My friend is seriously ill and I’ve been praying that she will be healed, but no answer. In scripture, Ask and it shall be given you…For every one that asked received and to him that knocked it shall be opened. I’ve been holding this statement for a very long time and strongly believe that God answers my prayer if I ask.
Then I came across this scripture verse, that God’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts. Would this mean that I should conform to the will of God and stop asking in faith?
I hear two questions coming from you. And I believe what is confusing you is that you tend to believe they are contradictory. They are not. But as many things in the gospel, it is a question of balance between two sides. You’re wondering why the Lord has not answered your prayer. So, you can either continue praying for this same object of your desire. Or you can stop praying and accept it as the will of the Lord that He will not be granting you this soon. Many principles come into play when we’re talking about receiving answers to prayer. So we need to be aware of as many as possible. Then in the end, we need to be guided by the Spirit to know when it is time to quit.
1. WILL OF THE LORD
The first principle to learn about prayer is that
The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings. –Bible Dictionary Prayer.
So, follow the Spirit to determine if this is what the Lord would want to grant. The scripture is true. His ways are not our ways, nor His thought man’s thoughts. But being guided by the Spirit, we can tell if He just wants us to keep praying or if He has something else in mind.
2. ASK IN FAITH IN THE NAME OF CHRIST
When we pray, we need to ask with real faith. Faith is not just believing. Faith is an actual divine power that we can access with this very simple ordinance of prayer. With that power, we can speak the words of the prayer by the Power of the Holy Ghost. And finally we close the prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. As we do so, we are sealing that prayer with our firm conviction and faith that we know that this is the prayer that Jesus Christ Himself would offer if He were in our shoes.
What prayer did He pray? One of them comes to mind.
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Luke 22:42
This reminds us of principle #1 above.
He asked this same prayer three times. Yet it was denied Him in the end. He knew it. And the entire world is blessed by that answer.
3. WEARY THE LORD
In two places in scripture we hear the parable of the importunate widow and the unjust judge. In this parable, we learn that when we truly want/need something that is within the will of the Lord, we need to ask in faith so much that we weary the Lord. I believe you may have been doing that somewhat. Do it more if the Spirit dictates. Weary the Lord. He hears you.
4. WORK AT IT
There is an old saying:
Pray as if everything depends on the Lord. Then do as if everything depends on you.
The Lord always asks us to fulfill “ALL WE CAN DO”. Then His grace is sufficient for us. In the case of illness, we need to do everything mortally available to us to finally be blessed with the Lord’s blessing. In the case of a serious illness, you will need to take all mortal means necessary and prudent to take care of this illness. Follow the advice of competent medical professionals — make sure your friend does. Do all you can to serve your friend in need.
Just as Nephi used earthly means first (asking for the plates nicely; then trying to buy them from Laban with tremendous riches) he finally met with success by being led by the Spirit. Many people ask, why didn’t Nephi just start with that in the first place. The reason is that the first few tries with mortal means is what the Lord wants us to do BEFORE He blesses us. It is often a prerequisite. Sometimes I think it is more of a faith building exercise because it shows us that we couldn’t do it on our own. It is humbling to get to that point. And humility is a prerequisite for faith.
At some point we need to listen to the Spirit. At some point, we need to know when to quit. At some point we need to learn the lesson from the experience. It may be that your concern for your friend is what is preparing you to be a better servant to your neighbor. It may be that her suffering is allowing her (and you) to grow as an individual and learn a few lessons about life. But the final lesson we need to learn from anyone suffering may be this:
The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? D&C 122:8
I will pray for you and for your friend. May the Lord bless you both with greater understanding of His will.