“Heavenly Father Said No—and Yes,” Ensign, August 2014, 22–23
In Sweden, during my last year of high school, I decided to apply to Brigham Young University in Utah. There was only one problem: no matter how fervently I prayed for God to confirm my decision, it just never felt right. I thought, “The answer couldn’t possibly be no, could it? In so many ways, BYU seems like it should be the right decision, especially because I want a temple marriage and my prospects at BYU are so much better than in Sweden.” Except it wasn’t right. Not for me. Not at that time.
Disappointed, I discarded my plans to attend BYU and applied to a university in Sweden. At about the same time that I would have left for my BYU adventure, I fell in love with Jonas—a recently returned missionary. Although we must have attended several youth activities together before Jonas left on his mission, I had never noticed him. How his charisma and infectious laugh escaped me remains a mystery!
Early in our relationship, Jonas told me that he had applied to BYU and hoped to attend the following semester. After his first semester in Provo, we married in the temple and began attending BYU together, graduating on the same day.
Now I look back and see why Heavenly Father initially said no—or really, “not yet”—to my fervent prayer about attending BYU. Although He said no to my desire at that particular time, He was actually saying yes to a much more important desire. As a young girl, I had often prayed that my future husband and I would find each other when the time was right. We might have met at BYU, but I am convinced that, as part of a greater plan, Jonas and I needed to find each other in Sweden. Perhaps many of Heavenly Father’s “no” answers to our prayers are integral parts of his “yes” answers to greater plans for our lives.
In Gethsemane, Jesus Christ prayed with great fervor, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” Then He added, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus Christ chose to drink of the bitter cup because He knew it was part of God’s greater plan to provide a Savior, who would atone for the sins of mankind (see 3 Nephi 11:11).
Likewise, we know that our Heavenly Father has a plan for our life. While we may not know the details of God’s plan for us, we can trust Heavenly Father’s answers to our prayers and say, “Thy will be done.”
Christ aligned His will with God’s, and the great plan that included the Savior’s Atonement for all mankind unfolded. Similarly, as we align our will with God’s, Heavenly Father can reveal a greater plan for us. As our life unfolds, we can receive the blessings Jesus Christ pled for in His Intercessory Prayer: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” (John 17:21).
How grateful I am that our Heavenly Father lovingly whispers no to some prayers so that He can give a resounding yes to others.