Monday, April 28, 2008

On Desiring and Obtaining Blessings

I should have posted this yesterday, as it would have made a good Sunday post. I gave this talk in church. I was supposed to speak for 7-10 minutes, and much to the other speaker's chagrin, I spoke for exactly 7! Hahaha. Anyway, it was an interesting topic, and I learned a lot. Here it is.

Why We Should Desire Blessings, and How Do We Receive Blessings?

April 27th, 2008

Why should we desire blessings?

Some people may feel that they don't want to bother Heavenly Father with requests. Others may feel that they don't deserve blessings, or that they have enough and should be thankful for what they have. I have pondered this question a lot this past week. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. He wants to bless us. He has told us to ask for blessings. Moroni 10:30 says: “And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing”. He is the Creator of our earth, and of us. He has given us so much, and he still wants to give us more. When we seek for blessings from our Father, we become more attuned to His will and come closer to Him. It becomes easier for us to feel His love and Spirit in all aspects of our lives.

James 1:17 says,

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin said this while addressing his people: "And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you." (Mosiah 2:22)

I asked James why he thought we should desire blessings, and he had a wonderful insight. He said that we should “desire blessings so we can bless others.” The more we receive from our Heavenly Father, the more we can use those blessings to serve our brothers and sisters. And in serving our brothers and sisters, we are again blessed.

How do we receive blessings?

Heavenly Father has natural laws set up. Doctrine and Covenants 130: 20-21 states: “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

So, before the world began these laws were set up. When we obey a law, we get the blessing on which it is based. There is no specific list set up where we can go. There isn't a book we can get that has laws in one column and blessings pertaining to that law in another column. Some we can figure out, such as if you obey the Word of Wisdom and don't drink alcohol, you won't cause a traffic accident by being under the influence. But others aren't that easy. That's why it's so important to study and pray when wanting a specific blessing. The Lord reveals to us by the Holy Ghost what we should do to receive that blessing.

President Gordon B. Hinckley observed:“The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the telephone and ordering groceries—we place our order and hang up. We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another.” Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (1997), 469. ”

There is a wonderful article in the December 2006 Ensign about prayer. Sister Mary Jane Woodger says the following about prayer:

“After confessing my weaknesses I then feel ready to ask for specific blessings. For me, habitual phrases such as “bless my family” or “help me” do not usually constitute mighty prayer. My prayers are more effective when they include names and circumstances.

Notice how specific President Kimball is in this admonition: “We always have a prayer in our hearts that we may do our best on the football field, that we may appear well in the classroom, that we may remember the things we have learned when the test is on. … We pray as we stand to speak, as we walk, as we drive. We remember our friends, our enemies. We pray for wisdom and judgment. We pray for protection in dangerous places and for strength in moments of temptation.”

The Apostle James writes that sometimes we have not because we ask not (see James 4:2). I have found the following definition of prayer in the Bible Dictionary helpful: “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. “What I Have Learned About Mighty Prayer, Mary Jane Woodger, Dec 2006 Ensign”

As parents, we want good things for our children. It makes us happy to see our children happy. Instead of just giving them everything they want willy-nilly, we want them to ask for things. Why? So they have accountability and feel a greater sense of value and worth for what they have been given. If a reward system is in place, they learn to decide what they really want and if it's worth it. They learn from the process. For example, this past week my children really wanted to play a computer game. It's rare for us to get those, so they were very excited and often asked to play it. I made the rule that their room had to be clean before they could play it. They worked on it, I helped some, then when they finished and it was clean they got to play the game for a while.

Knowing how excited they were, I was tempted to let them play it before they were ready. However, being obedient to the rule I set up helped them appreciate the game more, and gives them incentive to keep their room clean.

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? (Matthew 7:11)

Our Heavenly Father is waiting to give us so much more than a computer game. We need to be ready to receive those blessings fully.

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. (D&C 88.33)

By learning how to desire, ask for, and receive blessings we can draw closer to our Father in Heaven. This subject has been eye-opening for me, because I have felt many times that I didn't deserve “extra” blessings. However, there is no such thing as "extra" blessings. Heavenly Father is waiting to bless us even more than he already has. He has blessed me so much, and I have had some experiences lately that have shown me how much He is waiting to bless me continually. I testify of His love for me and for you. He is a God of hope, and of love. I hope that we all can draw closer to Him , our Eternal Father, and receive the multitude of blessings He has for us.


Kimberly said...

Oh Rebecca, that was beautifully written. Thanks so much for sharing something so very uplifting with us.

mindyluwho said...

I am one who has been guilty of "placing my order". It has been a process to learn to pray more specifically, but I find that when I do that I receive more blessings, or at least I recognize the blessings I receive. I love the definition of prayer from the Bible Dictionary you quoted. It is hard waiting on the Lord. I have been waiting for a blessing for some time now and wondering why it has been witheld. I have asked for it in a myriad of ways and have to keep reminding myself that the Lord knows me and my circumstance, and the blessing I am asking for is maybe not the blessing I am in need of at this time.

Beautiful talk!

Nancy Face said...

Great talk! I truly enjoyed it...thank you for sharing it! :)

Michal said...

i love how you likened it (as Christ did,) to how we as parents desire to bless our own children. and it made me ponder on the wisdom of my ways at times. it helps to remember that i should be parenting after the pattern of the lord. i think that my kids know to ask, but they often have to ask repeatedly because i'm not really paying attention--not the lord's way. anyhow, this was great food for thought. thanks.