In the early years of the Church, miracles of healing, prophecy, and tongues seemed rampant. I believe part of this appearance is due to the closeness of the community and the habit of writing and publishing every prophecy (no matter how widely it applied) to the entire Church. For example, mission calls are an almost constant occurrence now, but none of them are published in the Doctrine and Covenants or announced over the pulpit at conference. Miraculous healings are often quietly shared stories as part of a lesson or talk, rather than documented in the now public journals of half the congregation.
I wonder, though, if some other reason may be involved. As we’ve wandered through the 20th century, with its advances in technology and knowledge about how things work, we’ve simply stopped believing in miracles. Somewhere along the line, we’ve decided we were too “grown up” to believe that miracles were anything more than just coincidences. The expectation of a miracle has given way to the belief of “if it’s only by God’s will anyway, why should asking, praying, or giving a blessing make any difference?” The belief in being a conduit of the power of God has given way to “I’m not really important enough to do those big things.” Fear also plays into this. We don’t have records or spread stories of times when miracles did not happen, even when done by people who had been part of a miracle before. We fear, “what if I try and it doesn’t work – was it God’s will, or was it my own arrogance, pride, or other failure that got in the way?”
What can we do to see an increase in the miracles around us? What can we do to believe in the gifts we have and the power we’ve been authorized to use?
First, we can remove the incorrect assumption that gifts of the spirit are only made manifest through holders of the Priesthood. In the scriptures, there is no mention of Priesthood when talking about Gifts of the Spirit (such as healing, prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc.), nor is there mention of Priesthood in the Article of Faith listing some of the Gifts of the spirit we believe in. Not all gifts are given to all people. The Priesthood is not the bestowal of spiritual gifts, but the call to perform specific acts and ordinances. Healing may be done by the power of the Priesthood, but this is not a requirement for using the healing Gift of the Spirit.
Second, we can give the responsibility of the outcome to God. There is a balance to be found here. We cannot take the whole responsibility of a miracle happening or not happening on ourselves, but we also cannot just give blessings and expect God’s will is always the same as our will. We should be striving to listen to the Spirit of God to know when we can be a conduit for a miracle while <i>also</i> accepting whatever the result of the attempt may be. Yes, it is always according to God’s will, but you do not know that it was not also God’s will that you try, even if the answer would be no. As we often try to remind our children, “you will never know if you never ask,” sometimes the act of asking is as important as the miracle itself.
Third, we can believe that miracles are continually happening all around us. None of them may be as immediate or dramatic as we would like them to be, but we have a very limited view on what is happening all around us. Our drive to work may have been delayed or sped up by a milliseconds difference in the changing of a traffic light, but that millisecond may have been the difference between a safe drive and a bad accident. How many times have we made a mistake and said to ourselves, “I’m glad no one was there, or I would have caused an accident!” Even in the gift of healing, we cannot know the effect the use of that gift has had. Maybe the time the person would remain sick was lessened. Maybe just the soothing of the Spirit is all that could happen. No matter what your expectations on effect and timing, you have no way of knowing what the outcome would be, nor of its place in conforming to the will of God.
Last, we can believe that each one of us is important enough to be a conduit for the power of God. There is nothing commonplace about us – we each are known and beloved children of Heavenly Parents. We each have the capacity to become like them. We each have the capacity to be a part of doing whatever is asked of us is moving along their plan for us. No part is too small, and every person is needed.
What thoughts do you have? What can we do to bring us back into remembrance of the Gifts of the Spirit that seem too few and far between in this “modern” day and age?