In Sunday school this week I used the term “twisting God’s arm” as a way of describing the process of petitioning the Lord with enough fervency and faith (and sometimes through enough people) to get a mighty miracle. It was a tongue-in-cheek reference and I qualified this term by mentioning God wants his arm twisted in this way by his children. But I have decided that twisting his arm is not the proper analogy for this process.
After the events of the last week this subject is very much on my mind. When our family needed a miracle I talked with my little girls (ages 5 and 7) and asked them to nag their Heavenly Father about it. They understand what nagging is because they use it with us (though rarely successfully… we hope). The idea resonated with them, but I don’t think that analogy works well either. If nagging is as annoying to God as it is to me it can’t be a good thing. And the same thing applies to the term occasionally used in the church: “wearying the Lord”. This sounds like another term for nagging to me. Are we really out to annoy our God?
Most of us turn to bartering when we really need something from God. I like negotiating – I do it for a living. I’ve had great success strictly observing the Covey-ism “win/win or no deal”. This means unless everyone wins in a deal it should not be struck. But negotiating with God is generally frowned upon in the church, though I’m not sure it should be. As the hymn says “Sacrifice brings forth the blessing of heaven”. And as Elder Maxwell repeatedly preached – there is one thing that we can offer God that he desperately wants:
In conclusion, the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!
(Ensign, Nov. 1995, 22)
Just tonight I heard a moving story. A man who works with my brother-in-law up in Seattle confided that he had prayed fervently for my son upon hearing of our calamity last week. He offered up a few years of his own life as an offering or sacrifice to God if it would allow for my boy to be saved. This man has no idea who we are. He is not LDS. But he is a son of God and I can’t believe God can ignore such charity.
My feeling is that if we are to bargain with the Lord we need to understand his currency. I’ve mentioned before that his currency is the souls of humankind. That is the most precious commodity in the universe. If we want to bargain with God we had better bring something he wants to the negotiations. According to Elder Maxwell we have only one thing to offer – our wills.
Maybe that’s why I felt so driven to seek more prayers here and everywhere… Maybe we weren’t nagging God or twisting his arm at all but as a group we were paying him in his currency. We were humbling ourselves and turning our wills over to him. We were exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps he was well paid in his currency for this miracle.
Of course the kicker of it all is that we all were generously rewarded immediately by him as well.
The ultimate win/win deal…
PS – Regarding our miracle: A firefighter that was first on the scene last week stopped by the house tonight to see Quinn with his own eyes. He told us that in his 14 years on the job (here in Arizona – the land of a million pools) he had only seen 3 children come out intact from the condition he found our Q in…
PPS — I’m sorry if all these posts regarding our miracle are tiresome… They feel important to me right now.