If you desire to be a successful teacher, and desire it enough to be willing to earn it, you can have your desire. It is a righteous desire. Can you think of anything the Lord would want you to desire more than to be able to teach righteousness successfully?
The scriptures testify that He will grant unto men according to their desires. The prophet Alma bore testimony of this.
I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life: yea, I know that he allotteth unto men according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.
Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience. (Alma 29:4-5. Italics added.)
There is something important about our deciding that we want to be a good teacher-a good parent. There is something equally important about making that desire known to the Lord. Many of us have the desire, but we keep it to ourselves. An important key is turned when we go through the formality of stating our desires to Him who can grant them.
There is no theme in holy scripture more oft-repeated than the simple injunction, "Ask, and ye shall receive." This theme is in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. No theme is repeated in more ways and more often than this simple counsel. Consider these sample references:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:7-11.)
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. (Matthew 21:22.)
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (Mark 11:24.)
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (Luke 11:9.)
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14.)
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you. (John 15:7.)
And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. (John 16:23.)
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:6.)
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5.)
And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. (John 3:22.)
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. (1 John 5:14-15.)
Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you. (1 Nephi 15:11.)
Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. (2 Nephi 4:35.)
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good. (Alma 37:37.)
Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (3 Nephi 14:7.)
And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you. (3 Nephi 20:18.)
And now I go unto the Father. And verily I say unto you, whatsoever things ye shall ask the Father in my name shall be given unto you.
Therefore, ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened. (3 Nephi 27:28-29.)
. . . O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires. (Ether 3:2.)
Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you. (Moroni 7:26.)
Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (D&C 4:7.)
Therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you. (D&C 6:5; 14:5.)
And, as it is written—Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive. (D&C 29:6.)
Therefore, he that lacketh wisdom, let him ask of me, and I will give him liberally and upbraid him not. (D&C 42:68.)
But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally. (D&C 46:7.)
Behold, I say unto you, go forth as I have commanded you; repent of all your sins; ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you. (D&C 49:26.)
Lay your hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. Return not till I, the Lord, shall send you. Be patient in affliction. Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (D&C 66:9.)
Let them ask and they shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto them, and be made known from on high, even by the Comforter, whither they shall go. (D&C 75:27.)
Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you. (D&C 88:63-64.)
Behold this is my will; ask and ye shall receive. (D&C 103:31.)
Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers. (D&C 112:10.)
. . . asking all things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you. (Moses 6:52.)
While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (Joseph Smith 2:11.)
The Initiative Is Ours
It is clear that the Lord wants us to come unto Him and ask Him for whatever we need. The simple invitation to "ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" was repeated by the Lord on many occasions. He gave this message to the people He taught while He lived on earth. He repeated it twice to the people of the New World at the time of His visit to them following His resurrection, including His last words He gave them before returning to His Father in heaven. Interestingly, the Lord repeated the same invitation seven times in the Doctrine and Covenants. In varying ways throughout the scriptures, He has invited us to ask Him for whatever we need in righteousness, that He might give it unto us.
The initiative, then, is ours. We must ask and pray and seek, and then we will find.
There are several paintings depicting Christ at the door, illustrating a New Testament scripture: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20.) In the more famous paintings He is shown holding a lantern as he knocks at the door.
The story is told that a little girl once remarked to one painter that his painting of Jesus at the door was not finished. "You have left something out," she said. "You have left out the door latch." The artist replied, "The painting is complete. That door represents the door of the human heart. It opens only from within."
The ability to teach successfully as a missionary, as a parent, as an officer, or as a teacher in the Church is well worth learning. It is well worth asking for. And it can come to each of us.
It is often said of someone who is successful as a teacher that he is talented or that he has the "gift." However, this gift must be developed and earned. There is much truth in these lines by an unknown writer:
He worked by day and toiled by night;
He gave up play and all delight.
Dry books he read, new things to learn,
And forged ahead, success to earn.
He plodded on with faith and pluck,
And when he won, men called it luck.
There is substance to the thought that one can receive a gift to teach. This is promised in the scriptures:
Deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.
For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom;
And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; . . .
And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will. (Moroni 10:7-10, 17. Italics added.)
I have thought that the last phrase, "every man severally, according as he will," refers to the man himself. If a man wills that the gift should come to him, and he desires it, the gift shall be his.
A Supreme Gift
Many years ago I read this scripture and pondered it. I thought that among the gifts one might have in order to make himself useful to the Lord, the gift to teach by the Spirit would be supreme. The gift to teach the Word of Wisdom and to teach the word of knowledge by the Spirit is much to be desired. Why should such a gift not come to us if we desire it? If we desire to succeed as a teacher and we're willing to earn that ability, why should it not come to us? If we're willing to ask for it and pray for it, and we believe with sufficient faith that we can possess it, why should it be withheld from us?
Where would we turn to develop such a gift? Where do we go for an example? That, of course, brings us to Him who is the Master Teacher, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father. In the scriptures He is addressed constantly as "Master," which by interpretation means "teacher." He is the Master Teacher, and from Him and His example, we also may learn to be master teachers.
(Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1975], 13.)