When Blessings Don't Come, Heaven Feels Distant, and Prayers Remain Unanswered: Powerful Advice from Prophets

We've all experienced heartbreaking moments when we plead and strive to feel our Heavenly Father near and to know His will for us, but for some reason, the heavens seem silent. What do we do in such situations? Here is incredible advice from prophets, apostles, and seers.

David A. Bednar, "Accepting the Lord's Will and Timing"

Righteousness and faith certainly are instrumental in moving mountains—if moving mountains accomplishes God’s purposes and is in accordance with His will. Righteousness and faith certainly are instrumental in healing the sick, deaf, and lame—if such healing accomplishes God’s purposes and is in accordance with His will. Thus, even if we have strong faith, many mountains will not be moved. And not all of the sick and infirm will be healed. If all opposition were curtailed, if all maladies were removed, then the primary purposes of the Father’s plan would be frustrated.

Many of the lessons we are to learn in mortality can be received only through the things we experience and sometimes suffer. And God expects and trusts us to face temporary mortal adversity with His help so we can learn what we need to learn and ultimately become what we are to become in eternity.

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Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Facebook

There may be times when you feel that your prayers are not going anywhere—times when you wonder if your Heavenly Father is listening.

If this happens to you, I suggest that you express gratitude for your blessings, one by one. There is something about a grateful heart that opens the heavens.

You might also ask in prayer, “What lack I yet?” Or, “Is there something I have forgotten that needs to be corrected?” This is a hard prayer to utter, but I testify that honest answers will come. If your heart is open to the Lord’s will (if you are praying with real intent), He will give you what you need to change or correct in order to grow.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Waiting on the Road to Damascus

Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we’re on our knees but while we’re on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us. Selfless acts of service and consecration refine our spirits, remove the scales from our spiritual eyes, and open the windows of heaven. By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answer to our own.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Timing"

[The] Lord has His own timetable. “My words are sure and shall not fail,” the Lord taught the early elders of this dispensation. “But,” He continued, “all things must come to pass in their time” (D&C 64:31–32).

The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith means trust—trust in God’s will, trust in His way of doing things, and trust in His timetable. We should not try to impose our timetable on His. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said:

“The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best? The same is true with the second coming and with all those matters wherein our faith needs to include faith in the Lord’s timing for us personally, not just in His overall plans and purposes.” 

Indeed, we cannot have true faith in the Lord without also having complete trust in the Lord’s will and in the Lord’s timing.

Elder Richard G. Scott, "Learning to Recognize Answers to Prayer"

When answers to urgent prayer don’t seem to come, it can be that we don’t understand some truths about prayer, or because we don’t recognize answers when they come.

Our Heavenly Father did not put us on earth to fail but to succeed gloriously. It may seem paradoxical, but that is why recognizing answers to prayer can sometimes be very difficult. Some face life with only their own experience and capacity to help them. Others seek, through prayer, divine inspiration to know what to do. When required, they qualify for power beyond their own capacity to do it. . . .

It is a mistake to assume that every prayer we offer will be answered immediately. Some prayers require considerable effort on our part. True, sometimes impressions come when we have not specifically sought them. They generally concern something we need to know and are not otherwise able to find out.

President Henry B. Eyring, "A Law of Increasing Returns"

My guess is that all of us want to be better at working and waiting. Let me give you some advice about how to do it. . . .

All these hints have to do with where you focus your eyes. Two are things you ought to notice about the present, while you’re working and waiting and not getting much yet in return. And the last two are ways to look at the glorious future you’re working and waiting for.

First, keep your eyes open for humor in the present. . . .

The second place to focus your eyes is on the blessings you are getting, now while you wait. . . . 

[Third] keep your eye on the distant goal. What will a successful mission look like? How can I picture a great marriage? That’s hard to see before you get there. And it’s hard to persevere without some picture. . . .

Finally, it’s important to look carefully at those delayed blessings to notice that they are of at least two kinds. Some you can see and touch, and maybe even spend. . . . But for all sacred performances in serving God, there is another promised blessing. You couldn’t touch it or spend it, and you can only see it with special vision. But I commend developing the skill to see it.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton, "Know He Is There"

Perhaps it would be good for our souls to build the understanding that He is there, even our loving and eternal Father, and that oftentimes, delays to our urgent pleas can be best for us. Who is to say it isn’t more important to know He is there than to receive immediate answers? Oftentimes I think of the conditions under which Joseph Smith pled within the confines of the horrible prison. It appeared that his needs and pleas were justified, as he was confined and separated from his family, Church, and friends. He undoubtedly suffered intense mental as well as physical anguish. Giving answers appeared to be not the Lord’s way at that time. Nevertheless, the Prophet seemed to be sustained by the overruling knowledge that God was there, knew him, and loved him. While answers to his pleading and prayers were delayed, God was building a stronger prophet.

When heaven feels distant

For more inspired advice from prophets and apostles, check out We're with You.

"This is your world. The future is in your hands. The outcome is up to you." With those simple words, President Thomas S. Monson urges a generation of young adult members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to find the best within themselves. He is joined in this exciting new book by the remaining members of the Church's First Presidency as well as all twelve members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

With chapters such as "Recognizing Spiritual Promptings," "Applying the Atonement," "Uncovering Your Life's Work," "When Blessings Are Delayed," and many more, the Brethren address issues that are of particular interest and concern to young adults, though readers have found the counsel applicable to people of all ages. These bite-sized excerpts are perfect for pondering, sharing, and discussing.

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