The Book of Mormon contains many stories of people taking questions to God in prayer and receiving answers. Here are some examples:
- Lehi prayed to know where his son Nephi should go to hunt for food for the family (1 Nephi 16:23-26).
- Jacob prayed to know what he should do about the “wicked practices” he began to see among his people (Jacob 1:15-17, 2:11).
- Alma asked how to deal with members of the church who were accused of committing various sins but were unwilling to repent (Mosiah 26:1-13).
- His friend Mosiah asked whether he should allow his sons to serve as missionaries among their enemies, the Lamanites (Mosiah 28:1-7).
- One of Mosiah’s sons, Ammon, later prayed to know whether the converted Lamanites should immigrate to Nephite lands to escape violent persecution (Alma 27:4-12).
- Alma’s son, also named Alma, twice asked God for advice on military strategy, once on behalf of Zoram, and once on behalf of Captain Moroni (Alma 16:1-6, Alma 43:23-24).
- Mormon asked God whether the three disciples were mortal or immortal after the time of their transfiguration (3 Nephi 28:17, 36-40).
- Mormon also asked what he should do about a false doctrine gaining currency within the church (Moroni 8:4-8).
- The brother of Jared prayed multiple times to know where his people should go next (Ether 1:38-43, 2:6).
In 1820, young Joseph Smith decided to do the same. Having learned from James 1:6 that he could seek wisdom from God, he entered a grove of trees near his home one morning, knelt on the ground, and prayed to know which church he should join. In response, God the Father and Jesus Christ visited him and answered his question (Joseph Smith—History 1:13-20).
President Russell M. Nelson has emphasized that we can also ask questions in prayer and receive answers:
If Joseph Smith’s transcendent experience in the Sacred Grove teaches us anything, it is that the heavens are open and that God speaks to His children.
The Prophet Joseph Smith set a pattern for us to follow in resolving our questions. Drawn to the promise of James that if we lack wisdom we may ask of God, the boy Joseph took his question directly to Heavenly Father. He sought personal revelation, and his seeking opened this last dispensation.
In like manner, what will your seeking open for you? What wisdom do you lack? What do you feel an urgent need to know or understand? Follow the example of the Prophet Joseph. Find a quiet place where you can regularly go. Humble yourself before God. Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him for answers and for comfort.
Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will “grow into the principle of revelation.”“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” General Conference, April 2018
Today, I will ask questions in my personal prayers and listen for the answers. I will remember that God is willing to help me understand things that are not clear to me and to help me make wise decisions.
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