“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all me liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5; emphasis added).

These five words in the epistle of James changed the world. Joseph Smith’s first prayer is traceable to this verse of scripture and the powerful impression it left on his soul. The consequences of that teenage prayer led many thousands to cross oceans and continents in an attempt to build Zion. But this verse was not written for Joseph Smith alone. The message of James 1:5 for the rest of us is that God is approachable, generous, and willing to answer our prayers. An additional implication is that if we don’t ask of God, He won’t give liberally. Later, in the epistle of James, he writes, “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2). In the same spirit, Jeffrey R. Holland taught, “God is anxiously waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as he always has. But he can’t if you don’t pray, and he can’t if you don’t dream. In short, He can’t if you don’t believe” (Let Him Ask of God [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2008], 85). ~John Bytheway

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