Confidence in Prayer and Trial
This morning I am feeling inspired after reading an article by a friend of mine’s wife, entitled “Wherefore didst thou doubt?” In it, she describes her feelings of fear and uncertainty as she strives to be successful in medical school, and in the future find a way to be a good doctor and a good mother. She likens her experience to Peter, who after eagerly rushing out of a boat to walk on water with the Savior looks down and begins to sink.
One thing I particularly like about her writing is how she mentions the persistent nature of these doubts, how much opposition and anxiety she feels concerning her difficult but righteous desires most every day. It reminds me of my own struggle yesterday as I contemplated my future. While in the midst of fear, a scripture was brought to my attention:
“Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God.” (D&C 121:45)
Peter had a great desire to do that which seemed impossible. So, too, my friend’s wife desires that which at times feels impossible to her, her anxiety nearly drowning her just as the waters tried to take Peter. Although Peter had the Lord right next to him, the Lord has provided a way for us to cry out to him, and that is through prayer.
Confidence in Prayer
I know that the Lord will lift each of us in our times of doubt and weakness as we pray, but we must also be mindful of something else when we consider whether we have the strength to keep going: Peter got out of the boat.
If we believe that Peter failed at some point in this story, then we are missing the point of mortality. This life is a time of trial and faith. It is inevitable that we will stumble and fall. And like Peter, we are to rely on the Lord as we follow our righteous ambitions, even if our struggles go on for a long time before we are able to overcome them. Peter, then is not a failure in this story but rather the best of examples for us.
The Lord teaches, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
He then goes on to remind us of God’s love, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:7-8, 11).
All of us are like drivers on a highway, trying to make a long and at times overwhelming journey through an endless wilderness. This wilderness has many roads and service stations, and it is easy to get lost. Yet there are certain stations, stations where we receive both the proper direction in life and the fuel to start heading that way. Those are the Lord’s service stations, and they are always available to us.
Some people seem to require only periodic refueling. Those of us who feel the need for more, for countless boosts of divine strength it seems every hour, every minute, every second, sometimes see these people and wonder, “Why is it so easy for them and yet so hard for me?”
I cannot answer that question. It could be that some are meant to struggle more than others. But whatever we are going through, we must remember that there is always a service station immediately within our reach, the service station of prayer, and it is available to us no matter what our trials are, be they of transgression, circumstance, or mental or physical ailment.
As I close, I want to tie everything back to the scripture I began with about letting “virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly” that “[our] confidence wax strong in the presence of God.” The Savior taught, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). As we let virtue and the good things of the world fill our minds, we can feel more confident that the Lord is standing by us to help us and answer our petition, as he was there next to Peter, and that he will help us.
It does not matter if our minds remain plagued by doubts and fears even as we seek the Lord. Remember, Peter cried out when his mind was full of uncertainty, not confidence, and yet still received help. We similarly enter the Lord’s service station because we need refueling and guidance, because we are in a moment of difficulty or weakness. But as we strive for virtue more fully, we will feel confident that the Savior is by our side through all of it.
It also does not matter if we have to revisit the service station with greater frequency than most. The clerk who greets us inside, the Savior himself, is glad each time we seek him, and will always smile in offering his hand to us. As he reaches out, the scars on his palm and wrist will remind us that he knows what we are going through, for he has experienced it himself. The smile on his face is there because he overcame what we are now facing, and he knows what we need to do that we might accomplish the same.