Moroni 7:33 says that if we have faith in Christ, we will have power to do everything that is expedient in Him. So how do we know what’s expedient? D&C 88:64 tells us to ask the Father, in Christ’s name (whatever we ask) and what is expedient for us will be given to us. Verse 65 says that if we ask for what is not expedient, it will turn to our condemnation.
So we must ask the Father for things that are expedient, and have faith in Christ, and that is how we will have power to do the expedient things. But how, still, can we know what those things are, so we don’t ask or seek for what’s not expedient? D&C 18:18 tells us to ask God in faith (still in Christ’s name), and we will have the Holy Ghost, who manifests “all things which are expedient” to God’s children. This fits with D&C 88:63 (the verse before the two quoted before), which tells us to seek Christ diligently so that we find him, to ask and to ‘knock’ – and we will receive (what we desire, or what is expedient for us).
The footnote to D&C 88:65 leads to Romans 8:26, where Paul describes the Spirit making intercession for us with sighings “which cannot be uttered”, thus helping “our infirmities”, or our inability to either know or express what we should pray for. I think that’s such a lovely scripture, and it supports my experiences with prayer – when I’m really reaching in my heart for what is most right, or a better way of saying what I want to say, I feel inspiration about the content or wording of my request, or confirmation that what I’m asking is right. I think it matters in prayer what we say and how we say it; that our prayers are made more effective when we listen or do that heart-reaching. God knows far better than I what I really need. I think He also wants me to learn how to effectively pray, and wisely desire. The more wisely we desire and the more effectively we pray, the more power we have. Going back to Romans 8:26, it’s nice to think of the Spirit helping us in this – it’s not just us mortals trying vainly to reach up to Heaven in our minds, but a heavenly Being lighting the way there; lifting our minds and spirits towards it.
The same footnote also leads us to James 4:3, which explains how not to ask, and why asking for what’s not expedient will turn to our condemnation. It involves asking contrary to God’s will, because instead of seeking help through the Spirit – to know what and how to ask – we ask in order to waste the desired ‘gift’ on our own ends. James calls them “lusts”, so they must be wordly desires: perhaps desires for revenge, prestige, wealth for ourselves, the ability to take shortcuts to rewards, etc. Things that are contrary to God’s will because they don’t further His purposes or they go against eternal law. Now remember (of course) that God’s purposes involve blessing His children and leading them to happiness. So it’s not a matter of, “Sorry, you can’t have that because I’m in charge, and I say so”, but of “That will harm you or others, so no.”
The other scriptures we’ve looked at show that God is saying, “I want you to have the most happiness and the best, most excellent blessings possible. Listen to my Spirit so that you can ask for what is truly good. See that these things are available, possible; see what beauty exists, so that you can desire it and receive it.” Of course, it’s not always beautiful – sometimes it’s difficult, as Moses experienced when he had to pronounce judgements on the people, and as Alma learnt when he needed to know what to do about dissenters and anti-Christs. But it is always right, when we ask in the Spirit and act guided by that Spirit. Moroni chapter 7 is an excellent explanation of this whole concept – what good and evil are, how to tell the difference, and how to seek for the good through the Spirit.