LDS World: Prayers are answered, though not always as we anticipate

Return To Article
Add a comment
    Nov. 27, 2013 3:40 p.m.

    Bj-hp: I don’t find anything in your response that disagrees with my comments. You put it very well!
    1aggie: true, my syllogisms were simplistic. Keep in mind I only had 200 words, which made fleshing them out impossible. I was merely trying to introduce two opposing viewpoints.

  • DocHolliday reno, NV
    Nov. 26, 2013 3:07 p.m.


    You said it. Gods will will happen either way. Thus us praying one way or another doesn't influence god's will. Same thing with priesthood blessings. I have seen blessed people who were blessed to heal who died, and I saw a man who was sealed up to heaven during a blessing who didn't die, but lived for a long time. Thus, those things don't affect the will of god. Just because you attribute random acts to god, and others don't, doesn't mean anything.

  • bj-hp Maryville, MO
    Nov. 26, 2013 12:58 p.m.

    Brahmabull: When did you stop praying? No rationale that I give is going to satisfy you. Nothing is going to convince you that Heavenly Father answers all prayers. As noted in your comments above, you're looking for something that no one on this earth can explain to you. You want to oppose it because you have lost the faith and belief in something that really works. In the past on much the same type of subject you've been given many examples of how prayers are answered. The key though is it isn't our will. Just as the words of blessing carry very little weight as to the will of the Father.

    Until you have an open mind and an open heart to hear the spirit (Holy Ghost) speak to you nothing will give you the rationale you seem to seek. Elder Bednar in his talk during the past General Conference, "The Windows of Heaven" gave an excellent talk on the questions you've asked.

    Don't mock the things of God but embrace them. Quit trying to prove it is wrong. There is no such thing as coincidence. Stating it is coincidence is a cop out.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 10:52 p.m.


    From under 'Prayer': "Heavenly Father hears our prayers. He may not always answer as we expect, but He does answer — in His own time and according to His will. Because He knows what is best for us, He may sometimes answer no, even when our petitions are sincere."

    Here are some good scriptures to consider as well:

    Alma 7:23 - "And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive."

    3 Nephi 18:20 - "And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you."

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Nov. 25, 2013 5:57 p.m.


    Tell me then how a family prays to travel safe and they get killed in an accident on that very trip. How is that an answer to the prayer to travel safe? Conversely, many travel safe who don't pray for that safety. It is all coincidence and I am sure you don't have a rational explanation as to why those 2 scenarios happen.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    Nov. 25, 2013 5:28 p.m.

    The primary purpose of a prayer is not to receive something, but rather to express thanks and love to our Heavenly Father. Sometimes we are blessed and instructed in return, and this is an added benefit. We should pray because this gives joy to our Heavenly Parent, Who rejoices greatly when we take steps to return to Him. I often gain glimpses of heavenly things while praying, and this is deeply appreciated. It really isn't that hard to believe.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Nov. 25, 2013 5:21 p.m.

    Johnny Moser

    Most of us have already tested it, and found that the same things happen when we don't pray as happened when we did pray. It is all the same. Only difference is that when you pray you attribute all of the good things to you having prayed, and all the bad things to being a 'trial of faith.' When you don't pray you realize the good and the bad come no matter what, and that prayers don't help either side.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Nov. 25, 2013 5:09 p.m.

    Fred T

    Do you forget how many poor souls died on that trek? Men, women, and children? Why didn't god answer their prayers? I don't think you can consider it a prayer answered when you have a huge group of people crossing the wilderness and half of them die. I am quite sure they would have ran across a deer or an elk anyways, because it is, you know, the wilderness.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Nov. 25, 2013 5:03 p.m.


    For every little hypothetical story you give there are literally hundreds of thousands of stories that illustrate that prayer doesn't work. If I pray that the sun will come up in the morning, does that mean the prayer is the reason it came up? Of course not. If a person gets a gut feeling not to go, and goes anyways and everything turns out ok then why did he have that feeling. What about the people who never have a gut feeling to not go somewhere and they get killed in an accident? Why would prayer be needed if god knows what we need anyways? Plenty of people have great things that happen, despite not praying. And many people have terrible things happen to them, despite praying to avoid them. What about the family that prays to travel in safety and they get killed in a car accident? Is that a prayer being answered in a way that we don't always expect? Of course not, it is coincidence. Those who believe in prayer always say it works when they get what they pray for, but ignore the times when it doesn't work.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Nov. 25, 2013 11:07 a.m.

    I'm not sure what to think of a God whose answer to prayers was to allow the deaths of 1.5 million children during the Holocaust.

    The world I live in is just a little more complex than the pat answers we sometimes dole out.

    In the end it is merely a choice: to exercise fatih in such a God or not.

    I judge no man who chooses to not believe in such a God.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 9:31 a.m.

    I like the part in the article relating of the early saints' faith being tried. This is an important concept to remember -- that faith needs to be tried. The same goes with getting answers to our prayers sometimes.

    3 Nephi 26:9,11 has some similar concepts about faith needing to be tried; but this example relates to the amount of scripture God allowed to be given to the people.

    "9 And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.

    11 Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people."

    Faith is such an important principle. And if we pass the trial of our faith, we are given greater things!

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 25, 2013 9:07 a.m.

    "Naysayers are operating on the premise that God does not exist, therefore, prayers to him cannot be answered. Believers are operating on the opposite premise: God does exist, therefore, prayers are answered. "

    This is an extremely simplistic and inaccurate portrayal of reality. I believe God exists, but He does not waste his time helping people find car keys, etc. He does not help sports teams at the expense of other teams. His desire to observe the laws of agency (or perhaps other rules) prevent him from answering many prayers. It is ridiculous to say that God exists, therefore prayers are answered.

    Simply restating (your belief or hope) that all prayers are answered does not make it so. Simply stating anecdote after anecdote is equally unconvincing as there are anecdotes supporting the opposite view. You who seem to "know" everything lack faith (or are at least missing the point regarding faith and hope) in my opinion.

  • bj-hp Maryville, MO
    Nov. 25, 2013 6:44 a.m.

    GL W8: There is no such thing as coincidence. Things always happens for a reason. I firmly believe that when things are placed before us it is our decisions that determines the outcome. Prayers are answered every day, every minute and every second.

    A young man gets a call to meet a friend at the mall. His gut tells him not to go because of some unforeseen reason. He goes and is involved in an accident. Coincidence. No, he had a prompting not to go but he went. If he had listened he wouldn't have been in the accident. Many of us fails to listen to what is given to us because we feel it is nonsense. There are some that will laugh and latterly roll on the floor because they have never experienced such a thing.

    Joseph Smith received an answer to his prayers and the Doctrine and Covenants are all answers to prayers, not questions but prayers. Prayers are answered by the actions of others or through divine intervention but they are always answered in the Lord's time and in the Lord's way.

  • Fred T PHOENIX, AZ
    Nov. 25, 2013 12:36 a.m.

    One of the most powerful prayers I ever heard about concerned the Martin Company at the Sweetwater River.
    These people were cold (freezing) and hungry (starving).
    What did they pray for?
    I would have prayed for an elk or deer to wander by, or for one to drop dead in camp.
    But these people had learned more than I.
    They prayed that their bodies might take nutrition from the leather straps and pieces they would boil. Something they already had in their possesion.
    This teaches me a lot about faith and prayers.

    Nov. 24, 2013 11:20 p.m.

    Naysayers are operating on the premise that God does not exist, therefore, prayers to him cannot be answered. Believers are operating on the opposite premise: God does exist, therefore, prayers are answered. The former must accept that beneficial circumstances they experience in life are circumstantial. The latter accepts that answers that come are for the benefit of the praying individual, regardless of whether and when his/her wants are met. I fit the latter category, and have learned to wait upon the Lord for his wisdom to be revealed. It is very real. Sometimes the answers are yes, sometimes no, sometimes silent because he wants me to learn and progress. In this last case, the answers come silently and slowly. But in his time, not mine, the answers always come.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 24, 2013 10:43 p.m.

    When we discuss prayer and their answers, we seem to draw the extremists of the woodwork. Where certainty exists, faith is over. The writer of this article and many commenters sound like they have no need of faith at this point. They know.

  • MRL Everett, WA
    Nov. 24, 2013 10:27 p.m.

    For myself, I know God answers prayers, but often not the way we expect, at least not initially. When I was much younger, I often got answers that at first I thought were wrong somehow. (Sometimes, indeed, I have gotten it wrong due to my own emotions, pride, preconceived ideas, influence of others etc.) But sometimes I would feel a peaceful impression and try to follow it, only to have it turn out totally different from what I expected, not a conclusive solution, but rather an experience, sometimes maybe a little disquieting, but, that taught me to understand for myself what the right answer was and maybe more about life than I had originally asked about. God doesn't want robots. He wants us to grow and be able to know and decide things for ourselves. Yes, sometimes we have to make a critical yes or no decision in a moment, and I believe he will help us as we have need and to the extent we have made ourselves willing and able to listen and follow. But I do believe, that otherwise he desires us to grow to be able to make good choices for ourselves. He loves us.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    Nov. 24, 2013 10:07 p.m.

    ulvgarrd, well said.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Nov. 24, 2013 9:52 p.m.

    When we discuss prayer and their answers, we seem to draw the skeptics out of the woodwork. The doubter claims it is just a trick our mind plays and we only think that some divine intervention has been conveyed and that we must stretch the facts to believe that a prayer was answered.

    For those, like me, who pray regularly and have had multitudes of prayers answered -- well, I can't and I won't try to prove it to anyone. I know what I have experienced and that is sufficient for me.

    Even so, I am aware that my reasoning will be debated and so be it. Still, I am grateful for the Lord's blessings in my life and always will be.

  • Johnny Moser Thayne, WY
    Nov. 24, 2013 9:20 p.m.

    Despite the myriad of doubters and comments to the contrary, prayers are answered. Those of us who have them answered know it to be true. Most of those are very sacred experiences and since the doubters doubt that sacred even exists it is hard to "prove" otherwise. Sad, they will really never know. Sad indeed.

  • Apocalypse please Bluffdale, UT
    Nov. 24, 2013 6:05 p.m.

    One way to test empirically the efficacy of prayer would be to confirm the prescence of a broken bone with an x-ray. Then introduce an intervention, prayer, followed up with another x-ray to see if any improvement was made. Sam Harris proposes that people could pray that an amputee would regrow their missing limb. These tests could help control for the ambiguity sometimes seen with the efficacy of prayer.

  • geggett Orem, UT
    Nov. 24, 2013 4:11 p.m.

    If God answers prayers in ways I cannot expect or predict, then how can I possibly know whether or not whatever happens is really some form of an answer to my prayer? Perhaps the result is purely coincidental or maybe just the natural (as opposed to the supernatural) ebb and flow of life. Those willing to accept the premise that their prayers are always answered should try not praying and see if they can detect a discernible difference. I suspect that most folks who hold such a belief have never really tested it. Sure, such an experiment is difficult (perhaps impossible) to control because of the subjective nature of faith. The heart of the matter is not whether God actually answers prayers, it is whether or not a person wants to believe He does.

  • dogchow1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 24, 2013 3:59 p.m.

    Thus we pray, Thy will be done.
    And it is.

  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    Nov. 24, 2013 3:58 p.m.

    If you are totally devoid of faith, then you cannot expect to receive answers to your prayers. Faith comes first before revelation; the natural man cannot receive revelation, because it comes through the Spirit, and things of the Spirit are foolishness onto him. The comments thus far on this article indicate a failure to understand how God works, rather an expectation that he should work in the ways of men, and operate in a manner that we choose, rather than as he chooses. It shows a great deal of pride and frankly arrogance about the capacity of one's own mental faculties, which is the most distinguishing trait of atheism.

    Those of us who earnestly seek to receive answers to our prayers and have the faith to listen to whatever we are told, by whatever manner it is given to us, will receive answers to our prayers. Prayer is not like making a call on your cell phone. It requires a lot more effort than that.

  • ijw Holladay, UT
    Nov. 24, 2013 3:39 p.m.

    Kristine, I enjoyed reading your article and have personally known the truth of these same thoughts on prayer.

  • Apocalypse please Bluffdale, UT
    Nov. 24, 2013 1:27 p.m.

    I like to think of prayer in the same way I think about the majority of herbal supplements: the important thing is to believe that it's going to work.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 24, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    Using the logic of the author, I am the king of the world (but just not in the way I expected), I can speak Chinese (but just not in a way that anyone can understand) I am the richest man in the world (but not in money), I am a great musician (to my own taste) and my dad loved me (just not in a way I could understand).

    So why do I need religion to believe any or all of the above?

    When your thesis statement is only supportable by isolated anecdotes and distorting reality, your thesis statement is weak. Perhaps a better, more supportable, thesis would be "I have faith that prayers are answered" or "I hope prayers are answered".

  • BYR West Bountiful, UT
    Nov. 24, 2013 8:48 a.m.

    When it comes to prayer being answered, most of us do not get answers. We don't. That is why I enjoyed Teryl Givens talk titled Letter to a Doubter. There is truth in reality.