10 Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.
It sounds obvious: since God knows all things and we know comparatively little, we ought to be learning from Him, not trying to instruct Him. And yet what percentage of our typical prayers consist of making requests, as though we had the master plan and we just needed Him to help us achieve it? No wonder the Bible Dictionary entry for prayer reminds us that “the object of prayer is not to change the will of God.” It’s not that we shouldn’t ask for blessings. We are commanded to do so. But we ought to remember to Whom we are speaking and make our requests with the understanding that He knows far better than we do what is needed and how best to achieve it.
And we ought to ask Him for guidance, not just for assistance. Listen to this pattern taught by President Henry B. Eyring during a commencement address at Brigham Young University:
You can pray to Him with confidence and ask, “What would you have me do next?” If you listen humbly and with faith, you will feel an answer. And you will, if you are wise and good, set about to do that which your Master has commanded. And you will leave the residue in His hands. As His servant I promise you that you will find that some of those residual tasks you left will be done when you return to them. Others will have been prepared for you. And you will be the stronger for the task you already tackled (“Go Forth to Serve,” BYU Commencement, April 25, 2002).
President Eyring has also promised us that a prayer to know what we should do will always be answered if we are willing to obey the answer we receive:
A morning prayer and an early search in the scriptures to know what we should do for the Lord can set the course of a day. We can know which task, of all those we might choose, matters most to God and therefore to us. I have learned such a prayer is always answered if we ask and ponder with childlike submission, ready to act without delay to perform even the most humble service (“This Day,” General Conference, April 2007).
And the our most recent general conference, Elder Ronald A. Rasband gave us the same advice:
If we let the Lord know in our morning prayers that we are ready, He will call on us to respond. If we respond, He will call on us time and time again and we will find ourselves on what President Monson calls “the Lord’s errand.” We will become spiritual first responders bringing help from on high.
If we pay attention to the promptings that come to us, we will grow in the spirit of revelation and receive more and more Spirit-driven insight and direction (“Let the Holy Spirit Guide,” General Conference, April 2017).
Today, I will “seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from His hand:”
- As I ask for blessings for myself and for others, I will remember that He understands the full context and may therefore answer differently than I would have expected.
- I will take the time this morning, not only to ask Him for blessings, but also to ask Him what He wants me to do today. I will follow the counsel I receive from Him in answer to that question.