"Often as we teach and testify about the law of tithing, we emphasize the immediate, dramatic, and readily recognizable temporal blessings that we receive. And surely such blessings do occur. Yet some of the diverse blessings we obtain as we are obedient to this commandment are significant but subtle. Such blessings can be discerned only if we are both spiritually attentive and observant (see 1 Corinthians 2:14).
"The imagery of the 'windows' of heaven used by Malachi is most instructive. Windows allow natural light to enter into a building. In like manner, spiritual illumination and perspective are poured out through the windows of heaven and into our lives as we honor the law of tithing.
"For example, a subtle but significant blessing we receive is the spiritual gift of gratitude that enables our appreciation for what we have to constrain desires for what we want. A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment (see Luke 12:15)....
"Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience.
"I promise that as you and I observe and keep the law of tithing, indeed the windows of heaven will be opened and spiritual and temporal blessings will be poured out such that there shall not be room enough to receive them (see Malachi 3:10)....
"I testify that as we are spiritually attentive and observant, we will be blessed with eyes that see more clearly, ears that hear more consistently, and hearts that understand more fully the significance and subtlety of His ways, His thoughts, and His blessings in our lives."
- David A. Bednar, "The Windows of Heaven," Ensign, Nov 2013, pp. 17-20
Click here to read or listen to the full talk
Elder Bednar was teaching about the principle of tithing in this address, but I think the insights he offered apply wonderfully to the more fundamental principle of obedience and faithfulness. We sometimes focus on temporal or physical blessings for obeying commandments, such as the financial aspects of tithing. But "the windows of heaven" have a much more spiritual connotation as Elder Bednar points out, and the "spiritual illumination and perspective" that are poured out as we obey are much more significant to us.
As we petition God in prayer, we often learn that answers come in very different ways than we initially anticipate. I loved this summary of how God may respond to us:
The final testimony from Elder Bednar's excerpt is important. I long to be more "spiritually attentive and observant," and know that as I do so, I will notice and feel the promised blessings.