"Sometimes we can be the answer to the prayers of someone who is the answer to ours."
Every week at the ward we attend, I am spiritually uplifted and fed. The talks are always so humble and filled with the Spirit that it is almost impossible to not walk away feeling better than when the meeting started. And yet in my year of attending this ward, nothing that has been said has hit my nearly as hard as this quote, said as almost a passing comment. I still don't quite fully understand why this hit me so hard but there is so much power behind that simple thought.
The Book of Mormon contains an amazing illustration of this idea! This story can be found in Alma 8 in the Book of Mormon! The prophet Alma has been going around the land teaching the people about Jesus Christ. After a number of very successful cities and experiences, he comes to a city, Ammonihah, that is the complete opposite! He tries for a little while but ends up being run out of Ammonihah. As he is on his way to a nearby city, he is visited by an angel who tells him to return to Ammonihah which he immediately does.
Meanwhile, a man named Amulek from the city of Ammonihah is also visited by an angel who tells him something similar and tells him to return to his house so that he can feed a prophet of God who hasn't eaten in a number of days. Obedient to the angel of God, Amulek faithfully returns to his house and runs into Alma--the prophet the angel told him about.
Over the course of the ensuing days and weeks and months and years, these two wonderful men become powerful servants of the Lord and work together in teaching people all throughout the land about the gospel of Jesus Christ!
So how does this story relate to the quote above? Well, a few verses before Alma is visited by this angel, we learn that he had been "wrestling with God in mighty prayer" so that he could have success in Ammonihah and help the people there find the joy that comes through repentance and baptism (the prayer of every missionary!). In spite of these fervent prayers, Alma was still kicked out of the city and started on his way to another city. But in spite of this disappointment, Alma still kept his faith as we can see by his immediate response to the angel's words.
When the angel visited him, I am positive that Alma had a firm belief that his prayer would be answered! But it wasn't answered in the way that he initially had anticipated. Instead of having a lot of success and baptizing the whole city, he only had a few people that believed on what he taught. But among those was Amulek, a man who would become one of the most powerful missionaries in the Book of Mormon! Amulek was the answer to Alma's prayer for success! They didn't have a ton of success in that city but they had great success throughout the land!
On the other side of the coin, Amulek also received an answer to his prayers through meeting Alma. We learn that previous to the visit of the angel, Amulek had hardened his heart many times and wouldn't listen to the words of God. But then this angel visits him. I am sure that when the angel told him to return to his home, Amulek probably had a little internal wrestle trying to decide if he should go or not. Eventually he decides to exercise his faith and follow the words of the angel and begins returning home. I can imagine him walking back home thinking, or saying out loud, "Okay God, I know that angel was from you and he told me some interesting things. I don't really want to go back home, I would rather just do what I was doing before but I am putting myself on the line and trusting you. Please don't make me regret this decision to follow Thee."
And He didn't! Alma was the answer that God gave him so that he wouldn't regret his chioce. Very soon after meeting Alma, Amulek's life changed and his teachings have changed millions of people all over the world! Because of this we learn about the important of faith and the power that comes to those who have faith in Jesus Christ. Because these two men faithfully acted, we learn the importance of Jesus Christ and His resurrection. We also learn the power that comes from having a strong and undeniable testimony!
Recently I have heard this principle reiterated in the life of someone that I have been teaching! For a while she had been wondering about baptism and trying to figure out if it was right for her or not. She had been studying with us and her local missionaries as well as on her own and had been praying to know if she should be baptized. As she was talking with one of her teachers at school she discovered that this teacher was actually a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! Although this encounter wasn't a firm and complete answer to her prayer, it helped lead her to know that she should be baptized and that she would have support from those around her!
Unbeknownst to her, this same teacher was considering quitting her job. After praying to know whether or not she should quit and still not sure, she finally decided that she was going to talk with the district head and tell them about her decision. The same day that she was planning on telling them was the day that this girl talked with her about the Church! Because of this experience, the teacher decided to continue teaching and to keep her job. Our investigator didn't find this out for a few weeks afterwards, but her inquisitiveness which helped her receive an answer to her prayers also helped someone else find the answer to their prayers and produced miracles for both of them!
I have also seen this principle ring true in my own life. There have been a number of times where I have had a problem or a question that I am searching for an answer while also listening to the will of God. As it happens, someone is lead to me who provides the perfect and needed answer to my concern. A few times I have later learned that as they have helped me, I have also helped them and provided the answer to something that they have been praying about!
The Lord works in mysterious ways and often helps us through those around us while at the same time helping them through us. This is true! I know it is!