We all yearn to have our prayers answered. We trust God when He says, “Ask and ye shall receive. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.” We expect the blessings of heaven to be ours if we faithfully and persistently petition God for our needs. Many of us know this scripture (or its truths) by heart:
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
We often quote this scripture to encourage faithful payment of tithes and the faithful receipt of God’s blessings for such obedience and sacrifice. Upon closer inspection of this scriptural passage, however, we might be surprised at what God promises, “I will…open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
What Are the “Windows of Heaven”?
A search reveals that this phrase only appears three times in the Bible: twice in Genesis 7–8 and once in Malachi 3. But what is in Genesis 7–8 that is relevant to Malachi 3 and ultimately instructive to our expectations of God’s promises?
After God commanded Noah and his family to enter the ark, “the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (Genesis 7:11–12).
We all know what happened. There was not “room enough to receive [the flood waters]” and the whole earth was awash in water.
Think about it! We often miss the enormity of this stunning promise from God.
God promises that when we pay tithing, His blessings will be so plentiful that “there shall not be room enough to receive it.” The world will be flooded with blessings. The earth will be covered in God’s goodness. Our lives will be overwhelmed by the vastness of God’s magnificent grace. We will be unable to hold back the spread and expanse of His blessings and they will flow over the entire earth.
When you are awash in the water of God’s blessings because of paying a faithful tithe you are protected so that you “shall not be burned at his coming” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:23).
Knowing this, perhaps we will think a little differently about whether or not we are truly ready to receive the flood of having our prayers answered and have God answer our prayers in His own timing and in His own way.”
A Flood of Blessings in a Financial Crisis
I have personal experience that God does answer our prayers and that those answers do come in the form of an unexpected flood.
When I was a graduate student full of faith and optimism, I encountered what seemed to be a nearly insurmountable financial difficulty.
I was attending a very expensive graduate school and living costs were significantly higher than I had accounted for. I apparently had only looked at the cost of tuition and had not calculated that to be successful in school I needed clothes and a place to eat and sleep. I guess I had inadvertently planned for graduate school as though I was the great humanist scholar of the Renaissance Desiderius Erasmus, who was quoted as wryly saying about his unstoppable pursuit of learning, “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”
My financial peril consumed my thinking, compromising my ability to be 100 percent committed to my graduate studies.
I fasted and prayed for financial salvation. I trusted that God, as my Friend, would deliver me.
He did. But I wasn’t prepared to receive the answer to my prayer when the windows of heaven were opened.
I was living in a basement studio apartment that had enough space for a kitchen area, a bed, and some floor space to stack boxes of my personal library containing hundreds of books.
One night I awoke to a terrifying thunderclap in the midst of a terrible Connecticut storm. I attempted to turn on the lights to head to the bathroom, but the electricity was out. “No matter,” I thought, “how hard could it be to make it to the bathroom in a studio apartment?” Falling out of bed got me almost into the bathroom itself.
Yet, there was a strange sensation of feeling as though I was sloshing through an inch of water on the way to the bathroom. Was I even awake?
Then another terrible lightning strike and thunderclap. In that vivid flash of light I saw to my horror that I was standing in a flooding apartment; the window in the apartment door revealed water five feet high in the stairwell being held back only by the door itself. Water was pouring under the crack in the door into my apartment because, I learned later, the stairwell drain was clogged.
And yet, in the midst of this literal flood came a spiritual flood of blessings and answers to prayers.
The first blessing I experienced in that unexpected waterlogged night of panic was a friend in my ward. Bruce Hayes lived just a few doors down from me. He stayed up the night with me, bailing water, mopping up my apartment, and making sure that I didn’t float away like the wicked in the story of Noah.
The second blessing I experienced was an answer to my prayer seeking deliverance from financial peril. The landlord acknowledged that the clogged drain in the stairwell was her responsibility. To compensate me for the pain and trouble of having a flooded apartment, she gave me two months of rent free. Those two months bridged my financial chasm. By the end of that time, I had found a job that paid enough to allow me to meet my financial obligations.
Patience and Faith in the Midst of Physical Floods
But why is it that God let me experience the perils of nature in order to deliver me from financial peril? Because, as God said to Job,
“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding….Hast thou an arm [of strength] like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?....Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?....Then Job answered the Lord, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not” (Job 38:4; 40:9; 41:1; 42:1-3).
Just as He never fully revealed to Job (at least in our recorded scripture) an exact reason for Job’s suffering, He never revealed His exact reasons to me for allowing my apartment to flood.
But answer my prayer He did. I know that God is faithful. God will answer our prayers on His timetable and His own way. He may even send a flood to answer our prayers.
Petition the Lord. Express your needs. Exercise faith. Be patient. And have a double dose of humility and humor when the answers come.
The Lord is liable to surprise you for good.
Lead photo from Getty Images
If you ask people what they love most about President Thomas S. Monson’s teaching style, chances are they’ll say something about the personal experiences he relates. The accounts President Monson shares are always true, taken from his own life or the real lives of other people. Those warm, memorable accounts have truly become a hallmark of his messages.
Who can forget the woman who saved one of the two sticks of gum Elder Monson passed out to youth in postwar Germany? Or the neighbor who returned a box of baseballs to young Tommy as a thank-you for his kindness to her? Or the father who declined to attend a “Mormon” meeting with his family but had his heart softened by a message he heard on a radio that was actually broken?
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of his call as an Apostle, Consider the Blessings presents 50 of the true accounts President Thomas S. Monson has shared over the years. With beautiful photographs and heart-touching content, this is a book to treasure with the whole family.