I was driving with my daughters on the way to school and we were in a rush and had to pray in the car. My 8 year old offered a prayer and asked, “please bless us to do good in school and to make good grades and to be nice to people.”
I took the moment to point ask her to reflect on what she was asking God to do for her. I told her that is was ultimately up to her if she was nice to people or wanted good grades. God won’t suddenly make you nice or magically give you good grades. I needed to illustrate a different approach. Well, I shared 2 accounts with her that came to mind from the scriptures; the first is from Nephi’s account. I’m not driving so I have the luxury of including the actual text here:
But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound. (1 Nephi 7:17)
Nephi expresses his desire for deliverance, but he doesn’t expect it without Read Full Post
I was out for a walk recently at my in-laws and followed this trail that was laced with hundreds of bluebonnets. Deep into the trail, I found a quiet area that seemed to be a nice place to pray for a bit. It was a little chilly so that somewhat distracting, but otherwise it was fairly peaceful.
I thought of the contrast between this beautiful place and the terror and horror that is out there in the world. It is strange that two extremes can exist at the same time in reality and how one or the other can consume your entire awareness. I pondered whether I am at peace because of the setting or because of something muchRead Full Post
OneClimbs commenter and general all-around good guy Richard Nobbe left a comment on one of my recent posts and I thought he had a host of excellent questions.
I was intrigued with the challenge of providing some of my own thoughts and takes on the aforementioned questions. So let’s begin by takingRead Full Post
The other day I was driving with a couple of my kids and my 4-year-old asked me, “How many miles till we get home? What time are we going to be there?”
If she was an adult I would have had no problem answering her questions, but this was a little kid! She was clever enough to ask two questions in a row that dealt with distance and time, but she had no understanding of the particular units of measure so how could I answer her questions?
I could have said that we were about one hundred and fifty miles away, but she has no concept of how long a mile is let alone one hundred and fifty of them. I could have said that we would arrive at approximately 8:24pm but she can’t tell time so she couldn’t use the car’s clock to know the current time in relation to the destination time. Telling her “We’re about 2 hours away” wouldn’t work either because she doesn’t understand hours.
The point is that the exact, true, and in my mind, simplest answer would have been useless to her. I wanted her to understand all the particulars but realizedRead Full Post
Some verses in Alma have been on my mind a lot lately. The general flow and message is inspiring and challenging and there are many other little nuggets throughout. I was thinking about how flocks are mentioned here and how important those must have been to people living the law of Moses and their repentance process.
I indented a few of the verses where I saw a kind of chiastic pattern. It seems to emphasize crying unto God against your enemies and even the ultimate enemy, the devil. It’s difficult for me to think of who my enemies might be, because I can’t think of any. Maybe the principle of praying for enemies allows you to have compassion on them.
Perhaps I can find some politicians to pray for ;-) We talk of the sustaining support that church leaders need, but do we offer that same, desperately needed, sustaining support to public servants? (even though they may be doing evil things) I think of Ammon who came to serve King Lamoni who would kill his own servants on a regular basis. A tyrant became a humble and good man because a true follower of God expressed real charity instead of the rest of the people whoRead Full Post
“To remember is to rescue the sacred from the vacuum of oblivion.”
– The Crucible of Doubt by Terryl & Fiona Givens
I would add, “so record to ensure that you can remember.” I’ve written several articles here on the importance of recording spiritual experiences, but these are not my ideas or concepts, the scriptural record itself is a testament to the importance of recording sacred thing.
Scattered throughout these beloved texts are not just revelations, those communications that travel from above to below, but prayers as well that travel from below to above. It is one thing to record the blessings, revelations, preaching, and prophesying that are inspired by our divine Father, and another thing to record out petitions to him.
To form those words visually and preserve them, more so for you rather than the Lord. I suspect that all prayer is heard but if our supplications express the true desires of our hearts and we fail to record them only to be distracted by life, how can we truly remember those petitions to the Lord if we have no way of preserving them for ourselves?
Why not start a prayer journal and carry it with you? Perhaps you can record your petitions and observe the manner of your prayers to help avoid repetition or useless words and phrases. I can think of a huge number of benefits to this practice, but what do you think?
Does anyone out there have experience recording prayers that they would like to share in the comments below?
The inspiration for this article came from an observation I made today during an Elders quorum lesson on prayer.
We read the following portion of the sermon from Amulek in Alma 34:
17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;
18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.
19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.
20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.
21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.
23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.
24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
When I was bored in middle and high school (which was very common) I would often read dictionaries, which sounds boring, but I loved discovering new words and ideas. When I was a teenager, I read and studied the entire Bible Dictionary and it provided me with greater knowledge and enlightenment that I had ever achieved up to that point in my life.
The Bible Dictionary is a sealed book to many Latter-day Saints because I suspect that few have ever read it or really delved into the great stuff that’s there.
There are two definitions of the Bible Dictionary that have impacted my life more than any others: the section on prayer and the section on repentance. As the years have gone by, I have realized how powerfully interconnected these two principles are as I have come to understand the doctrines they are built upon.
I’m going to share the small excerpts from the full definitions that I think everyone can really benefit from!
“Do our spouses, children, and other family members likewise feel the power of our prayers offered unto the Father for their specific needs & desires? Do those we serve hear us pray for them with faith and sincerity? If those we love & serve have not heard and felt the influence of our earnest prayers in their behalf, then the time to repent is now.” (David A. Bednar, Increase in Learning, p.126, Emphasis Added)
This can begin in the home. Before family prayer in the evening, invite each person to share a little bit about their day, what went well, what made them struggle, etc. Then, whoever offers the prayer will have real and important matters with which to take the to the Lord.
Hearing your father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter pray sincerely and specifically for you and your well-being is a rich experience.
Imagine what an impact this could have as we apply these principles as we pray in our church meetings or during a home or visiting teaching session. When asked for volunteers to pray before and after a lesson this Sabbath day, why not raise your hand and experiment with these principles?
When we move away from robotically “saying prayers” and towards genuinely offering prayers, we will find tremendous blessings and healing of souls.
What if there was a doctrinally-based way to make every single day of your life significant, meaningful and amazing?
Well, there is and it is so simple. I’ve only been doing this for a few days now and am still starting to get the hang of it, but I see the potential and I understand the doctrine. Have you ever started working out only to notice a few days later that your pants are fitting you better and your muscles are feeling more solid? That’s about where I’m at.
First, a little background…
I’ve been really enjoying Elder Bednar’s book Increase in Learning. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit it but this book, which was given to me as a gift from one of the wisest people I know, didn’t really impress me much at first. The title of the book really intrigued me and my expectations were pretty high since I really admire Elder Bednar. In the beginning, it didn’t really grab me and felt really “watered-down” and intended for a novice audience. I grew impatient and skimmed on through finding a couple nuggets and then shelved it about halfway through.
Big mistake.Read Full Post
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
For the sake of convenience, I’m going to break each part of this verse down into digestible elements. This will not be exhaustive by any means and I might use this as a starting point for later study.
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed.
As a letter in the alphabet of symbolism, “seed” has been used to convey the idea of posterity or faith, but in this case “the word” is being compared to a seed. What is “the word” then? Well, technically, the word can be anything, it’s whatever you want to know. The word comes to us in many ways. It is preached to us, we read it in the scriptures or we just simply come across it or it reveals itself to us in diverse ways.Read Full Post