Sunday, June 3, 2012

How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life Pt. 1: Prayer*

Many decisions, choices, and avenues exist in life. Some are presented to us on a daily basis and some we potentially face only once in a lifetime. Making the correct decision, choosing the right path, or finding the best choice when multiple options are good, is an extremely daunting task sometimes, especially when the decision appears to have long-term and even eternal consequences. Personally, I am struggling with a number of decisions that, to me, are a huge deal. These are decisions regarding careers, finances, a new business, and relationships. I feel that any one of these would be difficult enough to handle individually, and yet I am faced with all of them together and have been struggling with them for months, some of them for multiple years. None of these life-changing events are in any way negative, but rather, when decided, the outcome will greatly enhance and bless my life. But since these decisions are so important and will affect me and others greatly long-term, I struggle to make the right decision.

So how do I make correct decisions, especially when I cannot see the future and know exactly how my decisions will play out years down the road? Each of us has been faced with life-changing decisions whether they be choosing a school, a job, moving across the country, getting married, starting a family, changing careers, buying a house, committing to follow Jesus Christ, or a host of others. We ask friends and family and those who have gone before us, we are influenced by peers and trends of the world, and we have opposing forces pulling on us in all directions. We may wish that Google or Siri just had the answers for us.

But Google, Siri, the world, and even sometimes those we love and trust do not have all the answers for us. There is, however, One who knows the end from the beginning, who knows what is truly important in life, and how our decisions will play out eternally. And He has a Son who descended below all things that He may know how to best succor us, His people (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:6; 122:8; Alma 7:12).  Jesus Christ works under the direction of the Father and is in complete harmony with Him. We are blessed to have a Father in Heaven who is omniscient, an Elder Brother, "even Jesus Christ, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made; The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before [His] eyes;" (Doctrine and Covenants 38:1-2).

In my journey to decide my life, I have relied heavily on one particular thing--prayer to my Father in Heaven. The prophets have taught:

"As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings." (Bible Dictionary--Prayer.)

For me, prayer has been absolutely vital in how I make decisions, especially life-changing ones. Very few times has the Lord actually told me what to do in answer to my prayers, contrary to what I might have wished at the time. Rather, He waits until I have made my own decision, helping and guiding me along the way through the Holy Spirit so I have the information needed to make that decision. Then, when I present the Lord my decision, I learn if I have made the best decision or not. The choice is always mine, and my Father in Heaven usually lets me know if I have made the right choice.

Sometimes, however, the choices with which I am faced do not have a negative or less-than-desirable outcome. In those instances, I may not receive an affirmation that I have made the correct decision because both decisions are fine with the Lord and I may go down either path. Either way, the blessings that come from making such decision act as affirmation that I have done right in the Lord's eyes.

Prayer is a wonderful gift and blessing from a loving Father in Heaven to His children. In this life we must walk by faith rather than by sight, trusting in Him who gave us life (see 2 Corinthians 5:7). Through the Holy Spirit we receive guidance and direction in all major decisions, and most smaller, seemingly insignificant ones. As we live worthy of the Spirit by obeying the commandments and serving those around us, we will receive answers to our sincere and heartfelt prayers. We will receive the help necessary for our happiness, both here in this life and eternally in the life to come.

Trusting the Lord in prayer when making my decisions has brought me incalculable blessings.


*This originally began as an article of the week and went in a different direction than I planned. See part two for wisdom from Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.