Joy Journey Day 7: Seek God

Psalms 16

11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Know God, Know Peace. No God, No Peace.

The verse from Psalms posted above teaches us that the same thing applies to joy as to peace. If we want to have a fulness of joy we can experience that as we spend time in the presence of God. The more we seek Him, the more we will know Him. The more we know Him, the more we will love Him and trust Him. The more we love Him and trust Him, the more we will have peace and joy in our lives. The more peace and joy we have, the more we will be able to share that peace and love with those around us. So, you can see why it is so important that we take the time to seek Him. How can you get to know someone you have not spent time with?

And just because we have found Him before does not mean that we are always as close to Him. Sometimes we find that distance has grown between us either because of a trial we are going through, because we are too busy, or even because life is going so well that we don’t feel a yearning to turn to Him.

I once heard a joke that I love to relate to this exact concept. There was an elderly couple riding in their truck one day when they came to a stoplight. They looked over and noticed a younger couple in the cab of the truck next to them. The couple was snuggled up on the seat looking very in love. The elderly woman looked at her husband and commented how sweet they looked and then asked, “Why don’t we ever do that anymore? Her husband looked at the couple and then back at his wife and said, “Well, I haven’t moved.” This is exactly the case with our relationship with God. If there is distance between us it is because we have moved, not because He has.

What would happen to us physically if we only ate a meal once a week? We would starve, of course. Our spirits have the same need for nourishment that our bodies do and going to church to be fed once a week is certainly not enough to keep us healthy, nurtured and growing. I am afraid many of us are actually spiritually starving to death.

What are some of the signs that we are spiritually starving?

*Weakness: When we become spiritually weak we start to lack self-control and commitment. We have an inability to separate needs from wants and to prioritize properly.

*Confusion: Over time our thinking becomes murky or distorted. We start to rationalize or justify the things that we are doing wrong, or time not being used wisely.

*Irritability: We begin to find ourselves being easily offended and more annoyed by the people around us, especially our family members.

*Immune Deficiency: We become less able to fight off temptations that lead to sin, sin being the disease. We are more tolerant of things that at one time we would have shunned and we are less resistant to things that we normally wouldn’t even give a second glance.

*Internal Shutdown: We find ourselves behaving out of character, saying things we wouldn’t normally say or responding in ways we normally wouldn’t respond. We find that we are lacking in compassion or patience with those we should be most loving and compassionate towards.

*Comatose: We have complete apathy. We have detached from anything spiritual and don’t feel drawn to do good or to connect with God.

If you are feeling any of these symptoms, your spirit may be dying. It may be crying out for nourishment and connection. It may be time to assess your daily habits and commit to centering your day around seeking God.

God loves us so much, whether or not we are worthy of it. Because of His love for us He has a plan to make sure we always have a way back and a way to connect with Him. His trust is earned by our actions and there are blessings contingent on our level of obedience and commitment to Him, but His love is never earned. He has offered His Son as a sacrifice for us so that we can always repent when we have strayed and return to Him. And He has made Himself constantly accessible to us through prayer. Please use these gifts! Your spiritual health depends on it!

When we regularly seek God and connect with Him, He is there to help with every aspect of our lives. He can strengthen us, comfort us, direct us and inspire us. He can teach us and answer our questions and concerns. He can help us manage our stress and give us refuge in the eye of the storm. He can increase our clarity, energy, ability to both forgive and to let go of things. He can fill our cup and give us an added measure of peace, gratitude, love and joy. He can do all these things when we open up the conduit between ourselves and Him. He stands at the door and knocks, but we must open it and let Him in.

I’m not going to tell you that it is easy to connect with Him regularly. It is simple, but it is not easy. It requires sacrifice and commitment. We must be willing to sacrifice the time and some of the activities we are filling that time with. We must be willing to commit to scheduling that time and following through. We may need to set an alarm to remind us of the most important meeting of our day. But if we will do this, we will find that what we receive from our sacrifice is paid back in full and then some. Overall, our days will go smoother, our problems will be more manageable, our minds more clear, and our abilities magnified. It is not a cure-all, we will still have bad days, but it will be better.

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When we show God that we want to connect with Him, He will even help us come up with solutions and find pockets of time to do so. No matter how busy we are, there are always pockets! You can get up a little earlier and meet with Him in the calm before the storm. You can spend time with Him as you drive in your car or as you wait in a line. You can listen to His word or music as you do your chores. You can create a schedule in your home with a required quiet time. When my kids were little we called this half hour window in our day “rest and reading.” They were required to be in their room resting (often they fell asleep) or reading. But it was my “me” time and it was desperately needed. You can also include your family in your connecting time if that works for you. You can even find a reprieve in the bathroom or shower. I am pretty sure this is considered praying in our closets! 🙂

What are some things you do to feel connected? The more we connect, the more we are aware of what things we are doing that make that connection feel the strongest. I will share some of my favorites to start you thinking, but keep in mind that we are all different and what works best for you may be something completely different.

*Read His Word: Immersing myself in the word of God is one of the best ways I have found to listen to and connect with Him. I treasure my scriptures as love letters from God. I have found so many answers to my questions, comfort for my concerns, verses that lift me up and give me strength, direction for my life, and validation that I am His beloved daughter within those pages. Not only have I found verses tailored just for me, but I have found that when I open my scriptures I am also opening a conduit to heaven. It is a direct link to God and that action of opening them tells Him that I am receptive. Sometimes the answers I seek come from the pages and sometimes by other mean during the day or the week (music, an uplifting sermon, or in conversation with a friend). I fully believe that they come because I have invited them through my act of opening the door of my heart through the scriptures. And I recognize those answers because I am intentionally listening.

*Prayer: What a gift we have been given with this tool. There are no stipulations imposed with it. We don’t have a slot of time each day God is willing to listen to us. We don’t have to abide by a certain dress code. We are never put on hold or ignored until we are behaving better. We don’t have to be in a certain place or certain position. We don’t even have to be worthy, and let’s be honest, we rarely are. But every time we pray with sincerity, He is there and He is listening. I love to connect with God through prayer!

*Music: Over the last 5 years this has become one of my favorite tools to connect with God. I love listening to Christian music and recognizing that the message of the song is meant especially for me. I love how close to the Lord it makes me feel and how very loved. I love sharing these songs with others and how it can effect them in the very same way. This music is such a personal gift.

*Listen to His Word: I love listening to talks, speeches and sermons I can find on YouTube that help me feel uplifted and inspired. So often as I listen to these talks I am touched by exactly the way God wants me to apply the message in my life. Or sometimes I am inspired by ideas that have almost nothing to do with the message, but are nevertheless a prompting meant especially for me.

*Sacred Spaces: I have certain places where I can feel the Spirit more powerfully than others. These places can be a church or other religious buildings, they can be in nature, one of mine is even a chair. I have spent hundreds of hours studying God’s word and communing with Him in my recliner. That has become a sacred space for me.

*Questions: If I want to feel God’s Spirit more profoundly I go to Him with questions. I love how tethered to Him I feel when I receive an answer to one of my questions and know it is given specifically to me from Him.

*Witnessing: I revel in the opportunity to share my love for and witness of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf. I feel the bond between God and me particularly strong when I get to do this. Not only am I giving the Spirit an opportunity to witness truth to the soul I am talking to, but it witnesses the truth of my words to me as well. That feeling is so amazing! Pure joy!

*Journaling: Writing is another way I am able to process my feelings about and experiences with God. A prayer journal is one way to organize our thoughts and focus our desires. Another journal that changed my life is my revelation journal. In 2015 I had a strong desire to better understand how God talked to me. I wanted to know how often He talked to me and if I was missing any of those communications. My discovery was profound! As I went through my day and jotted down notes in my phone when I felt promptings, inspirations, or guidance. I made an effort to create a space and time of silence in each day, to turn all the background noise off and listen. Then at night I would sit down and move those notes into my journal. I would pray and ask if there was more information to go with any of the things I had felt. I could not believe how specific the messages were. I could not believe how often God was trying to communicate with me. I had been missing so much because I was filling my life with noise and because I had not taken the time to learn how to listen. The more time we spend practicing a skill the better we get at it. It is no different for learning to hear/feel the whisperings of the still small voice.

*Worry: Now that might sound a little bit weird. But I have spent a lot of time over the last 5 years trying to be consciously aware of my worrying. When I notice that I am worrying over something I cannot control I use it as an alarm and I intentionally turn that worry into a prayer and choose to let it go. I may do that a hundred times a day when a problem is particularly heavy, but the process does help me feel an almost tangible connection between me and my God.

This last week has been an incredible journey for me! I have been amazed and humbled as I have seen how much God is threaded through the different methods of finding joy that we have talked about. When we want to be more joyful and we choose to look to Him for help, He is there. When we choose to let go of things we cannot control and we give them to Him, He happily accepts those burdens. When we want to find a deeper purpose to our lives and we ask for His help in doing so, He loves to partner with us. When we set goals and create priorities in our lives and one of those priorities is time with Him, He rejoices. When we choose to slow down and be more intentional in our day, He enlarges our capabilities to all that is required by us for good. When we serve others and have a desire to be a window to God in their lives, He is the love that we share. And God desires nothing more than to be a part of our lives, to be in the details. The first step for us to receive a fulness of joy is for us to seek Him and spend time in His presence.


Song: The More I Seek You by Kari Jobe

Face to face with the author:

Let Go and Let God

The other day I was listening to the speech I recommended below and the speaker mentioned someone sharing this phrase with her, “To worry is to lack faith.” That thought snapped around my heart like a trap! This last week my 19 year old daughter decided it was time to spread her wings and move out. And though I also feel like this is the next step for her in moving forward in her life it happened quite suddenly and caught me off guard. Even though I know it is right, it is so hard as a parent not to worry about your children as they strike out on their own. I had been fretting about how she will manage, what choices she will make, what challenges will come her way, etc.

As I pondered on the phrase I realized that I truly was showing my fear and not leaning into my faith. I know our Heavenly Father loves my daughter every bit as much as I do. I know that He has a plan for her. I know that He will be watching out for her and even though there will be trials, because we all have them, she will get through them. I can continue to pray for her and be here for her if she needs someone to talk to, but I have to trust God to take care of her.
No matter what our own personal struggles are, there are times when worry sets in. And if we are not careful it can set up camp and really take over our thoughts, our motivation, and our lives. We must recognize this worry for what it is, a useless drain on our energy, especially because worry never seems to accomplish much. Faith on the other hand is the predecessor of miracles and a much better investment of energy. So I will try to use a worried thought as a trigger to remind me to pray, let it go and give it back to the Worker of miracles.

Philippians 4:

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 3:

5 ¶ Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Is there something you are worrying about that would be much better handled in the hands of God?

Song: Let Go by Matt Hammitt

Talk: Be Still and Know God

https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/erin-d-maughan_still-know-god/

Ask God How He Feels About You

I never imagined that just the prospect of the transition into empty nesting would hit me so hard! From the time I was a young girl playing house with my sisters, the only thing I ever wanted to do was to be a mother. I loved school and I have enjoyed eacg job I have had, but the dream of my heart was motherhood. And though it has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, caused me the most anxiety, and had me in tears many times, I’ve never been disappointed in the thrill of it. I love being a mom! I love nurturing, teaching and connecting with my children. I love creating memories and traditions with them. I love learning from them and realizing that they truly push me to be a better me. So it was crushing when a few years ago I suddenly realized that I only had a handful of years left of this being my full time, all encompassing, day consuming job. I felt like I abruptly hit a brick wall. What was I going to do with my life? Did I have another purpose? Something that would give me as much joy and fulfillment? Or at least a portion of that?

This realization came amidst some other really hard hitting trials and in the blink of an eye I felt like I was drowning. I know that most of my feelings of worthlessness and self doubt came from the other things happening in my life, but this sudden realization did not help. In fact, it just compounded all the other feelings I was having. I have always been a cheerful person, an optimist by nature. But this time in my life was devastating. I felt hopeless and helpless. I spent most of my days crying and trying to figure out how I was ever going to be happy again. As I said, their were many contributing factors to these feelings at that time and this was just a part of it, but it was the first time in my life I sincerely wanted to know who I really was and what my life’s purpose was. It was the first time that I realized that my children would not be my purpose forever and that there must be something more.

And then something beautiful happened. I started to feel prompted about what to pray about. And one of those things was, “Ask God how He feels about you.” Oh man! When you are feeling lower than dirt and can’t see anything good in yourself the last thing you want to do is ask God who sees all and knows all and is purity itself how He feels about you. But to my credit, I was obedient. I cannot put into words the sacred answers that came in that powerful communion with my Maker. I can only tell you that I cried harder than ever when the feelings of pure love came into my heart. I can tell you that He does know us perfectly and likewise He loves us perfectly. He knows the worst about us and loves us anyway. He cheers for us in our successes and He aches with us in our failures. He is for us and NEVER against us.

From that point on I was led to people, articles, and activities that strengthened my understanding of my diving identity. I was prompted to write a list of my good qualities. That was so hard! But again I obeyed and I know I did not make that list myself. Now one of my greatest treasures is a tangible list made by me and my loving Heavenly Father of my redeeming qualities. I was also led to create a list of my weaknesses. And in that list I found help in acknowledging them and the source to which I could go for help in creating healthy boundaries for myself to overcome those weaknesses. Aside from the personal divine assignments I was given, I had conversations with people who did not know my struggles that validated the positive things I was starting to feel. I got random texts that affirmed the heavenly love I had felt. I was led to groups that had scriptures and conference talks that taught me more and led me into deeper understanding of who I really was and how God really feels about me. And then along this journey I started to get very concise promptings and answers to my bigger purpose and how I would fulfill that.

This journey is very personal and maybe people would question how I came to be so sure of the things I am absolutely positive about now, but that is fine with me. Every one of us is entitled to the same journey of finding their true identity and purpose. In fact, I believe we are each accountable to seek out these answers. I can’t tell you what yours will look like. I can tell you it will not be an easy journey. To be honest, the vulnerability required will feel like a high price to pay. At times you may wonder if it is worth it. I promise it is! As you seek your divine identity and purpose with sincerity and diligence, if you will keep your mind and heart open and create a space for God to communicate with you, He will lead you to find your answers little by little. It will change your heart and it will change your life! As I said, I can’t tell you what your journey will look like or the specific answers you will find, but I can tell you how to start… Ask God how He feels about you.

Prayer by Spencer W. Kimball

This article is one of my favorite finds on the topic of prayer!

The scriptures have said, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6.) And again, “As the twig is bent, so shall the tree be inclined.” It is obvious that if youth will establish correct habits of thought and action, pitfalls will be avoided, and a great and powerful generation will be developed.
In my extensive travels I am meeting many young men and women who are desirous of filling missions—young people who are preparing to go into the service of teaching the world a better life. I find many dedicated and clean. I find others equally personable, able, and eager, but who are not wholly prepared nor worthy to represent their Lord—some who have had distressing patterns of thought and action.
I remember the scripture which asks the question: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?” And the answer: “He that hath clean hands and a pure heart.” (Ps. 24:3–4.) We are now urging every boy to fill a mission. I always ask these prospective missionaries, whose hands have not been wholly clean and whose hearts have not been wholly pure, “How much, how often, how devoutly do you pray?” The answers have shocked me, for I could not believe that so many young men and women would fail to pray consistently.
As I interview numerous older people for important positions, again I am shocked. “Do you have your prayers regularly night and morning?” I ask. And many answer that they do have family prayers sometimes. Many try to pray once a day and feel that they are meeting requirements. Others shrug it off by saying they cannot get their families together—life is so demanding.
A certain seminary teacher asked his 35 youngsters the searching question, “Did your family have its prayer this morning?” Of the 35, two had had their prayers; 33 families had been too busy, too late, too hurried, or too disinterested.
Why should we pray? Because we are the sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, on whom we depend for everything we enjoy—our food and clothing, our health, our life itself, our sight and hearing, our voices, our locomotion, even our brains.
Do you not realize your dependence as you stand in perfect health with your opportunities? Do you think that they are of your providing? Do you give to yourself your breath, your life, your being? Can you lengthen your days by .a single hour? Are you so strong without the gifts of heaven? Are your brains made by self, and did you fashion them? Can you give life or give it prolongation? Do you have power to do without your Lord? Yet I find that many fail to pray. We are commanded to do so by our all-wise Heavenly Father: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5.)
One young man in his early teens lacked wisdom but was not lacking in faith or sincerity. His prayer opened a closed heaven and a confused world for further exploration. The common woods were made sacred that day; they blazed in glory. The trees were hallowed and the soil made holy ground.
The Lord has given us this solemn commandment: “He that observeth not his prayers before the Lord in the season thereof, let him be had in remembrance before the judge of my people.” (D&C 68:33.) “And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.” (D&C 68:28.) “I command thee that thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as in secret, in public as well as in private.” (D&C 19:28.)
When should we pray? The answer: pray always. But to be more specific, the Church urges that there be family prayer every night and every morning. It is a kneeling prayer with all or as many members of the family present as possible. Many have found the most effective time is at the breakfast and at the dinner table. Then it is least difficult to get the family members together. These prayers need not be long, especially if little children are on their knees. All of the members of the family, including the little ones, should have opportunity to be mouth in the prayer, in turn.
Many young men have stirred their non-praying families by saying, “In the mission field I will need all the blessings of the Lord, and it would be most helpful to me if I could be assured that every night and morning as I prepare for my day’s proselyting, I could know with certainty that all the members of my family were on their knees, including my needs in their prayers.”
We should express gratitude for past blessings. Paul says:
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
“For kings, and for all that are in authority.” (1 Tim. 2:1–2.)
This will help develop loyalty to country and to leaders. One can hardly be critical of Church leadership if honest prayers are offered for them. Children will come to honor leaders for whom they pray.
The all-encompassing missionary work should be the object of our prayers. When each child prays all his life for the missionaries, he will be a great missionary. We pray for understanding, wisdom, judgment. We pray for loved ones, the sick, and those in need. We pray for the frustrated, the disturbed, the sinful. These prayers are largely general, and then our personal prayers are more specific. They fall into at least two categories. There are the formal prayers where we kneel regularly. Here we talk to the Lord more intimately. We pray for some of the same things as in our family prayers, but more for our immediate and pressing needs. We express our innermost thoughts. We confess our weaknesses. We plead for help to overcome and for forgiveness of our transgressions, our evil thoughts. We bare our souls.
Can anyone long have an enemy or continue to hate one for whom he prays? Here one sheds all pretense, sham, deceit. He stands before his Maker as he really is, without affectation or subterfuge. There are the personal prayers which are less formal. We always have a prayer in our hearts that we may do our best on the football field, that we may appear well in the classroom, that we may remember the things we have learned when the test is on, that we may be impressive to our friends. We pray as we stand to speak, as we walk, as we drive. We remember our friends, our enemies. We pray for wisdom and judgment. We pray for protection in dangerous places and for strength in moments of temptation. We utter momentary prayers in word or thought, aloud or in the deepest silence. Can one do evil when honest prayers are in his heart and on his lips?
The Lord told Joseph Knight, Sr., “You must take up your cross, in the which you must pray vocally before the world as well as in secret, and in your family, and among your friends, and in all places.” (D&C 23:6.)
This is what has disturbed me when I have interviewed numerous prospective missionaries: Too often I find them not praying, even though they have unforgiven follies. “Why don’t you pray,” I have asked, “when you have such great obligations to repay? Your hands are clean from earth stains but not from the deeper blots that ordinary water will not cleanse. Why don’t you pray when you have such a debt to pay? Do you think you can merely write it off and shrug your shoulders and rationalize that it is just a common practice? Why don’t you pray? Are you ashamed to kneel, ashamed of Christ?
“Is there some disbelief in God? Do you not know he lives and loves, forgives when repentance is forthcoming? Do you know that sins cannot be erased, transgressions cannot be forgiven through evasion and mere forgetfulness?”
Peter says, “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Pet. 3:12.)
The Lord has promised he will answer, not always as we would ask, but as is for our good. We ask for what we want, rather than for what we should have. The Lord has said through Moroni:
“Strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that you may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God.
“… see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Morm. 9:28–29.)
Great decisions must be made by most of us. The Lord has provided a way for these answers. If the question is which school, what occupation, where to live, whom to marry, or such other vital questions, you should do all that is possible to solve it. Too often, like Oliver Cowdery, we want our answers without effort. The Lord said to him:
“Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
“But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought.” (D&C 9:7–9.)
The Lord does answer our prayers, but sometimes we are not responsive enough to know when and how they are answered. We want the “writing on the wall” or an angel to speak or a heavenly voice. Often our requests are so absurd that the Lord has said, “Trifle not with these things; do not ask for that which you ought not.” (D&C 8:10.)
There must be works with faith. How futile it would be to ask the Lord to give us knowledge, but the Lord will help us to acquire knowledge, to study constructively, to think clearly, and to retain things we have learned. How stupid to ask the Lord to protect us if we unnecessarily drive at excessive speeds, if we eat or drink destructive elements. Can we ask him to provide us material things if we give no effort? “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20.)
You who pray sometimes, why not pray more regularly, more often, more devoutly? Is time so precious, life so short, or faith so scant? How do you pray? Like publicans or arrogant officials? The Pharisee recounted to the Lord his many virtues. He was not an extortioner, unjust, an adulterer like the publican or other men. He fasted twice a week and tithed possessions. But the publican standing humbly in the background “would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:13.)
In your secret prayers do you present yourself with your soul bared, or do you dress yourself in fancy coverings and pressure God to see your virtues? Do you emphasize your goodness and cover your sins with a blanket of pretense? Or do you plead for mercy at the hands of Kind Providence?
Do you get answers to your prayers? If not, perhaps you did not pay the price. Do you offer a few trite words and worn-out phrases, or do you talk intimately to the Lord? Do you pray occasionally when you should be praying regularly, often, constantly? Do you offer pennies to pay heavy debts when you should give dollars to erase that obligation?
When you pray, do you just speak, or do you also listen? Your Savior said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20.)
The promise is made to everyone. There is no discrimination, no favored few. But the Lord has not promised to crash the door. He stands and knocks. If we do not listen, he will not sup with us nor give answer to our prayers. Do you know how to listen, grasp, interpret, understand? The Lord stands knocking. He never retreats. But he will never force himself upon us. If we ever move apart, it is we who move and not the Lord. And should we ever fail to get an answer to our prayers, we must look into our lives for a reason. We have failed to do what we should, or we have done something we should not have done. We have dulled our hearing or impaired our eyesight.
A young man asked me, “Sometimes I feel so close to my Heavenly Father and such a sweet, spiritual influence; why cannot I have it all the time?” I said, “The answer is with you, not with the Lord, for he stands knocking, eager to come in.”
If you have lost that spirit of peace and acceptance, then every effort should be made to recapture it and retain it. Are you listening? Can you hear, and see, and feel? Or have you sometimes approached the situation of the brothers of Nephi, to whom he said, “Ye have heard his voice from time to time … but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words.” (1 Ne. 17:45.)
There seems to grow upon us a film of worldliness when we move away from the Lord. It might be like the film of grease spread over the body of the swimmer who would cross the English Channel. It fills the pores and covers the skin so there can be less penetration of the cold. It might be like the skin-diver’s rubber suit. But when we pierce the shell and penetrate the covering and humble ourselves with naked soul and sincere supplication and cleansed life, our prayers are answered. We can reach the point where Peter stood, and like him we may “be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
“But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” (2 Pet. 1:4, 9.)
When you received your confirmation, you were commanded to receive the Holy Ghost. He was not obligated to seek you out. The Lord says, “I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments.” (Enos 1:10.) If our lives are responsive and clean, if we are reaching and cultivating, the Holy Ghost will come, and we may retain him and have the peace his presence thus affords.
Do you give thanks or merely ask for favors? Or are you like the lepers by the road? They begged for mercy and were healed but did not stay to thank the generous Savior.
“And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
“And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
“And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks. …
“And Jesus answering [sorrowful and saddened] said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
“There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
“And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Luke 17:12–13, 15–19.)
In our public prayers we must not be like the Pharisees or hypocrites who loved to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets that they might be seen of men.
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (Matt. 6:7.)
We all are under heavy obligation to our Lord. None of us has reached perfection. None of us is free from error. To pray is required of all men like chastity is required, and Sabbath observance, and tithing, and living the Word of Wisdom, attending meetings, and entering into celestial marriage. As truly as any other, this is a commandment of the Lord.
“I stand at the door and knock.” I was reminded of this scripture when I was on a plane with a young man who was going to a military encampment. He told me where he lived. I knew he must be a member of the Church. He reluctantly admitted it.
As the stewardess brought the snack, he drank his coffee, I my milk; he smoked his cigarette, and I read the scriptures. The door was closed, and I could not penetrate. He was not listening to me, a humble servant, nor to the Lord, who was constantly knocking.
To those of us who would pay pennies toward our unfathomable debt, may we remember Enos, who, like many of us, had great need. Like many sons of good families he strayed. How heinous were his sins I do not know, but they must have been grievous. He wrote, “And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.” The account is graphic, his words impressive.
“Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests.”
But no animals did he shoot or capture. He was traveling a path he had never walked before. He was reaching, knocking, asking, pleading; he was being born again. He was seeing the pleasant valleys across the barren wastes. He was searching his soul. He would have lived all his life in a weed patch, but now he sought a watered garden. He continues:
“And the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.”
Memory was both cruel and kind. The pictures his father had painted now stirred his soul. He was warmed and inspired. Then memory opened the doors to his ugly past. His soul revolted at the reliving of the baser things but yearned now for the better. A rebirth was in process. It was painful but rewarding.
“And my soul hungered.” The spirit of repentance was taking hold. He was remorseful for his transgression, eager to bury the old man of sin, to resurrect the new man of faith, of godliness.
“And I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul.”
He had now come to realize that no one can be saved in his sins, that no unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of God, that there must be a cleansing, that stains must be eliminated, new flesh over scars. He came to realize that there must be a purging, a new heart in a new man. He knew it was not a small thing to change hearts, and minds, and tissues. He writes:
“And all the day long did I cry unto him.”
Here is no casual prayer; here no trite, worn phrases; here no momentary appeal. All the day long, with seconds turning into minutes, and minutes into hours, and hours into an “all day long.” But when the sun had set, relief had still not come, for repentance is not a single act, nor forgiveness an unearned gift. So precious to him was communication with, and approval of, his Redeemer that his determined soul pressed on without ceasing.
“Yea, and when the night came, I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.” (Enos 1:2–4.)
Could the Redeemer resist such determined imploring? How many of you have thus persisted? How many of you, with or without serious transgressions, have ever prayed all day and into the night? Have you ever wept and prayed for many hours? How many of you have prayed for five hours? for one? for 30 minutes? for ten?
My missionary prospect with his errors had prayed occasionally for seconds. Yet with a heavy debt to pay he had expected forgiveness of his sins. He offered pennies to pay the debt of thousands of dollars. He wanted much for little. He desired to cancel his debt without payment of principal or interest.
How much do you pray, my young friends? How often? How earnestly? If you should have errors in your life, have you wrestled before the Lord? Have you found your deep forest full of solitude? How much has your soul hungered? How deeply have your needs impressed your heart? When did you kneel before your Maker in total quiet? For what did you pray—your own soul? How long did you thus plead for recognition—all day long? And when the shadows fell, did you still raise your voice in mighty prayer, or did you liquidate it with some trite word and phrase?
As you struggle in the spirit and cry mightily and covenant sincerely, the voice of the Lord God will come into your mind, as it did to that of Enos:
“Thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.” (Enos 1:5.)
Do you think prayer is not answered because you do not understand? Did Christ not come because men would not receive him? Is there no sound vibration because ears do not perceive it? Are there no vibrations in the air because no receiver sets are in tune? Does God not speak because our ears are closed? And does he not appear when eyes are leaden? Some people hear a noise; others think it thunders; while others hear and understand the voice of God and see him personally.
Solitude is rich and profitable. When we pray alone with God, we shed all sham and pretense, all hypocrisy and arrogance. The Savior found his mountains and slipped away to pray. Paul, the great apostle, could not seem to get into the spirit of his new calling until he had found cleansing solitude down in Arabia—for purification; for repentance; for forgiveness, to break the seal of worldly covering, to shed his film, his skintight suit of worldliness.
He went into solitude a worldly man and came out cleansed, prepared, regenerated.
He was born of water in a Damascus river and of the Spirit in an Arabian solitude. Enos found himself in solitary places to commune in forest fastnesses, with only ears of beasts to hear. The brother of Jared went to the mountaintop to get the Lord to touch the stones to light their way.
And Nephi learned to build a ship through communication with his Lord on a mountain far from human ears. Joseph found his solitude in the grove with only birds and trees and God to listen to his prayer.
We all need prayers to bring us close to God, to give us new birth. Like Alma said:
“I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.
“… all mankind … must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
“And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.” (Mosiah 27:24–26.)
And in all our prayers we remember our insufficiency, our limitations, our dependence, our lack of wisdom. Like children we do not always know what is best for us, what is expedient. And so in all our prayers we say, “Thy will be done”—and mean it. We would not ask a Church leader for advice, then disregard it. We must never ask the Lord for blessings, then ignore the answer.
And so we pray, “Thy will be done, O Lord. Thou knowest best, kind Father. I will conform. I will accept it gratefully.”

Prayerful

“Prayerful” is the focus word I have picked for 2019. It is something I have struggled to be faithfully consistent with my whole life. Sure I talk to God a lot during the day. I often turn off my radio as I drive and talk to Him in the silence. I pray for help and offer gratitude often through the day. What I struggle with is making the morning and evening kneeling prayers of the day a habit. I’m not sure why this is so, because I have such a testimony of the power of prayer. I know that it can calm my heart, ease my fears, comfort my disappointment. I know it has brought me healing, peace, and even miracles. Yet, it seems that I spend more time on my knees when things are not going as planned and I’m less consistent when life gets busy or seems to be going smoothly. It is this way even though I know how much power and strength praying would give me on a daily basis. I really do want to do better. I’m so grateful God is so very patient with us, even when our weakness reveals itself over and over again.