“A Testimony of Prayer and Tithing,” Ensign, Oct. 1981, 64–65
A few years ago my wife, Sherry, and I found ourselves in debt beyond our means. One month our bills actually came to more than our income, so we had to decide who not to pay. Our decision was to “borrow” from the Lord by not paying our tithing that month, but we promised we would make it up during the summer. (I am a school teacher, and during the summer I cut timber.) April, May, and June came and our situation didn’t change; each month we “borrowed” from the Lord. Altogether we got behind $400.
When school was out for the summer, it started to rain, so I couldn’t work as many days as I had planned. I was on a ten-month teaching contract, and since my last school check was in June my timber money for July and August had to go for living expenses. By the end of the summer we still owed $335 to the Lord.
We knew we had to pay our tithing back some way, and we constantly worried about it. One day I was near the sand dunes outside St. Anthony, Idaho, and no one was around. I decided to pray about our situation. As I knelt there in the scrub, the Spirit of the Lord touched me, and I promised him that somehow I would repay him but I didn’t know when. I went home feeling renewed and told my wife of my experience. We decided we should fast to ask the Lord to help us manage financially and pay our tithing.
The previous year I had joined a tax-sheltered annuity program in which $25 a month was taken from my check before taxes. We had more or less forgotten about it, but now I decided that I needed to send for the money. Two days before our first school check came, we received a check for the amount of $333.83, just $1.17 short of the amount of the tithing we owed. Of course, we paid our tithing with it.
However, on September 20 temptation came again with our school check. Our bills, including that month’s tithing, totalled only two dollars less than our check. We didn’t know what to do, since we didn’t think two dollars would last too long. Our decision this time, though, was to pay our tithing and all our bills for the month and depend on the Lord. One of the promises in my wife’s patriarchal blessing was that if her husband honored his priesthood, her family would always have sufficient for their worldly needs; we knew the Lord kept his promises. So we made out the checks, mailed them, and worried just a little about the coming month, trying to keep in mind that the windows of heaven are opened to the tithe payer.
A few years earlier, to help put myself through Brigham Young University, I had bought a carpet-cleaning machine. And so I put an ad in the newspaper at the end of August, hoping for some carpet-cleaning jobs to help us get by. By September 25 we still hadn’t had any calls, and we were still worrying and broke.
That day, a Thursday, I went to the mountains after school to get a load of wood for our fireplace. As I was working, I felt the need again to pray to my Heavenly Father and ask him what we should do. As I got up from my knees, I knew everything would be taken care of.
When I walked in the door that night, Sherry told me that a lady had called about a carpet cleaning job. Then a man called and asked me to come and clean his carpet also. Friday morning I visited the school counselor, who is also my bishop, and he handed me a one-hundred-dollar bill! He had borrowed a trailer from me in the spring to haul wood and had decided to buy it. Friday afternoon and Saturday morning I cleaned the two carpets and made $105. Then another lady called, and I cleaned her carpet Monday after school and made $20.
The previous Thursday we had had no money, and now we had $225. The windows of heaven surely did open to show us that the Lord watches out for those who keep his commandments. I know that the events of those few days were not just coincidence; they were actual answers to fasting, faith, and prayer.