We started our adoption paperwork in Feb. of 2009 and finished it six months later in July of 2009. And then we waited. I had such high hopes of getting picked right away, but after another six months, I was so discouraged.
(Here's a side note: In the LDS Church, all the men in the church 12 years old and older who keep their lives honest and worthy have the Priesthood bestowed upon them (by someone who can trace it all the way back to Joseph Smith who received the Priesthood from John the Baptist and Peter, James and John). In the New Testament, you might remember the apostles "laying their hands" on people and this means that they placed their hands on someone's head to bless them. In the LDS church, we call this simply a "blessing".)
So, in December, John gave me a blessing because I was so discouraged. In the blessing, he told me that God would give me whatever I asked for. Wow. Then I realized that God has promised this to all of His children--but I never really believed it before. Just read Matt. 7:7, John 15:7, James 1:5-6. In the Book of Mormon and other scriptures, you can read 3 Ne. 18:20, 3 Ne. 27:28, D&C 88:63-64.
God has given this promise to all of us, but do we truly believe it? I think it's not that we doubt God, but we doubt ourselves. We doubt that we are worthy enough to ask and/or that the thing we ask for is His will.
Concerning the first thing, we are never unworthy to pray. See 2 Ne. 26: 33. You are God's child and it doesn't matter what you do or what you've done, you can always pray to Him and He will listen. From lds.org's topics and under Prayer, it says, "We should never give in to the idea that we are not worthy to pray. This idea comes from Satan, who wants to convince us that we must not pray. If we do not feel like praying, we should pray until we do feel like praying."
The second thing is actually quite simple. I studied this for a while and this is what I've found. First, in James it says that we should not "ask amiss". In other words, don't just ask for anything--you have to think about it! Then there's a revelation from Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery that says that you must "study it out in your mind". In 3 Ne. 18:20, it says that we must ask in the name of Christ for what is right.
Asking for things in the name of Christ--and closing our prayers in His name--is very important. It means that we have tried to submit our will to God's, just as Christ always submitted His will to His Father. (See John 5:19 and the last paragraph here.)
The last thing is to ask for what is God's will, or what is right, but how do we know what that is? The Prophet Joseph Smith answers this in a revelation: "He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh". We have to have the Holy Spirit guide us and help us to know what to ask. The revelation also gives us a couple other things to do: "And again, I say unto you, all things must be done in the name of Christ, whatsoever you do in the Spirit; And ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with. And ye must practice virtue and holiness before me continually" (D&C 46:30-33).
We must be grateful! And then we must keep the commandments. So, our worthiness doesn't matter when it comes to Heavenly Father hearing our prayers, but a lack of worthiness may make it difficult for Him to bless us with the things we ask for. The reason for this is because the Holy Spirit "dwelleth not in unholy temples" (see also here) and thus, you may not know the right thing to ask. But it's okay because "His hand is stretched out still" and you can always repent, which means to "re-turn".
Sorry about all of that, but that's the kind of research I went through after the blessing. I felt such a weight of responsibility to know how to ask God. I also felt such a responsibility to discover what is was that I truly, truly desired.
We ask for things without even realizing it when we say prayers. Like the late Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley said, "The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the telephone and ordering groceries--we place our order and hang up. We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about..."
For two or three weeks after the blessing, I didn't ask for anything except for Heavenly Father to bless my food! I realized that prayers that only express gratitude bring the Spirit more powerfully than most "asking" prayers. (Also read this talk for more about this!)
I pondered a lot. And read the scriptures a lot. Seriously, how often have you pondered deeply to know what it is that you truly, deep-down-inside desire? It's a very good exercise and I highly encourage it.
After weeks of this, I discovered that I already had so many things that I desired--a loving, wonderful husband; a home with low rent; a great job; food in the fridge; a knowledge of who I am, where I was before I came to earth, and where I'm going after this earth; on and on.
(To be read slowly:) I realized that what I really desired was to have a baby. And so, I did what the scriptures asked, and I tried to see if that was God's will. I felt like I could actually ask for this! I asked Heavenly Father if He would bless me with a baby.... and I didn't want to wait much longer, so I asked... if He could give it to me either through adoption or to be pregnant by June 2010.
I felt the Holy Spirit tell me that it was right to ask for this and I did not have a sliver of doubt that it wouldn't happen. I felt so happy because I knew that within 6 months (after waiting over 5 1/2 years since my last miscarriage) something was going to happen.
June 1st 2010 came.
No adoption prospects. Definitely not pregnant.
What happened? I was crushed--and I mean crushed. I knew that God would bless me with what I asked. And as I tearfully prayed to Heavenly Father, I felt His love so strong and that He wanted to bless me so badly with what I desired. But I was forgetting one thing.
John. I forgot about my husband; I forgot that I'm not the only one involved in this! And that Heavenly Father honors John's desires as much as He honors mine. Discovering this was not fun. It felt like thinking you're whole life that you're the "favorite child", and then you find out that you're not. I couldn't believe that John's desires were equal to mine in God's eyes--I mean, I didn't want to believe that because I wanted a baby so badly! What if that wasn't what John wanted? That's what I was afraid of. But I knew that if God honored John's desire (and if that was it), I should honor it too.
Anyway, John and I talked. He knew about my prayer, but I don't think he had really personalized it. We decided together that this is what we both wanted.
And I got pregnant in June.
I kind-of joke with Heavenly Father now, saying that he misunderstood my request the first time, and thought that I said "in June" instead of "by June"--haha. But He actually postponed it so that I would learn a very important lesson and I am very grateful.
God answers prayers.
Sometimes our prayers involve other people and this means it involves their agency, and Heavenly Father respects that. Prayers and asking for things in our prayers takes steps, takes faith, and sometimes some soul-searching.
Everyday now if I ask for something, I do it carefully, and I feel like my prayers are always answered! And if they are not, I know that God has a reason. I know that I've prayed to be pregnant before, but I don't believe it was the right time to ask until now. Heavenly Father wanted me to learn and do other things first.
In 1 Cor. 2:9 it says, "As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." If you look at the version in Isaiah, however, it's a little different: "For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him."
"Waiting upon the Lord" isn't always easy, but we all do it, don't we? ;) And sometimes it's the waiting that makes us love life more and appreciate it more fully. And the comforting thing is that if it's really important, we won't have to wait forever.