Saturday, February 5, 2022

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on the process of petitioning in prayer

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"Petitioning in prayer has taught me that the vault of heaven, with all its blessings, is to be opened only by a combination lock: one tumbler falls when there is faith, a second when there is personal righteousness, and the third, and final tumbler falls only when what is sought is (in God's judgment, not ours) 'right' for us.
"Sometimes we pound on the vault door for something we want very much, in faith, in reasonable righteousness, and wonder why the door does not open. We would be very spoiled children if that vault door opened any more easily than it does now.
"I can tell, looking back, that God truly loves me by the petitions that, in his perfect wisdom and love, he has refused to grant me. Our rejected petitions tell us not only much about ourselves, but also much about our flawless Father."
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Insights from My Life," BYU devotional address October 26, 1976; see also New Era, April 1978
Click here to read the full address

This is a wonderful insight. There are requirements for successful petitions we offer up to our Father in Heaven.  We often remember the first two but forget the third:

It's interesting to note that prayer requires effort on our part, "a form of work" as the Bible Dictionary tell us. If prayers were answered too easily, "we would be very spoiled children." The delays that result often work to develop the first two qualities Elder Maxwell lists: faith and personal righteousness.

The other remarkable insight is that as we consider petitions that are have not been granted in our lives, we learn about God's love for us. He often teaches us much about ourselves and about Himself as He considers our requests. It's that third tumbler of the vault lock that often comes into play; and in reviewing past petitions, a later perspective gives clarity and understanding that often is lacking in the midst of a trial or perceived need. A true disciple will learn to be grateful for denied petitions, knowing they represent a sign of divine love and tutoring.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)
February 2, 2016

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