Answers to Prayers by Brook P. Hales
Content by Kali Toone
This is not written by someone that is an expert on finding answers to prayers. In fact, I say prayers with my kids every single night but I have always struggled with saying personal prayers.
A few weeks ago my mom called, and it was one of those days where every worry in the world seemed to wind up in my corner. I just felt backed up in that corner with all those worries screaming at me with no way out.
In most situations like this, it leaves me severely overwhelmed, but on that day, I laughed. It was comical how ridiculously stuck I felt. And my mom laughed with me and said, “Everything will work out how it’s supposed to.” Ever heard that before?
Four hours later, my kids were bathed, pajamas on, prayers said, and both tucked in bed. I sat at my dining table with my scriptures open and, as I usually do, tried to offer up a prayer that didn’t sound as awkward as I always feel. I don’t think I said much before I broke down crying. Why is praying so terribly hard for me? Why can’t I sound eloquent or proficient? I just sound like I’m rambling about nothing and distracted by everything. Do I even make any sense? Who is willing to listen to this?
In the middle of all those feelings, I thought, “Of all the worries I felt piling up on me today, the thing that had me the most upset was how I prayed? And is Heavenly Father even listening or can He understand me?” Yep, another reason to laugh today. Just sit with me for a minute in my quiet house sitting at my dining table and see a crazy lady alternatively laughing and crying hysterically. Can you see the Savior sitting next to me laughing with me and saying, “Silly girl. I’ve always been here. I’m always listening. And I know what you’re trying to say, you just have to say it. It doesn’t have to be perfect for ‘I know thy heart, and have heard thy prayers’ (D&C 112:11)”?
“One aspect of that perfect love is our Heavenly Father’s involvement in the details of our lives, even when we may not be aware of it or understand it.” -Elder Brook P. Hales
On that day a few weeks ago I received many answers to prayers, but I don’t think I would have found them had I not been looking. On that day Heavenly Father blessed me with positive thinking because I laughed when things looked HARD! My scripture study is interrupted about 9 out of 10 times because someone forgot to go to the bathroom, one more book needs to be read, or one brother is snoring too loud for the other to go to sleep. But on that day, I sat in uninterrupted silence and spoke very vulnerably with my Father in Heaven. In that silence I found answers. I found peace. On that day, Heavenly Father blessed me with an eternal perspective.
Do you struggle with finding answer to prayers? Maybe your solution lies in finding tender mercies more often throughout your day. Maybe it has more to do with understanding how the Spirit speaks to you. Perhaps you need to learn to be more careful than casual with your daily prayers. Elder Hales says our direct line to divine guidance is connected to our commitment to the covenants we have made. Do you need to reevaluate your level of commitment?
My struggles may seem silly to some of you but I do know that He is there, He is listening, and He understands us perfectly. I have a testimony of prayer even if my efforts seem small. I know that, no matter where we start, this gospel encourages improvement. It’s so much less about where we are on the journey and more about the fact that we are all working to improve together!
FAITH IN ACTION
As an adult woman and mother I have often gone back to the Personal Progress program as a means of personal improvement. The first required value experience is all about establishing a habit of prayer to understand and strengthen faith.
As we discussed before, everyone is in a different stage of finding answers to prayers. For you, completing this value experience may be less about establishing the habit, but being more intentional when you pray. Maybe each time you pray this week you need to start by writing down 5 things you are grateful for that day. Or maybe it’s about finding time to listen for answers.
Faith and testimonies are built when we first believe in the promise that is given, act on that principle, and then find evidence of our belief as we practice.
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”
In the Come, Follow Me lesson this week Christ teaches the people in the temple and tells them that if they try the doctrine out for themselves, they will know for themselves if it is of God – if it is true.
During Family Home Evening this week talk with your children about how your testimony has grown on any given gospel principle and how you gained that testimony. Talk about how you are trying to strengthen your testimony on finding answers to prayers and what you have to do to strengthen your faith and testimony of prayer.
A huge part of ministering requires finding answers to prayers. Praying for our sisters’ well-being is an act of service. Praying to know how to help or how to connect with them can help us minister better.
Sometimes it requires prayer on our behalf so we can have a better attitude or become more willing to be involved with our sisters.
Include your ministering efforts in your journey to develop a testimony of prayer this week.