Thursday, October 3, 2013

on receiving answers to prayers

I grew up in the Mormon faith.

My parents were Mormon, my grandparents were Mormon, my great-grandparents were Mormon...you get the idea.

I'd always believed the church to be true.  Always.

But in high school, I started to wonder.  I'd tell the boys in my classes about Joseph Smith.  About how he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in a grove of trees when he was just fourteen years old and learned that none of the churches on the earth at the time had all of God's truths.  I saw the incredulous looks on their faces.  The bewilderment that I could believe something so preposterous.

And for the first time in my life, I realized that that's exactly how it sounded.  Preposterous.

I wanted to believe it, but I just wasn't sure I did anymore.

I took a release-time class called Seminary with a teacher named Brother Johnson.  Basically, it's a class hosted by the LDS Church (but available to anyone) that teaches about the scriptures.  It was in the fall, and the air was getting colder, which always meant that it was getting closer to General Conference.  General Conference is something else put on by the LDS Church that claims to have living prophets speaking to the world.  You know, like the ones in the Bible, except that they are alive today and still receive revelation from God.

Brother Johnson introduced a program to help us prepare for General Conference called "Fast From the World Week."  It involved reading your scriptures for at least 30 minutes every day, abstaining from watching television, wearing your Sunday best (even to school), carrying around your scriptures, and a whole host of other things that sounded like a lot of work to me.  But then Brother Johnson said something that caught my attention.  He said that if we did these things, and then sincerely listened to the prophet during General Conference, that we would receive answers to any questions that we might be having.

I figured that if I were going to find out whether or not this church was true, this would be the time.  I decided to put all of my effort into this "preparation" week, hoping against hope that I would receive answers to my questions.

And I felt nothing.  All week.

Nothing during my prayers.  Nothing during my scripture reading.  Nothing. At. All.

I started to feel discouraged, but I knew the week wasn't up yet.  We hadn't even had General Conference yet.  So I kept going.

We drove over to my grandparents' house to watch it that Saturday morning (since it's broadcast live on TV a couple of times on Saturday and a couple of times on Sunday), and I felt a distinct heaviness in my heart.

Maybe this wasn't really true after all.

The opening song played, and again I felt nothing.

But then a frail, 90-something year old man hobbled across the platform and over to the podium.  I knew who he was.  I'd known of him for years.  He has since passed, but at that time, he was the prophet Gordon B. Hinckley.  I don't remember what he said, but I do remember what I felt.

As soon as I saw him, I felt an almost-tangible peace.  There were no lightning flashes, no angels, no voices from heaven, and yet...somehow I knew in my heart that this man truly was a prophet of God.  And because I knew that, I knew that the LDS faith really was the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth.

But perhaps even more importantly, I knew that God had answered my prayers.

General Conference is this weekend.  I am always excited to hear the prophet speak, but this conference especially feels significant as I am searching for answers yet again.  Nothing as monumental as that experience in high school, just answers to simple questions about my life right now.  I am doing my own modified "Fast From the World" program, though to be honest, I suspect that answers will come more because of the sincerity of my efforts rather than because of the specifics of what I am doing.

If you are searching for answers this lovely fall season, let me promise you that God wants to answer your prayers.  He loves you.  If you will just put forth some effort with the sincerity of your whole heart, you will get answers to your questions.  Maybe your questions aren't about which church is true.  Maybe they're about why your life is hard right now or why a loved one died or what to do next with your life.  But no matter the question, if it is important to you, it is important to God.

I know because He answers my prayers all the time.  Not always the way I want or in the way I expect, but He always does.  And always in the best way possible.

And this weekend, if you want to hear some reassurance from a man who talks to God all the time, listen to the prophet during General Conference.  You can watch it live here or here.  I promise it will bless your life.

P.S.  The most remarkable part about that preposterous-sounding story is that...it's true.  And you can learn more about it here.

4 comments:

Siri Baxter said...

I so agree with you! How blesses we are to be able to ask our Heavenly Father questions and know that He cares enough to answer us!

Lindsey said...

Agreed! I am so thankful for the Restored Church of Jesus Christ, and for a living Prophet. I am grateful that General Conference is this weekend and I will get to hear special messages that will answer my prayers as well.

Alexis Kaye said...

You're such a good example :)

Recently Roached said...

Such a cool story. :) God is always listening and He always cares.