If I Ask Not Amiss

God answers prayers. We are His work and His glory and He is never distracted. He is interested in the minutiae of our lives. How then, do I reconcile a loving God and Father with the work it takes to get answers and direction? 

Certainly there is a price to be paid. Thomas Paine stated , "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article...should not be highly rated".

The nearer you approach to God, the less you reason and argue. When you obtain Him, then all sounds- all reasoning and disputing- come to an end. Then you go into samadhi-sleep- into communion with God in silence.
— Sri Ramakrishna

I have prayed that God would see the intent of my heart and see that in lieu of hearing my plea as I felt that the cry of my heart would be more eloquent than my brutish verbal prayer. While I do know that God does look on our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7; Doctrine and Covenants 6:19), but we cannot put the onus of our prayers on God in this way. 

As I prayed this way, there was no communion, God has already done so much for me as far as my salvation is concerned, and there I was asking him to just give me what's in my heart without me even taking the trouble to verbalize the desire. 

I have prayed for what I wanted and then added as an almost afterthought, "oh, but thy will be done." Prayer is not a time for negotiation. The purpose of prayer is to align our will with God's, it must be at the forefront of the process and not an afterthought. 

Only by aligning our will to God’s is full happiness to be found
— Neal A. Maxwell

I have struggled to get answers to my prayers. In reading the account of Nephi, he expresses that he knows that God will give to man liberally "if {we} ask not amiss" (2 Nephi 4:35). Paul explains that "ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss" (James 4:3). 

It is not always an issue of what we are asking for, but the manner in which we ask. Our approach to the process demonstrates to God our level of commitment and our meekness and reliance on Him for the answer.

It is not fair to ask Him to spend more time answering our prayers than we spend searching, pondering, praying, and listening. A superficial question will generate a superficial answer. Seeking to ask the right question is the key to getting the the whole answer that God has for you.  

Once this becomes our quest, our prayers will take our discipleship to a new level. Asking the right question does more to put our hearts in harmony with God's will than asking that our hearts be in harmony with God's answers.

This transition will open the windows on heaven to us. One of the greatest  examples of this transition is the prophet Nephi, who was tasked with preparing the Nephites for the advent of the Lord.

The Lord gave Nephi the sealing power, "yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will" (Helaman 10:5). Nephi's prayers and actions created communion; a sharing of profound and intimate thoughts and feelings. 

He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God;
— Doctrine and Covenants 46:30

In order to obtain a communion, we must prepare for prayer. On the second day that the Lord was with the Nephites, He taught them how to pray. He then went and prayed to the Father. When He returned, He found the disciples still praying, but not "multiply[ing] many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray" (3 Nephi 19:24). 

As we prepare for prayer, the Spirit will "give unto us" what we should pray for. As we prepare, our hearts will be open to the communion that the Lord is waiting to give us.