Nope. He’s still awake.
I pick him up, feed him, and put him back down. “God, please help him to sleep in!”
Nope. He doesn’t sleep in and wakes up an hour later.
Now repeat this scene for two more months.
I think when my third child was born, a good 90 percent of my prayers revolved solely around our collective sleep patterns. However, these prayers never seemed to be answered—at least not in the time frame I was hoping for.
This did not cause me to lose my faith in prayer or the power of prayer, but it did cause me to reflect on how I could improve my prayers to ask for things that God is more able to answer.
The Bible Dictionary says: “We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ—when His words abide in us (John 15:7). We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent His mind.”
What are those things it is possible for God to grant? How could I make sure my wishes are the wishes of Christ?
To figure this out, I drew a little diagram: my desires on the left, God’s on the right, and things we both want in the middle.
On the left I wrote some things I tend to pray for a lot (sleep, ease, comfort, health, happy and obedient children, happy husband, everything happy and easy); in the middle are the things that I want that I’m sure God wants for me too. These circles are not mutually exclusive. It could be God wants everything in the left circle as well; I’m just not sure what His will is for those desires yet. But I am sure He always wants me to keep His commandments and to be faithful, kind, and forgiving.
On the right, I wrote things God wants for me that I don’t always want for myself. The biggest thing here is trials. I rarely want them, but I fully admit my times of trial are when I learn the most and grow closest to God. It’s good for this heart-changing goal we both have. Also in this circle could include commandments that are particularly difficult for me to keep.
I noticed that the things I want are largely circumstantial things—things based on the circumstances of life—while the things that God wants for me are mostly un-circumstantial (don’t look that up; it’s not really a word), or things relating to the state of my heart.
Does this mean I should never ask for circumstantial things that I want? No way! Does this mean God will never answer my prayers if I just ask for things I want? Certainly not! I have had way too many experiences praying for things I want when God has given them to me to think that God doesn’t care about the left side of this diagram. I think God loves every one of us and cares deeply about our wants. I think He delights in giving us even those little things we ask for sometimes. Like any good father, He knows how to give us good gifts. But above all, He wants what is best for us, and what is best for us eternally does not always include the circumstances we desperately hope for.
So how to pray to align these two circles? How to pray for the things I want while accepting God’s will and His desires for me?
I came up with a little formula to help me in my prayers. It is simply this—whenever you ask for something you want and you’re not totally sure if it’s something God wants for you, tack on the phrase “but if not” and then add something you’re sure God would want for you.
For example: “God, please help me get some sleep tonight, but if not, help me to have enough energy to be pleasant and hard working anyway.” “God, please bless that my child will get over this sickness and feel better, but if not, help us to trust in Thee and be patient with each other.” “God, please bless that I will be included in my group of friends, but if not, even if I feel excluded, help me to be kind and generous.”
I’ve tried this out for about a year now, and I can say my rate of prayer success has skyrocketed. Here are some benefits I’ve experienced so far:
I feel like I’m finally fulfilling the real purpose of prayer, which is not to negotiate my desires, but to align myself with God. The two circles from my graph have grown much closer since praying in this way.
An unexpected benefit has been that I don’t fear hard situations or not getting what I want nearly as much as I used to because I’ve seen and felt God answer my prayers—both my desires and my “but if nots.”
It’s been a great exercise in praying not for my circumstances to change, but that I in my circumstances may be changed, which is what Elder Bednar says is the key to unlocking grace in one of my favorite gospel talks of all time.
I feel a deep trust in God growing up inside me.
And eventually my son and I did get more sleep (though he still has this lovely habit of waking up at 5:30 a.m.). But that’s OK. I may not always get what I want when I want it, but I can feel God’s love and receive those things I need to become the person He wants me to be.
Celeste graduated from BYU with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology. Her proudest accomplishments include her marriage, her three kids, and that one time she had all the rooms in her house clean at the same time.
“The temple is beautiful,” said local member Joshua Ramirez. “It’s just like a big beacon.”
“I believe that when people come to visit the temple, they will feel something special as they visit the house of the Lord, as they come here and view the insides of this beautiful structure,” expressed member Daniel Post, who is excited the temple in Tucson has been completed.
Calvin Caldwell, project manager for the temple, explained that going to the temple is like finding an oasis in the desert. “They have that opportunity to take a deep breath and relax and all their worries kind of go away,” said Caldwell.
The design and colors inside the new 38,000-square-foot temple are influenced by the Art Deco style and reflect the green desert landscape of the American Southwest, including native plants, red cactus flowers and orange hues that represent the desert sun. Designers used the native ocotillo plant and the flower of the paddle cactus or prickly pear as inspiration for the décor, such as the art glass. Paintings feature stories of the ministry of Jesus Christ from the scriptures and desert scenery.
One of the unique features of the exterior of the Tucson Arizona Temple that sits on seven acres of land is the blue dome constructed of imported tile from Germany topped with an angel Moroni statue.
“As you notice around the valley and throughout the city, there’s multiple domes or cupolas, and we took that into our design so that it would be able to fit in and match the area itself,” said Caldwell.
“The structure itself is totally Southwestern and just is the feel of Tucson. It’s the old pueblo,” described local Latter-day Saint Lucinda Contreras. “Its unique dome [with] the beautiful blue … is representative of the sky and the beautiful colors that we have here in Tucson.”
Her 15-year-old daughter, Candace Contreras, said residents are curious about the new temple. “Now people are wondering what it is, and even my friends at school are like, ‘Hey, what’s that big building with the statue on top? Like what does that mean?’ And it gives me an opportunity to share with them what I know to be true and what it means to me.”
“I see the dome at night when they illuminate it,” said Emmanuel Vouvakis, who lives next door to the temple. “It’s very tastefully done, and the Church has done an exceptional job in building this temple.”
Vouvakis believes the temple will benefit the community. “It brings a more diverse aspect to the city,” he said.
“It’s the realization of a dream, the realization of many prayers and hopes that someday we would have a temple in Tucson,” shared lifelong resident and member Duane Bingham, whose family arrived in Tucson from Utah in 1893.
“The patrons are going to love it, and they’re going to use it,” said Caldwell.
“It will give us the opportunity to be influenced by the Savior Jesus Christ. He is the water, and those who partake in the blessing of the temple will be filled and be quenched,” said Post.
The Church has more than 150 temples around the world where sacred ordinances such as eternal marriages and family sealings are performed, as well as baptisms for deceased family members. The 156th temple was recently dedicated in Paris.
“I’m grateful [the temple] is a place where my daughter can come and be married to her future husband, my son can come and be married to his future wife,” said member Lucinda Contreras.
A cultural celebration featuring Mormon youth will be held Saturday, August 12. The temple will be dedicated the following day, Sunday, August 13, in three sessions at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
The temple dedication will be broadcast to Church members in Arizona. The three-hour block of meetings will be cancelled for that Sunday so local Latter-day Saint congregations can participate in this sacred event.
“We dedicate it to God. And in turn, we’re able to come to the temple and to feel the Spirit and to be able to feel the closeness to our Heavenly Father here in the temple,” said Lucinda Contreras.
The Tucson Arizona Temple will be the sixth in Arizona, known as the Grand Canyon State. Temples are currently operating in Mesa, Snowflake, The Gila Valley, Gilbert and Phoenix. There are more than 416,000 members of the Church in Arizona.
Ground for the temple was broken October 17, 2015. The temple is located at 7281 North Skyline Drive in the Catalina Foothills of Tucson. Visit templeopenhouse.lds.org to make a reservation to attend the temple open house.
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"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." Matthew 13