Often, we follow counsel given us in prayer, anticipating a certain outcome in keeping with the thoughts of our own, very finite human mind. In reality, as we see from Zion’s Camp, and as the great prophet Isaiah testified, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).
The flaw is that we sometimes feel the Lord has failed us because we do not realize the goal we foresaw. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. At times God’s objective is not what we supposed, but — I would suggest — something far better for us and for realizing God’s purposes. How sad if we miss blessings because we inappropriately feel aggrieved or discouraged or pouty, because we did not realize the objective we anticipated.
After the Lord commands the Saints in Zion’s Camp to seek peace, disband and return home he explains his purpose, “I have heard their prayers .(I)t is expedient in me that they should be brought thus far for a trial of their faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 105:19).
Shortly after Zion’s Camp, the quorums of the Twelve and the Seventy were organized. The Lord needed men who had proven themselves worthy of that call. Most of those chosen to these holy offices had participated in Zion’s Camp. The Lord did not send them to fight, but to increase their faith, devotion and dependence on him. He wanted those men, who would be witnesses of his name, to know him better.
When Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery sought God in prayer regarding the practice of baptism, they were instructed, then they baptized and ordained each other to the priesthood — certainly not what they anticipated, yet something far greater and more glorious. Oliver testified then, “The Lord, who is rich in mercy, and ever willing to answer the consistent prayer of the humble, after we had called upon him in a fervent manner condescended to manifest to us his will” (see Joseph Smith-History, footnote, Oliver Cowdery).
The Lord does and will answer our prayers. He does so on his timetable and as is good to us. As we honor and are obedient to his counsel and guidance, we will realize not necessarily what we anticipate but the great and glorious blessings he designs to bestow upon us.
Kristine Frederickson writes on issue-oriented topics that affect members of the LDS Church worldwide in her column “LDS World." She teaches part-time at BYU. Her views do not necessarily represent those of BYU.
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