Years ago at a Stake meeting, I heard Gene R Cook talk about a book he was going to publish. It was to be on the subject of receiving answers to our prayers. For the next two hours he spoke on prayer. To introduce his subject he did the most interesting thing I have ever heard in a church meeting. He issued a challenge to all those in attendance to take out a pen and paper and write down something they wanted from the Lord. There were about 250 people at the meeting and he asked us to do this several times until everyone participated.
Instead of hearing what he did next from my recollection, I have taken the following from pages 12-13 of the book he later published: Receiving Answers to our Prayers.
“To me, knowledge is not nearly as important as knowledge combined with the willingness to apply it. When we learn, then, we must decide to repent, to exercise faith, and to do whatever else is required to make what we’ve learned operational in our lives.
Here’s what I’d like you to do. Get a piece of paper and write on it something very personal that you want from the Lord—something you want very much. Don’t just pick something easy. The harder it is, the better, so you can have a real experience with faith. Maybe you’re concerned about your spouse. Maybe one of your children has rejected what you’ve taught him, and you’re worried. Maybe you’re struggling with a health problem. Maybe you’re in the midst of great financial troubles. Maybe you just want more faith, more testimony, more strength to be able to repent and change, more ability to overcome a personal weakness. Write your desire on a piece of paper, and work on it as you proceed through this book.
Don’t think you’re not good enough to receive the Lord’s help. As I travel around the world, I meet too many members of the Church who think they can never qualify to receive answers to prayer. They say, “Sure, if I were a General Authority or the stake president or the bishop I could get answers, but I’m too . . . [fill in the blank].”
I bear witness that that’s not true at all. The Lord loves all of us, and he is anxious to respond to every one of us, to help us with the righteous desires of our hearts…
I promise you in the name of the Lord that if you really desire what you’ve written down, if your desire is righteous, and if you’re asking according to the will of the Lord, he will grant you that desire—if you will learn and obey the principles and the laws that govern what you want. I have no doubt whatsoever about that. I bear testimony that it’s true because the Lord has said so.”
I took him up on this challenge and over the next few months I prayed and even fasted to receive an answer for something I desired. The answer came in a most remarkable way.
I’m thankful to Gene R. Cook for writing the book and issuing his challenge.
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11 Nov 07
There is something else to consider.
31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
The first step is always to repent.