don’t recognize answers when they come.  Communication with our Father in Heaven is not a trivial matter. It is a sacred privilege. It is based upon unchanging principles. When we receive help from our Father in Heaven, it is in response to faith, obedience, and the proper use of agency. It is a mistake to assume that every prayer we offer will be answered immediately. Some prayers require considerable effort on our part.


Don’t worry about your clumsily expressed feelings. Just talk to your Father. He hears every prayer and answers it in His way. When we explain a problem and a proposed solution, sometimes He answers yes, sometimes no. Often, He withholds an answer, not for lack of concern, but because He loves us perfectly. He wants us to apply truths He has given us.  For us to grow, we need to trust our ability to make correct decisions. We need to do what we feel is right. In time, He will answer, He will not fail us.


When we receive an impression in our heart, we can use our mind either to rationalize it away or to accomplish it. Be careful what you do with an impression from the Lord.  If your feel that God has not answered your prayers, ponder the scriptures, then carefully look for evidence in your own life of His having already answered you.


When He answers yes, it is to give us confidence. When He answers no, it is to prevent error. When He withholds an answer, it is to have us grow through faith in Him, obedience to His truth. We are expected to assume accountability by acting on a decision that is consistent with His teachings without prior confirmation. We are not to sit passively waiting or to murmur because the Lord has not spoken. We are to act.


Most often what we have chosen to do is right. He will confirm the correctness of our choice His way. That confirmation generally comes through packets of help found along the way. We discover them by being spiritually sensitive. They are like notes from a loving Father as evidence of His approval. If, in trust, we begin something which is not right, He will let us know before we have gone too far. We sense that help by recognizing troubled or uneasy feelings.


Sometimes answers to prayer are not recognized because we are too intent on waiting for confirmation of our own desires. We fail to see that the Lord would have us do something else. Be careful to seek His will.


Seldom does a whole answer to a decisively important matter or complex problem come all at once. More often, it comes a piece at a time, without the end in sight. 


I have saved the most important part about prayer until the end. It is gratitude! Our sincere efforts to thank our beloved Father generate wondrous feelings of peace, self-worth and love. Not matter how challenging our circumstances, honest appreciation fills our minds to overflowing with gratitude.


This counsel about prayer is true. I have tested it thoroughly in the laboratory of my own personal life. I have discovered that what sometimes seems an impenetrable barrier to communication is a great step to be taken in trust."



Richard G. Scott, Conference Report 1989

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