As a young boy living in Mexico, I was given the job of watching our cattle in the field as they grazed. One day I became bored with this chore and went off to play, leaving the cattle unattended. I played all day, returning to my chore only when it began to get late.
As I approached the field, I realized that the cattle were gone! I could picture my father’s face—how disappointed and angry he would be! I was his eldest son. He had taught me responsibility, and he was proud of me. How would he feel about me now? Quickly I searched for the cattle from one end of the field to the other. I couldn’t find them anywhere!
As I wondered what to do, I remembered something my father had taught me—that if I ever needed help, I could pray to my Father in Heaven and He would help me. I needed help then! I knelt and asked Heavenly Father to help me find the cattle. Then, sure that I would find them, I searched again.
The cattle were nowhere to be found! I became angry. I had prayed, as my father had taught me. Why hadn’t Heavenly Father answered my prayer?
I stormed home. I had almost forgotten about the cattle and how upset my father would be. I wanted to know why my prayer hadn’t been answered. My father listened patiently as I explained to him what had happened. In his wise way, he asked me what I would have done the next day if Heavenly Father had helped me find the cattle. “Would you go off and leave the cows again, thinking that your Father in Heaven would find them for you?”
After some thought, I replied, “Yes, that is probably what I would do.”
My father told me to kneel again—this time to ask for forgiveness and to promise that I would never again leave the cattle to go and play. I did as he said. Then, humbly, I once more asked Heavenly Father to help me find the cows. With my father by my side, I returned to the field and found the cattle there.
I learned an important lesson that day. Heavenly Father does not give us what we want just because we want it. He answers our prayers when we have done our part. And He answers them in a way that will help us become better people.