The most repeated scripture is “Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” When I had learned that this was the most repeated scripture, I felt a little smug; it had been a favorite of mine since I was in Primary. But the significance of this scripture never really hit home to me until recently.
Sure I say prayers daily. Sure I ask for things. I know my asking has been more along the lines of “please bless me with this, bless my family with that.” That is asking, but is that really what was meant? One night my family ate dinner at some friends’ house. As we sat down to eat, the almost eight year old daughter said the blessing on the food. In her prayer she asked that Princess Pea and I would go to the park with them after dinner. Yes, it was cute and amusing. Her father told her “Heavenly Father is not a genie, he doesn’t grant wishes.”
It is true, Heavenly Father is not a genie and asking in faith or in prayer for something isn’t like making a wish to a genie, it is far better than that. Asking Heavenly Father is literally like asking a loving parent for something.
When I graduated from high school, my parents told me that I was going to go to Metro State for school and live at home. I accepted this because I had not made any plans of my own until last minute, but part of me felt disappointed because I had thought that I was going to go to BYU Idaho. Half way through my second semester at Metro State, I had learned to love it. I enjoyed my classes, meeting new friends, and exploring down town Denver. I also had found that I really liked motorcycles. Many of my friends had one and I thought it would be great to have one too.
One morning as I was getting ready for work, I was thinking deeply about what kind of motorcycle I would get (Ninja 250), when my dad came into the room.
“I know you want something, and you can have it if you just ask.” My dad told me. I perked up immediately.
“You mean I can have a motorcycle?” I asked.
“No!” My dad was taken back (he had no idea that that was what I had been thinking about) “I meant you could go off to BYU Idaho if you want.”
At that point in my life, I had changed my mind. I didn’t want that anymore. I liked Metro State. I liked my job. I liked the missionary experiences I was having at Metro that I wouldn’t have at BYU Idaho. I turned my dad down.
My dad knew that going to BYU Idaho was probably better for me than staying at Metro and was willing to give me that, despite the expense and burden it would put on my parents. Just like my dad knowing that one desire would be beneficial to me in the long run versus a the other desire that would have been fun, but potentially end my life, Heavenly Father knows just what we need and what is best for us. It would be damaging to everyone if He granted us our every whim. As the perfect parent He gives us what we need and often what we want.
In my daughter’s children’s book The Book of Mormon ABC’s the letter X is experiment on the word. The scripture that invites us to ask, seek, and knock is acting in part of the experiment of faith. Asking, seeking, and knocking all takes faith. We take that step of faith into the darkness and ask for guidance and reassurance. Recently I was faced with a task that I was positive was beyond my own ability. Daunting by the enormity of it, I prayed. I asked for the strength, the tenacity, ability, and knowledge to accomplish it. In the end, I had to get help from my family; I couldn’t do it by myself (especially with a toddler). But through this challenge, I did see how my prayer had been answered. I found myself with strength that I know I didn’t have prior.
Asking goes beyond the immediate needs of now to be filled, asking can also be in searching for answers. There are many times things happen and we just don’t know why. There are many things that don’t mesh together (science and religion for one). We don’t have to sit in the confusion and just think “well I don’t know but Heavenly Father said so I’m just going to follow blindly.” We can ask Him. He wants us to ask Him. It’s ok to ask why. Pea hasn’t gotten into the “why” stage yet, but she is in the “because” stage. I ask her why she is crying and she will say “because I am crying.” I will ask her what do you want to eat she will say “because I want to eat”. I ask her anything and the answer is because (whatever the question was). Heavenly Father will not give us the “because it is answer”, He will tell us, if we listen and if we are ready for the answer.
Sheri Dew said “When questions arise or when blessings you have been pleading for remain unfulfilled, they are not an indication that you don’t have a testimony or that the gospel isn’t true. They are an invitation for you to grow spiritually. I repeat, once you have received a spiritual witness of the truths that form a testimony, even your thorniest questions about our doctrine, history, positions on sensitive issues, or the aching desires of your hearts, are about personal growth. They are opportunities for you to receive personal revelation and increase your faith.”
I thought I knew how I was going to vote this election. I was confident on my choice. I told people my decision and felt good about it. One day I realized, I had not talked to the most important person about this decision, Heavenly Father. I prayed and told Him of my decision and I got nothing. I explained why I had made that choice… nothing. Finally I asked what He thought I should do. I still got nothing. It was disappointing that some angel didn’t appear and unroll a scroll and tell me “thou shalt vote for so and so”. I was disappointed that my Great Grandma Millie didn’t come to me in a dream and say “You should vote for so and so.” I was disappointed that the Spirit didn’t come to me strongly with the thought “Vote for so and so.” But I began to read the election news more closely. I began to think about what issues were the most important to me. I began to think about what I valued. I began to research what the cause and effect of each candidate would be. One day I saw a chart that laid out three candidates and their stance on each issue. I read it over and thought “Hmm, crazy.” I listened to several political podcasts and thought about what I would do. Suddenly I realized, I knew who I was voting for. No one told me, not an angel, not my dead grandma, not some news anchor, not my husband, not my parents, or a college professor. I had come to terms with who I was going to vote for by praying, asking, seeking, and knocking. It took work, it took effort, but I got my answer.
No, I won’t tell you who it will be. No, I won’t tell you why. I will tell you to do the same for yourself.
The best thing about our loving Father in Heaven is the fact that we can Ask, Seek, and Knock and He will answer.
How have you asked, sought, or knocked and been answered?