We all have desires that we earnestly ask God to grant. We pray long and hard on our knees, follow His commandments, make good choices, and do all that is necessary to qualify ourselves for the blessings that we ask for. And sometimes, even if we have already received “no” for an answer, we still pray unceasingly, hoping that God will eventually yield.
In the Doctrine & Covenants, we read the account of Martin Harris asking Joseph Smith to inquire of God whether he could take the 116-page Book of Mormon manuscript home so his family could see it. Joseph inquired twice and God did not permit it. But Martin begged Joseph to ask God one more time. This time, He permitted Martin to take the manuscript home, to show only to his wife and certain members of his family. And then the unfortunate happened, Martin lost the manuscript—all 116 pages of it.
So did Joseph and Martin change the will of God? No. God’s will was to hasten the translation of the Book of Mormon, and knowing that many people wanted to get a hold of the manuscript, He did not permit Martin to take it because losing it would mean delaying the translation. But because Joseph and Martin were very insistent, He allowed it. He allowed it so Joseph and Martin could learn, through exercising their own agency, what would bring them happiness or misery.
We cannot change the will of God, but we can be comforted knowing that His will is for us to return to His presence again. He has our welfare at heart and when we receive an answer, we can be sure that He is leading us a little closer to our heavenly home.
While we cannot persuade Him to yield to our desires, He also does not want to override our agency to be able to choose and act for ourselves. Like Martin, there may be times that if we pray hard enough, God will allow us to do as we desire so we can learn from the experience.
Oftentimes, if we allow it, these experiences can help us better understand the will and ways of the Almighty God and allow us to see how aligning our will to His leads to joy and peace. As we do so, we become more sensitive to the whispering of His Spirit—enlightening us with things that will help us reach our potential and warning us to avoid things that will impede our growth.
So the next time we think of trying to change the will of God, let’s ask ourselves if that’s really what we want to happen. Like Martin, God might let us do as we please, but afterwards, we might also feel sorrow, similar to Martin and Joseph’s over losing the manuscript.
Let’s trust God and His will—this is the only way we can successfully navigate this often-treacherous mortal existence, become what He wants us to become, and eventually joyfully return to His presence again someday.