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Dear Gramps,
I have heard we should pray to soften hearts. I also know that Heavenly Father doesn’t harden hearts. My question is does softening someone’s heart also take away their fee agency to keep it hardened? I am not trying to be argumentative. I am trying to understand the difference. Saul’s heart was at one time good and then was hardened and it stayed that way.
Carol, from Murray, Nebraska

Dear Carol,
The greatest gift of God to man is his free agency. God will not rob a person of his agency just because someone prays that he will change his character. However, God will exert His benign influence so that if the person is susceptible to the influence of the Holy Spirit, he will be impressed to modify his behavior. There is a poem by William C Gregg, set to music as Hymn 90 in the LDS Hymn Books that beautifully expresses the thought that we are trying to convey.

Know this, that every soul is free
To choose his life and what he’ll be,
For this eternal truth is given
That God will force no man to heaven.

Hell call, persuade, direct aright
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.

Freedom and reason make us men;
Take these away, what are we then?
Mere animals, and just as well
The beasts may think of heaven or hell.

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