Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 54, which was given because of Saints in the early days of the church not keeping the law of consecration and breaking their covenants with the Lord. It must have been tough in the early days of the church, constantly encountering new things and not sure how to handle them. It reminds me of Alma the Elder when he first encountered people breaking the commandments of the Lord and not desiring to repent. But just like prophets of old, he took his question to the Lord and asked him what he should do. Joseph Smith does the same and that of course should be our pattern to.
The phrase counsel with the Lord in all thy doings comes to mind in situations like this. Have you ever prayed and talked to the Lord like He was right there in front of you listening attentively? Have you ever stopped to listen to what He might have to say back to you? We are told that we should counsel with our Father in Heaven the same way we would counsel with our earthly father. We would not call him up and then rattle on with what we wanted and not take the time to listen to a response, but for some reason when we are talking to the one being who DOES have all the answers, that's exactly what we do.
Now, the Lord does want us to come to a decision on our own. Elder Dallin H. Oaks has a wonderful book entitled "The Lord's Way" where he talks about this very thing. It is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it. In the book he talks about the fact that God gave us intelligence to reason for ourselves and we should use it. It is very inappropriate for us to always go to the Lord first with a problem. We should first take some time to decide how WE want to proceed with our issue and then come to Him and discuss our decision. Now, you can of course work with the Lord in discussing the issue at hand while you are working it out, but remember that when we do not follow His pattern, He reserves the right to not answer in the way we want Him to. Figure it out for yourself is an answer, just not the one we may want.
Also, answers will not always come right away. I have heard it said before that if you want to talk to God, you pray. If you want God to talk to you, you read the scriptures or listen to our modern prophets. It is really hard to obtain an answer from the Lord if you are not doing what you should be doing to get that answer. Now it is possible to get an answer without living the commandments, but it is really hard. Remember Doctrine and Covenants section 82:10 which says "I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, you have no promise". Until I was an adult I took that to mean that if we were not living the commandments, we would not be blessed. But a wise college professor pointed out the error in my thinking. He said the scriptures do not say that. What they do say is that when we follow God's word, He has to help us. But when we don't it's at His discretion whether to help us or not, He doesn't have to.
The key to receiving help from the Lord most easily I feel is to first and foremost be sure what you want. There is a reason that He wants us to work it out in our minds first. That old adage be careful what you wish for because you just might get it, it is so true! I dated a wonderful girl in college but I knew almost from the start that it wasn't going to go anywhere. But I was already in love with her by that point so I kept dating her knowing I was only going to cause myself pain. When the inevitable break up came, I was really hurt. I cried for days and to make matters worse, all my friends moved away because the semester had ended. Finally I said a prayer one night telling Heavenly Father that I never wanted to feel this type of pain again and to not let me date another woman until I met my wife.
And He answered that prayer! Oh boy did He ever. From that time until I met my wife I tried to date no less than 3 girls. In all 3 cases I knew that the women had feelings for me just like I did for them, but something ALWAYS got in the way that prevented us from dating. It wasn't until I met my wife that I was able to finally date a girl again. That is why the Lord wants us to work it out first. Because He will give us our desires. So be sure it really is what you desire.
As you seek to obtain the answers from the Lord you seek, make sure you are following the established patterns the Lord has set forth and make sure that you are living a good and righteous life so that you can hear the answer that comes. Remember, the Lord WANTS to help us and 90% of the time, WE are the ones standing in the way. Until tomorrow.