Thoughts on Enos and answered prayer.
In the book of Enos, verses 12 and 18 have long puzzled me.
In them, God makes a promise both “because of [Enos’s] faith” and “according to [Nephi and Jacob’s] faith”,
and hints that He might have already made the promise to Nephi and Jacob.
When mortals do this kind of thing, we call them liars.
“You were going to make cupcakes anyway, weren’t you?”
“Then why did you lie to me and pretend they were for my birthday?” So what’s going on in Enos?
Yesterday in Elders’ Quorum meeting a possible answer came to me. I’ve had all the pieces necessary for it for a long time, but had never put them together before.
The core principle that helped me understand is the observation that “the object of prayer is not to change the will of God”. I also thought on the remarkable promise God made to Nephi, “all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word”—why? Because “thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.” This is a prophesy, and observation, that Nephi had reached a point where every request he would make of God was something God also desired.
In this light, when I look at God’s statement to Enos, “I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith” I see a different parsing of the sentence. Instead of “you’ve got so much faith that I guess I’ll have to do what you want” this passage can be read as “you’ve got so much faith that you want something I’m happy to do.” And with that reading, the statement that it was already promised to others too is not longer deceitful in the least degree.
Now, I do not claim that all prayers are “answered” by our wanting what was already happening. While there are some things God won’t do and others He will, regardless of our requests, there are others that are acceptable but not inevitable alternatives. God does do some things because we ask Him too. But He is also kind enough to work with us when the answer is “sorry, I can’t do that” and help us understand why He won’t do it so that we can come to desire more correctly.
I wonder if it is possible and/or meaningful to tell whether an answered prayer was a result of learning to want what was destined to be or helping to select the outcome you desired?