Many faithful Latter-day Saints have prayed for different outcomes than we are getting in our current world, nation, and elections. We are facing numerous crises that can affect our lives dramatically. Let me share a principle I’ve learned that has wide application in all of this.
One day I received an e-mail request to join in fasting and prayer for the healing of a person I really cared about. I wanted to help, but I hesitated. Instead of standing firmly on the foundation of faith, the idea of praying for a specific outcome landed both my feet in the quicksand of fear. I was afraid she wouldn’t be healed. I didn’t want to get my hopes up and be disappointed. I was afraid I would be found lacking and the blessing wouldn’t be granted because of my lack of faith. I was weary of trying to understand why God answers some pleas and not others.
Author Beth Moore calls her own personal answer to this dilemma “The Greater Yes.” She says, “I am utterly convinced that any ‘no’ an earnestly seeking child of God receives from the Throne is for the sake of a greater ‘yes’, whether realized on earth or in heaven.” 1
She explains that her “greater yes” concept is couched in the absolute belief that God is on our side–that He never commands or acts except for our safety, liberty, and long-term blessing (Deuteronomy 10-13). In these perilous times we need to remind ourselves constantly of that fact.
God does ask us to surrender our own agendas on the altar of His will, but Romans 23:2 reminds us that God’s will for us is good, pleasing, and perfectly suited to our best interests. His love requires him to honor his eternal priorities. When they are different from our short-sighted ones God’s priorities always trump ours.
“The Greater Yes” Means Safety
In Matthew 7:11 we are told, “If you, then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?”
The trick is in the definition of “good gifts.” A child would define candy as a good gift. However, any parent knows that to give in to a dearly-loved child’s pleading for sweets instead of nutritious food every meal would compromise the child’s long-term health and well-being. How much more so does God have our long-term interests prioritized. He withholds the blessings that might taste sweet to us at the moment but would erode our spiritual health in the long run. He gives us the miracles with the most eternal dividends. He cares less for our present comfort and more for our growth and education. Less for our momentary pleasure and more for our eternal joy.
That means each of us is safe with God because our greatest good is His priority! We simply need to believe more in what God says than in what we see. God’s promises are sure-but it is easy to interpret them in our own way to mean what we want instead of what He means. He sees everything in the perspective of His eternal purposes.
Trusting God’s Purposes
In the audio version of The Work and the Glory by Gerald N. Lund, during the horrendous persecutions in Missouri , the character Benjamin Steed asks Joseph Smith, “Why are all these things happening to us?”
Members of the Church in California who are being persecuted and called “haters” and “bigots” because they stand courageously for the Lord’s definition of marriage could well be asking that same question.
The messages I gleaned from Joseph’s reply are these:
- The Lord said He would have a pure people and that the Church must be sanctified.
- Church membership is not for those looking just for the benefits, or for an easy way of life.
- Trials of faith are a weeding out process; the Kingdom of God on earth must be comprised only of the pure in heart who have sufficient faith to sacrifice all without losing heart.
Joseph said that the Saints would need an “iron faith” to make it through all that was coming (and the persecutions in Far West were only a type of what was to come).
I believe we are in that same weeding out process; I believe we too will need an iron faith to make it through the Last Days’ tribulations. Trials of our faith as we wait for the “greater yes” help us develop that kind of faith as long as we dig our roots deep in gospel soil, clear down to the Rock of our Redeemer.
God’s Way Is Always the Best Way
One woman of great faith called on a group of her friends to join her in fasting and prayer when the life of her grandchild hung in the balance. One grandchild had already died of the rare disease that threatened to take this tiny child’s life and she was determined that the family should not have to suffer that grief a second time. She firmly believed that if enough people exerted enough faith that surely God would spare this child’s life. As the child weakened, prayers of great urgency, great pleading, great faith were sent to heaven. More and more people were drawn into the drama of petitioning God for this child’s life. But the child died.
Writing about the experience years later, she recounted the deeper good that came from this test of faith-the deepening of understanding and trust in God, the new understanding that faith is not to be placed in outcomes, but in Christ and God.
Our job is not to talk God into seeing things our way. Prayer is, instead, a spiritual exercise to tune our souls to His will and ask for blessing He is willing to grant that are conditional on the asking. (See Bible Dictionary, 753.) We can say “Thy will be done” and mean it if we remember He is always working to give us “the greater yes.”
Can we trust God for “the greater yes” in all the turmoil we are seeing in the world today? He is in charge. God is who he says he is and can do what he says he can do. One of our hymns says, “His kingdom cannot fail. He rules over earth and heaven.” God’s purposes are never thwarted by men’s weakness or faulty judgments. In D&C 76:3 we read, “His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand.” And in Alma 37: 7: “And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes.”
God knows what He is doing and we don’t have to counsel Him. It is our job to live right and stand up for His teachings and standards. It is His job to make all things work together for our good. In D&C 35:24, the Lord says, “Keep all the commandments and covenants by which ye are bound; and I will cause the heavens to shake for your good, and Satan shall tremble and Zion shall rejoice upon the hills and flourish.”
God is in charge and, while the timing may not be according to our wishes, His purposes never fail. In those truths we can rest our faith for “the greater yes.
1 Grace Moore, Believing God , 2004, Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, s62.