It’s a wonderful thing when something clicks into place for you. For years I was worried that if I prayed for the wrong thing I could be condemned for it. This thought originates from these verses in the Doctrine and Covenants.
D&C 88:64. Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you;
65. And if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation.
What a scary thought to be condemned for praying for something you think you need (a want) and then getting condemned for it!
Last week I was reading from John Pontius’ book, “Journey to the Veil II” and learned the real context of this verse.
Some of you will be familiar with John’s books. I have read all of them. They are the most uplifting and inspiring books I’ve ever read.
John was an extraordinary individual who learned to follow the Spirit in a way few achieve. Around 2010 he was diagnosed with cancer and I believe given about 6 months to live. He started a blog he called “UnblogMySoul” and wrote amazing blog posts for about 2 years till he passed away. Journey to the Veil volumes 1 & 2 contain many of these amazing blog posts. They are just tons of short stories and wonderful inspirational insights. If I only had 1 book of John’s it would be “Following the Light of Christ into His Presence.” After that, I would get these 2 books as they demonstrate the application of the principles John wrote in Following the Light. (Available in fine bookstores everywhere 😉) Book 2 was just published by John’s wife as another collection of great
So back to the insight.
Internally, I knew God wasn’t condemning me for asking for what I legitimately thought I needed to ask for, but this thought of condemnation periodically popped up in the back of my mind. “What if I ask for something I shouldn’t? Is it wrong to ask for financial blessings? Is it wrong to ask for certain spiritual experiences?”
Before I get to that answer, I want to share one insight John shared about the need to ask for things in prayer.
“But again, we must ask for that which we want because we are still subject to the overriding justice of God. Nobody is exactly sure how this all works, but logic suggests that if God were to give one person an unrequested blessing, then by the demands of justice, He would have to give every other person on earth the same blessing, even though they had not asked for it and had no just claim.” -(Journey to the Veil II, pg. 66)
I hadn’t thought about it in that way before but it makes perfect sense to me as to why we must ask.
What is the purpose of prayer? Is it to ask and receive? Yes, but it’s a lot more.
We aren’t asking just for our own selfish desires. God isn’t a genie who grants wishes. Everything is done by eternal law. We are in training to be like God so he’s going to help us refine our prayers into alignment with proper motives. Those lessons we receive teach us to pray in the Spirit and to align our will to His. Spending considerable time in prayer is to refine our heart to his perfect plan for our salvation and accomplishment of our mortal missions.
What happens when someone learns to put themselves perfectly into alignment with God’s will? They have experiences with God like we read of in Helaman 10 where God appears to Nephi and gives him the sealing power because God trusts Nephi.
Helaman 10:5. And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.
This wasn’t a power that came due to a church position. It was a bestowal of priesthood power due to Nephi’s righteousness.
No doubt he had read the accounts of others before him who sought to be followers of righteousness and had personal experiences with God in the Patriarchal order, and he sought to follow the Spirit into the presence of God just as many others had. Then God led him over time to perfect his alignment of his will to God’s such that God gave Nephi power over the elements and the people. He received higher priesthood by ordination from God just like all prior prophets.
“All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and [were] ordained by God himself.” – The Words of Joseph Smith, pg. 59
These promises are made to the membership of the church. In D&C 50, we read all about it. The Lord is speaking to the elders of the church and reasons with them telling them to go forth in the Spirit. When a person is ordained by God (D&C 50:17, 26), as was Nephi, they become possessors of all things with all things subject to them in heaven and on earth (D&C 50:27). This doesn’t put them at the head of ecclesiastical positions, but makes them an instrument in the hands of God to fulfill God’s will in their life and that of their family.
Abraham sought for these blessings (Abr. 1:1-4) and obtained them by his righteousness and sacrifice. Joseph Smith taught there are 3 priesthood orders in the Melchizedek priesthood.
The first is Levitical to administer outward ordinances.
The second is Melchizedek which one is ordained to administer in spiritual things.
Third is Patriarchal which requires a temple to administer the ordinances to men and women that lead them into the presence of God.
“Go to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood.” -Joseph Smith (History of the Church, Vol. 5:554-556)
When one receives these covenants and promises, they are conditional based upon their righteousness. To actually receive the promises given, one has to learn to bring the endowment fully into their life, and then they receive the fullness of these blessings in mortality.
It is when a person arrives at this station in the Patriarchal Holy Order where all things are subject to them and they are trusted by God, that if they pray for something that is not in alignment with the will of God, it will turn to their condemnation because it isn’t expedient for them.
There are steps to arrive at this point (all taught in the scriptures) and God isn’t in the business of condemning his children. We can only bring that upon ourselves if we turn from righteousness after receiving such incredible blessings and precious promises.
“And when our will is sanctified by being in harmony with God, the real power occurs. Our requests become holy. The mainspring of heaven engages, and because we are asking in complete faith, knowing beforehand that these things are His will as much as our own, the machinery of heaven dispenses the requested blessings as a matter of divine law.
When we place ourselves in this happy circumstance, we always receive even as we ask.” -(Journey to the Veil II, pg. 66)
The only barrier for these powers and privileges is our own struggle against the natural man which rejects the Spirit of God within us.
Our lives are about to be upended by world events. It is more important now than ever to spend quality time throughout the day, pausing momentarily to ask ourselves if we are following the Spirit (the light of Christ – our conscience) and if not, to re-align ourselves with that direction. There is nothing more important for us to do.
Studying the scriptures gives us experiences in being acquainted with the voice of the Spirit by receiving revelation and inspiration.
Recording it shows we cherish it and helps us unlock greater insight and knowledge.
The purpose of those exercises is to lead us to prayer and meditation upon the things of God which then helps us align our will to God’s and unlock these blessings available to mortals.
It’s continual practice that leads to perfection.
Study, ponder, pray isn’t just a trite primary class answer. It is the primary answer.
(Featured image by erstudiostok @123rf.com)