The words to this Irish hymn are pure religion, pure prayer and supplication. My book, ‘The Throne of David‘ is all about the history of Britain, Ireland and Scotland. It tells a tale of where they came from and what they are destined to become. How it is foretold that they will keep a man on the throne of David until the Savior returns to reign on the earth.
When they make a movie of my book, IF it is ever made, this is the song I want playing in the background to make it important. Because music speaks to our souls and this song speaks to mine.
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. Thou my best thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord; Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle shield, sword for the fight; Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight; Thou my soul’s shelter, Thou my high tower: Raise Thou me heavenward, O power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, Thou mine inheritance, now and always: Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won, May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my vision, O ruler of all.
Andrew White lives in Baghdad and serves as the vicar of St George’s Church. He has been dubbed “Vicar of Baghdad”, because his church is the only remaining Anglican church in Iraq. His people refer to him as their Aboona or father. His main aim to gain the trust of key religious leaders on both sides in various conflicts in the area.
Lately though, his role has been as witness the killing of Christians in the middle east.
He is not immune to danger, having been hijacked, kidnapped, locked up in rooms with bits of fingers and toes. He has been held at gunpoint, been attacked. Many of his staff have been kidnapped or killed, with 11 of his staff murdered in a single year.
He has 35 armed guards assigned to protect him.
Five days ago he reported that ISIS is less than two miles away from the Christian community he is protecting. Here is what he reported.
“The Islamist group (ISIS) just took over Quaragosh, the biggest Christian city in Iraq. There are hundreds of men, women and children that are being beheaded. The people of Quaragosh are asking for prayers to be made on their behalf concerning the ongoing atrocity in their country. Please take one minute to pray for them. Pass the message across to all your contacts so that the prayer chain will not be broken. They asked for this special prayer. Please, ensure you pass across the prayer request to the body of Christ for fervent prayers offered on behalf of the brothers, sisters and children in Iraq. This is an urgent SOS. May God bless you. From Andrew White the Vicar of Baghdad.”
He later reported that he “has lost count of the number of church members I have lost” to ISIS. “We are talking about thousands of people,” he said. “They kill children as well. They turned up to one of our church members and said if he did not agree to convert to Islam they would kill his five children.”
The father of these children phoned the vicar asking if God would forgive him for advising his children to convert to Islam to save their lives. The next day ISIS knocked on his door and didn’t ask the father, but asked each child if they would follow Mohammed. Each of them replied ‘never’ and the men shot them all dead.
I think of my children, still sleeping in our peaceful home. I think of what I am going to do today – buy our yearly pool passes, go to the grocery store and the library.
But before I do all that I will kneel before our maker and pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are dying because they will not deny their faith. There is no way for us to reach out and help them from here, but we can care, we can pray and we can strengthen our resolve to keep the faith ourselves.
And, I will tell their story to my children and help them to understand the perils and glories of living in the last days.
Will you join me in prayer for these people today?
As I look at the world around me, both in St. Louis and farther abroad, I see commotion and uncertainty and a lack of love. I can’t help but wonder what I can do about it, what we can do about it. I have come to the conclusion that what I can do is pray. In Australia, a team of leaders are calling on the nations of the world to fast and pray for the United States. This period of prayer will begin on April 30 and will continue through May 6, 2015.
April 30 is America’s Day of Repentance, and May 7 is the National Day of Prayer. April 30 is the 226th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration as president and the 152nd anniversary of Lincoln’s Day of ‘Humiliation, Prayer and Fasting’ held during the Civil War.
The theme for the National Day of Prayer on 7 May, 2015 ‘Lord Hear Our Cry’ and is taken from 1 Kings 8:28: ‘Give attention to your servant’s prayer and his pleas for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.’
“We in Australia believe it is our turn to bless the nation of America and pray for healing for the USA through prayer and fasting. We in Australia are grateful for the protection that America gave Australia and the nations of the free world during World War II. The 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea, led by the USA, was the turning point in the Second World War for Australia.”
“We are calling the nations of the world to join in prayer and fasting with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are hoping for over 100 nations to join us in prayer and fasting.”
“There is a fight for the destiny of the USA now. The destiny of America hangs in the balance. The Lord is calling His people to arise and pray for the United States of America. It is time to contend.”
I hope that there are millions of us, here in America, that will join with the people of Australia in dedicating themselves to fasting and prayer this next week.
There is power in faith and prayer and the Lord looks upon the sacrifice of fasting with compassion and love. It is not weakness when we turn to the Lord. I pray that we might find answers to the perplexing problems of the world, peace in the midst of unrest and increased love for our fellowmen as we humble ourselves in prayer.
Thank you Australia, for turning to God at this time and uniting your prayers in our behalf!
When I think about why we pray I have come to the conclusion that it is all a matter of hope and faith.
And conversely, when we don’t pray it is usually because we are hurt, angry or thoughtless.
Did you know that faith is a choice? I can affirm that choosing faith takes humility, determination and a soft heart, and making that choice produces a character of great beauty and dignity.
C.S. Lewis once wrote about his understanding of the character of God ‘who will, in the long run, be satisfied with nothing less than absolute perfection, will also be delighted with the first feeble, stumbling effort you make tomorrow to do the simplest duty. Every father is pleased at the baby’s first attempt to walk: no father would be satisfied with anything less than a firm, free, manly walk in grown-up son. In the same way, ‘God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy’ (Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis)
Why do we pray? I once read a story about a girl who slept in one fine Saturday morning, the sun was climbing high in the sky by the time she woke. Stretching and opening her eyes, sunlight tracked across her ceiling and she realized that the area above her bed was grimy. The whole day was free and so she assembled her cleaning supplies and set up a ladder, determined to clean that ceiling. As she scrubbed she wondered how it had gotten so dirty and paying attention it dawned on her that the grime was actually tiny black words. She realized that the words of her prayers had never gotten past the ceiling above her bed.
The answer to why we pray is only one of two things, either we are doing it out of duty and/or fear or we do it out of love and recognition of our need. Saying our prayers can become ritualized and without meaning. Praying is something completely different. Those are the prayers that soar straight to the throne of God.
We connect with God when we realize our dependence upon Him. When we get over trying to do it all ourselves and realize that we cannot do anything worth doing alone.
Approximately 586 years before Christ, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, conquered the city of Jerusalem. He then took the brightest of the Israelite children and brought them to his court.
The story we all recall happened the day Nebuchadnezzar made a golden idol and commanded that all his kingdom would worship it, a command that three young Israelite boys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, quietly refused. The king was full of rage and demanded that they be brought before him. They were informed that if they did not fall down before the golden image at the appointed time, they would be cast into a burning fiery furnace. Then, in ignorance, he asked, “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (Dan. 3:15.)
The three young men responded courteously and with no hesitation, ‘If it be so that you threaten us with death our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.’
And then they said something I will never forget. ‘But if not be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.’
Of course, their answer sent Nebuchadnezzar into a fury and he ordered that the furnaces be heated to seven times their normal temperature. He commanded that the three valiant young men be thrown fully clothed into the midst of the fire. The flame was so hot that the soldiers who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell dead from the tremendous heat.
These three young men stood in the midst of the furnace, walked about and were not burned. When they were eventually called out of the furnace by the astonished king, their clothing was not burned, their skin untouched. Not a hair of their head was burned and not even the smell of smoke was upon these faithful, prayerful young men.
‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,who hath delivered his servants that trusted in him, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.’ The king then promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
When I contemplate why I pray I remember the faith and trust of these three men. And I remind myself not to say prayers, not to read prayers but to learn to talk with God.
It is the work of a lifetime and the most important work we will do while we are here upon the earth.
Your letters of the past couple of weeks have conveyed to us that you are experiencing the buffetings of opposition. So to offer my support and love I am sending you the gist of a talk that I have read many times over the years. It has helped me to stay the course.
‘On one of those rare occasions when His very voice was heard, the Father testified, “Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” Of all that the Father might have said, He stressed endurance. Why?
First, because God has repeatedly said He would structure mortality to be a proving and testing experience. He has certainly kept His promise. He has carried out His divine intent, hasn’t He? Thus, even our fiery trials, said Peter, should not be thought of as some strange thing. Hence, enduring is vital!
By taking Jesus’ yoke upon us and enduring, we learn most deeply of Him and especially how to be like Him. Even though our experiences are micro compared to His, the process is the same.
There are so many things to be endured: illness, injustice, insensitivity, poverty, aloneness, unresponsiveness, being misrepresented and misunderstood, and, sometimes, even enemies. Paul reminds us that meek and lowly Jesus, though the Lord of the universe, endured. Smaller variations of these contradictions or hostilities will be felt by His disciples.
Therefore, true enduring represents not merely the passage of time, but the passage of the soul—and not merely from A to B, but sometimes all the way from A to Z. To endure in faith and do God’s will, therefore it involves much more than putting up with a circumstance.
With enduring comes a willingness, therefore, to press forward even when we are bone weary and would rather pull off to the side of the road. Hence, one prophet was especially commended by the Lord for his unwearyingness, (see Helaman 10:4; see also Helaman 15:6.)
Paul wrote of how, even after faithful disciples had done the will of God, they had need of patience. How many times have good individuals done the right thing initially only to break under subsequent stress? Sustaining correct conduct for a difficult moment under extraordinary stress is very commendable, but so is coping with sustained stress. Either way, however, we are to run with patience the race that is set before us, and it is a marathon, not a sprint.
When you and I are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we like our timetable better than God’s. And thus, while the scriptural phrase “in process of time” means eventually, it also denotes an entire spiritual process.
By itself, of course, the passage of time does not bring an automatic advance. Yet, like the prodigal son, we often need the process of time in order to come to our spiritual senses. So many spiritual outcomes require saving truths to be mixed with time, forming the elixir of experience, that sovereign remedy for so many things. Without patient and meek endurance we will learn less, see less, feel less, and hear less.
How can there be refining fires without enduring some heat? Or greater patience without enduring some instructive waiting? Or more empathy without bearing one another’s burdens—not only that others’ burdens may be lightened, but that we may be enlightened through greater empathy? How can there be later magnification without enduring some present deprivation?
The enlarging of the soul requires not only some remodeling, but some excavating. Hypocrisy, guile, and other embedded traits do not go gladly. We find that sorrow can actually enlarge the mind and heart in order to give place, expanded space, for later joy.
Thus, enduring is one of the cardinal attributes; it simply cannot be developed without the laboratory time in this second estate. Even the best lectures about the theory of enduring are not enough. All the other cardinal virtues—love, patience, humility, mercy, purity, submissiveness, justice—they all require endurance for their full development.Therefore, one of the most powerful and searching questions ever asked of all of us in our sufferings hangs in time and space before us: “The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” Jesus plumbed the depths and scaled the heights in order to comprehend all things.
You see in those who endure it well a quiet, peaceful majesty, an unspoken, inner awareness that, like Paul, they have kept the faith. And they know it, though they do not speak of it.’
I don’t know if the truth will help you endure and prosper in your assignment, but I do know that understanding God’s desire for my life has made all the difference to me. I have never wanted, for my children or myself, an easy life. Rather, I have hoped that you will someday meet a challenge that will take you to the limit of your own ability. And when you face that challenge my hope is that you will not give up but rather that you will turn to God and discover the extent of His love for you and discover, as well, the power of that love as He works miracles in your life.
Then, and only then, you will become a disciple of Christ and a true servant of God.
I have confidence that you will prevail, that you will have the strength to stay the course and that you will be an influence for good wherever you are.
I am not into poetry but I do love beautiful language. When an author uses precise, lovely language to reveal the truth it softens and strengthens my soul. I wanted to share poem with you and then a song.
Prepare for the experience of bathing in the spirit of God, the spirit of Christmas.
In A Bleak Midwinter
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air –
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give Him –
Give my heart.
The words resonate with my soul but the music lifts each word into the sublime.
I know many of us believe that our Savior was born in the spring and not in the bleak midwinter, but I acknowledge that the world stood in desperate need of the supernal sacrifice of God.
The cold and bleakness of winter perfectly symbolizes our condition before the Lord came into the world, offering us hope and salvation! I have listened to many renditions of this song, this rendition with Renee Fleming and Rufus Wainwright has reached perfection.
If you could see how Renee smiles when she sings the name of Jesus Christ you would recognize that love is there in the singing. Rufus sang this song to his mother, at her request, the Christmas before she passed away. I am sure that experience lifts his emotional response as the music soars from his heart.
If I could sing, this would be my song. Every time I listen to this song I do offer the Lord my heart. My prayer is that He will take my heart, my life, and count me worthy to be His friend.
I have never been good at keeping secrets, at least happy secrets, and I am going to tell you one now…
What if I were to tell you that there is a door to reach heaven? What if I were to tell you that the lock for the door is on our side of the veil? There truly is such a door, and the key to open that door is called prayer.
I have a hundred stories I could tell you about receiving answers to prayer, about feeling that overwhelming connection with heaven and the power of God. I am going to tell you just two of them.
Growing up we were surrounded by woods and empty, rolling fields of grass, a spot of pure country right outside Washington DC. My brother John was the great backwoods guy even as a little boy. He and his big wheel went everywhere, exploring. I can vividly remember one evening as we gathered for dinner, we couldn’t find John and no one could remember seeing him for hours. He was 4 or 5 if I remember correctly.
I was the oldest of eight kids and we immediately spread out to search for him.
It was dusk. Instead of rushing down the lane I bowed my head and asked my Heavenly Father to help us find John, then I started walking and as I became convinced I knew where he was I began running. I could see right where he was, in my mind’s eye.
As I walked down through the woods, calling for him, I soon heard a little boy calling back to me and I quickly found him, still sitting on his big wheel, waiting for someone to come. I was filled with gratitude and the beginnings of a relationship with prayer.
As I have matured in my relationship with God there have been times that I have prayed, in faith, knowing that our Father could help or inspire or heal but chose to stay His hand in the matter. While this has tested my faith, ultimately, I have felt His love and trusted His wisdom.
Ten years ago my husband contracted Lyme’s disease. It took us a couple of years to get a diagnosis and we tried every medical option available to us for a couple of years after that. We studied nutrition which has helped the rest of us but hasn’t touched the lymes. We turned to other types of care, non-traditional avenues and have seen small improvements. We kept him alive but at what cost? It has been debilitating for Dana and our family in general and while we have seen a few improvements nothing has helped him feel better or recover.
I know that we have to power to touch the Lords heart through prayer and call down blessings for others but the answer has always been ‘not now’.
Over the past year I watch him suffer and have often had the thought wash over me, usually at night, that Dana might be gone by the time I wake up in the morning. And by gone, I mean that he just might die during the night. So, I touch his shoulder or hold his hand while he is sleeping so he won’t be alone.
In the morning, while I wake I pray. Then, last spring, I had the strongest feeling that it was time, that the Lord was going to heal him. I watched, alert to every change in his health and continued in prayer. I was watching for a miracle but instead the Lord sent him food. His body is being healed so fast it takes my breath away and it is a miracle to us. Ten years we have waited and hoped!
I have learned to be patient and to trust the Lord in a new and deeper way. I have learned to believe.
How do we pray?
We pray to our Father in heaven, as we were instructed by the Savior himself.
We pray kneeling down or bowing our heads for a moment in the middle of the day.
We pray out loud or silently in our heart.
We pray with our family or alone.
We pray in the morning and in the evening before we retire, we pray always.
We pray when we have faith we will be heard and we pray when we only have the strength to hope there is someone listening.
We pray with eloquent and lofty language and we pray when all we can manage is to send our grieving thoughts to Him.
We pray with others and we pray by ourselves.
But, most importantly, we pray.
The how of prayer is so much less important than the who, what, where, or when of prayer!
As a postscript, I know many of you are dealing with your own health issues and will have questions about what we found that is helping him regain his health. I am writing about it here, if you want to know more. But with or without what we have found, prayer is the answer and the key that will unlock the door to heaven for each of us!
One of the greatest stories ever told begins in Syria, when the king asked his servants which among them was confederate with Israel. Someone in the group was a spy and I would imagine that it was a dangerous moment for the kings advisers. One of them spoke up and blamed Elisha, the prophet in Israel.
‘He telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber,’ was the report.
The king of Syria commanded them to find Elisha and commissioned them to bring him back to Syria. They went by night and surrounded the city of Dothan.
When the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, a host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto Elisha, ‘what shall we do?’
And Elisha answered, ‘Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.’
Can you imagine in your mind the confusion Elisha’s servant must have felt at his words? He could see the Syrian army camped outside the city, but the hills were empty of any defending force. Still, I imagine that the man must have had faith in Elisha’s words. Why else would his eyes be open to see what a prophet saw upon the hills?
And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
This is the part of the story that we all know, but what happened next is what taught me the sweetest lessons.
And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, ‘Smite these people, I pray thee, with blindness.’ And the Lord smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.
The army of the Syrians was now at the mercy of Israel. They had trespassed on their land and according to any standard of self-interest the Israelite king could have slaughtered them all.
But, as was the custom, the king asked the prophet what the Lord would have them do.
They were instructed to lead them back to Syria where they fed them and allowed them to return home.
And the story ends with the sentence, ‘So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel’.
Here is what I have learned from this majestic story.
The Lord has great power. Just because we don’t see the chariots encamped on the hills about us, they are there ready to protect us. We need to stay on the Lord’s side in the battles of our day.
We need to be willing to look. To open our eyes and see what is real even we are the only one that can see.
We don’t need to take advantage of our enemy’s weakness. Compassion is Godly and fine.
Listen to the prophet and trust what he can see.
When I need faith, I remember this story and a hundred others like this. When I read them or tell them to myself I can feel my trust and peace getting stronger. I can feel doubt and fear fading away.
There are times when we need faith. When you reach that place, hold on tightly to anything that brings you closer to God.
If you find that you fall short, there are those placed in your life that can lend you strength. You should also remember that the Lord will not leave you alone. He is there ready to lift you up, to console and protect you in your hour of need.
I have worked with the children of our church for about eight years now and most of it has been a delight. Kids do say the ‘darndest’ things! I once asked my class of six-year-old children if they said their prayers before they went to sleep.
Every arm went up, in the affirmative.
‘Do you pray in the morning, too?’ I asked.
A good portion of the children raised their arms again, but one little boy announced that he did not. When I asked why, he explained that he wasn’t scared in the daytime!
Fear of the dark should not be our only motivation to pray—morning or night.
Today I wanted to write about the when of prayer. When is it appropriate to pray? When is it best to pray? To read more about the ‘W’s’ of prayer you can go to the Who, What and Where of prayer to read more.
We are counseled in the scriptures:
Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray.
1 Nephi 18:3 And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.
By these scriptures and hundreds of others we learn that we are to pray always. I believe that the Lord means what He causes to be written by his prophet’s, it is up to us to figure out how to comply and reap the blessings of obedience.
So, how do we pray always? I don’t know how others comply, but I can share with you how I manage the feat. We are all carrying on internal conversations. I have, over time, converted those conversations with self into conversations with God. So, instead of saying to myself, ‘look at those black storm clouds!’ I have changed it to, ‘Father, do you see the storm that is brewing near our home?’
Instead of feeling shame or embarrassment over thoughtless words I change the conversation to a contrite apology for my lapse in judgement and move on.
It changes my day, moment to moment. I am sure there are other ways to manage, but this is mine.
Next, we are counseled to pray when we are alone:
Luke 9:18 And it came to pass, as he was alone praying.
For me, the most powerful prayers I offer are when I am alone. It is nice when the world around me is quiet and still but it isn’t necessary to the process. You can be alone in the midst of a crowd and still feel the Lord standing near.
Hearing the Lord’s answers is most often accomplished when you are truly alone, which is why so many stories about prophet’s receiving revelation happen high on a mountain or in God’s temple. Away from the distractions and noise of the world.
We are also counseled to pray when we are in need of God’s comfort and help.
1 Samuel 1:10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayedunto the Lord.
This scripture refers to Hannah, who became the mother of a prophet. Her womb was shut and she had no children. Where did she turn? Who did she turn to? She supplicated God, she turned to God who had created her and had the power to heal her and grant her the desires of her heart. Or not, according to His tender wisdom.
When we are in the midst of bitterness, do we turn to God for comfort and help or do we turn from Him in anger that life has treated us so roughly?
It is a real question and one that we will need to answer over and over, throughout our lives.
When should we pray? The answer truly is always. When will He listen? Again, the answer truly is always! If you stop to listen you will feel His love envelop you. You will feel direction and peace and His tender and unfathomable love for you. For you, not us in general, but you as an individual and beloved child.
Prayer is touching heaven and I admonish all of us, myself included, to spend a greater portion of our time in conversation with God.
There is no communication on earth like the power of prayer. Phone lines go down in a storm. Cell phones lose their signal. Human ears can fail. The tongue lose its ability to form words. Intent can so easily be misunderstood.
Prayer, on the other hand, never fails. There is no power that can constrain a prayer offered to God. Spoken or unspoken, simple or profound, every word, every thought, every heartache reaches the ears of God and penetrates His heart with perfect clarity.
So, the question of the hour is where do we pray? And, as always, the answer can be found in the scriptures.
Matthew 6:6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Doctrine and Covenants 19:28 And again, I command thee that thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private.
Dana and I traveled to Israel in March of 1994, from St. Louis to New York, on to Paris and into Tel Aviv. We were flying standby, unaware that it was the day before passover.
We made it as far as de Gaulle airport and as we presented our tickets at the counter we were informed that we probably wouldn’t be able to take this flight, or any other for the next few days, as they were overbooked. It seems that everyone wanted to be in Israel for passover! We found a seat and commenced our wait. It wouldn’t have been any great trial for us to stay over a few days in Paris but I closed my eyes and offered a prayer.
I started my prayer with an agenda. I wanted on that plane to Israel. So, I began by asking if He knew we were here. The sweet, gentle feeling that flowed through my heart told me that God did know where we were and where we were trying to go and even why we wanted to visit the Holy Land.
His gentleness pushed my agenda aside immediately. I didn’t care if we got on the plane or not. If God knew we were sitting in an airport in France, that was enough.
We watched the plane load and it wasn’t long before we heard our names being called on the loudspeaker. We were the last two passengers to board.
And so began an adventure that knit our hearts to the Lord’s in a way I cannot explain here.
The point is, that the ‘where’ of our prayers is the least important element of the process. A crowded, noisy airport is as conductive to heart to heart communication as the most holy temple would be. A prayer offered up silently is heard as loudly as a petition spoken out loud.
I have had prayers answered while driving, while vacuuming and while washing dishes. I have spoken to God while at the DMV and on the shores of the Dead Sea. I have felt His presence in the emergency room at the hospital as well as in the chapel of our church and as well, I might add, in the chapel of the Catholic church near our home.
I even felt His spirit at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
I am a witness that God is waiting to listen to our heartfelt prayers. Our prayers know how to find their way to His throne, for they have wings and know how to find that One we seek to petition.
Take confidence! Trust His love. Begin, again, to learn to communicate with your Father in heaven. I can promise you an experience that will exceed any earthly happiness you have ever enjoyed, an experience that washes away sorrow and grief, an experience that will give you strength to keep moving towards everything that is right and good.
There is nothing trite about prayer. It is rather, communication with our all-powerful, all-knowing and loving Father.
My message today is intended for everyone, but it is directed in a special way to those who are alone or feel alone or abandoned. I have felt strongly as I studied for this post, that there is someone who needs this message and I pray that I will be able to deliver to you what the Lord has delivered to me throughout this week.
The word Atonement describes the setting “at one” of those who have been estranged and denotes the reconciliation of man to God. I want you to think and answer this in your own heart. What is the cause of our estrangement from God? Sin is the cause of the estrangement, and therefore the purpose of atonement is to correct or overcome the consequences of sin. Sin is lawlessness. It is a refusal on men’s part to submit to the law of God. In a word, sin is selfishness. Sin is not just other people’s disobedience; it is not just our husband, or our children or our neighbors who get it wrong. We all sin, most of us daily. President Kimball said once that he loved to smell cigarette smoke in the chapel because it meant that someone was trying. Then he said, if all our sins stunk like cigarettes we would have a very stinky chapel. We all have great need to be set at one with Christ and ultimately with our Father and I have come to know that they are not the ones that need to move and change. It is us that need to make the changes in our thoughts, words and deeds to bring us closer to being one with them.
Now, I hope that you can indulge me in this; will you close your eyes for me? I want you to picture in your mind’s eye our Savior, Jesus Christ. What does he look like? Can you see his eyes? His look? His hands? His robe? Now I want you to answer two questions for me, the first is, how much can you feel his love? Can you feel it? The second is how much do you think the Savior knows? Is there anything he does not know? This is a being that knew when Mormon was compiling the book of Mormon that (more…)
If the first W of prayer is ‘who‘, the second is ‘what’. What we pray for tells God, others and ourselves, what is most important to us, it illuminates all the nooks and crannies of our soul.
When our daughter was in third grade they had a spelling test every Friday. Each week the teacher included a word that they hadn’t learned, a word that would cause them to think and stretch and become curious about language.
The first I heard about the ‘mystery word’ was when I got a phone call from Miss Bull telling me that Michelle was the first child she had ever taught that managed to spell the word correctly.
At first the teacher wondered if there was any family connection to the word, if we had ever traveled there. No to both. When Michelle got home I asked her about the test.
‘I was tired of never getting the extra spelling word right and I know that God knows how to spell it. So I prayed and asked Him how to spell it and He told me.’
The word was Egypt.
What I learned from this experience was deep. If God cares about a little girl’s spelling test, we can be sure that whatever is important to us, is important to Him.
Can I repeat that? If it matters to you, it matters to God.
I also learned that the power of our prayers depends on us and on our faith. Michelle knew, in a very simple and straightforward way that God’s power, love and ability is limitless and He is listening when we pray.
So, back to the second W, what should we pray for?
When we pray with real intent it means that we are not praying with idle curiosity but are intent on learning the will of God and rising from our prayers to act on the knowledge he has given us. We receive knowledge from God in our hearts, by way of feelings and nudges. We also receive knowledge in our minds, by way of thoughts and direction.
What should we pray for? Everything and everyone, including:
We can offer Him our thanks and appreciation. Gratitudeis an ennobling virtue, one that can be learned and is the mark of maturity and grace.
We can seek God’s guidance. We have access to God! His wisdom can be ours. His understanding can be ours. His values can be ours. His love can be ours. Applying reason to the subject brings us to the conclusion that we have no hope of figuring out the complexities of life on our own. Why would we not turn to God? He knows us perfectly. He knows our situations and has compassion. Seek God’s guidance and go on with a firm intent to follow His direction.
Ask for God’s strength. We were not cast down to earth and left on our own. We will be given help, if we turn to our Father and ask for help. Ask, and you will be a witness of the miracles of God!
We should remember the needs of others as we pray. It is instinctive for some to think of others in the midst of our own problems and needs, but if is not a quality you already possess, pray that you may be filled with love. When we pray for and think of others it changes us for the better in many ways.
Ask God what we should pray for. I have asked and have been witness to the power that comes when exercising faith in this way. It is simple, ask and then sit quietly and listen! I sometimes tell the Lord that I am practicing, so that it will remind Him that I need help to hear.
Before you get up from your knees, take a moment and feel, listen and when you feel the gentle or insistent nudges that come from your heart, follow these promptings and you will be witness to the tender mercies of God. When God seems far away, please remember a little girl who got an answer to her prayer and know that your Father in heaven is listening and will answer your petition.
God our Father is not a feeling or an idea or a force. He is a holy person who we have learned to call Father. He is real, He knows each of us individually, and He loves us, every one. He wants to bless us.
“Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
“Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:9–11).
J. Devin Cornish tells this story. ‘When I was a young resident physician, I worked long hours and traveled between the hospital and our home mostly by bicycle since my wife and young family needed our car. One evening I was riding home after a long period in the hospital, feeling tired and hungry and at least a bit discouraged. I knew I needed to give my wife and four small children not only my time and energy when I got home but also a cheery attitude. I was, frankly, finding it hard to just keep pedaling. (more…)
Who is God? Who am I? When we truly understand who God is, we then clearly see who we are and how we fit into the grand scheme of things. And it helps us to understand the mysteries of life.
God is our Father, the literal and eternal Father of our spirits. He is the being that spanned the heaven’s and caused the earth to come into creation as a place whereon we might come to dwell for time. He is a King. He is a perfected and eternal being. He is the ultimate Creator, Ruler, and Preserver of all things. He is perfect, has all power, and knows all things. We are created in His image, although He is perfected and we are mortal. (more…)
A friend shared this article with me and something about his words struck a cord within me. I am quoting Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
‘Think of the purest love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you.
God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost, God’s love encompasses us completely.
Patience is developed as we nurture the capacity to endure delay, to endure trouble and opposition, to endure suffering. And in the midst of all this enduring we will learn to accept God’s will without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. The extent of our patience is revealed in our ability to do God’s will and accept His timing. (more…)
I vividly remember a day that changed me forever. It was early in the 90’s, we lived in an old historic home that was in constant commotion because of rehabbing and the beginnings of a large family. Commotion of our own making but stressful nontheless.
I suppose I am blessed to have been taught that God loved me and it made perfect sense because I felt that God loved all of His children and I was certainly one of them! But this day would change everything.
I had gotten the school children off and watched them walk down the block to pick up the neighbor’s kids. I had fed the toddlers and changed the baby and put him down for his morning nap. I know that I picked up the scriptures and, with one eye on the boys playing blocks, I read. (more…)
“The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the telephone and ordering groceries—we place our order and hang up. We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another.” Gordon B. Hinckley
And if you want more trouble, we are teaching our children to do the same by our example. I know we are busy, but there is nothing in this world more important than our communication with God and our family. We can do better!
Maybe we should put prayer and scripture study on our daily calendars.
When my children were young (and we have 10 of them) I would try to use the early morning time with the baby for study but it was hard because I was so tired. That study and prayer time was important to me and I kept on trying until I found a time that will work, and it has been a big part of what has made my life sweet. I have spent time hiding in our car reading and praying just so I could find the peace to really communicate, but I settled on feeding the family and then reading the scriptures while I eat breakfast. Prayer naturally follows reading the word of God, it just does. It is important and it is possible, if you make it the priority it truly is. Don’t put it off another day!
How do you make the time for the most important things in your life?
French scientist, Teilhard de Chardin, is quoted as saying:
‘Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we will harness for God the energies of love: and then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.’
I think that we all believe this. The only question is, what are we going to do about it?
I, for one, am going home to hold hands with my husband and to listen to my children! I plan on falling in love all over again…anyone want to join me?
We are all children of God. He is our Father and as such he loves us and knows our wants and our needs. He wants us to communicate with Him through prayer. We should pray to Him and no one else.
The Lord Jesus Christ commanded, “Ye must always pray unto the Father in my name”. As we make a habit of approaching God in prayer, we will come to know Him and draw ever nearer to Him. Our desires will become more like His. We will be able to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that He is ready to give if we will but ask in faith.
Our Heavenly Father is always ready to hear and answer our prayers. The power of our prayers depends on us. As we strive to make prayer a part of our lives, we should remember this counsel found in James 1:5-7
Heavenly Father hears our prayers. He may not always answer as we expect, but He does answer—in His own time and according to His will. Because He knows what is best for us, He may sometimes answer no, even when our petitions are sincere. We just need to feed our faith in God and remember to pray always and trust our Father’s wisdom and love.
We want the best for our children and as I have matured that generalized wish has gradually distilled into one single, solitary hope. My hope is that each of my children will seek the Lord in a time of great need. That their need will drive them to learn how to pray to Him and to listen to His whispering. That is how I developed a personal relationship with God and I treasure that bond more than anything else I can think of. Here is a link to a mind blowing sermon on the subject, I hope it will resonate with your heart as it does with mine.
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