Have you ever wished that God would speak to you and give you answers for the challenges in your life? Have you wondered why He doesn’t talk to you?
You can hear His voice in your own life. Chances are that He has talked to you many times, but you may not have been listening for the right things. You have to be prepared to listen and accept His will, and to receive His answers in the way He chooses to give them.
I have asked for answers from the Lord on problems ranging from a challenge to my faith or a serious physical threat to something so mundane as a plumbing problem when no help was available. I have never seen an angel in answer, or heard the voice of God speaking to me audibly. Answers have come sometimes as words in my mind, sometimes as new ideas on how to approach the problem, and sometimes from someone with greater experience who just happens to drop by in the moment of need.
I do not say this to boast. I am ashamed that I do not receive answers more often, because of my lack of faith. Sometimes I want to cry out, with the man whose son was healed by Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!” (Mark 9:24; see verses 17-29.)
A loving Father in Heaven respects the autonomy, or agency, He has given us so much that He will not violate it. He never forces us to do His will. When he intervened in the life of Saul on the road to Damascus, He simply asked a question: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Saul received direction only after, chastened and humbled, he asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (See Acts 1-7.) As Saul followed the direction he received, the Lord turned him into a great prophet and teacher.
In ancient America, a young man named Alma spent his time trying to destroy Christ’s church organized among his people. As he was going about this work, an angel appeared to him to ask, “Why persecutest thou the church of God?” Alma was admonished to remember the Lord’s power to save those who have faith in Him. Then the angel commanded him: “Seek to destroy the church no more, . . . even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off.” (Mosiah 27:16, Book of Mormon. See Mosiah 27:10-16.) Like Paul, Alma repented and turned to faith, and the Lord made of him a great prophet and teacher.
Both Paul and Alma chose faith. If we choose faith, we can get answers, but we have to get them the way Jesus taught. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7; emphasis mine.) We have to ask and seek His help—He will never force it on us—but when He gives it, His help will often be more generous and abundant than we could ever have imagined. It may lead to a much more healing or strengthening solution than we could ever have expected. The new ideas that come to our minds may lead to lasting changes that alter our behavior and our lives. When the Lord sends someone else to help us, both of us are strengthened.
Sometimes, when answers don’t seem to come, we may need to realize, like Paul and Alma, that we are the problem. We may need to soften our hearts to accept His counsel. When we do that, He always rewards us with the same mercy and love Jesus showed to every sinner He healed.
Sometimes when answers don’t come in the way or the timeframe we want, we may need to understand that patience is required while the Lord teaches and strengthens us. I can look back over decades and see that I am more spiritually capable now of acting on His counsel than I was when, as a younger man, I wanted those answers right now. Back then, I never concerned myself much about long life, believing that the Lord’s timetable was out of my control. But in recent years, I have sometimes asked for more time to learn mortal lessons before I pass on to the next life. I need all the spiritual development I can get before earthly opportunities are past.
God, our Heavenly Father, wants to give you the answers you seek, but only rarely has He spoken to men and women on earth in person. For His mortal children in general, He gives answers through the teachings of Jesus Christ and through prophets on the earth in our day. But to us as individuals, He is glad to give answers for our own lives. We only have to ask with humility in our hearts, willing to obey His counsel, and learn how to listen in our hearts, where He speaks Spirit to spirit.