Tuesday, August 18, 2015

D&C 9:7-8 -- On Prayer, Faith, and Effort

"Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right."
Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-8

These verses were given within the specific context of translating, but I think they are applicable to us in a more general sense as well.  I think that we paralyze ourselves sometimes in life, waiting for God to tell us what to do, when *he* is waiting for us to take some initiative.  If we thought that God was trying to make us slaves, we we would probably feel all resentful and rebellious, but sometimes we act like slaves anyway, imagining that we need instruction before we can do anything or make any decisions.  But we aren't slaves.  We're children, and God wants us to learn to stand up and make good decisions.  He'll help us along the way, definitely, by confirming a decision or helping us feel that something is a bad choice, but almost never will he tell us every step along the way ahead of time.  This isn't because he doesn't love us, it is because he *does* love us, and wants us to learn and grow and be able to stand on our own.  Just like our earthly parents love it when we get up off the couch and look for a job, our Heavenly Father loves it when we start to understand that he is teaching us to be self-reliant, not just God-reliant.
I like the story of the brother of Jared and the barges in Ether 2.  The brother of Jared had made the barges according to God's specifications, but there were a couple of problems.  Air and light... they wouldn't be able to breathe, and they wouldn't be able to see.  So the brother of Jared asked God about these two things.  And the Lord solved the first one for him, and went back to him and asked him how he wanted him to solve the last one, and ruled out a couple of possibilities.  God could have solved all the problems at the time he told the brother of Jared how to make the barges, but he wanted him to learn by doing, and realize the issues involved as he went along, and in the end he wanted him to learn to innovate and come up with a plan. Today, when we need answers, let's pray about them for sure, but then let's also dive in and try to find them ourselves.  The combination of prayer, faith, and effort will get us infinitely farther than prayer alone... and maybe, like the brother of Jared, we'll learn something cool. :)

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