What happens when the answer to an earnest prayer is not what we hope? What one young woman learned after her father died of heart failure


At the beginning of her new book, One Breath at a TimeGabrielle Shiozawa writes of her confidence that her dad would be healed as his body began to experience heart failure.

“It was faith, I decided in that moment. It was my steadfast, immovable faith,” she writes. “I knew not only that God could fix my dad, but that He was going to do it. We would get to keep him. He would start breathing again. He would live. There was never a doubt in my mind.”

But Gabrielle’s father, Troy Kent Shiozawa, would pass away later that night.

On this week’s All In podcast, we talk with Gabrielle about what she learned when her most earnest prayers were not answered in the way she hoped.

Listen to the full episode in the player below or by clicking here. You can also read a full transcript here

The following excerpt has been edited for clarity. 

Morgan Jones: Gabrielle, you write in the book about this experience and watching your dad go through this and what it was like in your home. And then you talk about how you prayed for your dad to live, which I think is one of the sweetest prayers anybody could pray. And you say that you expected God to give you a yes rather than a no. And I think this is something that a lot of people listening can relate to, because we've all had prayers that we've prayed [where] we wanted the answer to be yes, and instead it was a no. What did that experience teach you about prayer? And what would you say to others who feel like their prayers haven't been or are not being answered?

Gabrielle Shiozawa: Honestly, the question of wondering why my prayer wasn't answered the way I [wanted] it to is something I still grapple with pretty frequently, especially when I hear people bear their testimony about how prayers were answered a certain way for them, or it's hard to hear that somebody else got a yes when you got a no.

I think what I am learning . . . I'm still learning a lot about faith and about how prayers work. But I think what I've really learned is that prayer is more about aligning our will with God’s than it is about expressing a wish list to Him. He already knows exactly what we want, but I think that when we express ourselves to Him and that when we commune...with Him, that it's about us acknowledging His hand in our lives. It's about reaching out to connect with Him.

And to other people who feel like their prayers haven't been answered the way that they want them to be, I just want to say I'm sorry that you have to go through that, because I know what that feels like. Even when you can be hopeful that good things are coming, even when you know that things are going to turn out okay and that all things shall work together for your good, and even when you trust God, it's just a really devastating feeling to not get what you want. Especially when you feel like you're asking for something righteous.

But I want to also express that even more than I know what that feels like, Job knows what that feels like, and Joseph Smith knows what that feels like, and Christ knows what that feels like. And that even when we don't have the answers, God really loves you. And He's mindful of you. And He cries when you cry. So, give Him time. Because even when you can't trust in your future, even when things feel uncertain, even when you don't know what the answers are going to be, I just want you to be able to trust that God loves you, and that He really is concerned about you and about your well-being.

Lead image provided by Gabrielle Shiozawa. 

Gabrielle Shiozawa was just three weeks away from high school graduation when she lost her dad unexpectedly. As she struggled to heal, she began to experience an overflow of knowledge, spiritual insights, and growth that strengthened her testimony. This poignant offering from a young, talented writer includes commentary on the character of Christ and personal insights about bodies, salvation, temples, and more. Through a combination of insightful reflections on gospel principles and a poetic narrative on the author's experiences with her father, One Breath at a Time: Lessons on Grief and Growth gives an authentic and inspiring look into how people can heal, grow, and come closer to Christ through grief and loss.

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