Wednesday, August 26, 2009


For a perfectionist and literalist, the commandment, "Ask, and ye shall receive" is a simple one. You ask God to make you perfect, and he moves you closer according to your limited faith. Keep it up, and someday you'll be a worthwhile, perfect person. Obviously, this is a messed-up view.

The obvious reason this view is messed up is because you can be a worthwhile person without being perfect. Your worth is independent of your goodness or weaknesses.

However, there as a deeper problem with this view. Even a perfectionist who recognizes their inherent worth will wonder why the commandment to ask is repeated so often. They might conclude that there is just a lot of asking and praying to be done on the road to eternal life.

They miss the real reason: God wants us to have wants, needs, desires, and passions. We are to control our desires and bridle our passions (Alma 38:12), in favor of our greater goals and greater desires. However, we cannot succeed without wanting things. We cannot succeed unless we decide what we want and go for it. As John Bytheway likes to say regarding how he pursued his wife, "I will go and do, not sit and stew. I will move unless I feel it is wrong." That is the fire, the passion, with which a celestial person pursues heaven with all its glory. Let's each find the portion of celestial desire in our own heart and then magnify it by asking God.

One of the greatest things to ask God for "with all the energy of heart" is charity (Moroni 7:48). But sometimes charity isn't developed by praying for charity with all the energy of heart. More often, it comes from praying for other people with all the energy of heart. That is, after all, how both Lehi and Nephi received their calls to the ministry (see 1 Ne 1 and 2).

1 comment:

Andrew said...

You and I have talked some on wants and agency, and I'd say that both our views have matured some since then. Amen. I like this post.