Unanswered Prayers

Have you ever thought that unanswered prayers may be more about the love God has for us rather than the love He doesn't have?  Our home teacher presented that thought to  us a couple of weeks ago and I've really pondered on this idea.  I know we frequently discuss how an unanswered prayer doesn't mean the Lord doesn't care about us or that maybe He has something better in store for us.  But I have never thought of it as an actual expression of His love for us when blessings are withheld.

The instant thought I had when our home teacher spoke was, "What restraint!"  In the scriptures we read, "...what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If ye then, being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him (Matt. 7:9-11)?"

As a parent, when I see my children with a need, even a want sometimes, I desire to help them as much as I possibly can so that they can feel blessed and loved by me.  But, also as a parent, I know that if I gave them everything they wanted they wouldn't truly be happy.  Sometimes that is really, really hard!  When they come home having had a hard day, I want to take make it all better.  When they fall and scrape their knees, I want to take the pain away.  When they are hungry I want to feed them.  When they don't have clothes to wear, I want to buy them covering.  The list goes on and on.

Our loving Father in Heaven must desire the same thing.  I can just imagine Him looking down on us thinking, "Oh, I wish I could step in and help you right now." Or "I really want to give you what you're asking for, but I just can't."  It takes a lot of love to withhold some things.  It takes a lot of love to set boundaries on what can or cannot be done.  It takes a lot of love to sacrifice our own desires for the larger picture in raising our children.

In a similar vain, President Ezra Taft Benson has said, "Jesus aimed to make of every man a king ,to build him in leadership unto eternity. ... Jesus desired to lift, rather than suppress, the individual."   Our Heavenly Father wants us to grow! In order for us to grow, we must sometimes struggle and even fail.  It's not easy watching our own children falter.  Sometimes I think it would just be easier to do things myself or to step in and carry their burden for them.  The Lord will use this rescuing tool every once in awhile, but more often than not, He knows the greater blessing will come after the trial of our faith.  And so He holds back. with great restraint, and waits for us to learn and grow.

These thoughts are so comforting as I ponder on my own unanswered prayers.  Knowing that my Father loves me enough to allow me space and time to become who He needs me to be, I can hold on.  Knowing He has a grander view of the potential I have in me, I can rise to the occasion (as my mother who day) and endure with greater joy and understanding.  The wait may be longer than I would like, but the unknown no longer needs to be unbearable because I know that my Savior loves me that much.

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"There is nothing about us He does not know. He is conscious of our every need and could provide all of the answers.  Yet...His purpose is our eternal happiness..." 
- Elder Richard G. Scott -  


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