Archive for the ‘prayer’ Tag

Let Me Talk About Duty

Reading: “Our Path of Duty,” Bishop Kieth B. McMullin, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishophric, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

Each of us has a duty to obey God in return for all that he has done for us. Bishop McMullin states,

The duty of which I speak is what we are expected to do and to be. It is a moral imperative summoning forth from individuals and communities that which is right, true, and honorable. Duty does not require perfection, but it does require diligence. It is not simply what is legal; it is what is virtuous. It is not reserved to the mighty or high in station but instead rests on a foundation of personal responsibility, integrity, and courage. Doing one’s duty is a manifestation of one’s faith.

Bishop McMullin refrains from giving a list of our duties, or specific instructions on how to fulfill our duties. Instead he asks us to pray for that instruction, and to pray with the Spirit:

It is as important to be guided by the Holy Spirit while praying as it is to be enlightened by that same Spirit while receiving an answer to prayer. Such prayer brings forth the blessings of heaven because our Father “knoweth what things [we] have need of, before [we] ask him,” and He answers every sincere prayer.

Just this afternoon I felt a prompting for a specific prayer. For the past two days my two year old has refused to take a nap. She has played by herself in her room for hours rather than go to sleep. Today as I was putting my daughter down for her nap I felt a prompting to say prayer with my daughter that she could sleep. And, today, she went right to sleep and is sleeping right now. This may seem silly to you, but it was a huge help to me. First of all, it has been a stressful week of very little sleep (for me) and it was an encouragement to see an answer to prayer like this. Second, after those two days I was seriously wondering whether she was starting to outgrow her nap and whether I should stop trying to get her to nap altogether (which would mean a huge change in her daily schedule and mine), but today I am sure that she still needs a nap and I should not give up on them.The Spirit can guide us to pray for the right things so that we can get the answers we need to fulfill our duties, such as making sure a two year old is getting the rest she needs to be happy and healthy.

Has the Spirit ever guided you to pray for something that helped you? Has the Spirit ever helped you to fulfill your duties better than you could by yourself?

Each Drop Counts

Reading: “Pray Always,” Elder David Bednar, Nov 2008, Ensign; Direct Relief International PSA; Alma 37:6

Yesterday in Relief Society we talked about Elder Bednar’s recent conference address on prayer.  In that conference address Elder Bednar encourages us to pray for others.  He says,

Do our spouses, children, and other family members likewise feel the power of our prayers offered unto the Father for their specific needs and desires? Do those we serve hear us pray for them with faith and sincerity? If those we love and serve have not heard and felt the influence of our earnest prayers in their behalf, then the time to repent is now. As we emulate the example of the Savior, our prayers truly will become more meaningful.

Sometimes when I think about praying for others I feel like there is so much pain and suffering in the world that my little prayers won’t make a difference.  Recently, though, I saw this commercial that helped me see that the little things that I do, including prayer (as well as service), really can make a difference.

Today I’m going to take extra time in my evening prayer to think about all the people I know who could use some help, and then pray for them.

How do you incorporate requests for others into your prayers? Have you ever been blessed by someone else’s prayers that you know of, or seen someone blessed by the prayer of another?

Small Things to Confound the Wise

Reading: Alma 37:6

This past weekend I have been struck by the many small things that, working together, are making a big difference in my life.  I am reminded of the scripture Alma 37:6, which says:

Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

One such small thing is a commitment to daily prayer and scripture study.  Although I usually spend only 5-15 minutes a day on my personal scripture study, that effort has helped me to learn more about myself and the scriptures and to find answers to bigger problems.

Another small thing is making an effort to be more patient.  Although I already had a great relationship with my husband, as I made little efforts each day to be just a little bit more patient I have grown even closer to my husband.  I also find myself relating much easier to the people around me.

Another small thing is a commitment to heed even closer small promptings of the spirit.  Sometimes those promptings are very small indeed, and sometimes I am not 100% sure they are a prompting, but as I act on those promptings the best I can I find answers to many problems and my days go much more smoothly than before.

Today I am going to brainstorm some ways to help me be more sincere in my prayers, since this is one “small” thing I can definitely improve on. Although I am doing much better at praying every morning and night, I sometimes find it hard to really be sincere and awake as I pray.

What small things are you doing that are making a big difference? Have you ever had an experience where you were surprised by the effect some small thing could have?

Praying Every Morning and Every Night

Reading: “Pray Always,” Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2008 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

Please note that I already wrote about this talk in combination with Elder Bednar’s April conference talk on prayer here.

One of the areas I feel that I could really improve right now is in prayer.  I find that the day-to-day unexpectedness that comes with having a baby, especially in the morning and around bedtime, makes it more difficult for me to remember to pray every morning and every night.  I love to read about prayer because it motivates me to improve in this area.

Elder Bednar suggests that regular prayers are an important part of our relationship with God. He says,

Morning and evening prayers—and all of the prayers in between—are not unrelated, discrete events; rather, they are linked together each day and across days, weeks, months, and even years. This is in part how we fulfill the scriptural admonition to “pray always” (Luke 21:36; 3 Nephi 18:15, 18; D&C 31:12). Such meaningful prayers are instrumental in obtaining the highest blessings God holds in store for His faithful children.

The prayers we say each day are linked as we build upon the work we did the day before.  Saying prayers that include asking for forgiveness for sins and for help to improve help us to really grow from day to day.

Today I am going to make a prayer rock to help me to remember to say my prayers every morning and every night. As I do that, I will try to tie my prayers together as Elder Bednar suggests.

How do you remember your prayers, and how do you make them more meaningful?

Meaningful Prayer

Reading: “Ask in Faith,” David A. Bednar, Ensign, May 2008

This is an article that I have already written about, but I wanted to revisit it today because of the way Elder Bednar presented his talk on prayer last Saturday.  The way he introed that talk he seemed to be saying that he was continuing his thoughts on prayer from what he said in this talk from the last conference.

The main tenets of prayer in this talk are:

  • Prayer requires action on our part
  • Prayer requires us to ask for help while realizing that God’s will may be different than our own

The main tenets of prayer in the talk he gave Saturday (as per my imperfect memory – a transcript is not available at the time I am writing this) are:

  • We should pray about our activities for that day, as a spiritual creation before the temporal creation
  • Prayer should be filled with gratitude and at times we should offer only prayers of gratitude
  • We should pray for others, perhaps more than we pray for ourselves

Prayer is important and I feel that I could do much to make my prayers better.  The things that Elder Bednar shared in both these talks help me to realize that my prayers are so much better for me when I make them meaningful and related to what is going on in my life.  When I talk to God about what is going on, I become closer to Him.  And, when I talk to God as if I were better than I am, than I become better.

Usually my alarm clock in the morning is my baby, and when she wakes me up she usually needs immediate attention.  I sometimes entirely forget to pray until her first nap, at which time I usually read and then write here.  Tomorrow (and hopefully every day) I am going to just kneel with my baby and say an audible prayer first thing in the morning, or at least as soon as is reasonably possible.  That way I’m setting an example and saying my prayer instead of waiting until she is otherwise occupied.  We’ll see if that works better.

How do you make your prayers more meaningful?

Prayer is Work

Reading: “Ask in Faith,” Elder David A. Bednar, Ensign, May 2008

Elder Bednar gave a beautiful talk on meaningful prayer at our last general conference.  In it he talked about how to give more meaningful prayers, and how doing so will greatly improve our lives and spirituality.

One thing he mention is that we must do more than just pray for what we need, we must also do what we can to obtain the blessing we seek.  He said,

True faith is focused in and on the Lord Jesus Christ and always leads to righteous action.

If we merely pray for a think but then do nothing on our own to obtain it, we are not really praying in faith.

He also talked about how prayer is a form of work-that it is also the action that come from faith.  Since prayer is work, he reasons, when we work for what we have prayed we are continuing the work of prayer.

I long have been impressed with the truth that meaningful prayer requires both holy communication and consecrated work. Blessings require some effort on our part before we can obtain them, and prayer, as “a form of work, … is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings” (Bible Dictionary, “Prayer,” 753). We press forward and persevere in the consecrated work of prayer, after we say “amen,” by acting upon the things we have expressed to Heavenly Father.

Thinking about prayer as work also made me think about the prayers in my own life.  Sometimes I say prayers for things as I encounter the problems, but then forget to pray about that thing at the beginning or close of my day.  Part of the work I must do is to do better at remembering to say my prayers at the appointed times.  When I do that I am working towards obtaining the blessings I need all throughout my day.

So, I’m going to do better at saying my prayers.  I’ve found that after I’ve had a baby it is harder to remember to pray each morning and night because those times are often focused around the baby.  So, today I’m going to try to think of ways to be more regular in my prayers even when I have a baby to take care of.

How do you remember to say prayers each morning and night?  How does saying or not saying prayers morning and evening affect you?

A Balance in Our Prayers

Reading: Gospel Topics (from the lds.org website) – Prayer

The reason I started blogging about my scripture study is that I felt I was not getting much out of my reading each day, other than the ability to say that I had read.  Sometimes, I feel the same way about prayer.  I offer traditional prayers at the appropriate times, or an informal prayer at a time of need, but I feel like I could be getting a lot more out of it than I do.  So, today I sought out more information on prayer.

In the Gospel Topics overview from lds.org, it lists several aspects of prayer we should be doing:

  • Make our prayers meaningful
  • Use language that shows love, respect, and closeness
  • Always give thanks to Heavenly Father
  • Seek Heavenly Father’s guidance and strength in all we do
  • When we make a request through prayer, we must do all we can to assist it being granted

Often, when I am praying a problem I make one of two mistakes.  Sometimes I just cursorily mention the problem but don’t really have faith that God will help me because I am so absorbed in how I will fix the problem.  Other times, I pray for help for something and then just expect God to give me the answer without enough work.  Often, it is hard to find a balance between the two extremes.

Right now we are working on finding a new apartment.  Our financial situation has changed, so we are looking for something smaller and cheaper until my husband is able to finish his last few semesters of school.  I definitely have been praying for help on this, but I think because there are so few apartment available right now and I feel like it will be something of a miracle if we find something as good as we hope, I have been waiting for some miraculous sign of what to do.  So, I’m going to resolve to keep praying about it but also to try to think about it more logically than I have been and really figure out what I think is best before I go to God for confirmation.

How do you find the balance between having faith that God will help, but also making sure you are doing your part of the work?