I didn’t post anything last Sunday, and for those of you who know me, that is weird. So last night I sat down and started writing about being plain old tired. I’ll have to finish that one later because I stumbled across one of those scriptures that just jumped out at me. Here it is:
The Place: Kirtland, Ohio
The Year: 1833
The Circumstances: Some of the brethren in leadership were impatient that the Prophet Joseph had not joined them in Zion and had been petitioning the Lord to make it happen.
The Source: Revelation to Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants 90:32-33
“And behold, verily I say unto you, that ye shall write this commandment, and say unto your brethren in Zion, in love greeting, that I have called you also to preside over Zion in mine own due time.
Therefore, let them cease wearying me concerning this matter.”
The MMM translation: “Be nice, but remind those guys that I’m in charge, and I’ll send you to Zion when I feel like it. Also, tell them I’m tired of them bugging me about it.”
Wait. What? God was tired of being bothered about an issue? “Let them cease wearying me concerning the matter.” Sure sounds like he was tired of it to me.
It is obvious that Jehovah got tired of the Israelites now and again, because he would curse them and smite them. But you don’t hear a lot nowadays about God rolling his eyes (in a spiritual sense) when we repeatedly pester him about certain things.
So, I decided to dig deeper in my understanding of D&C 90:33.
I found nothing.
In the entire LDS.org archives, no one has ever used this scripture in a talk, and article or as a reference. So I went to the cool “Citation Index” app. It came up empty. Last place to look? I pulled out my trusty hard-copy scriptures and looked it up to check the footnotes. There were none.
Why do I care if this scripture has been essentially invisible all this time? Because I think it has become incredibly timely.
I do not recall a time in my life where so many are so caught up in their own agendas regarding the Church. Gay marriage, women holding the priesthood and other causes are constantly in the public eye. Often part of the “strategy” to foster change in the Church and Gospel is to encourage like-minded supporters to constantly pray that God will change his mind, or change the prophet’s mind – as if he will finally throw up his hands and say “Okay, okay, you win!”
To be fair, we do have an instance where that exact thing happened: Look at how it went for Brother Joseph when he kept pestering the Lord about Martin Harris borrowing the 116 pages – even after the Lord had tried to shut it down. Twice. After the third request, the Lord essentially said, “Whatever. Do what you want to do.” The result? The manuscript was lost, and the gift of translation was taken from Joseph for a time. It was a dark day. (link)
I can’t help but wonder how many times prayers come up to God, and he gets weary of the requests. Especially when he has already made it abundantly clear how he feels about an issue. I can’t imagine that God would get weary of the brethren’s requests about Joseph Smith and not get weary about people asking him to give women the priesthood, or me asking that tithing be reduced to 5%.
A long time ago, the Elder Packer gave a talk in which he made this observation as quoted by Elder Dallin Oaks:
“Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve has likened the fulness of the gospel to a piano keyboard. He has told us that a person could be “attracted by a single key,” such as a doctrine he or she wants to hear “played over and over again. Some members of the Church who should know better pick out a hobby key or two and tap them incessantly, to the irritation of those around them. They can dull their own spiritual sensitivities. They lose track that there is a fulness of the gospel … (which they reject) in preference to a favorite note. This becomes exaggerated and distorted, leading them away into apostasy” (link)
Just like we can become irritated by those incessantly pounding on their “hobby key,” it would appear that the Lord feels the same way, and it is spiritually dangerous.
I imagine it isn’t just the high-profile issues that weary the Lord. I suppose I do it, too. How often have I said a prayer and asked the Lord to bless that my meal will be good for my body and then plow into a half rack of ribs, and a loaded baked potato? The answer: Not often enough 😉
I don’t know if God ever feels like slapping his forehead with his palm, but if he does, I am sure that I have been the cause on many occasions.
Heavenly Father knows us, and loves us. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect – he knows it is not possible. That is precisely why he established the Atonement for us. He has made it clear that he wants us to pray to him, to sincerely ask of him. Besides, we are counseled to let the Spirit guide what we ask for. Brigham Young prayed, “We ask for the aid of thy holy spirit to teach us how to pray, what we should ask for, and how to ask that we may receive.”
Nephi made a similar point, “Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss.“ (2 Nephi 4:35) Apparently there are right things and wrong things to ask for, and it isn’t supposed to be our choice as to which is which.
At some point, when God has given us his opinion and command, whether through ancient scripture, modern prophets, or personal revelation, we have a responsibility to stop asking the same questions that have already been answered.
To use prayer as a tool to advance a personal belief or agenda that is not sanctioned by God or the Spirit is antithetical at best, apostate at worst.
Jacob, the Book of Mormon prophet said it well:
“Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.” (Jacob 4:10)
As any parent knows, a child can be pretty determined when they want something. From a young age we are conditioned to pester until we get someone to cave in to our demands. And as any parent knows, the “Can I? Can I? Can I? Can I?” kid can get pretty exhausting.
I don’t want to show up in heaven and have God look at me and sigh, “Oh…it’s him.”
I’d rather just have a hug.