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Scarcity and Prayer

By Kellie Purcill

119HThe answer came as a little rectangle of paper, a few lines printed across it, nothing else. As answers to prayers went, I was decidedly underwhelmed.

I sighed, and scrunched my eyes a little tighter to squeeze whatever other clue out I could get.

A little piece of paper, some empty lines… and a smoothed lead pencil. Ah… recognition. In response, a blink type effect, then two names are there, carefully pressed into the paper. My ex-husband’s name, and his wife’s.

I am not a god of scarcity.

Huh. I ended my prayer and rolled into bed mulling the answer over like it was a loose tooth.

I’ve been wrecking myself against some significant decisions lately. I’ve had the stresses of starting a new job, beginning the second year of my degree, my youngest has started high school, and my oldest is in his final year. I’ve come home some nights late in the evening, to the assorted messes and heavy slumbering heat two teenagers can make, and wondered just what on earth I was trying to do with my life.

I’ve been juggling my responsibilities like a good grownup should; evaluating the cascading consequences of decision A versus decision B, which leads to Likelihoods K through 113b(i). I have spreadsheets, several timetables, a son planning on leaving for his mission in 2016, and a growing understanding that I can’t do it all (whatever “it” is in this moment), but even the stuff I can do (should do, would do, may do, would like to do) will leave me spread hugely thinner than the dust on my bookshelf (note to self: dust!).

So I’ve been wondering, discussing, studying, bartering, pleading, asking and badgering.

I don’t know what to do. To study fulltime, or go part-time. Which work shifts would work better? Are the boys doing their jobs, remembering to pull in the laundry, to check the mail before it rains? Do they wish I was there more, or are they okay? Father, tell me what I should do to cover the bases, somehow. To have enough time and energy and patience – DEAR GOD PATIENCE I NEED PATIENCE – (and maybe some more sleep, please?) – to do what is needed. Just… just make my best effort enough. Somehow. Use compounds and the square it to the power of six thousand and forty ten or something… please?

For weeks, the same intent shoved into His ears, the same worry gnawing at my breastbone. I didn’t want a sparkling, gushing overabundance of hours or dancing mops to fall on my head, just a little mandated from heaven multitasking capability to make my efforts spread far enough to get me across the “jobs completed” finish line… You know, like the skill of making the last scraping of butter cover the entire piece of toast. Thin, almost invisible, but enough.

So getting an answer, after weeks of twisting the problems into “possible solution” yoga positions, to get the visual response of a prayer roll piece of paper with those specific two names on it was surprising. A little irritating. What does it mean?

I am not a god of scarcity.

I thought back to when my marriage ended. About the devastation that ignited to fury, the charcoaled remains of my trust in and respect for my ex-husband. How I found solace first in blessings, the scriptures, my best friend, and the same again as his treachery was revealed, deepened, and continued through the weeks, months and years.

My scripture searches shifted from the Lord’s anger for liars, to being able to forgive.

Nope, it’s not going to happen, I apologetically told the Lord. No way. I mean, I want to forgive him, forgive her, but… I really don’t think I’m capable of it. It’s too much to choke down, to look over – have you SEEN the size of the mountain range this has caused in my life? Look! LOOK!

Ugh…. Lord, help thou mine unbelief. My anger. Help me to forgive them in some way for being so…. So….


I don’t know if I can do it, but I want to try. I want to drop the rock, instead of throwing it at stupid jerks who – UGH!!!… ok. I’ll try…

I was able to forgive him, forgive them both, for one trillionth of a second, for being stupid. On the mountain range of changes, in a cranky, smoking, carnage tossed valley, a skerrick of moss hid under a dropped rock. Time passed, I forgave them for being stupid a little bit longer, and longer again, until that valley was dense with ferns, gum trees, elkhorns and tranquillity. (Admittedly with occasional meteors streaking by overhead, scorching the calm).

Little by little, God took my struggle to forgive, and spread it far beyond my initial capabilities and forecasts. One day I went to the temple, and as my breathing hissed slowly through my teeth, wrote my ex-husband’s and his wife’s name down on the little rectangle of paper for the prayer roll. My handwriting puckered the paper, my effort felt in my throat and cramping fingers. The next time was less painful. Every time since then has been easier again. Every time I go to the temple, I write their names down, and have done so for several years now.

Don’t get the wrong idea, this is not a perfectly righteous act. I never write my sons names on that piece of paper, or anyone else I’m praying for. But that piece of paper, in its many forms over the years in temples across the world, is answer to prayer. Literally, figuratively, undoubtedly.

I stared at the ceiling fan, now thoroughly whelmed by the answer I’d been given. God took the tiny scrap of effort and desire I had, and used no math or magic to make it magnificent. He used what I gave, what I wanted, my heart’s intent and hope, and made it far more than enough. He will do the same again, now, in ways I’m sure I can’t even imagine. He will make my scarcity so incredibly, awesomely, more than enough.

He is not a god of scarcity.

I connected the dots.

He is the god of all.


Have you had prayers answered in unexpected ways, that you’ve had to mull over or wrestle with to understand? How does scarcity and abundance relate to your daily thinking, and to your spiritual experiences?

About Kellie Purcill

lives way on the other side of the planet in her native Australia and gives thanks for the internet regularly. She loves books, her boys, panna cotta, collecting words, being a redhead and not putting things in order of importance when listing items. She credits writing as a major contributing factor to surviving her life with sanity mostly intact, though her (in)sanity level is subject to change without warning.

9 thoughts on “Scarcity and Prayer”

  1. I am weeping. Tonight, I collapsed in my bed to do my personal study. My day was full and good but I am so, so weary. I had the thought to read Isaiah 40:31. A favorite. Then I turned to the start of the chapter to get some context for that verse. I didn't get past verse 4.

    "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low : and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain."

    I started to pray to this God who can move mountains and fill valleys. There are so many unmanageable things in my life , so much that I don't get done, can't get done — even as what needs to be done seems to be increasing in both quantity and quality.

    But I worship a God of power and this verse tapped at my spirit , reminding me that my weakness can be lifted up and filled in by Him, and He can help me climb my mountains or level them altogether , all in His way and time.

    And then I read this, which to me was a clear second witness that t he tapping about this scripture and it's very personal application was real.

    This God we worship! I scarce can take it in. Thank you for being a second witness today and an instrument for His message to reach me. You are how He answered my prayer tonight. , my request to continue to have clear ways to know and feel Him here while I trust Him with all the undone and just seek to do what I can and let it be enough in Him.

  2. Thanks for sharing this sacred moment, Kel. God is aware of us. My long story is about my health and a house. Too long to share all of it but God in a blessing promised I would overcome in time. The time was long. I learned patience. Healing came partly through the whispered answer of which house to buy–the one that needed a complete remodel. I thought it was to bless my brother-in-law who needed work but another answer came after it was all done that it was for me. I knew the Lord knew me and loved me despite my weaknesses. He is truly an abundant giver.

  3. I am grateful to you for sharing your honest thoughts and feelings about your journey of forgiving your ex-husband. I love your writing (I still remember almost snorting orange juice through my nose when I read your piece about asking that your ex be spared dying of syphilis.) I think there is nothing more beautiful than when someone makes themselves make the sacrifices God asks when it is SO hard to do it. I appreciate hearing your beautiful struggles, it puts context to my own difficult wrestling matches.

  4. This was so beautifully written. I found a piece of paper recently where I had written some counsel my mission president gave me when I told him I was getting divorced. One item was, "There are still opportunities to be charitable", referencing my ex. When I read this again (now 4 years after it was given), I felt ashamed that I haven't been good about doing this.

    Like I you I think forgiveness can be an incremental process and as we put forth our tiny efforts, the Lord takes them and magnified them. My last Sunday School lesson covered the miracle of Christ feeding the 5,000. In studying that event, I finally saw what others had recognized long before me – that the miracle wasn't the food, it was the provider of the food. Christ has enough grace for ALL of us. Even when we think we are too far gone and beyond loving or helping, He can still reach us. And we can never reach the end of that love and grace. He will always have more than we can use or need. "I am not a God of scarcity." That line will ring in my heart.

  5. Maybe it is not about absolving them? That is for God. It is about letting go of their ability to hurt you. Trusting Heavenly Father to do justice for you and your sons. Then you can find peace in the day to day. Xx. Because you don't deserve to have to carry the burden of their guilt.

  6. Kel- What a beautiful, layered answer. And so frustratingly simple. I've been acquainted with answers that also something of me. What beautiful things you have done in the space- that mountain range in your life, that someone else caused,- has shown your tenacity, humor and plucky resilience. I love you more every time I read your writing.


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