Do you believe that God answers the prayers of His children? Or what about your prayers? As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the “Mormon Church” by friends of other faiths) I follow the counsel of my church leaders who teach us to pray everyday—in fact to “pray always” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:5). Because I have followed this counsel, I know and testify that He does answer our prayers—each and every one of them.
In a book titled, Be Not Afraid—Only Believe, written by Ted L. Gibbons, and published in 2009 by Cedar Fort, Inc., he gives examples (both ancient and modern) of prayers being answered in the Lord’s “due time”:
Fear Not for Thy Prayer Is Heard
Zacharias and Elisabeth were good people. “They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6). They were old and “well stricken in years” (Luke 1:7) and were grieved because they had no children. Everyone knows someone who has found the process of conceiving to be an agonizing obstacle. My wife and I have two married children who have longed for offspring. Family members have prayed with them for years, and the Lord has heard our prayers. But think of the time Elisabeth and Zacharias waited. How many years passed with the continuing cycle of apparently unanswered prayers? And they were both righteous! The story offers no hint that their childlessness was because they lacked spirituality.
Finally, in the temple, Zacharias saw Gabriel and “the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son” (Luke 1:13). They were still praying! In their advanced age, when Zacharias was “an old man, and [his] wife well stricken in years” (Luke 1:18), they were still praying!
Clearly, God withholds some blessings because he wants to teach lessons that go beyond the obvious exercises in repentance and righteousness. When he was President of BYU, Elder Holland once said, “God wishes us to be strong as well as good.” That is great theology! And God needed strong parents for John the Baptist. Who knows what God wanted those two ancient Saints to learn? But I believe that the years of waiting and praying must have refined them—strengthened them in ways that could never have happened with a houseful of children.
I also believe that when Elisabeth held John to her breast and when Zacharias received his voice again and offered that astounding prophecy (Luke 1:67–79) about his son’s mission, there were no regrets…
In Mine own Due Time
John 5 gives the account of a man with a terrible infirmity who had faith enough to be healed, but who had suffered for thirty-eight years (John 5:2–9). Twenty-five times in the scriptures the Lord says He will do things in His “own due time.” This oft repeated phrase teaches us that we cannot expect God to act instantly each time we ask. We do expect Him to listen and to care. We expect that we will receive when we ask, that doors will open when we knock, and that we will find when we seek (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9; 3 Nephi 14:7; D&C 88:63), but we must leave the timing in the hands of someone who knows more than we do. I had to learn this lesson myself.
Nineteen years after the death of my father, my mother remarried. Within three years, her second husband was dead and she was left alone with advancing blindness due to macular degeneration. Even though I had a sister living near Mother, I felt a need to move to the city where she lived in order to help. I told those in charge of assignments for the Church Educational System, my employer, that if possible I wanted to be moved to the Logan Seminary. I explained my concerns about my mother and was told that every effort would be made to accommodate me. My wife and I prayed often because we were anxious that the Lord should be aware of our hopes.
When assignments were made, I learned that I would not be moving to Logan to teach. There were no openings for me. I was disappointed but I resigned myself and resolved to apply again the following year.
In the summer before the new school year began, I attended a meeting of CES personnel at BYU. While there, I encountered the principal of the Logan Seminary, a friend and former bishop. He had a question for me.
“Ted, why did you decide not to come to Logan?” “I didn’t decide,” I said. “You didn’t have any openings.”“No openings?” he replied. “Ted, the central office put three new teachers in our seminary for next year.” Suddenly my feelings changed. I could not understand why my request—my righteous request—had not been granted. Why had the Lord not intervened to get me to the place where I was needed? I knew what was best. Didn’t He?
These were my feelings on the day I talked to the principal from Logan and for several weeks afterward. What had happened made no sense. Everything I could see with my natural eyes indicated that I should move to Logan. I did not consider the Lord’s timing in this matter, but if I had, I would have wondered what possible good could come to my mother from an extra year without my help.
However, just weeks after school started, my mother, who loathed the thought that she might become a burden to one of her children, surrendered her independence. She returned her home to the children of her second husband and moved into the home of my older sister, one half-mile down the street from my own home.
A few months later, my sister and her husband accepted a call to preside over a mission. We only needed about half an hour to move Mom and her belongings to my home.
How grateful I am that the Lord imposed His timing and did not give me what I had pled for. How thankful I am to worship a being who can see the wide expanse of eternity and allow things to work together for the good of His children. (pages 111-115)
I invite you to follow the counsel of the Mormon Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, who said, “Through personal prayer, through family prayer, by trusting in God with faith, nothing wavering, we can call down to our rescue His mighty power. His call to us is as it has ever been: “Come unto me” (“Come unto Him in Prayer and Faith,” Ensign, March 2009). God the Father desires to answer our prayers—just like a parent desires to fill the dreams of their children—and He will answer our prayers, we simply need keep praying with faith, until our prayer is answered.
This article was written by Ashley Bell, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Ashley Bell is a 22-year old wife, mother, BYU graduate, and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ashley loves to run, cook, garden, read, and most of all spend time with family and friends.