Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Inspirations March 1, 2009

A few years ago I went to my husband to ask a favor. “Will you pray with me?”

There was a class I wanted to take on how to break into the world of writing for and being published in children’s magazines. It was a correspondent school (through the mail), and I’d be able to work one-on-one with an instructor. The problem was, the class cost a little over $300. Perhaps this doesn’t sound like an awful lot to some of you. To others it may sound exactly as it felt to me: about two weeks worth of groceries!

I simply couldn’t see myself putting our hard-earned money into something that was so incredibly just for me. At the same time, I wanted to take this class, and for me to admit to wanting something was very rare.

For most of my life I adopted the attitude, “If the Father wants this for me, He’ll provide a way.” I promise this attitude was not due to laziness on my part. Rather it stemmed from my need not to rock the boat. You can ask most anyone – I rarely ask for anything for myself. I never want to put others out or make them feel guilty if they have to tell me no. So it’s easier not to ask at all. Yet this is not the Father's way for us, a lesson I learned when praying one night: “If you don’t ask, I can’t give you an answer.”

I was a bit blown away by this concept (and to be honest I still struggle with it several years later). Even though He knew the desires of my heart was I truly required to ask it of Him so that He could answer me?

He knows me so well. It was only a few short months later the opportunity to take this class came to me, and the need to actually say the words, "May I take it" needed to be uttered.

With this radical new concept in my head, I went to my husband to ask the favor. I told him about the class, and how reluctant I was to spend that sort of money on the class. He did precisely what I knew he would, and offered to pay for the class anyway (he’d give me the moon if it was up for grabs). I convinced him to pray, and to keep three things in mind: first, to let the Father know of my desire to take the class, second, whether or not we should put our money into the class, and three, to take the desire away if it was simply not right.

Let’s fast forward to last year around this same time. I’d been involved in helping launch a new blog site that utilized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed LDS Church and/or Mormons) to write on subjects involving the Church. It was our hope to give a positive look at the ins and outs of what outsiders refer to as the Mormons, at our beliefs and order and testimonies.

During my sojourn with this group I was given the opportunity to learn an awful lot. Coming up with thirty posts a month (fifteen a piece for teens and children) demanded much study. As Easter approached I happened on three books by Andrew J. Skinner, author and professor at BYU, on the atonement and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope to share much of what I learned with you in the coming months as we approach Easter again, but one particular truth rings loud in what I’m trying to share with you today.

Three different times we are given insight into how we should ask things of our Father. The Lord has entered into Gethsemane, a familiar place of peace. He begins to sense something He’s never sensed before – the heaviness and weight sin can place upon a person. We can sense his uneasiness and worry as He kneels down to say a prayer:

“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).

“He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42).

“And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words” (Matthew 26:44).

I recognize each of us are individual, and being so we will take from that individual insights. Indulge me for a moment to share with you what struck me most.

First, the Savior asked. He asked! “If it’s even just a tiny bit possible for me to do what you need me to do without experiencing this horrific thing, please Father let it happen.” Not only did He ask once, but three times! The key word He speaks is ‘if.’ He wasn’t demanding a release of responsibility, but asking for something, with full realization the answer might be no.

Second, the Savior shows us the ultimate example of what it means not only to pray, but to submit our will to the Father. “Thy will be done.” How many of us say the same when asking for something? How many of us recognize the necessity of those four little words?

And third, ultimately the Lord did submit to the Father’s will, and He did so without complaint. He didn’t whine and moan and curse whatever fate led Him to that point. What is perhaps the most beautiful and poignant part of the entire thing is after knowing what was being asked of Him the first time, He came back. Not once, but twice more did He continue to submit to the will of the Father.

If there is something out there you’ve been afraid to ask the Father for, stop being afraid. He wants you to come to Him, to talk with Him in prayer, to counsel with Him in things both great and small. But look to the Savior’s example in every aspect of this prayer: be willing to ask, a few times if necessary, for that which you desire. But, and this is the part many of us forget, remember to say, “Thy will be done.” Then, if the answer is no, accept it with grace and trust He knows what’s best. You might be surprised at how things work out.

In case you were wondering, the answer to my question about putting that much money into one class was no. And I was okay with it. The desire to take the class was gone. But I was then surprised when my husband came home from his dad’s house one night with a check in hand written in the amount of the class. I was able to take the class and had a wonderful experience. I even sold a few stories which felt wonderful! The answer to "should we put our money into the class" was no, but the desire to take the class in the first place was one He fulfilled.

The lesson learned is simple yet effective, one I hope you will take to heart: if you don’t ask, Heavenly Father can’t answer.

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