Sunday, November 20, 2016

D&C 4:7 -- On Asking, Knocking, and Learning

"Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen."
Doctrine and Covenants 4:7

The whole idea of asking God for things is everywhere in the scriptures, although it is tempered in several places with additional requirements.  To be fair, I don't think that they are actually meant to be "additional," because it should be obvious that more things are necessary in a gospel context.  But these are excellent reminders for us of how the gospel works: James 4:3 reminds us that we won't receive anything if we only ask for the fulfillment of lustful desires.  John 16:24 tells us that the idea of asking and receiving here is about finding joy.  1 John 3:22 tells us that God gives us what we ask for "because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." 1 Nephi 15:11 includes diligence and the need to not harden our hearts. Matthew 21:22 reminds us that prayer and belief are part of the package.  D&C 29:6 adds unity and faith.  3 Nephi 18:20 specifies that what we ask has to be right.  D&C 42:6 tells us that we should ask for revelation and knowledge so we will "know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal."  D&C 18:18 tells us that we should ask for the Holy Ghost.  Alma 7:23 reminds us that we should express thanks for the spiritual and temporal blessings that God grants us when we ask him.

I think the idea that we are taking the action here is also an important one.  The scriptures aren't telling us that we should sit at home and wait for God to visit us.  They don't say that God will call us up and ask us what we want.  In both cases, the idea is clear.  We need to go to *him.*  This necessitates that we really think about the process, talk it through in our minds... figure out what we really want.  God already knows what we need, way better than we do, and he could just give it to us, but that isn't the idea here. God asks us to ask because he is trying to teach us how to figure some of these things out.  We need to learn about choices and consequences, and long-term joy versus short-term thrills.  We have to learn to ask for--and to want--good things, rather than bad.  And, perhaps most of all, we need to build a relationship with the Lord, and learn of him, because that will sustain us through everything else.

Today, let's ask, knock, and learn.  Let's read some of God's words on the subject, and go to him in prayer.  Let's be more than we have been, and lift our eyes to longer-term goals... always returning thanks to God for his help and guidance in our efforts.

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