When God Answers a Prayer the Way We Didn’t Want

I recently finished the above book, Receiving Answers to Prayer by Elder Gene R. Cook, during my “Summer Fun in the Sun” time. Elder Cook is so full of wisdom. I recommend this book to all who are searching for truth. By reading this book you will receive tutoring on how to pray from one of God’s devoted servants. He gives you an exact formula on how to pray, straight from the scriptures. (Here is a link to overdrive where you can get the book. Ask your public library how to access that.) This blog post over here has a summary of what Elder Cook teaches, called Elder Cook’s Prayer Challenge.

At the end of the book, Elder Cook teaches the principle that God always answers prayers, but it’s not always in the way we expect. He says we may pray for courage, and the answer may come in the form of a lion. Does that mean our prayer wasn’t answered because we didn’t get exactly what we asked for? No! It means our prayer was answered! Yes, God may send a lion when we ask for courage, to help us develop the thing we asked for. In other words, he might give us something to help us develop the thing we asked for, because in the long run, that development is longer-lasting than just the thing we ask for.

The above video shows a young Elder Cook introduced by a young Elder Oaks, before Elder Oaks was Elder Oaks, and BYU’s president.

So that leads me to a Book of Mormon principle for the week. My son is on a mission to Argentina. Every week when I write to him I like to tell him a Book of Mormon principle and testify of it, in hopes that he will gain a testimony of it and share it throughout his mission. The principle for last week comes from 2 Nephi 5. The principle is that God’s answer to our prayers may be in the form of a lion. In other words, His answer may be to make us do work and move out of our comfort zone, but in the end, this is better for us, because we get huge joyful blessings we may never had dreamed of in that previous comfort zone.

What lion is God sending to you?

Shortly after I read the above statement about the lion in the Elder Cook book, I read 2 Nephi 5. 2 Nephi 5 shows us this principle in action. Nephi knew his brothers were angry at him. In fact, they were so mad they wanted to kill him (vs. 2). He prayed for help. Perhaps he pleaded with God, saying something like, “God, please bless my brothers to stop being angry at me. Please show them the light. Please take them out of my life. Please strike them with lightning or make them move thousands of miles away. Please cause something to happen to them so they stop bugging me. Please shock them again. Please send them an angel again to convince them of the errors of their ways.”
Did God answer Nephi’s prayer? Well, yes and no. No in the sense that he didn’t answer it in any of the ways I just imagined and described.
Instead of any of these answers, what was the answer? It was that God told Nephi that Nephi was the one to take action, that God wanted him to move to a new place (2 Nephi 5:5-7). That was probably soooo what Nephi did not want to do. “What?!? Pack up all of my things, and go travel in a tent for days, even months, on end and move to a completely new place and start all over again? Not just me, but my wife and children and whoever believes in Thine revelations?” But yes, that was the answer. Can you imagine the logistics of that operation? In the end, it was a huge blessing. They were much better off than before. They got something they didn’t have in the old place, as far as I can tell. Because guess what? This new place had such an abundance of precious things, that they were able to  build a temple, after the manner of Solomon (2 Nephi 5:15-16). In this new place, they had precious metals like gold and silver in “great abundance.”
I hope to always remember this! I want to always remember that God’s answer to my prayer may cause me to move out of my comfort zone. May I always remember that God asking me to move out of my comfort zone has the promise of a new zone, a land of “great abundance” where I can have a figurative temple! A temple symbolizes having a heaven on earth where I can be as close to heaven as possible. I can claim this blessing only be being obedient. It is a joy to be in the temple, feeling the love of family, of God, of kindred spirits, of life, love, light, and learning! This is what I want, even if I have to tame, or be tamed by a lion, to get to it!
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