"I will call attention to what may be a common insight in chapter 7. But it is common because it is good. It is important. It is powerful. Lets look at verses 17 & 18. Nephi has been tied up and left for dead. What a great situation to be in. I'm sure he's thanking the Lord for these tribulations. Ha!
So what does he do, well of course, he PRAYS for help. He asks the Lord for the strength to "burst" the bands he is held bound with. But are they burst? Not so much. We read that they are but "loosed". Now this is a small difference, but we can learn a big lesson from it. Does the Lord sometimes answer our prayers according to our needs, and not necessarily according to our wants? When it comes down to it, all Nephi needed was to be freed from being bound. He didn't necessarily need strength to break the bands. Do we sometimes ask the Lord for something we want, and he gives us something a little different? Do we recognize that our prayer has been answered, or do we look beyond the mark, having our heart set on what we wanted?
S. Michael Wilcox expounds this principle extremely well in a talk given as a devotional at BYU-Hawaii. He references Luke 11:9-13. When we ask for bread, God does not give us stones. The same principle applies in all things. When we ask for bread, the Lord gives us bread. He fill our needs. But sometimes we may be so focused on getting marble rye, that when He gives us whole wheat, we don't accept it. It becomes a stone. (Read the whole talk HERE, its fantastic but reallylong)
In Nephi's case, I hardly think he's about to be upset about not receiving strength to break the bands as he asked. Surely he is thrilled just to be free. I hope we will all accept the help and guidance the Lord offers us, and not be so focused on what we want, that we don't recognize that He has likely given us, or surely will give us, what we need. The Lord answers in His own way, in His own time. But He does answer. And He does so according to our faith (v.17). May we trust in Him that He will always give us bread, no matter what kind.
Does God Answer Prayers?
By Elder Kunz
See this blog at http://thebookisblue.blogspot.com/