The Lord Answers and Blesses Active Prayers of Faith…
I love the words spoken by the Lord to the brother of Jared recorded in Ether 1:43, “And thus I will do unto thee because this long time ye have cried unto me.” These are reassuring words from a God that wants to bless His children and give answer to their prayers of faith. True to His word, God did answer the prayers of the brother of Jared and taught us all about the importance of both praying and acting in faith.
I remember playing on the school-ground as a little child and having one of my classmates teach me that whenever we needed something, specifically to repent, all we needed to say was “God forgive me,“ and move right along. He told me that all we needed to do was ask, and frankly with no additional effort on our own part, God would grant or restore that which we needed. I must admit that I experimented on those words for about a day or so, and even as a little child I found them lacking. I knew then that God expected more from us than passing words in a moment of excess time on our behalf. He requires more than a passing request, only to then expect Him to do all the rest. To expect blessings without personal and committed devotion is like simply blowing out the candles on the birthday cake and expecting a wish has been earned. A wish gained without effort is a hollow earning.
Elder Richard G. Scott taught of the need for personal effort and responsibility in our prayerful requests. He said, “When we explain a problem and a proposed solution, sometimes He answers yes, sometimes no. Often He withholds an answer, not for lack of concern, but because He loves us—perfectly. He wants us to apply truths He has given us. For us to grow, we need to trust our ability to make correct decisions. We need to do what we feel is right. …We are expected to assume accountability by acting on a decision that is consistent with His teachings without prior confirmation. We are not to sit passively waiting or to murmur because the Lord has not spoken. We are to act. …In time, He will answer. He will not fail us” (General Conference, October 1989).
As Elder K. Brett Nattress taught about opening the heavens through prayer from his daughter’s example of faith and personal effort, “She had prayed as if everything depended on the Lord and then had worked as if everything depended on her. A miracle had occurred because of her faith” (General Conference, April 2018).
I am reminded of when my own son Matthew taught me a lesson about participatory faith and prayer. While kayaking down the rapid currents of the Kings River he lost his orthodontic retainer in the water. He did not notice it missing until we had paddled well down stream. He was just a teenager, and like so many young people we have seen in person and in scripture, he had great faith. He determined to find it against impossible odds. Matthew turned his kayak upstream and paddle several hundred yards against the current, a feat that most people would be unable to complete. When he returned to the area of the wide river where he last saw his retainer and could not find it, having done all that he could reasonably do, he bowed his head in humble prayer. When he opened his eyes he reached directly down under the water and retrieved the retainer with his hand. Matthew did not think to wait down stream and expect the Lord to bring the retainer to him. He knew that with active faith in God all things are possible, and the Lord joyfully blessed his faith.
God will sometimes answer our prayers with specific instructions. He did the prayer of the brother of Jared when he requested instruction on how to get fresh air into the barges that he was directed to build. However, on another request, how to light the barges so that they would not have to cross the seas in the dark, the Lord required that the brother of Jared find a solution for himself and present it to the Lord. The Lord asked, “what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?” (Ether 2:25).
This question prompted the brother of Jared to stretch beyond a relationship where he simply carried out instruction, but had to be an active participant in problem-solving. His response was unique, accepted by the Lord, and came with a manifesting blessing more miraculous than simply providing light in barges without the use of fire.
The brother of Jared carefully and painstakingly prepared some white stones and requested that the Lord touch them with His finger so that they would provide light in the darkness. In response to this effort and faith-filled request, “the Lord stretched forth His hand and touched the stones one by one with His finger. And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord” (Ether 3:6). Because of the purposeful and participatory faith of the brother of Jared the Lord showed Himself unto him and revealed all things. “Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters” (Ether 3:14).
As the Lord lovingly taught Moroni, “And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are. …when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel” (Ether 4:7, 15).
May it be also with us, that we, like the brother of Jared, like the daughter of Elder Nattress, and like Matthew – the son of Danny and Monica, may pray with active faith, participating with our Heavenly Father in fulfilling His divine promises and answering prayers. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.