Two of my favorite T.V. shows to watch while growing up were Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. I loved the possibility of magic in everyday life. I wanted to wiggle my nose and have my bedroom clean or a quick folding of the arms and nod of the head would easily complete my homework. Now, as a wife and mother I can easily see how a wiggle of the nose would be handy but I also realize that is not how life works.
Going through life requires all of us to make choices and judgments all day long. We are expected to use our brains and use life experiences to choose what we want to be and how we will achieve that. Dealing with adult children has taught me a lot more about the concepts of desires and agency. I am watching my children decide what to study in college. I am watching them decide where to work so they can pay for college and support themselves. I have three children trying to decide how to navigate the world of dating.
As a parent, I think some of the most important conversations I have had with my kids is to not tell them what to do, but asking them what they think. I ask them “What do you want?” It is VERY hard to not just tell them what to do. When my daughter was deciding where to go for college, the decision finally came down to, “Well, what do you want to do?” Going to college was a good thing and attending was never a question for her. The question was where to attend. There are many good things about many different colleges. It came down to “What do you want to study?” and “Where do you want to go?”
I see this pattern from a loving God as well. One of my favorite phrases in the scriptures is, “What desirest thou?”
And the Lord said unto me: John, my beloved, what desirest thou? For if you shall ask what you will, it shall be granted unto you.”Doctrine and Covenants 7:1
Another place we read this passage is when Nephi is talking to an angel of the Lord in the Book of Mormon:
And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou?”1 Nephi 11:2
We are expected to pray for guidance in our lives. We need to remember that prayer is not a wiggle of the nose or a nod of the head. Prayer is not magic. I am slowly learning that prayer is a way for me to have a conversation with my Heavenly Father. He wants me to be happy. He has given me commandments and guidance to help me be happy. Within the bounds He has set, what do I want?
During this Coronavirus quarantine, I have been concerned. Not scared, but concerned. I have some yeast at home, but felt like I needed a little more. I spent a week checking several stores and could not find any yeast. Finally, I prayed to God and let Him know I desired yeast. The next morning I felt prompted to go to the grocery store at a very inconvenient time while I was wearing my workout clothes. I was very embarrassed by my post exercise fashion, but I heeded the prompting and went to the store. I went directly to the yeast and there were 8 jars and several packets. I got 2 jars. (I’m not a total heathen and hoarder.) I had to go back for something else later in the day and there wasn’t a single yeast bug to be found. Do I think things in the world will get worse and I will actually need that yeast? Not really. I think yeast mattered to me and when I let God know that, He helped me with my desire. Does this mean I can start praying it will rain Cadbury eggs and there will be no health consequences to me eating my weight in them? Sadly, no.
Remember, there are natural laws and God Himself follows those laws. He is also not a magical genie or warlock.
Not all of our prayers will be answered as we might wish. Occasionally the answer will be no. We should not be surprised. Loving mortal parents do not say yes to every request of their children.”Russell M. Nelson – “Sweet Power of Prayer”
The object of our prayers should not be to present a wish list or a series of requests but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is eager to bestow, according to His will and timing. Every sincere prayer is heard and answered by our Heavenly Father, but the answers we receive may not be what we expect or come to us when we want or in the way we anticipate.”David A. Bednar – “Ask in Faith”
Knowing prayer is not a magical wish list, how do we incorporate the concept of being asked, “What desirest thou?” Rather than expecting God to grant wishes, we should ponder what we want. What are you desiring at this time? Are our desires in line with God’s commandments and natural laws? Will that thing you want to do or become make you a better person? Will it take time away from your spiritual obligations to family or will it bring you and your family closer to God? This week, I will be spending more time on my knees clarifying what I want and then making sure it is part of God’s will for me so I can have His help. Maybe you desire something great like a major life change such as a move or new career choice. Maybe you desire yeast.
What desirest thou? What do you really want? What do you want to spend your time and energy on? What are you changing to have your desires align with God’s desires for you?