The Lord gave to the brother of Jared, that great prophet, a blueprint of the ships that he was to construct, by which he was to take his people across large bodies of water to a promised land. As he surveyed these and began to build, he faced two problems: (1) no provision was made for ventilation and (2) there was no light. The ventilation problem was solved rather simply by having holes at proper places that could be opened and closed; but the matter of light was one that he could not quite solve. So the brother of Jared cried to the Lord, saying, ‘… behold, I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?’ (Eth. 2:22.)
Notice how the Lord dealt with this question. He said to the brother of Jared, ‘What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?’ (Eth. 2:23.)—as much as to say, ‘Well, have you any good ideas? What would you suggest that we should do in order to have light?’ And then the Lord said, ‘For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed to pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.
‘For behold, you shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.’ (Eth. 2:23–24.)
Then the Lord went away and left him alone. It was as though the Lord were saying to him, ‘Look, I gave you a mind to think with, and I gave you agency to use it. Now you do all you can to help yourself with this problem; and then, after you’ve done all you can, I’ll step in to help you.’
The brother of Jared did some thinking. Then he gathered up sixteen stones, molten out of rock, and carried them in his hands to the top of the mount called Shelam, where he cried unto the Lord, ‘O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have been evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.’ (Eth. 3:2.)
Now, what is he doing? He is confessing his sins before he asks again. He has come to the conclusion that before he is worthy to seek a blessing he must keep the basic laws upon which the blessings he seeks are predicated.
Then he says, ‘Behold, O Lord, [I know that] thou hast smitten us because of our iniquity, and hast driven us forth, and for these many years we have been in the wilderness; nevertheless, thou hast been merciful to us. O Lord, look upon me in pity, and turn away thine anger from this thy people… .’ (Eth. 3:3.) The brother of Jared is confessing the sins of the people, because the blessing he wants is not just for himself; it is for his whole people. Having done all that he knew how to do, he came again with a specific request and said: [ Eth. 3:4–6.]
This is the principle in action. If you want the blessing, don’t just kneel down and pray about it. Prepare yourselves in every conceivable way you can in order to make yourselves worthy to receive the blessing you seek.
(Harold B. Lee,“How to Receive a Blessing from God" Improvement Era, Oct. 1966, pp. 862–63, 896)