3. WHEN REVELATION IS NOT RECEIVED OR RECOGNIZED
For all of us, there seem to come times when we seek to know the will of the Lord but no answers come. At such times it is not uncommon for supplicants to question their own worthiness, thinking that perhaps the problem is with them. Of course this may be true at times. A pattern of disobedience will make us less receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. But other considerations may also be a part of the equation. Ponder these two conditions along with the counsel given in the lesson manual.
1. What we ask for must be right
A. "And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right . . ." (3 Nephi 18:20, emphasis added)
B. "And now, if God . . . doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right . . ." (Mosiah 4:21, emphasis added)
If we come before the Father in prayer, but we are not certain that the thing we request is right, then we must follow the Savior's example in Luke 22:42: ". . . Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."
So very much of pure prayer seems to be the process of discovering, rather than requesting, the will of our Father in heaven and then aligning ourselves therewith (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, p. 93).
The Bible Dictionary of the Church’s edition of the King James Version tells us that
Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. (Bible Dictionary, p. 752,753)
No matter how desirable a blessing seems to us, and no matter how marvelous (in our perspective) the benefits might be, we must submit to the Lord's will and the Lord's answers, lest we find ourselves in great difficulty.
2. We must be right
A. "And now, if God . . . doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive . . ." (Mosiah 4:21, emphasis added)
B. "All things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will." (Helaman 10:5, emphasis added)
Remember that the Lord may say, in answering our requests, "No" or "Not yet." If we get either of these answers, there are two possible reasons. First, what we have asked for may not be right, and a "Yes" answer might impede the plans of God for the welfare of his children. Second, we might not be right, and a "Yes" answer would do us more harm than good by teaching us incorrect principles, or reinforcing our unworthiness. It is imperative that we never lose sight of the reality that we are being proved in this mortal environment (Abraham 3:25). We should not expect God to remove all of our problems because we pray. Sometimes we must endure in faith while we pray, waiting on the will of God, and knowing that whatever he is doing to us will be good for us if we are willing.
Elder Boyd K. Packer spoke of the experience of receiving and responding to revelation in this way:
“Some answers will come from reading the scriptures, some from hearing speakers. And, occasionally, when it is important, some will come by very direct and powerful inspiration. The promptings will be clear and unmistakable.
“You can learn how, in your youth, to be led by the Holy Ghost. . . .
“No message is repeated more times in scripture than the simple thought: “Ask, and ye shall receive” (D&C 4:7).