The Prophet Project: Answers to Prayer

One might, at first glance, think Elder Brook Hales’s talk “Answers to Prayer” is about…well…prayer. But it really isn’t; rather, it is about hope and the effect it can have in our lives.

Hope is famously identified as the anchor of our souls in Ether 12:4 which leads us to always abound “in good works, being led to glorify God.” And the three tales that Elder Hales tells each have a similar effect. The direct answer to prayer, the indirect answer to prayer, and the answer “no” all can be seen as God showing his love to his children.

On the face of it, that doesn’t make sense. Even if you take context and intent into account, one still wouldn’t expect every type of answer to prayer to mean the same thing (God loves you and has a plan for you). And maybe it doesn’t, but this talk isn’t really about prayer. Instead it is about why we pray and that is hope.

We hope that there is a God above who cares about us, in all our pettiness, frailty, unacted-upon potential, and sweatiness. That there is someone, up there, who actually cares about us as a person, who wants what is best for us, and who is applying a plan to our lives in spite of our tendencies to waywardness and rebelliousness. Or, for the better of us, someone who appreciates our sacrifices, who understands how hard we try and doesn’t condemn us for our still-evident shortcomings.

We hope that, in spite of everything, the Atonement of Jesus Christ will be applied to us and that we will live meaningful lives, both for what we were able to overcome through God’s grace and for what we were able to do to help others when opportunity knocked. We hope that in the end we really are the children of loving Heavenly Parents, with the potential held in that definition accessible to us all.

This hope can be a motivation, a call to personal action, a reason to get out of bed and fight another day. Because God loves us, full stop. And no matter the circumstance, the disappointment, the heartache, or the occasional triumph, if we can find, feel, and act upon God’s love, we will both find answers to our own prayers and be the answer for others.

Elder Hales’s talk is a good reminder that the key to finding answers to prayers is not to look for the individual answers, but rather to find hope in the overall context of a loving Parent in Heaven who cares about you. Then the answer, whatever it is, can be used as a tool for change, rather than just as an anecdote.


  1. jlouielucero says:

    I really enjoy these. Thank you

  2. Jared Livesey says:

    “Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

    John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

    1 Nephi 15:11, Earliest Text
    Do ye not remember the thing which the Lord hath said?
    – if ye will not harden your hearts and ask me in faith,
    believing that ye shall receive,
    with diligence in keeping my commandments,
    surely these things shall be made known unto you.

  3. GEOFF -AUS says:

    Was in Tibet recently and bought a solar powered prayer wheel. Problem solved

  4. Thanks, much for your for thoughts.

    This talk was the basis for our Elder’s Quorum lesson the week after general conference. The emphasis was the steps (missteps in my mind) to get a coat to a chilled missionary and how God works in our lives to bless us. We were encouraged to share stories of how we were blessed by a series of events that God orchestrated for us. The lesson ended by focusing on individual righteousness in order to have our prayers answered according to our desires, with the hint that if we aren’t getting the answers, we need to do more of everything.

    If we are going to say God causes good things to happen in a chain of events, we have to acknowledge that He may cause bad things to happen, some that may actually hurt others physically, mentally and monetarily, for our benefit. How far do we go back in our stories to link the “blessings?”

  5. Angela JO says:

    Thank you. Many times hope is what keeps me going forward.

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