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I recall hearing the story of a young Irish convert named Mary Brannigan. Her family didn’t support her interest in the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints so Mary ran away, came alone to the United States, and joined pioneers in the trek west. Upon arriving at Fort Laramie the company captain offered to buy her some shoes. But she pointed out that despite walking hundreds of miles, her shoes were still strong and sturdy. He was amazed; most pioneers’ shoes had long ago worn out and many had wrapped their feet in rags to complete the trip, literally leaving bloody footprints on the trail. When he asked how this could be, she said, “Perhaps they did not pray as I did that their shoes would not wear out.”
Mary Brannigan was not afraid to involve God in every step, no pun intended, of her journey. Do we do that? Do we pray about things that many think are too trivial to bother God with?
President Monson said, “The Lord is in the details of our lives.” And Elder Ronald A. Rasband has reiterated, “The Lord’s hand is guiding you. By ‘divine design,’ He is in the small details of your life as well as the major milestones.”
When our daughter was serving a mission in Norway her companion accidentally dropped their apartment key down an elevator shaft. They went from floor to floor looking up and down the elevator opening, hoping to see the key stuck somewhere, but never found it. They called their landlord, but he was hospitalized and couldn’t help for a week. Then, after praying, they noticed a key resting on the breaker box which, due to washing machine repairs, they and others had used many times. There’s no way they could have overlooked a key right on top of it. Yet there it was.
Years ago a ward member shared the story about his wife when she was trying to sell jewelry. It was urgent that she untangle some necklace chains, but frustration mounted as everything she tried just seemed to make matters worse. Then she remembered to pray for help. She felt inspired to approach her task a completely different way and the chains easily came undone.
Even young children often find a beloved toy they misplaced, after kneeling and asking their Heavenly Father to help them.
I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and was told by two oncologists to adopt a plant-based vegan diet. This couldn’t have been further from my plans; those who know me are astounded that I would even consider it. For years I’ve created recipes and won contests for everything that was now off the menu. I also quit cane sugar. When friends express surprise and say they could never make such a dramatic change, I remind them that I prayed for help with this. And God literally made it easy for me. How he did this I have no idea, but he did it.
The child who has studied and done all he can to pass a test can confidently pray for help from God. Years from now will the test matter? Probably not. But the child knowing God cares, even about his small concerns, matters tremendously.
God has always made it clear that he cares about minutia. Consider his familiar directives: “…out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” (D&C 64:33) and “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6). Our lives contain both monumental issues and seemingly small matters. We err when we only come to Heavenly Father with huge problems (in fact, sometimes these may have grown because we neglected the incremental path that got us into this difficulty).
Just as with waiting until it’s a true emergency to get a Priesthood blessing, sometimes we only approach God with major crises, as if there’s a finite barrel of blessings and we don’t want to drain it too quickly. But both of these gifts—Priesthood blessings and prayers—should be utilized more. And if something matters to us—whether it’s a lost toy, wanting a wedding to go well (as Mary did when Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water into wine), or simply to help us solve a daily problem, we should remember that God loves us and is ready to help us when we ask him.
Involving God in the details of our lives is also evidence that we have a real relationship with him, and know him as the loving Father he is. Only approaching God about gigantic calamities keeps him in the great, unknowable category, like Oz, or a tyrannical ruler of some kind, with whom you must request an audience and then come cowering forward. The adversary would love us to see God this way, as a misty being who shouldn’t be bothered with your trivial concerns.
How grateful we can be for an accurate understanding of God’s nature. Thanks to the New Testament, which clearly shows that God is Jesus’ father and our father as well, and to the Old Testament which reminds us we are created in his image, we also know God is a being with a body of flesh and bone. In addition, Joseph Smith’s vision reminds us that God is separate from Jesus Christ (and this news stunned him as well). We know we can pray to the Father, but do it in the name of the Son. The restored gospel teaches us that we lived with our Father in Heaven before birth, and can hope to return to him when we die. What a loving, intimate relationship we can recapture here on earth! He loves us and cares about our journey—all parts of it. When we share specifics with Him, we grow closer to him. And few things are more precious than that.
Hilton’s LDS novel, Golden, is available in paperback and on Kindle. All her books and YouTubeMom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Interfaith Specialist for Public Affairs.