Seventy Encourages Students to Ask God for Spiritual Gifts
Contributed By Sarah Harris, Church News staff writer
- Heavenly Father is anxious to bless us with spiritual gifts.
- If we desire spiritual gifts so that we can build up the kingdom, we will receive them.
- By asking for spiritual gifts and working to develop them, we become more like our Savior.
“Jesus taught His disciples that our Father in Heaven is a very generous parent. He encouraged them, ‘Ask, and it shall be given unto you.’” —Elder Larry R. Lawrence, General Authority Seventy
Elder Larry R. Lawrence, General Authority Seventy, encouraged BYU–Idaho students to ask Heavenly Father for spiritual gifts in his devotional address on Tuesday, June 13.
“That giveth to all men liberally”
He said the counsel in James 1:5 to “ask of God” applies to all the gifts of the Spirit.
“We are invited to ask God for any that we lack,” Elder Lawrence said. “We can ask for faith, for discernment, for personal revelation—for any spiritual gift.”
Elder Lawrence quoted President George Q. Cannon, former counselor in the First Presidency, who said, “If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect.”
Elder Lawrence listed several spiritual gifts mentioned in the scriptures, such as the faith to heal, the faith to be healed, the working of miracles, the gift of prophecy, the gift of tongues, and the gift of discernment.
He also cited several scriptural examples of people who were blessed with spiritual gifts. He talked about Adam’s gift of prophecy, Enoch’s faith to perform miracles, Abraham’s unwavering faith, Sarah’s patience, Ruth’s loyalty, Joseph the carpenter’s gift of dreams, Peter’s gift of healing, the brother of Jared’s gift of asking, Mormon’s gift of being quick to observe, and Alma the senior’s gift of recall—or remembering words of truth long after he had heard them.
The Lord’s one stipulation in His children asking for spiritual gifts, Elder Lawrence said, is that these gifts are to be used for the building of the kingdom.
“In other words, we should not be seeking gifts to build ourselves up in the eyes of others or for personal financial gain,” he said.
“And upbraideth not”
The Lord will not scold His children for asking for spiritual gifts, Elder Lawrence said.
“Heavenly Father is much more generous than most of His children realize,” he said. “He is never annoyed at us for asking for divine help.”
Elder Lawrence compared this to a Christmas morning in which several gifts remain unopened under the Christmas tree after a father has given a special and useful gift to each of his family members. The father then explains the gifts are for whoever wants one—“just ask for what you need.”
“Jesus taught His disciples that our Father in Heaven is a very generous parent,” Elder Lawrence said. “He encouraged them, ‘Ask, and it shall be given unto you.’”
Every worthy member is given at least one spiritual gift, Elder Lawrence said. He said he observed as a mission president in Russia that every elder and sister in his mission was uniquely gifted.
He said he saw in certain missionaries the gifts of tongues, fearlessness, creative ideas, making friends, organization, or a cheerful heart. He also noticed missionaries who were blessed to be peacemakers, good listeners, or problem solvers.
“I saw firsthand how their various gifts complemented each other,” Elder Lawrence said. “No missionary possessed every gift, but each possessed at least one.”
“Ask in faith, nothing wavering”
Elder Lawrence shared a personal example of a time when he asked Heavenly Father for a spiritual gift. After he joined the Church, he asked the Lord to help him overcome his “fiery temper.” Elder Lawrence said the Lord gradually blessed him with more patience in all areas of his life.
“If you find you could use more patience, why not ask? Patience is a spiritual gift,” Elder Lawrence said.
He also told the story of John McFarland, who was called in the 1860s to be a choir director in St. George. McFarland had little experience writing hymns but prayed for the gift to compose a new carol for that year’s Christmas program. The result was a beloved Christmas hymn we now know as “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains.”
“The music and the lyrics were inspired of God, given in the form of a spiritual gift to a dedicated choir director,” Elder Lawrence said.
He encouraged students to follow the admonition in Moroni 10 to “lay hold upon every good gift” by first asking the Lord, “What lack I yet?” and then asking for the gift that would help them improve.
“In this way, our weaknesses will truly become our strengths,” Elder Lawrence said. “God is waiting to hear from you. So why not ask?”