And as I've gained a greater witness of and a more intimate relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, I've included Them in the planning and execution phases of this process, which has yielded an even greater success rate. (Hooray!)
Notwithstanding the success I've had in my life, I've been feeling for a while that I could be more efficient in seeking and obtaining my desires (ooh, there's that efficiency again!)--that I could obtain my highest desires if I could figure out the optimal way to pursue these desires.
I started at the very beginning (it's a very good place to start), and evaluated my desires. I was especially concerned if they were "righteous desires"--i.e., those that the Lord would approve of--since I was attempting to work in concert with the Lord. After many days of evaluation and prayer, I felt confident that my desires were indeed the Lord's will for me.
Next up: my inputs. Was I putting forth the required faith and effort, commensurate with the value of my desire? Again, days of pondering, introspection, prayer, and evaluation resulted in confidence that I was doing my part.
I continued the evaluation process (this has been going on for over a month now) for each aspect of this process, and each time I found the same results: confidence that I was doing my best.
Yet...I was also aware that though I knew I was doing my best, there was something still amiss. But what was it?
That "what"--the secret I mentioned earlier--came to me this morning as I was listening (for the 1,000th or so time) to Elder Gene R. Cook's talk, "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." For years I've used this talk as a primer for increasing my understanding of faith in Jesus Christ and for how faith is a principle of power. I've studied this talk so often that I could almost quote it in its entirety.
This morning, though, within his introductory words (which I sometimes skim so I can more quickly dig into the "meat" of his teachings) I heard the answer I'd been seeking:
How does a person make things happen? How can someone be effective as a young man or woman, as a father, a mother, as leader in the Church, in schoolwork, in life? I submit that it is by doing things "the Lord's way."
-- Elder Gene R. Cook, "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ," Church Educational System (CES) fireside, 8 November 1981, emphasis addedThere's the secret: doing things in the Lord's way!
It's not enough to counsel with the Lord and then go and do: we need to counsel with the Lord and then go and do things His way. Though difficult to admit, I realized that I hadn't been doing everything in His way...which is why I've been stymied in obtaining my righteous desire.
Doing things His way requires great humility, patience, hope, and faith: to acknowledge that our "natural man" way is not necessarily the optimal way...and to want to do things however He sees is best--to yield to the "enticings of the Holy Spirit" and be willing to submit to the Father, to His way.
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.Doing things the Lord's way is certainly not always the easy way, nor is it the way that always brings instant gratification or instant verification that what you're doing will lead to your desire. In fact, sometimes I think the Lord's way is intentionally more difficult-looking initially to weed out all of those who don't want their desire badly enough. (Btw, I've learned that if you're not willing to pay the price for your desire in whatever currency is required, then you better pick another desire because you don't really want what you're seeking!)
-- Mosiah 3:19 (emphasis added)
And yet, the success rate for doing things the Lord's way is 100%--the best ROI there is! "For with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37). I like those odds a lot better than the paltry single digit rate I touted was tantamount to "successful"!
If we seek the Lord's will, counsel with Him, and then go forth doing things in His way, we will obtain all of our desires--plus so much more that we never would've expected in our myopic understanding of what we could achieve.