Should we teach our children that God is our mechanic?

Read the following Matt and Mandy from the Aug 2008 Friend. Between the penultimate panel and the last one what happened? Here are some possibilities. Let’s assume that the car is not running for a mechanical reason and that there is a physical cause for its not starting. What are the possibilities in the missing panel? Let’s consider three:

    1) The Lord intervenes directly. He uses his power over the laws of the universe to command that sparkplugs are repaired, fan belts mended, unhooked wires to be rehooked, etc. In short, he commands the elements to obey, and they do.

    2) He sends heavenly messengers to make the repairs to the car without making their presence known. Say a resurrected being comes and does the repair.

    3) The Lord has inspired that day a mechanic to leave at the right time, and sends the inspiration to help the family get on their way, so the man stops, and the fourth panel proceeds.

    4) The father is inspired as to what he needs to do to get the car running. This inspiration goes beyond his current mechanical knowledge.

    5) The father feels the spirit to make repairs he is capable of making based on his knowledge of mechanics.

In some senses, theologically within our church, all are possible. However, if it is my prayers we are talking about, I would say that I have personal experience with the last three and none with the first two. And in my life #5 and #3 typically seem to be within reach of my prayers. For example, if I discovered the engine block had cracked I would not have had the faith to pull off the faith needed for #1 intervention. I would have started waving down cars for a ride into town.

However, the panel bothered me a bit. It seemed to suggest that prayer was something that would automatically fix things. The message seemed to be that when trouble comes a quick prayer will do the trick (hence the boy’s being put out that his father was looking for causal problems). The perspective of the boy seemed to harbor an almost magical world view. One in which prayer solved problems of all kinds and should be the first course of action rather than investigating possible physical problems. God does not always fix things. At least not in my experience. This is not the way it has worked for me in my life. If I were drawing this the last panel would have been a tow truck pulling the car away and the father saying “I knew I felt good sending in that AAA application.”

What can we expect from prayer? How do we teach our children what to expect from divine intervention? Should a rational exploration of causal realities play a more important role in the lives of our children in dealing with the world than this panel would suggest? How do we best seek relief and solutions from on high vis-à-vis these causal realities?

Comments

  1. Sometimes prayer is “please God help me to survive this or help me to accept thy will” hard concepts to teach to kids.

  2. I recall Eugene England’s essay, Blessing the Chevrolet.

    I’m somewhat of a pragmatist, having had lots of experience with old, tired cars that don’t start, and prayer is not usually first on my list, because after 200,000 miles, the old Volvo certainly has something wrong with it. I’ve had personal experience with your suggestions #3, #4, and #5, sometimes in very surprising ways.

    Back to England’s essay, a large factor in one of the circumstances in “blessing” his car was that he was branch president, and needed the car to do the Lord’s work. I had a similar experience where a job-related issue had been interfering with time to do my church calling, and I prayed for help specifically with that work issue. I woke up later in the night with an image in my mind of the unlikely, but accurate, resolution to the problem. It was, however, after just about everything else I knew to do had been exhausted.

    Prayer needs to be a part of our lives, but I’m also a firm believer in “the Lord helps those who help themselves”. I applaud the motive in the Friend article, but I also believe that the father in the story needs to spend some more time and figure out why the car didn’t start before they get much farther down the road, or there will be more trouble that prayer may not resolve.

  3. I think as a child I did have a magical view of prayer. I think my youngest children also have this view, but my older ones are gradually outgrowing it.
    I’m not sure it is necessary to explain to very young children the mechanics of prayer (at least the mechanics of prayer in my own experience–which definitely fall into 3-5, and not 1&2) more than to say, “We pray, and Heavenly Father helps us. We can give examples of how prayers have been answered in our own lives, and point out how they are being answered as they are answered. Beyond that, I think it is something we learn with experience. Rational explorations can still start young, but I think we can help best with that when kids start to figure it out on their own, and as they ask questions.

  4. Right now my kids subscribe the Gumball Machine method of prayer- put a penny in, get a reward. We’re working on it…

    Matt and Mandy are a problem just about every month.

  5. StillConfused says:

    I think God expects us to try to use our brains and bodies to the greatest extent possible. I don’t see him as a huge intervenor.

  6. Steve Evans says:

    Here are some issues with this month’s Matt and Mandy:

    1. Matt comes off like a real jerk.
    2. The drawing, as ever, is terrible (sorry Shauna Mooney Kawasaki). It’s the freakish hands, appearing everywhere.
    3. The family kneels in the middle of the road.
    4. Despite Matt clearly being the Lil’ Nephi, Father is the one that says the prayer.
    5. And oh yeah, it kind of teaches an odd approach to prayer as a primary solution to practical problems. Yes, prayer is essential, but I don’t pray every time my bike gets a flat tire.

  7. I think there are a few things with this panel to discuss. I do think that it is important to pray in times of need. That is (I consider) a time of need. I personally do not know a thing about cars. I would not know what to do. And so, I think I would try to look at a few things, but I know I would pray for help.

    Now would I expect him to fix it? No. I would think that there would be some way provided. To me I would expect for either me to find out what happened. (This I find to be unlikely seeing as how I have very little knowledge of the working of cars). Or for someone driving by stopping to help. These are, to me, more realistic answers to prayers.

    I think we can teach our kids that God will help us in different ways. It isn’t always (or even most of the time) going to be a grand intervention where what was once broken is now whole. I think letting our children know that God can and will answer prayers in many ways is important. I remember when I was young I lost my favorite action figures toy sword. I remember saying a prayer and asking Heavenly Father to place the sword on my bed. I then went and played outside. I never looked for it, and never found it. I soon realized that when we show our faith in prayer we too must act. On my mission I lost our referral sheet. I said a prayer after looking for a while that I would find it. I then had an impression to clean our apartment. Well. The last thing I picked up was a Book of Mormon and as I picked it up the sheet feel out from it’s pages. I think that is a better example of our prayers being answered. Us acting, having faith that God will help.

  8. Maybe this Matt and Mandy is really an uberclever trick to facilitate deep gospel discussions between parent and child, as the parent explains basically what Steven P says here.

    Really like this post, Steven P. This is something I have struggled with.

  9. I was once on a Job in Angleton Texas, and went to their fast and testimony meeting. In that bucolic community, at least 50% of the testimonies had to do with cars which didn’t run out of gas, or cars that started that hadn’t started in years, etc. All attributed to God and prayer. While I can be very deist leaning at times, I prefer to think on these experiences charitably and not find fault in the belief in such intervention. I do believe God does intervene, and I have my experiences where I have felt prompted and tried to follow those promptings.

    What is the difference between the God who fixes cars through prayers and the one who heals colds through priesthood blessings?

    I think I already said this,but I think we need to be charitable to our co-believers, even if we don’t believe in their experiences because they contradict our experience.

  10. 1) The Lord intervenes directly. In short, he commands the elements to obey, and they do.

    **I have had that sort of experience – but only once.**

    2) He sends heavenly messengers to make the repairs to the car without making their presence known. Say a resurrected being comes and does the repair.

    **I’m not sure how I would know if that had happened, since it would be done “without making their presence known”. Just saying.**

    3) The Lord has inspired that day a mechanic to leave at the right time, and sends the inspiration to help the family get on their way, so the man stops, and the fourth panel proceeds.

    **I have had this experience – almost exactly – in the past year, driving late Saturday night to get my son from college. The “coincidences” it took to have it happen as it happened were so numerous I choose to chalk it up to intervention.**

    4) The father is inspired as to what he needs to do to get the car running. This inspiration goes beyond his current mechanical knowledge.

    **I have had this experience a few times in various situations.**

    5) The father feels the spirit to make repairs he is capable of making based on his knowledge of mechanics.

    **Since I am incapable of making repairs based on my knowledge of mechanics, this has never happened to me. (It has happened many times, however, in non-mechanical situations.)**

    I hope we do teach our children that God can and will intervene sometimes – directly and miraculously, but that the general rule for most people appears to be inspiration to self or others. Otoh, I also know members in countries or areas where there is little or no chance of receiving help from others (like in medical emergencies), and the obviously miraculous seems to occur there much more often than here. I don’t know if that is due to differing levels of faith or differing levels of need for intervention, but I like to think it is the latter – that God will help more where more help truly is needed.

  11. All I know is, my daughter says a prayer of thanks every time we find a parking spot.

  12. Steve Evans says:

    Good point Matt W.

  13. “I think I already said this,but I think we need to be charitable to our co-believers, even if we don’t believe in their experiences because they contradict our experience.”

    #9 – Amen, Matt W. I couldn’t agree more.

  14. What Ray said is what I was trying to say. Thanks Ray.

  15. Another amen to Matt W. I think once the experience has happened, or we hear such an experience told by someone else, the last thing we should do is judge. No ambiguity there.

    However, Steven’s post focuses on before the event. Setting our own expectations, and our children’s expectations (“How do we teach our children what to expect from divine intervention?”). That’s a tricky part with a lot of ambiguity.

  16. Margaret Blair Young says:

    For those who have read Gene’s “Blessing the Chevrolet,” you need to read Clifton Holt Jolley’s “Selling the Chevrolet: A moral Exercise.”

    Years ago, our car gave out en route from Idaho to Utah. Our oldest daughter prayed that we would be able to get to Provo, and lo and behold, the car started. We got just beyond the sign “Welcome to Provo” and the car quit again. We told her to pray next time that we get all the way into our driveway.

  17. Cynthia L. excellent counter point. I think we don’t want to teach our kids or ourselves that prayer always solves all of our problems. However, I think we can and should believe that prayer can always help.

  18. I wanted to add one more thing, that I think plays into this, sorry for monopolizing comments. Anyway, while my wife was at BYU I remember a student with a broken neck dying while playing some intramural sport because other students moved him to give him a blessing rather than doing the common sense first aid (call 911, don’t move the injured). I don’t remember all the details, but this was between 98 and 2000. Anyway, my point is prayer can always help, but circumstances and common sense must dictate whether that is a prayer in the heart or otherwise.

  19. Great post Steven P. This has been on my mind a lot lately. What are we supposed to make of the unshown version of this event, where in the last panel, the family is still stranded and the car is still not working? Not enough faith? Is a prayer unanswered always the fault of the prayer asker? It becomes easy to get down on oneself for not having enough faith to ever get the car fixed. How are we to make sense of when God does and when He does not answer us?

  20. And also a related story…

    A few months back my sister ran out of gas in the left-hand-turn lane of a busy intersection, in the pouring rain, with 3 very young children in the car. Her husband was 100 miles away doing a doctor’s residency and unable to help. My sister got upset and started to cry a little. My oldest niece, 5 years old, said “Mommy, we should say a prayer”. My sister agreed that was a great idea, so they prayed. Immediately after they finished the prayer, the heavy rain slowed down, and the clouds in front of them parted briefly, letting down one of those heavenly shafts of light. My niece said, “Look, Mommy, here comes Jesus with the gas!”

    My sister explained to her that Jesus doesn’t usually operate that way, and that he inspires other people to help us, or helps us help ourselves. But the prayer helped my sister calm down and feel at peace. Then she called her hometeacher who was available in the middle of a weekday to bring her some gas right away.

  21. While on my honeymoon, we had a head on-collision with a drunk driver in the middle of the Oregon desert. The first ones on the scene were two EMT who had taken the day off to go fishing and as an afterthought felt they should bring their kit. We would be dead otherwise. After, I wondered why the Lord had not blown out our tire, inspired us to stop for lunch (as we almost did in Bend OR. But decided to press on). Or just cut our gas line. The wreck was a long chain of events that brought us to that place at that second. This has caused a lot of confusion and hand wringing about the way the Lord answers prayers (that morning we had prayed for protection as we travelled, who would have guessed the form that would have taken). But for me the physical world, from my experience, rarely gets tampered with and the Lord intervenes mostly through the consciousness of ourselves or others. (Likely, getting through the consciousness of a honeymooning couple is one of the greatest challenges of the heavens, given their distraction on other matters. So the EMTs were the obvious backup plan). I find though that like Matt W. I am disinclined to say anything to others, even my children, about my opinion that consciousness is the only way I’ve seen the Lord work (also this holds true in the scriptures largely). But I wonder if when my kids pray for something that requires a change in the physical nature of the world, ought I to redirect their faith to action, prayer where it’s needed, and an approach more consistent with my experience with answered prayer?

  22. Margaret, that Jolley essay is also a favorite of mine, as he plays the cynic, but ends up selling Gene’s Chevy to a prototype for Matt and Mandy.

    The Friend story is obviously talking about childlike faith, but I think carries it a bit too far. Intervention sometimes happens, but in my experience, help in relation to the elements is a lot more rare than help with ideas or direction. I would have been a lot more satisfied had the children in the story prayed, and then Dad found out that the fuse for the fuel pump was burned out, and he had a spare in the glove box. That makes more sense to me.

  23. Here’s how I read this.

    Matt’s a nervous kid. Look at the unnatural posture and the way he grasps his hands in the first panel. Maybe a little autistic? He has an episode, flailing his hands around, once again driving his family to huddle together in fear as he compulsively rubs those hands in panel four. So they humor him and pray (mom can’t even keep a straight face in panel 5), then dad solves the problem. There is something really spooky about old Matt’s big hand clinging to the window in the last panel. He seems to be a prisoner of the back seat, pupils dilated to the max, his father still humoring him as he mutters on about prayer.

    What a twisted little comic.

  24. First, I wondered if Matt were barfing up a huge blob of blood in the third frame. Then I realized it was the front left fender.

    Second, this reminded me of a story a fellow missionary told: His grandparents, newlyweds, were traveling across the Arizona desert in a Model T Ford. They were pulling a second car behind theirs, and had put a tire between the two cars to keep from banging and scraping up the bumpers. The friction of those bumpers on the tire, combined with the heat of the day, caused the tire to start smoldering, and then burst into flame. [I have to take his word for this--I will accept the smoldering, but the flame?? Maybe demonic intervention]

    So the new husband crawled under the cars to unhook the chain that held them together, so the fire wouldn’t spread from the tire to either car.

    The young bride was nervous: “What’ll we do, Asael? Let’s pray, Asael.” He responded: “Pray, hell! Throw dirt!”

    I’m not sure that this story should make it into next month’s Matt & Mandy–I can see it now: “Pray, hell! Give me that adjustable spanner.” But this story suggests an easy solution that does not always work–in fact, in a long life of trying to fix stuff, I’ve generally succeeded, if at all, with the common sense that the Lord blessed me with, not with direct intervention. I mean, maybe it wasn’t just the WD-40 that enabled me to loosen that rusty bolt, but it didn’t come loose until I had doused it in that magic potion and banged my knuckles and probably said a few words they don’t say in the Bible. It were well that the Friend helped children to understand that answers to prayer come in more ways than we can imagine, and not like the eternal gumball machine.

  25. Julie M. Smith says:

    Has someone hacked the BCC sidebar? Or am I missing something?

  26. Julie, only those lame anti-Compaore hacks are missing something.

  27. Julie M. Smith says:

    OOOOOK.

    /backs away slowly

  28. How dare you, Steve? You know, a lot of our readers and permas probably don’t like Compaore. I don’t think BCC and its community is well-served by you dragging politics into everything and being so divisive. Are you saying I’m not welcome here anymore, just because I think Compaore is a corrupt sleaze who has no clue how to handle the transportation industry? Get a clue, Steve!

  29. Cynthia, please keep your obvious hysterics to yourself. You cannot prove that Compaore was in any way involved in Sankara’s death, and his economic stimulus plan is sound. I resent you trying to drag partisan politics into this otherwise wonderful discussion.

  30. I think what troubles me about the comic is that it may make such prayers and answers seem like the norm, when in my experience it has been more of the exception; though miraculous and powerful those exceptions are to my faith.

    But then again, I used to read the Friend every month as a child, and I don’t recall the content of any of the comics therein, so maybe we’re safe there.

  31. I think it’s just important to teach our children which deities are in charge of what. See here: http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=722

  32. I must say that I find the sidebar mocking of the founding fathers of Burkina Faso to be in very poor taste. They are trying to stand up for constitutional principles and, true to form, the so-called liberal so-called intelligentsia at the By Common Consent blog thinks it is something to poke fun about.

    Well, I have had just about enough of this. I’ll probably get censored or banned for saying this and being so judgemental, but somebody has got to take a righteous stand. All you high and mighty people here in this great and spacious blog will soon have reason to regret your lightmindedness. Can’t you see that you are just following Ludifer’s plan?

  33. Whatever. If he wins the election, I’m moving to Togo.

  34. Oh, not you too now, Mark. You’re saying I’m following Lucifer’s plan, just because I’m not one of you sheeple who hang on every word that comes out of Compaore’s mouth? Try thinking for yourself for once.

  35. Cynthia, Mark didn’t say you were following Lucifer’s plan. He said you are following Ludifer’s plan.

    I’m not sure which is worse.

  36. Cynthia,

    Moroni clearly saw our day, when the MODERN-DAY GADIANTONS would take control of the government of Burkino Faso and lead us into BONDAGE. That is so obvious, I can’t believe you don’t see it. For instance, when was the last time you heard anybody in general conference warn us about Campaore? Right, never. That just goes to show how SECRET this SECRET COMBINATION is.

  37. And now I better make a contribution to Steve’s point in the original post, before I get on what’s left of everybody’s nerves.

    It’s interesting — last night we were reading 3 Nephi chapter 3. The message my wife got out of it is that we should repent and attend to our prayers in times of trouble. I missed that part, and the message I got from the chapter was the importance of preparation and hard work.

    Also, I remember reading somewhere (how’s that for a reference? I think it was something by Holzapfel) where a wagon got stuck during the exodus from Nauvoo. The wagon driver asked Brigham Young to call the company to pray that the wagon might be loosed. Young’s reply was that they had prayed that morning, and now it was time to get out of the wagon and push.

    Can anybody help me with an exact reference?

  38. Figures, Ludifer is a female Shadow Deviant from the UK. What else would it be?

  39. Yes, prayer is essential, but I don’t pray every time my bike gets a flat tire.

    Steve, Steve, Steve, (heavy sigh) You should be praying before you leave the house that your bike doesn’t get a flat tire. Then you won’t need to pray when your bike gets a flat tire because it never will. I can’t believe I have to explain this to you.

  40. Ugly Mahana says:

    Every time my dad goes to fix something, the sink, the car, a model airplane, whatever, he prays. I learned a lot from that. I wonder if this cartoon doesn’t have a message for adults, not so much for the kids.

  41. Elder Robert D. Hales in October 2007 General Conference:

    “Generally…miracles will not be physical demonstrations of God’s power—parting of the Red Sea, raising of the dead, breaking down prison walls, or the appearance of heavenly messengers. By design, most miracles are spiritual demonstrations of God’s power—tender mercies gently bestowed through impressions, ideas, feelings of assurance, solutions to problems, strength to meet challenges, and comfort to bear disappointments and sorrow.”

  42. As an ex-stake/ward employment specialist, I can’t count the times I’ve heard the story about “we must not be praying hard enough, that’s why we can’t get a job”.

    Maybe.

    Or maybe it’s because your resume has misspellings, has obviously factual errors, and you’re a jerk in a one-on-one, face-to-face setting.

    I’ve been unemployed before. And we had much fasting and prayer during our job search. And I received a blessing from a priesthood leader that promised me certain blessings that came to pass, during my interview. And I got the job.

    I won’t dismiss the power of prayer. But if you’re not availing yourself of every option God has already placed on the earth (up to and including other people, including secular institutions) … I doubt HF is going to help you…

  43. Or maybe it’s because your resume has misspellings, has obviously factual errors, and you’re a jerk in a one-on-one, face-to-face setting.

    That reminds me of one of my mother’s best lines. In a stake conference, a woman was speaking about how her son had been in a terrible car accident, leaving him paralyzed. She said, ‘It’s hard to know why such bad things happen to good people.’ My mother leaned over and whispered louder than I thought possible, ‘IT’S BECAUSE THEY DON’T WEAR SEATBELTS.’

  44. Peter LLC says:

    I wonder if Matt and Mandy are breaking the law by getting out of the car to harass dad and pray on the side of the road without taking any safety precautions. I know they would be in my neck of the woods.

  45. Token Average Member says:

    Sheeple – what a wondereful word!

    Dumb comic – leads kids to believe that all they have to do is ask – we know that isn’t always true. Imho, it sets them up for a great deal of disappointment in real life.

  46. When I read this Matt and Mandy to my 5 year old daughter I tried to explain to her, “This isn’t usually how prayer works. Alot of the time God will only help us to help ourselves. We shouldn’t pray to change God but pray to change ourselves.” She looked at my blankly and said, “No!” So I said, “OK, just do what you want then.” Now that’s parenting.

  47. cool discussion. I typically recoil at BCC-type criticisms of art from childrens’ magazine. Gives people like those that run this blog a platform to criticize things like big hands on cartoon characters. It is just a cartoon about a kid praying and receiving an answer, no matter how blunt the instrument.

    But the underlying discussion seems really important. To accurately discern when God has actually intervened in our lives must be to truly understand and know Him. I’m not there.

  48. I had a good friend, non-believer, with whom I talked a lot. We discussed miracles. He made a valid point:

    If you know that the distributor wire is broken, no amount of prayer will fix it. You will need to replace or repair it. Only if you do not know what the problem is will a miracle be workable.

    So, that being said, we were stranded in the rain on top of Mount Mitchel in NC after an arduous climb. It was me and 5 kids. The van would not start. I quickly determined that it was indeed the distributor cable. It was Sunday, not a good day for auto repair in western NC. I was cold and wet.

    Found a highway patrol man who managed to find a tow truck, who managed to walk into a closed auto repair shop and find a cable on the wall so we could drive home. So, yes, it is right. If you know what the problem is you have to fix it. But sometimes miracles happen.

    Unfortunately miracles are not dependable. People die at stop signs or of cancer with people praying for their recovery. I know.

  49. Last night I read my 11 year-old daughter my post and when I got to the line, “God does not always fix things.” She nodded in agreement and said sort of sadly, “Yeah.” Even as young as she was, clearly she had had experience with that truth.

  50. This post and its accompanying comments have been a very interesting discussion and raises questions that I have had myself and heard others express. However, in the last year I’ve had certain experiences that have taught me a lot about miracles and how they work.

    So as to avoid misunderstanding, let me define what I mean by “faith” and “miracle” before diving in (sorry about the post length, it’s a deep subject and a lot has been said above).

    Faith is composed of 2 parts: action and belief. The action part requires us to do all we can do. The belief part requires that we believe unwaveringly that God will make up the difference between what we can do and what we want to have happen.

    A miracle is something that occurs with no explanation that fits our own limited understanding of the laws of the universe. SteveP mentioned 5 ways miracles can happen. All happen all the time, but not necessarily to each person (but there are those who receive them frequently).

    When it comes to faith and miracles, the Standard Works teach a clear and consistent message: God works miracles according to our faith (Ether 12 and Moroni 7 are particularly good chapters for this). Whenever God ceases to do miracles, it is because the people do not have the required faith.

    Here are some examples:
    – Enoch moved mountains because of faith (Moses 7:13)
    – The brother of Jared moved a mountain by faith (Ether 12:30) (Ether 12 has many more examples).
    – The stripling warriors were preserved because of their faith while many of their fellow Nephites died (Alma 57:26).

    The scriptures are full of stories about how God has worked miracles through faith. They are similarly full of exhortations to ask with the promise that we will receive if we have faith.

    Furthermore, the scriptures include many accounts when miracles were not performed. For example, when Jesus called His apostles during His mortal ministry, He gave them power to heal the sick and cast out devils. Yet it occurred that a couple times they couldn’t do it. When that happened, Jesus rebuked them for lacking faith. He also told the Nephites when He came to the New World that He couldn’t show as great things to the Jews because the Jews didn’t have as much faith (3 Nephi 19:35).

    In order to receive a miracle, we must have faith. The only logical conclusion I can draw from the scriptures is that if the miracle doesn’t happen, it’s because we simply lacked faith, i.e. there was more we could do that we didn’t do and/or we didn’t actually believe it would happen. Both are common. Very few Latter-day Saints have a hard time believing that God CAN do what we ask, but very few of us actually believe He WILL do what we ask.

    I hope that doesn’t sound harsh, because I don’t think it is. We’re all imperfect. We all lack faith. We see miracles fail to happen all the time. So we lack faith—we’re human. God does His own thing most of the time, but if one of His children has the faith necessary, He’ll grant it. It’s not common because miracles do in fact require a lot of faith. The fact the Christ said that faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain, indicates that most people have faith much, much smaller than that.

    Even though this post is getting long, I have a few more things to say by way of application to make this more clear.

    First, I want to apply this to Matt and Mandy. There’s all kinds of context not included in that comic. Depending on the context our adult minds automatically fill in, the Dad probably hasn’t done all he could, hence the criticism in this thread. Given that a miracle happened, and that there’s no context given, we can only assume that he had. Considering the target audience (children), it’s not surprising that the comic was simple.

    Second, let’s talk about child-like faith. Our problem as adults is that our experience is that miracles don’t happen. Actually believing that something miraculous could happen is hard. Children don’t have that baggage. One post called it “magical thinking” which is a common philosophical way to put it. Children don’t understand cause and effect like an adult and therefore believe that things can happen even if the regular cause is missing. The fact that there is a God somewhere out there in the universe that loves us and knows how to give good gifts to His children and can do anything means that believing in miracles is faith, not magical thinking (unless we do know we aren’t meeting the requirements).

    The Savior told us to have faith as a child, because He knows we have that baggage. As we do our best to live the gospel, we qualify for the Holy Ghost’s companionship and also for the gifts of the Spirit which are promised to those who seek them, and which include “exceedingly great faith”, the faith to be healed, and the faith to perform “mighty miracles (Moroni 10). God can help us overcome the baggage of our experience so that we can believe as a child.

    Third, I want to talk about the broken distributor wire. Knowing what the problem is does not tie God’s hands such that He can’t perform the miracle. Knowing what the problem is means that we know without a doubt that in order for God to help He has to intervene in a major way, beaking the laws of nature that we know. That’s harder for us to believe, so we lack faith. Not knowing the problem means that our imagination can conjure up various less-amazing ways the Lord can help, and so it’s easier to believe that He will.

    Fourth, I want to talk more about what it means to do all we can. Going further with the broken distributor wire, BobW did most of the leg-work himself. He was able to, and he undoubtedly had some divine help along the way seeing as how it was a Sunday night in Western NC. Very often we want the miracle to save us from having to do what we know we can/should do. Even if BobW didn’t know what the problem was, he could have found the patrolman, who found the tow truck, that could have towed him to town so he could find a place to stay for the night and have it repaired the next day.

    Let’s change the example a little bit. Let’s say Bob got a call that his wife was enroute to the hospital after having a heart attack. He didn’t have time to track down a distributor wire or wait until morning. There was nothing he could do himself to get the car fixed and get to the hospital in time, even though he knew the problem. The rest of that would be left up to faith. Most people in that situation would probably end up at the hospital the next day. So we’re human!

    Whether it’s the miracle of the Atonement that cleanses our sins, a miracle that starts the car, or a miracle that heals an injury, we have faith that if we do all we can, God will make up the difference. If we don’t have sufficient faith, then we just keep doing our best and maybe we will next time. The Atonement will make up the difference.

    Fifth, it is common to hear in Church meetings and other settings for people to pray that blessings be granted “according to their faith and Thy will”. If it’s the Lord’s will for something to happen, then it does happen. One of the things He has said is that it IS His will to perform miracles IF we have the faith. Whether the miracle happens or not is according to His will and is determined by us, our faith, hence that prayer is ALWAYS answered. ;)

    Sixth (again, sorry about the length…but I’m not too sorry to post this anyway ;) ), faith does require righteous living. Sin demonstrates a lack of faith because it shows that we don’t really believe what God has said, i.e. that only the righteous can be saved. If we don’t believe that enough to live the commandments, how can we really believe God when He says “ask and ye shall receive”?

    We do what we can and trust God to make up the difference. That is faith, and that is how miracles are wrought among the children of men. It doesn’t matter how “amazing” the feat, how small the intervention, or whether our hands are abnormally large: all that is required is faith!

  51. I think Elder Holland read your blog, Steven.

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