Each fast Sunday my wife and I have a family night with all the grandchildren who can come. One night I told them about losing something as a small boy. It was a little thing, but it was very important to me. I looked and searched and hunted and couldn’t find it. Finally I thought, “Well, why not ask Heavenly Father?” I knelt and prayed, and when I opened my eyes, there it was right in front of me.
Although we have all also had experiences that didn’t turn out this way, during the family night I asked my grandchildren, “Have any of you had a similar experience to mine?” and every child’s hand went up.
A coin or a toy may not seem very important in the eternal scheme of things. But it is extremely important for you to learn that Heavenly Father is there and that He hears and answers prayers. He wants us to learn while we are young that He is waiting for us to call on Him. He wants us to know that He is willing to intervene in our lives to bless us, protect us, and preserve us.
As we get older, we may have to pray longer and harder before getting an answer, but we will receive one. As a young man, I always planned to go on a mission until the time to go actually came. I was dating a young woman quite seriously, I had started an excellent job and was making good money, and I had just bought a new car. Suddenly leaving for two years didn’t sound so attractive. I decided to stay home and serve a stake mission instead. I thought my dad would be angry, but he just said, “Well, that’s your choice. But it’s a pretty big decision. Would you be willing to take two separate days and go off by yourself somewhere and fast and pray about this? If you do and you still feel the same way, I will not say another word.”
I agreed immediately because I was sure that my decision was acceptable to the Lord. I took my scriptures up into the mountains one Saturday and fasted and prayed and read. I went home and told my dad, “My feelings haven’t changed.”
He smiled and said, “You promised me two days.”
The next week I had to work on Saturday, so I went up into a canyon on Sunday morning and again studied and prayed. I stayed until it was time to leave for sacrament meeting, which was held in the afternoon. I still felt the same way about a mission, and I wanted to hurry down and tell my dad. But as I backed the car around, I got stuck in a snowbank. By the time I pulled the car out and got home, my parents had left, so I picked up my girlfriend and went to sacrament meeting.
During the meeting I idly picked up the hymnbook. It fell open to the hymn that in those days was called “It May Not Be on the Mountain Height” (see “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” Hymns, no. 270). Part of me said, “Don’t read it!” But I read all three verses, including the words “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord.” In that instant my heart and mind changed. When I finished reading, I closed the book and looked up. Tears were streaming down my girlfriend’s face. She said, “You’re going, aren’t you?” I said, “Yes, I am.”
I can’t imagine where my life would have gone if I had chosen to stay home. My mission led me to great happiness, and prayer led me to my mission. This experience taught me the importance of going to the Lord with my decisions.
A vital part of a testimony is knowing that God is our Heavenly Father and that He knows us and loves us and will answer our prayers. I’m only now beginning to understand how deeply He loves us and how well He knows us. He knows our hearts. He knows our loneliness. He knows our fears. He will not force Himself on us though, because He respects our agency. We must ask. When we do, our Heavenly Father will confirm the reality of His existence. How comforting it is to know that the Creator of the universe is standing by to answer a child’s prayer.