I’ve tried not to bug Heavenly Father too much over the years. When I developed my theory of not wearing out my welcome with God I was probably in my late teens and it made a lot of sense. The idea being that if I never ask for much, when I really do need extra help, Heavenly Father would think, “oh, she never asks for anything, this must really be serious; I should help her out.”
The problem with this way of thinking is that it treats God like He’s some sort of fairy godmother whose main purpose is to grant our wishes. While that does happen from time to time, that’s not His job. How often I forget that Heavenly Father doesn’t exist to make our lives easier.
Frankly I was bummed to come to that realization.
He sent us here to make us into the absolute best version of ourselves.
And guess what! Fun, happy, wonderful things are not the things that make us into fabulous people.
That realization was an even bigger bummer.
Heavenly Father answers prayers. I know this with absolute certainty. But I also know that the answer I’m hoping for is 95% of the time not the same answer that our Father has. I can either be a big pouty pants and shake my fist at God that He’s not listening to me because obviously I know how I want my life to be way better than He does. Or I can sit down and try to understand my struggles from His point of view.
If we don’t think of Heavenly Father as our magical granter of wishes, how should we think of Him? This is going to come as a shock: as a father. Not a jerky, mean father but as the father you maybe always wished you had. Pa Ingalls mixed with Ward Cleaver with a little Cliff Huxtable thrown in. He’s the father who always listens, who is never away on business trips, who is not in a bad mood after a stressful day. He’s the father who loves us more than anything and knows us better than we know ourselves.
My young adult self totally missed the point: the point was to get to know this father; to study the scriptures and listen to what the prophets have told us about Him. I should have been praying to Him and listening to Him and actually forming a relationship with Him. Instead of spending my time thinking about the things I wanted Heavenly Father to give me, I should have been asking what He wanted me to have.
He knows. He knows what I want. He, more importantly, knows what will make me happy. I imagine Heavenly Father listening to people’s prayers is a lot like taking my kids to Target. I have to deal them whining and cajoling and begging for every little plastic doo-dad they see. How they try to convince me that a Lego Ninjago will make their lives perfect! And I think to myself, “This won’t make you happy.” I don’t even try to explain because they don’t get it. Instead I just smile and say, “yes, that Ninjago looks really fun”, as I push the cart along amidst further pleading and wailing.
Do I not want to give my kids Ninjagos? It’s really not about Ninjagos. Not any more than it’s about people being healed or getting a job or finding a husband. Yes, it matters. But what matters most is understanding that it’s our relationship with Heavenly father that will fill us with happiness and peace. Knowing our Father and understanding that He wants us to be the best we can be is greater than any fairy tale wish.