For most of my life I’ve been the typical say your morning and nightly prayers kind of person. I had certain assumptions that things would just flow into my life in the right timing of the Lord and that I could ask for things I desired in righteousness and receive them, but I wasn’t really seeing things materialize. I was living in a state of spiritual frustration where I would occasionally ask a question but then didn’t really know if I was getting an answer because I just felt peaceful. I couldn’t really discern my spiritual feelings or when the Lord was directing me with a yes or a no.
One day a couple years ago we had some friends over who counseled with us during a particularly difficult trial and they suggested we ask the Lord some questions. These friends had been blessed with some significant spiritual experiences and had taken the time to learn how to ask and receive. Together we prayed with one person acting as voice, opening the prayer and asking our first question. Then, we paused to listen and instead of moving on, we lifted our heads as we received answers and discussed the answers we received to see if we were in unison. If so, we would continue the prayer thanking Heavenly Father for the answer we received and asking the next question. If we were not in unison, we discussed a way to re-frame the question and ask again. We proceeded this way for some time and it taught me some valuable lessons.
The first and most important lesson it taught me was I could receive direct revelation in the moment and not just wait upon the Lord’s timing later in my life to bring an answer to me. The second was, I needed to start practicing this “ask and ye shall receive” directive a whole lot more than I was. I needed to grow faster in this principle of revelation. The third thing I learned was more what a “burning in the bosom” meant. I was feeling the spirit while we prayed, but I began to better discern an increase in the spirit associated with a yes answer. I wouldn’t immediately take an increase in the spirit for a yes, but would then ask in my mind, “is that a yes that I’m feeling” and if so, I would then feel another increase in the spirit, to which I would more confidently say in my mind, “that’s a yes.” Often, this second statement in my mind brought yet another increase in my feeling the spirit which confirmed to my soul that I was getting the answer from the Lord. When I felt a withdrawal of the spirit, I generally knew that was a “no” answer, but then I might still myself and re-frame the question in my mind to ask the negative, such as “is this false” or “should I not…” and then see if I got a confirmation of that. This process can be a slow one (time-wise), particularly for me in the beginning as I was learning to discern how to receive answers. It’s not something to rush.
This week’s study topic is on the phrase “ask and ye shall receive.” We’ve all heard this phrase hundreds or thousands of times, but there are perhaps some things we can discover when we study the verses that contain these statements. There are, of course, variations of this phrase such as “ask and it shall be given you” and many other ways of expressing this goal of the Lord to get us to ask him questions. For now, open a search pane in Scripture Notes and do a search for:
Ask* and (give* or receive*)
From the 96 results, create a collection note from the search and expand the pane. Give the note tags of “Prayer” and “Ask Seek Knock.”
Now start going down the list of verses and see what you learn. You might copy/paste this list of questions into your collection note and write down other questions that come to you as you study. Sometimes the Lord prompts us with questions so we can ponder on the question and then ask and receive. So you will want to pray for personal revelation before, and during your study. Then always end with a prayer of gratitude for what you’ve learned.
As you study each set of verses, remove irrelevant ones and be open to adding previous and next verses to see a verse in context. Look for answers in the scriptures and write them by the questions at the top. For example, next to the first question below on what kinds of things you should ask for, notice what Luke 11:13, and John 4:10 say and write those things down. There are many answers in plain sight in the scriptures if we seek them diligently so the Lord knows we want the answer and can prompt us through the Spirit so we notice their hiding places.
You may feel prompted to do a search for other verses to add to the collection. This is easy with Scripture Notes. Just open a new search pane next to your collection note, do a search, and drag the verses into your collection note. Remember to click save/update periodically on the master note so you keep your note safe.
One last thought. You are not only building your knowledge of the gospel by doing this, but organizing your thoughts on the subject. This makes it easy to create a talk or lesson plan. Write your master note as if you are organizing for a talk or lesson. Add many questions and answer them as you read the scriptures. You’re not just seeking answers, but good questions too.
What kinds of things should I ask for with a knowledge I can receive?
What happens when I ask for things that match God’s will for me to receive?
How do I ask according to God’s will?
What causes prayers to not be answered?
What are the requirements to receiving what we pray for?
What do I receive besides answers?
When we receive, what is the appropriate action to take?
You’ll notice the verses in 1 Kings 3 and 2 Chronicles 1 the great story about Solomon. The Lord came to him and told him to ask for something. He could have asked for anything. This is the famous genie in a bottle question. You can ask for ANYTHING. What do you ask for? What did Solomon do? He asked for wisdom.
What did the Lord do? He gave him wisdom and all the other stuff he could have asked for.
I added the entire story narrative in those chapters to the note by just clicking the next verse button till I had the whole story there to study. This is a fascinating story for what it teaches us that when we ask for the right things, the Lord gives us more than we ask for.
Here’s a couple things I learned by studying these scriptures. Please comment below with something you learned.
Revelation brings joy (John 16:24). In the basic note field for this verse, ask why and write down the answer that comes to you. After you’ve pondered that and written an answer, then go down to D&C 42:61 and see what the Lord says about it.
If we ask for the right things and not to consume them on our lusts (James 4:3; 2 Nephi 4:35; Mormon 9:28; D&C 46:9), the Lord blesses us with more than we ask for. (1 Kings 3:5-13) [The verses in James and the Doctrine & Covenants are already in the “Ask and ye shall receive” topic, but you may want to add in the Mormon 9:28 reference and the other verses in Kings and Chronicles that go with the story there.]
One of the best places to find things to ask for is in Alma 34:17-29. It didn’t come up in the search because not every verse that pertains to a topic will be found with the keywords you search for. You may want to add these verses into the topic, or at least the first one.
Here’s a quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell which you may want to add to your “ask and ye shall receive” collection note.
“The task is to draw close enough to the Lord that we progress to the point where we petition Him according to His will, not ours. ‘And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.’ (1 John 5:14.) In modern revelations the Lord has declared His willingness to grant us the requests contained in our petitions if what we ask for is expedient for us. (D&C 88:64-65.)
When we become sufficiently purified and cleansed from sin, we can ask what we will in the name of Jesus ‘and it shall be done.’ (D&C 50:29.) The Lord even promises us that when one reaches a certain spiritual condition, ‘it shall be given you what you shall ask.’ (D&C 50:30.)
Thus we clearly need to have the Spirit with us as we petition, because ‘in the Spirit’ we will ask ‘according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh.’ (D&C 46:30.)
If, meanwhile, in the face of such sublime ultimate promises, our prayers sometimes seem so very proximate, we should not be discouraged. So much can be done ‘in process of time’ to improve our petitioning. Neither the pure City of Enoch nor pure prayers are arrived at in a day!
To grow to that point when we can utter inspired prayers… is part of being proven. (Elder Neal Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 95.)”
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