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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Prayer

This week I read the book of Ether in the Book of Mormon.  I learned quite a bit about prayer from Ether.  In particular, the prayer of the brother of Jared when he asked the Lord to provide light for the barges impresses me.  First we learn that in order to receive help from the Lord, we must make some effort.  We can't just cry unto the Lord and expect Him to fix all of our problems.  Like the Brother of Jared, we must make a plan, work it out and then bring our plan to the Lord and ask for His help.  If it is a worthy plan and we have faith in His ability to help, He will.  Because of the faith of the brother of Jared, The Lord could not withhold blessings from him.  Isn't that great, to know that the Lord is bound by what He says and if we ask according to His will, in faith, He will answer our prayers.

The brother of Jared was obviously a prophet of great faith.  However in Ether 2:14 he was chastised for failure to pray.  I imagine he hadn't ceased to pray but his prayers had maybe become routine and lacking in depth.  I know my prayers often seem to be the same every day and in my mind that makes them insincere.  This is a struggle for me because I get really tired or otherwise occupied and prayer is not as big a priority as it should be.  This Jaredite prophet was obviously a man of great faith who had become lackadaisical in his communication with the Lord.  The Lord chastened him for 3 hours.  I think this was a long overdue conversation and not just a lecture from the Lord.  He wants us to take time to communicate with Him.

IN the Book of Mormon we also learn about Enos, who prayed all day and all night.  I have heard quite a few comments this semester about how God doesn't want to hear us go on and on and we can get our point across in a short amount of time because he already knows what we need.  With respect to these good people, I disagree.  I had a bishop, a man I have great respect for, who challenged us to pray for 30 minutes at least once a day.  It was an interesting experience.  The first 5 minutes are repeating the generic things we say every day.  Then I ran out of things to say.  Then after silent contemplation, I found the things I really needed to say.  I think it takes some time to just shut out the world and really get to that place where we are communicating.  Communication is a 2-way process.  Taking time allows us the opportunity to receive communication from Him as well.  Sometimes a thought or impression or a voice, vocal or in our mind, can come to us in moments of silence when we are focusing our energy on prayer.  Now, I don't pray like that all the time, but I do try to find time to get a little deeper when I commune with the Lord at least once a day.  I am blessed, find deeper understanding and guidance when I do really give time to prayer.  I should do this more than I do. 

Prayer is a blessing.  It is the opportunity to communicate with our Savior.  No one loves us more.  He wants to bless us and help us through our struggles.  Praying according to His will, in faith and with sincere effort can only bless our lives.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

2/27/2016

After I wrote my last entry, I continued reading in 3 Nephi and went to the gathering Thursday night.  Turns out righteous judgement was the theme for the week. 

In chapter 18, Christ mentions that He is the light of the world.  Then He tells us that we are also expected to be a light unto the world.  We are to shine His light.  We are to do all the things that He has done...serve and love and forgive one another.  He teaches that those who profess to believe in Him but do not DO these things will be cast out.  Only Christ can make that judgement because only He knows their heart.

We cannot judge or cast anyone out of the church because we can't see what is inside of them, their intent, their heart, their potential.  God loves all of His children, even the ones that annoy us.  He wants all of them/us to return to Him and will give them every chance to turn it around and get on the right path.

So we need to do what we are supposed to do - love one another, serve one another, forgive one another and leave the rest to God.  If we forgive and love and help one another along, He will be more likely to forgive us.  If we judge one another harshly, we will be judged the same.

I don't know about you but as for me - I need a lot of leeway.  I am an imperfect being and I need lots of forgiveness.  I can't afford to look down my nose at anyone.  Plus, I would much rather be a part of saving souls than condemning them.

I imagine how amazing it was for these Nephites to have the opportunity to visit with the Savior.  I would love to be able to sit at His knee and feel of His love.  In the short period of time that He was with them, he gave them the most important instruction of all.  It is the same thing He always taught by word and by example.  It is simple.  It is love.  He loves us.  We are to love one another.  And despite what romance novels and telenovelas and most of the world might tell you - love is not a feeling.  It is an action.  We must get up and serve.  We must give one another the benefit of the doubt.  We must forgive and move forward and share His light with the world.

There are lots of things that we are supposed to do - lots of commandments.  If we follow all of them but fail to serve and love our fellow man, we are lost.  The first and greatest commandment is to love God.  The second is to love one another.  It is by the second that we follow the first.  Everything else falls under these two.

Read the words of the Savior to the Nephites again.  Imagine seeing and hearing Him speak.  What does His message mean for you?  What does He want you to do?

Monday, February 22, 2016


Face the Light and Keep the Shadows Behind You

I have been thinking about light again.  It is one of my favorite symbols.  I read last week about the darkness that fell upon the Nephites when Christ died.   There were terrible storms, earthquakes and devastation and then complete and total darkness and silence for 3 days.  The darkness was so complete that they could not see a hand in front of their face.  I imagine the air was full of dust from the leveled cities and not even the starts were visible.  They had no way of creating light or even knowing where they were because the very face of the land had changed.  Imagine that.  What would life be like without light of any kind.  Imagine being blind in a unfamiliar place and you can't call for help because your neighbor is in the same situation. 

Obviously, there is symbolism here.  Christ is the light of the world.  When He died, so did the light. 

Helen Keller said something about facing the light and the shadows will be behind you.  I think we all have shadows - dark things that make life difficult.  I can't imagine life without them.  Personally, I sometimes think my life is a punishment for something.  Not to be a downer but other than a few moments of ignorant bliss, it has just never been easy or fun.  I think it was president Hinckley who said that if we expect life to be fun, we are going to be disappointed.  How true that is. 

The only reason I keep going is because of the light of Christ.  I believe in Him.  I know He loves me and it is the string that I hold onto that keeps pulling me along.  Sometimes I feel like the shadows are about to mow me down but I hold on.

I have been working on building my own Christ-like attributes and lately I think I may have reached a new level of understanding.  Its not really new but has sunk in a little deeper I guess.  Recently I was asked what I thought about someone who had given a talk.  This person has in the past said some hurtful things and I think I was expected to gossip a bit but I said that I thought they were doing the best they could to be the best person they could be.  I believe that and I believe that most of us are just like that - doing the best we can.  You don't know about my personal misery and I don't know about yours because mostly, we just try to do the best we can and hold our heads up and keep moving forward. 

Sometimes its all I can do to stand still and not fall down.  The mountain of muck that I have to deal with is too big to go over or around.  I can only plod through it one step at a time, while it seems to keep getting bigger.  At least that is how I feel right now.  Most of the time I face forward and try keep the shadows behind me but I get turned around sometimes and I am not doing great today. 

My point is that we all have our personal muck and I know what it's like to suffer, so I am not going to judge you by what I see on the surface when I know little or nothing about what you struggle with underneath.  I believe you are doing your best to be the person you want to be.  Please do the same for me.  We need to love each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt.  That is a big deal to me - benefit of the doubt.  It means that even when I seem like I am a real mess - you trust that I am a good person and I didn't mean to be hurtful or careless or bad in any way.  I am just flawed and doing my best. 

Keep plodding along.  I am so grateful for the Savior and that light that he brings to my otherwise dark world.

It may not seem like it but I think I just gave myself a pep talk.  That and the talk by Elder Holland that was shared on Facebook this morning may just get me through the day.  If not for Elder Holland this would have been a lot more negative.  I should just listen to him every morning. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Pride Cycle

Feb 13, 2016
This past week in school we studied Helaman 10-15  Some people commented that they didn't especially like Helaman because it is so dark.  Personally, I like it because we aare really getting into the meat of it - miraculous stories and prophetic teachings.

Something else that is prevalant in Helaman is the pride cycle.  If that is not something that sounds familiar to you, let me elaborate.  The pride cycle goes like this:  People have trials.  They turn to God out of desparation.  They pray and repent and beg for His help.  God helps and blesses those who turn to Him.  God's blessings become a source of pride and because they are so proud of all they have, they turn from God.  They think they don't need Him anymore because they are doing so well "on their own".

This happens repeatedly in the scriptures.  It also happens in our world today.  Look around.  We are a prosperous people and our society seems to think there is no need for God.  Personally, I often forget to turn to my Savior and stumble through trying to fix things myself when I am faced with a problem.  I doubt I am the only one.

At our school gathering this week, someone mentioned a humility cycle.   I have been thinking about that, trying to pin down exactly how that would work.

Looking at the pride cycle, the break down occurs when The Lord sends His blessings and people become prideful.  They forget where their blessings come from.  So, to reverse that, we need to be humble and recognize where those blessings come from.  Humility, gratitude and then service are the keys to turning the cycle around.

So a humility cycle would work like this:  We face trials.  We turn to God.  He blesses us.  We are grateful.  We are humble.  We recognize that the good things in our lives are blessings.  We look for ways to bless others.  Inevitably new trials will come and when they do we continue in faith, knowing that God will provide a way for us to overcome.  As we continue to be humble, our faith increases.

For a little more insight, look to Helaman 3:35
"Nevertheless they did pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, ye, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."

This group of people maintained their closeness to God even while the rest of the Nephites were traveling along the pride cycle because they were humble, they prayed, they relied on faith in Christ, and yielded their hearts (and wills) to God.

We must do the same to avoid being caught up in the dangers of pride.  We must recognize that our blessing come from God, be grateful, be humble, serve others, pray and yield our hearts and wills to God.

Every Sunday as we partake of the Sacrament, we have the opportunity to evaluate ourselves.  Are we proud of ourselves, our wealth, status, education, accomplishments, and so forth or are we aware of how worthless we would be without our Savior?

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I am sorry that this is rushed and a bit disorganized.  The computer is doing weird things and I don't have the time or energy to go back and edit right now.
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