Baptized by Fire and They Knew It Not?

And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not. (Moroni 9:20)

sunset-tucson-arizona-856294-wallpaperThe promises and fruits of becoming born again through the baptism of fire and reception of the Holy Ghost are great and powerful. The baptism by fire is a transformation of the whole being. It is to become purified and cleansed without spot. It is to become a Son or Daughter of God.

When we are baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost we receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ and are transformed in his nature and in his holiness. Our dispositions are fundamentally changed.

The experience of being baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost is unmistakable. Here is a list of descriptions throughout scripture of this transformation and its fruit.

Become born again (John 3:3)

Mighty change in your heart (Alma 5:14)

Cleansed from all unrighteousness (Alma 7:14)

Changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness (Mosiah 27:25)

Being Redeemed of God (Mosiah 27:25)

Become the Sons and Daughters of God (Mosiah 27:25)

You are blessed to enjoy the words of eternal life in this world (Moses 6:59)

Become sanctified from all sin (Moses 6:59)

You know God (1 John 4:7)

Overcome the world (1 John 5:4)

Receive the Lord’s image in your countenance (Alma 5:14)

Be filled with the Holy Ghost (Alma 36:24)

Have the wicked spirit rooted from our breast (Alma 22:15)

Receive great joy (Alma 22:15; Mosiah 4:3)

Garments are washed white, purified until they are cleansed from all sin (Alma 5:21)

Sufficiently humble (Alma 5:27)

Stripped of pride (Alma 5:28)

Stripped of envy (Alma 5:29)

Bring forth works meet for repentance (Alma 5:54)

Sing the song of redeeming love (Alma 5:9)

Illuminated by the light of the everlasting word (Alma 5:7)

Quickened in the inner man (Moses 6:65)

Receive a remission of sin (3 Nephi 12:1)

You have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually (Mosiah 5:2)

Willing to be obedient to everything the Lord commands (Mosiah 5:5)

Become spiritually begotten (Mosiah 5:7)

Will not have a mind to injure one another (Mosiah 4:13)

Filled with the pure love of Christ (Moroni 7:48)

Filled with hope and perfect love (Moroni 8:26)

You cannot deny the power of God (Moroni 10:32)

You become holy, without spot (Moroni 10:33)

The promises of transformation in the spirit are so great it brought King Lamoni’s father to be willing to give up all that he possessed, even all of his kingdom to receive this transformation.

How then, is it possible, that a group of Lamanites were baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost and knew it not?  Considering the description and power of the blessing of receiving the mighty change how could someone receive this great blessing and not even know it?

Perhaps there is a different reading of this scripture that could be considered.

Instead of reading it as they did not realize they had experienced a baptism of fire, a careful reading suggests another way of understanding this scripture.

What if they were very aware of being changed in the spirit and transformed – that they knew something powerful and life changing had happened to their being, but what they didn’t know was what to call it.

The Lamanites experienced the miraculous conversion of the spirit. What they didn’t understand, perhaps, is that this thing was the doctrine of Christ. It was the power of the Holy Ghost.

For example, about eight years ago, I went through a few months of experiencing burning, debilitating pain in the back of my right leg. It was so painful, that some days I would have to lay on the ground for a few hours so it would settle down. In fact, it was during this time that I met my wife. When she saw me for the first time she thought I walked with a limp.

Even though I felt this pain in my leg it wasn’t until I went to a doctor that I learned what to call it. It wasn’t until I met someone with knowledge about this condition that I could be taught what it was, what caused it, and ultimately how to fix it.

And so, I believe, it was with the Lamanites. They experienced powerful and life-changing transformation. It probably was later that they had to be taught the doctrine of what they experienced, and why exactly it happened. They had to be taught the doctrine to understand what they had already experienced.

Who Are These Lamanites?

So, this leads us to ask a critical question. Who are the Lamanites to which this scripture is referring?

In 3rd Nephi chapter 9 it is a record of the Savior’s words. The author of the chapter is Nephi, the son of Nephi. It was his father and uncle, Lehi that was present when 300 Lamanites in prison were baptized in a powerful and miraculous way. This account is found in Helaman chapter 5.

“And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words.” (Helaman 5:45).

It was this group of 300 Lamanites that were commanded not to doubt what had happened to them.  (Helaman 5:49)

It is clear to me that the reference to the Lamanites that were baptized by fire in 3 Nephi 9 would be the miracle that Nephi’s father and uncle had participated in by their faith. These Lamanites went on to convert the more part of the Lamanite nation. This would be an event that could be mentioned by Nephi and would be an unmistakable reference to one of the greatest miracles of their immediate generation.

This was such a great occurrence it was also mentioned in Ether chapter 12.

“Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” (Ether 12:14)

This scripture also refers to that conversion experience specifically as a baptism of fire.

Is it possible that 3 Nephi is referencing another account of Lamanites being baptized by fire and not knowing something had happened to them? I suppose it is possible. But it is completely improbable. There is no other example in scripture to which this could possibly be referring. If it’s not the Lamanites in Helaman 5 then we should, at a minimum, withhold interpreting the verse given that we have no idea to who what kind of experience it is referring.

Personally, I am 100% comfortable connecting 3 Nephi 9:20 with the conversion of the Lamanites in Helaman 5. Because of this connection, there is no reason to teach that one could experience a baptism and also not be aware that something had happened. This possibility is not represented in the scriptures. They do not give us that option.

In fact, as demonstrated above, all accounts of the baptism of fire in the scriptures are powerful, miraculous, and unmistakable in the experience. They are for each Latter Day Saint. We should all receive the admonition to “Marvel not, that all mankind must be born again.”

I love the scriptures and the invitation to believe and receive of the miracle of redemption and transformation.

by Todd

Measuring Faith

Friends of the Unblog

I hope you all are doing well.  I think frequently of the hundreds of you who visit the site or subscribe via email and wonder how you are doing in your daily life.  I know many of you struggle.  I know many of you plead for the righteous desires of your heart. I pray for your happiness and peace in a growing world of trouble and noise. I look forward to a future day where we gather together and break bread one with another.

seedI’d like to share a brief thought I have been pondering lately: measuring faith.

Is it OK to measure our own faith?  How about the faith of others?  Do different degrees of faith yield different blessings?  Where is my faith in the eyes of the Lord?  How does my faith relate to those around me? The list of questions goes on, and the answers I’m finding are not only enlightening, but deep and profound as I ponder them.

Here are the measurements I’ve been pondering and how they build upon each other:

Measuring our Faith:

  • Alma 32: “a particle of faith”
    • result: seed planted
  • Mosiah 27:14: “much faith”
    • result: angels minister
  • Mosiah 4:3: “exceeding faith”
    • result: unto repentance
  • Moroni 10:10-11: “exceedingly great faith”
    • result: leads to knowledge (accompanies mighty prayer)
  • D&C 93:1: “know that I AM”
    • result: knowing God
    • Alma 32:34: “faith is dormant; and this because you know”

A General Authority shared this principle with us in a Priesthood Leadership Meeting several years ago and it returns again and again to me as I seek the face of the Lord. I share it with you all in the hopes that it stirs something in your souls and that we progress together towards that sacred end.  That our faith will indeed be measured and found plentiful is my sacred hope this Sabbath day.

Much love,

Kevin

Lay hold upon every good gift

Posted on behalf of Meredith
sunset-wheat-field-856983-galleryRecently I have been reminded by the Lord of a time when I read these powerful words:
“And again I would exhort you [Meredith] that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, [and then He gave me a warning] and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.”  (Moroni 10:30)
I was inspired! So I obediently started pursuing “every good gift”. One might think “Well…THAT is a lofty request!” Yet at the time I was deeply humbled with a power and direction that took me not just to my knees (in tears) but made me fall upon my face with the deepest recognition of the Lord’s mercy that I have ever felt.
Over the course of “many days” as the scriptures say, I was taught that in “Zion” (speaking both, of the state of being and of the literal city) we seek to become all that our Savior Jesus Christ is. That is – receiving His gifts! Thus I was taught, and after much practice taught some more, how to acquire and righteously execute “every good gift.”
In this process of pursuing spiritual gifts, I learned that even a particle of selfishness, compulsion, pride, self-gratification, covering my own hinny, or seeking to “save myself” in any manner, is in effect touching “an evil gift and an unclean thing.” A  heavenly gift simply will not be given to an un-heavenly heart!
I learned in this process that “the nature and disposition of almost all men” tends to exercise unrighteous dominion, and that the powers of heaven (or His gifts) will not be given to that person.
D&C 121:36 states, “That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.”
Elder Holland once said that the word “only” in that scripture could be replaced with the word “except”.  This would then read, “That the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled ‘except’ upon the principles of righteousness.”
So in my pursuit of spiritual gifts, the Spirit prompted me to read:
“That [every good spiritual gift] is inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled “except” upon the principles of righteousness. That they [spiritual gifts] may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control, or dominion, or compulsion, upon the souls of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, amen to [those gifts.]”
It is my testimony that as we lose our pride, our desire to control and dominate, and are humbly tutored by the Spirit, we will receive many precious spiritual gifts, according to the Lords mercy and timetable. Yes, there may come a time for us to move mountains and split seas, strike rocks to bring forth water, pray for manna to rain from heaven, and even speak to God’s creations and they will bring forth His will!  But most of the time His gifts are small and simple, given to empower us to serve, and to bless the lives of those around us. They are brought to pass as we hear, discern, and obey the voice of the Holy Spirit. They come as we learn to take our eyes off ourselves, our demands, and our expectations – and let the Lord do His glorious work within us.
by Meredith

Forgiveness

When I was about 11 years old, I found some frozen jelly rolls in the freezer downstairs in the basement. My mom had bought them at the Wonder Bread “day-old” store and to me they were irresistible – even frozen. It was unusual for us to have such a treat in the house.   Being completely oblivious to any potential consequences, I began to eat first one, then two and ultimately half of the jelly rolls in that package. They were delicious! Well, a few days later my mom went down to that freezer to pull those rolls out and noticed half of them were missing. My mom had an incredible amount of “mother’s intuition” and so she immediately suspected me over my older brother or sister. (I may have been an easy target given my track record). When she confronted me, I did not want to get into trouble, so I told her it wasn’t me and I knew nothing about them. I still remember the sting of that initial lie, which I then followed up with many subsequent lies because my mother was relentless in pursuing the truth.   Looking back now, it seems that this went on for months, although I suspect it was really weeks. My conscience was burning with guilt, but I did not want to get in even more trouble, so I stood my ground.

One night when it was our turn to flood irrigate our small farm in Idaho, mom asked if I would get up with her at midnight and go out and change the water. I agreed and after waking and getting dressed we began the walk to the back portion of the property. If I live Barbed-Wire-Fence-Ideasto be 100 years old, I will not forget the moment when she asked me one more time about the jelly rolls. Well, actually it wasn’t a question, it was a statement. I was in the midst of crossing a barbed wire fence, when she said, “You took the jelly rolls didn’t you.”  I couldn’t take it any longer. The burden of guilt had been weighing upon me like a thousand pounds of bricks. As I pulled my last leg through the wire and stood with both feet on the ground, I simply said, “yes”. My mom then said, I knew it was you. And then it was finished. No lecture, no berating, not a single additional word. I think she knew I had suffered and she left it at that. What a relief I felt! I was free! The guilt was gone, the truth was out and most important, my mom had forgiven me!

I have just finished reading S. Michael Wilcox’s new book titled “Twice Blessed”. It is an amazing and inspiring book about the power of forgiveness and its title comes from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.

The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes…
It is an attribute of God himself…
We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

My favorite story of forgiveness is found in 1 Samuel chapter 25. It is the story of Nabal, Abigail and David. Nabal was known to be “churlish”, defined as rude, rough or “hard”. Abigail, his wife, was a woman of good understanding and of a beautiful countenance. David, who was well known, and would become the King of Israel within a few short years sent 10 young men to go and greet Nabal, and ask him to provide food to David and his men to subsist upon. Nabal possesses sufficient wealth to do as David has requested, but instead, he is rude to the 10 young men and says, “Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? Shall I take my bread and my water and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers and give it unto men whom I know not whence they be?”

The 10 young men return to David and relate what happened. David is furious and takes 400 armed men with him intending to destroy Nabal.   But one of Nabal’s servants, a 110_05_0098_BiblePaintings
young man, tells Abigail what her foolish husband did in regards to David. She immediately makes haste and takes bread, wine, corn, meat, raisins and figs and sets out to intercept David. When she meets him, she bows down before him and makes this amazing statement, “Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be”. She essentially takes responsibility for Nabal’s rebuff of David and pleads for David’s forgiveness and brings the food as an offering of peace. David first listens to and then takes Abigail’s advice to take the offerings and depart in peace rather than shed the blood of Nabal. Within ten days, “the Lord smote Nabal, that he died”. David then sends for Abigail and he takes her to be his wife. An interesting side note is that the prophet Daniel is the only son from the marriage of Abigail and David.

I love this story because it is such a wonderful story of forgiveness based on Abigail as a type for the Savior. Abigail takes Nabal’s bad judgment upon herself and by offering food and drink to David, atones for Nabal’s sin. It is one thing for us to seek forgiveness for our own sins, but it a completely different level of godliness to seek forgiveness for the sins of others. What an amazing example Abigail is to all of us!

I want to come back to the book by Br. Wilcox I mentioned earlier. He tells the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, explaining that when Adam and Eve realized they were naked, they “sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons” [Moses 4:13] and then hid themselves from “the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.” He compares this act of “sewing fig leaves” to the very human response of being ashamed and wanting to cover up or hide our actions. This is exactly what I was trying to do when I lied to my mom about not taking the jelly roles. I was sewing my own apron of fig leaves in an effort to hide my nakedness. Br. Wilcox mentions other ways that we “sew fig leaves” by “making excuses, rationalizing, blaming others, hiding in the shadows of self comforting doubt or intellectual posturing, trying to change the moral landscape to make forbidden things acceptable, etc.” He then declares that God has a better way! He goes on to say this: “Repentance, in a symbolic, visual sense, is removing the aprons, coming outadm-eve-garden-eden-mormon of hiding, and talking openly, trustingly, and honestly with God – and ourselves”. So what does God do to replace these aprons? He makes for us coats of skins. These coats of skins
represent the very atonement of Jesus Christ. Br. Wilcox suggests that the most appropriate animal these coats could be made of would be that of lambs, for surely Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. I love this imagery. It is so powerful. We can exchange our aprons sewn of fig leaves for coats of skins made of the finest lamb-skin. Now our nakedness is truly covered!

There is another concept I want to cover about this topic of forgiveness. It is found in 3 Nephi 12:24 as well as Matthew 5:24. It says this: “Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother (I might add sister here as well), and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you. In other words, until we can forgive others, the forgiveness and miracles that we seek in our own lives (and who among us does not need forgiveness on an ongoing basis), is withheld. If we want to be forgiven, we must be willing to forgive.

It is so easy for us to condemn others for their mistakes. We see the sins of others so clearly. Yet it was the Savior that asked “why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brothers eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye”? Luke 6:41. In psychology there is a theory developed by Sigmund Freud called Psychological Projection in which we defend ourselves against our own unconscious impulses or qualities by denying that they even exist. Yet we have no trouble in attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. This, I believe is exactly what the Savior is saying to us about the mote and the beam. The mote is a sliver of wood. The beam is wood the size of a tree! And yet it is often easier for us to see the sliver in others than it is to see the tree in ourselves.

There is yet even a higher law taught by the Savior in Matthew 18:15 “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother (or thy sister).”

I learned this principle from a wonderful man, Russ Parker, who served as my bishop back in the 1980’s. There was a man in our ward who had had a really rough life, mostly brought on by his own bad choices. He had become a perennial welfare recipient, relying on the church rather than on himself or together with his wife. Both were healthy and capable of working, but he just couldn’t seem to get his act together. At the time, one of Russ’s counselors was Robert Matthews, a man who went on to be a stake president and a now a mission president. As I remember the story, Bishop Parker had been offended by this man who lashed out at him as he was trying to wean him off church welfare and get him to take financial responsibility for himself and his wife. As he was counseling with his first counsellor, Br. Matthews on this matter, Robert read this scripture and Bishop Parker took it to heart. He again sought out this man, told him he had been offended by him, asked for his forgiveness for having taken offence and they then talked through it. That day Bishop Parker gained a brother. That was also the beginning that led this man, who for years had been relying on the church, to become self-sufficient. All of that change in him came, I believe, from Bishop Parker’s willingness to put this scripture to the test.

One last thought before ending today. A good friend of mine reported on a recent stake conference he attended where their new stake president gave a masterful talk about ‘Feeling the Love of God in Our Lives”. He spoke about how Satan used accusations in the pre-mortal existence to convince 1/3 of the host of heaven to follow him. He undoubtedly used words like “you are not good enough; you shouldn’t be so gullible as to trust Jehovah; Father’s plan is too risky for someone weak like you; you don’t have what it takes to safely discern and follow revelation of truth on earth, it will be a dangerous and confusing place; how can you be so stupid to believe that Jehovah will actually go through with an atonement and pay for your sins, etc. etc.”

Jesus, on the other hand agreed to “offer himself a sacrifice for our sins and become our advocate with the Father. He would stand in our place to answer for our sins. He would take up our cause. By virtue of his personal, infinite sacrifice for each of us his love and his joy would be full. He would then have power to offer us each this same love and joy. “

The wise stake president then asked his stake this powerful question: “Whom do ye list to obey? Are we accusers or advocates? Do we accuse ourselves and others before the Lord night and day…or even once in a while? Or do we follow the Savior, Jesus Christ, and stand as advocates of He and Father, and of their plan, and of their children – our brothers and sisters?”

There we have it. Are we an accuser or are we an advocate? Are we Abigail or are we David? Or even worse, could we Nabal?  While it may seem that my mother was an accuser in the case of the jelly roles, I believe she was actually my advocate, helping me to learn to be honest. Refusing to let it rest, until my soul was at rest.  I can tell you that night in that field crossing that fence was a defining moment for me.  It was the night I decided I would always tell the truth regardless of the consequences.

Forgiveness is such a powerful and amazing gift from God. I truly believe it is forgiveness and mercy that unlocks the powers of Heaven. We can all be advocates for ourselves and for others through the mercy that is offered us from the atonement of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is real. My hope is that none of us will ever allow pride, fear, self-righteousness or vengeance cause us to sew an apron of fig leaves. May we instead be fully clothed before the Lord in the pure love of Christ, founded upon a coat of skins made of the purest of lamb-skins, “having a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men.” (D&C 135:4)

Recommended Reading List

bookIn my last post, I asked the Friends Of the Unblog Family to share 2-3 books that changed your life.  Thank you to all of those who submitted a recommendation.  Like so many of you, Brother John forever changed my life.  I am so grateful he had the courage to share with us his gifted pen the experiences that changed his life. I am forever grateful that John wrote, that I read, and then acted. As such, I add my 3 life-changing books to the list as well:

  1. Visions of Glory – when I first read this, it felt like air to my spiritual lungs. It was like a cup that never emptied and I couldn’t drink enough of it.  The spirit touched me so profoundly I have honestly never been the same since.
  2. Following the Light of Christ into His Presence – before I read this book, I wondered if there was anyone else out there seeking the greatest, but often least spoken of, blessings of the Gospel.  Reading this book confirmed that it was not only OK to study these things, but that we should seek them and expect to receive them.  I add my AMEN to everything John wrote here.
  3. My book of personal revelation – while not a physical book I can share with others, I do often recommend to all willing to listen to take the time to cultivate one’s own book of personal revelation from God. Taking the time to not only write down my own revelations, but to go back and see God’s hand in my life and remember past dreams, yearnings, pleadings, and responses has forever changed my life and drawn me closer to the Savior.

So with that, thank you once again to everyone who participated.  If you didn’t take a chance on the earlier post, please add your voice to this list via the comment section of this post.

In summary, I’ve gone through the comments and compiled a easy-to-reference listing for you all.  So the next time you’re wondering what should be next on your “to-read” list or a good book to share with friends and family, please remember to reference this…it might just change YOUR life.

Love you all,

Kevin

  • Visions of Glory, John Pontius
  • Following the Light of Christ into His Presence, John Pontius
  • The Triumph of Zion, John Pontius
  • Journey to the Veil, John and Terri Pontius
  • The Unblog, John Pontius
  • Approaching Zion, Hugh Nibley
  • The Enoch Letters, Neal A. Maxwell
  • Anything by Neal A. Maxwell
  • Yearning for the Living God, Tracie Lamb
  • Reflections from the Life of F. Enzio Busche
  • The Words of Joseph Smith, Andrew Ehan & Cook
  • Discovering the Word of Wisdom, Jane Birch
  • Light in the Wilderness, Catherine Thomas
  • Eve and the Choice made in Eden, Beverly Campbell
  • Latter Day Prophets Speak
  • The Hidden Christ, James Farrell
  • The Mormon Doctrine of Diety, BH Roberts
  • The Godhead within Us, Eric L Chun
  • Approaching Zion – The Collected works of Hugh Nibley
  • The Essential Nibley: Excerpts from the writings of Hugh Nibley
  • The Doctrine of Eternal Rounds – written anonymously
  • Isaiah Decoded, Avraham Gileadi
  • Feelings Buried Alive Never Die, Karol K. Truman
  • Healing Feelings, Karol K. Truman
  • The Last Days, Avraham Gileadi
  • Books of Catherine Thomas
  • Biography of Wilford Woodruff, Cowley
  • Biographies of the recent prophets
  • Of course, The Holy Scriptures

Life-Changing Books?

Woman reading a bookCertain books have changed the direction of my life.  They put into words the feelings, struggles, aspirations, joys and desires I’ve felt and given me direction, guidance, and hope.  With the exception of the Holy Scriptures (including various translations), all have been recommendations from others.  I am forever grateful those recommendations were made and that I decided to read and act…

So, I’d like to hear from the Friends of the Unblog Family what books have changed your life?  Please share with us no more than 2-3 books that were incredibly impactful in your life and perhaps a sentence or two as to why.  Please use the comments section to share.  If we get a great response, I’ll create another post with the summarized list.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

What say you?

How to Have Your Prayers Answered

How to Have Your Prayers Answered
Exactly the Way You Want, Exactly When You Want,
100% of the Time

posted on behalf of Rob

girl-kneeling-in-prayer-303590-gallery“Yeah, right.  So God is a magic genie in bottle ready to grant my every wish?  I don’t think so.”

“Close.  He’s not a genie in a bottle, but He surely will answer every prayer exactly as you want, exactly as you desire, 100% of the time. You just need to know what to ask for.”

“So you’re telling me that God will grant my every desire, my every wish exactly as I want?”

“Yes, provided that you ask for the right thing.”

“Oh, so that’s the catch?  I have to change what I want?”

“Precisely.  Isn’t what you really want is for God’s will to be done for you and your family and loved ones?”

“Yeah, OK, that’s a good ‘Sunday School’ answer, but what I really want is ______.”  [Insert: lots of money; a bigger house, nicer car; kids who behave; people to love and respect me, etc.]  After that, I can work on doing God’s will.”

Believe it or not, I’ve actually had those conversations before.

So what I’m trying to say is that it really is possible to have our prayers answered exactly how and when we want, all of the time, as opposed to those notable exceptions when we are almost surprised when it actually happens.  The key is to truly want, desire, yearn that God’s will for us to be done.  Or to quote Elder Holland, “To say, ‘Thy will be done’ and really mean it.”

I love the Bible Dictionary’s teachings about prayer:  “As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part.”

Do we naturally and instinctively pray?  If not, have we perhaps “forgotten” our relationship to the Divine?

And now for the part I love the most: “Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other.”

D & C 46:30 “He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh.”

Our task is not to convince God that what we want is right and good for us (the genie in a bottle syndrome), but to humble ourselves before our Maker and plead to know His will for us and then to ask sincerely, as directed by the Spirit, that His will be done.  This is how our prayers will be answered exactly as we want, exactly when we want, because what we really, really want in the deepest part of our souls is that God’s will for us be done.  His will truly and in reality becomes our will.  When we get to this point, amazing things can happen.

3 Ne 19:24 “. . . and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire.”

How many times have we experienced this?  Isn’t it glorious when this happens for us?  How many times are we “filled with desire” when we pray?

How often do we bask in the Spirit as we pour out our hearts to our Father, when we don’t want to stop, the feeling is so sweet?  When the words simply flow?  When we are “given” what we should say?  When we listen to ourselves speak and learn things we’ve never thought of before?

Don’t we wish we could have this experience every time we pray?  For me, sadly, it’s the rare and noted exception, rather than the rule.

But wait, there’s more.

“The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them.  Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them.  Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”

So does this mean that we can obtain blessings simply by asking for them?  Yes. Amazingly, Yes!  They are free for the taking.  Free for the asking.  God wants to open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings that there will not be “room enough [for us] to receive” them.

What are these blessings?  Likely not power, not fame or glory, not money or the things that money can buy (which I may venture to speculate comprise a healthy share of the sum total of prayers offered on this planet).  No, Father has in mind much better things for us.

The only way to make ample room to receive the blessings that He yearns to give us requires remaking us in the image of His son.  We must be expanded, enlarged in order to receive all that God wants to bestow upon us.  As our very beings are transformed through the grace of God and the majesty and power of His infinite Atonement, we are changed in a way that enables us to receive the riches of eternity.

Remarkably, these are ours for the asking.  May we each humble ourselves before God and plead that His will for us be done.  Then our petitions, as directed by the Spirit, the heartfelt desires of our souls, will surely be granted exactly when and where and how we want them to be.

By Rob