Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Friday, June 04, 2004

A Note on Miracles

I've been asked why there aren't lots of miracles in the Church today like there were in the New Testament. I am disappointed by the premise of the question. Who says there aren't mircales? Miracles, of course, are unusual events. There are dozens of miracles in the scriptures - healings and so forth - but they involved a tiny handful of people and a tiny handful of moments. I don't think they are any less rare or dramatic today. But they aren't something you will read about nightly in the local paper, or watch on the Mormon Miracle Channel to satiate your curiosity. And they are often experienced in private or sacred settings that aren't going to be posted on the Internet.


My testimony of the reality of God and the reality of the Restoration includes the effect of many small miracles that I have experienced. The earliest, and one of the least dramatic and most easily shared, occurred when I was six years old. My father had loaned me a magnifying glass, after showing me how he could check some plants for disease with it. Now I know it was a cheap plastic lens, with a magnification of perhaps about 3X and a cash value less than 50 cents, but then it seemed precious to me. After playing with it during the day, I realized I had lost it. I looked all over the house and my room and was unable to find it, and soon Dad would be coming home and I would disappoint him by having lost his precious tool. I was very worried. I remembered what my mother had taught me about praying for help, and so I got on my knees in my room, all alone, and asked Heavenly Father to help me find my Dad's magnifying glass. After closing in the name of Christ and saying amen, I rose from my knees, looked at my chest of drawers, and felt like I should look in the middle drawer. I think I had already looked in all the drawers, but I went there again and immediately found it. I simply knew that God had heard my prayers. A small miracle, perhaps trivial to others, but it was the beginning of what must be thousands of examples of prayer being answered.

An important point: I have experienced relatively few miracles when I have prayed for something big and selfish. Even "big" and unselfish requests are often refused (China still remains under oppression, for example). But miracles become relatively frequent when unselfish service is involved.

One little example of this: In my early days in Wisconsin, I was asked to home teach a less active man who would later become my best friend out here and one of the best counselors I could have ever hoped for when I was later asked to be Bishop. I felt that my home teaching assignment was important and really wanted to visit this person, but it was hard getting an appointment set up that also worked for my companion, Tim, a married student at Lawrence University. On the appointed day for a visit, I was supposed to pick up Tim. I called him to confirm, and there was no answer. I tried again, and no answer. It was time to go, but he wasn't home. I could cancel the appointment and reschedule, but I felt like I really needed to go, and I also felt that Tim needed the experience. I got on my knees and prayed for help, explaining that this was an important visit for Tim and the man we were trying to visit. After the prayer, I called again and heard Tim's voice right away. Tim was surprised and said, "How did you reach me? My phone hasn't been working - I can call out, but it doesn't ring for incoming calls." My call came in right as he was picking up the phone to dial. I believe that he had forgotten about the appointment, but was able to go after all. We had a successful visit - and both experienced a small miracle granted in answer to prayer for something "not too big" and unselfish. This is one small example of hundreds that I have experienced, especially in Priesthood service.

But "big" miracles do occur. Keep praying for China, for America, for the people in Iraq, for your loved ones, for your enemies, and for all that you do. The power of prayer is real, and God is real.

7 comments:

Clark Goble said...

This is a good point. I think, however, that after discussing various things with many Mormons, miracles are ubiquitous. And not just the "I got better when doctors didn't think I would" type. Those are weak since a lot of people unexpectedly get better. But I've seen miracles in my life and I'm sure many other Mormons would as well.

Mormanity said...

I fully agree. Of course, genuine miracles are experienced by Christians of many denominations as well as non-Christians, some of whom are made powerfully aware of the reality of divine power through the experience, and some of whom are brought to Christ with the help of what they experience. But I find that the many miracles associated with missionary work for the Church, genealogical work, Temple service, Priesthood work, and service in the Church do more than just point to the reality of God, but can strengthen our testimonies of the reality of the Restoration. And again, we seem to experience miracles most when we are actively seeking to serve God and man, turning to God for help.

Megan said...

Jeff: First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Megan, I'm 19 and I've been a member of the church for only seven months. I am the only member in my entire family of "anti-Mormons". I must say that your website jefflindsay.com is a source of strength for my testimony. As a young convert surrounded by negativity, I've had my difficulties with fitting in with the church. However, reading your essays and FAQ website shows me that this is the true church. I've not seen a single question used by others to try to disprove the church go unanswered. Thank you so much for your dedication to the church and to defending the truth and the light!

~Megan
Dayton, OH

Mormanity said...

Megan, thanks somuch for your kind words! I'm always thrilled to see that some people are helped by efforts to respond to the arguments of critics. Of course, there is much we don't know or understand yet, but the more we learn, the stronger our faith can become when we truly seek to follow Christ and listen to the Spirit.

james said...

Jeff, I appreciate the sincerity of your words. Yet the miracle that I desire has not happened yet. That miracle is that the Mormon church would cast aside all books but the Bible. The evidence and facts are on the side of the bible not the book of Mormon. Please consider that and seek with all your heart soul and "mind" the true Jesus.

Anonymous said...

I get "miracles" like this everyday without asking. I can't tell you how many times a day I can't find my tape measure, and then, wow! There it is! Once, I ALMOST crashed my bike into a pole. Does this count? Was it devine intervention? Is a miracle just a thing that happens unexpectantly that pleases us? I don't think these are "miracles". I don't think these instances are devine. I think most of this is silly wishful thinking.

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