Personal Response by Nathan
Answers to prayers come in many different ways. A good way to answer this question may be to explain some of the generic ways prayers are answered.
There is a method of seeking revelation (communication from God to man) that allows prayers to be answered. Seeking revelation correctly begins through effort on our part. A simple prayer is often not enough. Important steps to consider are fasting, pondering, and building faith to accept an answer. As we fulfill these steps, God will see our efforts and bless us accordingly. Often the best method of seeking revelation or answers to prayers is to make a tentative decision after our fasting, pondering, and faith building. Once we feel we have a good preliminary decision, we take the decision to the Lord and ask for His confirmation.
Confirmation through the Holy Spirit is certainly an answer to prayers and the most common way that I have found God answers my prayers. When I turn to the Lord in prayer, asking if a choice is correct, it is truly a miracle to feel the peace in my heart, the clearness of my thoughts, and the knowledge that I know a prayer has been answered. When a tentative decision I have made is not correct in the Lord’s eyes, I will feel uneasy and my thoughts will not be clear regarding the issue. In the April 2007 general conference Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorom of the Twelve Apostles spoke on this topic. Please see his talk, “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer.”
The scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit gives us revelation, or answers to prayers, in many ways. See if you can relate to any of these ways in which the Holy Spirit answers our prayers:
John 14:26 -Teaches truth and brings it to remembrance
Romans 15:13 -Gives feelings of love, joy, peace, patience, meekness, gentleness, faith, and hope
2 Nephi 32:1-5 -Tells what to do
Mosiah 5:2-5 -Strengthens the desire to avoid evil and obey the commandments
Alma 19:6 -Replaces darkness with light
Joseph Smith-History 1:11-12 -Helps scriptures have strong effect
Doctrine and Covenants 50:13-22 -Edifies both teacher and student
Preach My Gospel (Salt Lake City: Intellectual Reserve, 2004), 96-97.
Many people are lead to God’s true teachings through answers to prayers. I have observed countless people search, ponder, and sincerely ask the Lord for direction and then receive confirmation from the Holy Spirit that the subject they have been studying is true. This process that I have attempted to explain is the way I know that I am following the path God wants me to follow.