Thursday, July 2, 2015

Robert D. Hales on finding answers to questions

Elder Robert D. Hales (1932- ) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1985, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"How can I question without losing the Spirit? ... All of us have questions at times in our lives on policies, procedures, or even principles. The best way to find the answers we seek is to search out the solution for ourselves.
"How do we go about it?
"First and foremost, it is our attitude, or how we ask the question, that is very, very important. If it is a demand, one loses the opportunity for an answer.
"Second, if we have strong feelings about the way something should be and are unwilling to listen, we may lose the opportunity to get an answer.
"One only has to remember when Martin Harris wanted to take home pages of the Book of Mormon translation to show to others. Joseph Smith prayed to the Lord a number of times to finally be allowed to let the man do it. The Lord knew that the pages would be lost. But sometimes we want something so much and keep praying about it that the Lord lets us do it for our learning experience.
"Sometimes we are drawn into seeking and giving answers that bring recognition or notoriety to 'our' thinking and to 'our' opinion. Don't look for signs or answers that build you up. Humility and submissiveness to God will always be fundamental in receiving direction from Him."
- Robert D. Hales, "Gifts of the Spirit," Ensign, Feb. 2002, pp. 17-18
Click here to read the full talk
There are occasionally issues and situations in the Church that can cause us to ponder and question. That is certainly the case with policies and procedures, that are usually man-made (though also usually inspired!). Principles, or underlying doctrines, are a different situation; we believe them to be divine and eternal.  But sometimes we even have occasion to wonder about the principles.

Elder Hales recognizes the validity of questioning, but encourages us to go about it in a productive and positive way. He warns us of the dangers of having a demanding, manipulative attitude or a pre-determined answer to our questions. Those are valid concerns.

A third challenge and caution relates to the motivation of questioning in a mode of self-confirmation or even self-aggrandizement.

The real key to receiving direction is "humility and submissiveness to God." This entire article has wonderful suggestions to help us become more receptive to spiritual gifts and impressions.

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