(Guest post by Susan M
You know how when you want something really badly, your prayers about it can turn into a desperate sort of pleading? Please, please, please, just let this one thing happen, because then maybe everything else will fall into place, and everything will be alright. Please
For me it was, Please, please, please just let my husband come to church this Sunday. Because then maybe everything else will fall into place, and everything will be alright. Please. I don't expect a miracle, just let him come this week.
When I started dating my husband, I was a non-member, and he was preparing to go on a mission. Because I'd known him as a teenager in high school, and how wild he was, it made a big impact on me when he started talking about religion and God and how he'd changed. He ended up baptizing me about six weeks before we got married. He didn't go on a mission.
We were really young (18/19) and didn't know what we were doing, but we've never regretted it. We had kids right away. We both struggled with going to church regularly--we were working long hours, we moved around a lot, neither of us were good at establishing a routine of going. But we eventually settled in an inner-city ghetto neighborhood, and started going to church regularly. We were sealed in the temple about two years after being married civilly.
It was Daniel's experience in the temple that made him go inactive. I'm not sure why, but he got a very bad feeling in the temple. I can say that he was taking some medication at the time for ADHD that completely changed his personality and created some big emotional problems for him. It took us a long time to figure out it was the medication that was causing that, but that's a whole other post. Suffice it to say he had a bad experience in the temple, and he figured that if the church was true, then it must mean that Christ was rejecting him. And he stopped going to church. For six or seven years.
I kept going, on my own, with one, then two, and later three, small children. It was during that time that my testimony grew by leaps and bounds. Having to rely only on myself and my own testimony really strengthened it in a big way. I had all kinds of spiritual experiences, including the one I'm about to relate.
As I said, I used to pray that Daniel would come to church...just once. I guess I couldn't really see beyond that. Maybe I figured if he just came once, he'd start coming again and again. And I probably thought it wasn't too much ask for, so maybe it'd be granted.
At the time, I was running an email list for Latter-Day Saints with inactive or non-member loved ones called Sanctify. I took the name for the email list from 1 Cor 7:14, which says:
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife,
and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband:
else were your children unclean;
but now are they holy.
Someone on the email list posted a quote one day, I can't remember who it was by, but I'm pretty sure it was either a General Authority or a member of the General Relief Society presidency. Whoever it was by, the quote said if you had a righteous desire, you should pray for it, and give the Lord a deadline.
I'd never considered such a thing before. But I knew if anything, my desire for my husband to return to church was a righteous one. And I was feeling the pressure of time--our oldest was six months away from being eight years old, and I wanted him to be able to have his dad baptize him, if that's what he wanted.
I realized that the way I'd been praying about it before had not been exercising faith. My nightly nagging and pleading had actually been a demonstration of LACK of faith. So I decided to try it. I laid the situation all out for Heavenly Father, but I kept it simple. After telling Him all that was going on, I just said that if it was His will, I wanted Daniel to be able to baptize our son when he turned eight. I knew that that would entail a whole lot of different things happening--not just Daniel coming to church the next Sunday. Daniel would have to give up cigarettes and coffee, among other things. I told Him I wasn't going to pray about it again--it was in His hands. I wasn't going to worry about it anymore. And if it didn't happen, I'd live with that. I truly accepted that if it was at all possible, it'd happen, and if not, that was ok.
Every night as I was going to sleep, when I'd be praying silently in my head, I'd have to catch myself from falling back into the habit of asking for Daniel to come to church that Sunday. It was that deeply ingrained. Instead I'd find myself saying to Heavenly Father, "My habit is to ask for that, but I said I wouldn't, and I'm not going to, it's in Your hands." And I moved on.
I didn't say anything to Daniel about my prayer, not even when he came home from work a couple weeks later and told me he wanted to start going to church again. He also told me that he'd stopped smoking--a couple weeks prior. It took him longer to give up coffee--probably a couple months.
When it came time for our son to be baptized, he was able to do it. (Our son ended up asking his uncle to dunk him, and his dad to confirm him.)
I've experienced some miracles, some direct revelation from God. I've had many prayers answered. But I can't think of any experience I've had that was so obviously an answer to prayer--that couldn't be written off by a skeptic as just my imagination.
I know now what it means to pray with faith. It requires full purpose of heart
. It requires being willing to accept whatever happens. That old phrase "Let go, and let God" is dead on.
Recently my husband's father asked him about when he quit smoking. Daniel replied that he used to enjoy it--having a cigarette was pleasurable to him. It felt good. Then one day, he lit one up, and it tasted bad. It didn't feel good. He never smoked again.
And he's been actively living the gospel ever since.