Last night I was up with my newborn daughter. She had awoken at 2:30 for her regular feeding, but she only nursed for a short seven minutes before she unlatched and started showing signs of discomfort. Over the next forty-five minutes she spat up and vomited all the milk she had just consumed.
In my concern I took to Google for answers. I’ve come to the conclusion that her little body has been reacting negatively to the milk proteins I’ve been consuming.
My baby eventually drifted back to sleep but I couldn’t. I continued researching and mentally planning how I would cut dairy from my diet.
I turned to Heavenly Father in prayer. I prayed that my milk would be compatible with her small body, that it wouldn’t be rejected. I prayed that I could accommodate her with my diet, for diligence and selflessness to make this major diet change. I prayed for rest for both of us when it seemed slow-coming.
As I concluded my heart-whispered prayer I recognized the voice of the adversary in my mind.
How audacious to ask these things. How am I worthy of such spectacular displays of Godly power? I am literally asking him to change the composition of my milk and my child’s body. Who am I to do so? Who am I to ask for diligence and discipline when those gifts certainly must be earned?
Not a second later another voice countered these malicious thoughts and filled me with marvel and gratitude.
You are asking for the Atonement.
I was struck. I hadn’t seen it from this perspective before – but I truly was asking for the Atonement.
I was asking for Christ’s enabling power to make more of my milk and my child’s body than they were on their own.
I was asking for Christ’s enabling power to make more of myself than I was on my own, despite my own personal development efforts and desires. I knew I needed him.
And I knew then too that God is anxious to answer our pleas for the Atonement and we will not be denied regardless of the enormity or outlandishness of what we feel we have asked.
But how was it that God could grant me my ask?
How interesting is it that while God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34) He does respect people’s agency?
God respects our ability to choose so much that He will force neither trial nor blessing upon us without our consent.
We are able to receive our asks of the Atonement by giving our consent to be blessed in two primary ways:
1. We give consent to be blessed through our obedience to commandments and through keeping our covenants.
In Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 we read:
I the Lord am bound when when ye do what I say…
We literally bind the Lord to bless us as we follow his commandments. I have seen ample evidence of this in my life and it makes my heart sing that it is a pleasure to keep the commandments of God.
We also give consent as we make and keep sacred covenants.
The covenants of baptism, priesthood ordination and temple ordinances all come with specific blessings which we become worthy of as we hold to those covenants. This is elaborated in Doctrine and Covenants 130: 18-19:
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in Heaven Before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated –
And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.
The opposite of this also holds – if we are disobedient or fail to live our covenants we give consent to be tried by consequences. For the Lord has said …”if ye do not what I say, ye have no promise” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10).
2. We consent to be blessed when we ask for blessings.
The Lord delights to bless us. The “work and [the] glory” (Moses 1:39) of God is centered solely in exalting His children.
When we ask for blessings, we more easily allow God to meet His purposes. He sent his Son for that very reason – and when we ask for blessings we are utilizing that precious sacrifice by them both. It is because of this we are assured:
Ask and ye shall receive, seek and he shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.
When the Spirit spoke to me in the night, I was reminded of these truths. I was asking for the Atonement – and Heavenly Father loves when we ask for the Atonement to take effect in our lives, either by our actions or by speaking the desires of our hearts. He will not turn away any who worthily and humbly seek to be blessed through the unrivaled gift of our Savior.