“How do you know when your prayer is answered?” New Era, Oct. 1975, 34–35
Answer/President Marion G. Romney
The way I know when the Lord answers my prayers is, in most cases, by the way I feel.
The Lord’s explanations to Oliver Cowdery on this subject are very enlightening. They are found in the sixth, eighth, and ninth sections of the Doctrine and Covenants.
At the time these revelations were given, the Prophet Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon. Oliver, who was acting as his scribe, was concerned about getting a sure witness to the truth of the work in which they were engaged. In response to Oliver’s prayer, the Lord gave him, through the Prophet, the following:
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.
“Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth;
“Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
“Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (D&C 6:14–16, 22–23.)
From these statements of the Lord I know that an answer from the Lord to my prayers enlightens and brings peace to my mind.
The Lord confirmed this fact when a few days later He said:
“Oliver Cowdery, verily, verily, I say unto you, that assuredly as the Lord liveth, who is your God and your Redeemer, even so surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient, which contain those parts of my scripture of which has been spoken by the manifestation of my Spirit.
“Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
“Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.” (D&C 8:1–3.)
In the revelation containing these verses the Lord authorized and gave Oliver the power to do some translating. Because he did not proceed to translate but continued to act as scribe for the Prophet, the Lord withdrew the commission and spoke to Oliver as follows:
“Do not murmur, my son, for it is wisdom in me that I have dealt with you after this manner.
“Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
“But behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
“But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.” (D&C 9:6–9.)
In praying, I try to follow the teachings of these scriptures. When confronted with a problem I prayerfully weigh in my mind alternative solutions and come to a conclusion as to which of them is best. Then in prayer I submit to the Lord my problem, tell him I desire to make the right choice, what is, in my judgment, the right course. Then I ask him if I have made the right decision to give me the burning in my bosom that He promised Oliver Cowdery. When enlightenment and peace come into my mind, I know the Lord is saying yes. If I have a “stupor of thought,” I know he is saying no, and I try again, following the same procedure.
In conclusion, I repeat: I know when and how the Lord answers my prayers by the way I feel.
When we learn to distinguish between the inspiration that comes from the Spirit of the Lord and that which comes from our own uninspired hopes and desires, we need make no mistakes. To this I testify.