Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pray Always

Dear Sisters:

Today our lesson was taught by Sister Terri Johanson. She taught from the talk Elder David Bednar gave in October conference. It is titled Pray Always. Here is a link.

Elder Bednar defined prayer as "communication to Heavenly Father from His sons and daughters on earth. Revelation is communication from Heavenly Father to His children on earth."

Elder Bednar discussed three principles that can help our prayers become more meaningful.

They are:

1. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we counsel with the Lord in all our doings (See Alma 37:37.)

He taught, "Just as the temporal creation was linked to and a continuation of the spiritual creation, so meaningful morning and evening prayers are linked to and are a continuation of each other.

Consider this example. There may be things in our character, in our behavior, or concerning our spiritual growth about which we need to counsel with Heavenly Father in morning prayer. After expressing appropriate thanks for blessings received, we plead for understanding, direction, and help to do the things we cannot do in our own strength alone. For example, as we pray, we might:

  • Reflect on those occasions when we have spoken harshly or inappropriately to those we love the most.
  • Recognize that we know better than this, but we do not always act in accordance with what we know.
  • Express remorse for our weaknesses and for not putting off the natural man more earnestly.
  • Determine to pattern our life after the Savior more completely.
  • Plead for greater strength to do and to become better.

Such a prayer is a key part of the spiritual preparation for our day.

During the course of the day, we keep a prayer in our heart for continued assistance and guidance—even as Alma suggested: “Let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord” (Alma 37:36).

We notice during this particular day that there are occasions where normally we would have a tendency to speak harshly, and we do not; or we might be inclined to anger, but we are not. We discern heavenly help and strength and humbly recognize answers to our prayer. Even in that moment of recognition, we offer a silent prayer of gratitude.

At the end of our day, we kneel again and report back to our Father. We review the events of the day and express heartfelt thanks for the blessings and the help we received. We repent and, with the assistance of the Spirit of the Lord, identify ways we can do and become better tomorrow. Thus our evening prayer builds upon and is a continuation of our morning prayer. And our evening prayer also is a preparation for meaningful morning prayer.

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"

2. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we express heartfelt gratitude.

He taught, "The most meaningful and spiritual prayers I have experienced contained many expressions of thanks and few, if any, requests. As I am blessed now to pray with apostles and prophets, I find among these modern-day leaders of the Savior’s Church the same characteristic that describes Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon: these are men whose hearts swell with thanksgiving to God for the many privileges and blessings which He bestows upon His people (see Alma 48:12). Also, they do not multiply many words, for it is given unto them what they should pray, and they are filled with desire (see 3 Nephi 19:24). The prayers of prophets are childlike in their simplicity and powerful because of their sincerity."

3. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we pray for others with real intent and a sincere heart.

Sister Johansen pointed out this beautiful quote from Elder Bednar,

"During the Savior’s ministry on the American continent, He directed the people to ponder His teachings and to pray for understanding. He healed the sick, and He prayed for the people using language that could not be written (see 3 Nephi 17:1–16). The impact of His prayer was profound: “No one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father” (3 Nephi 17:17). Imagine what it might have been like to hear the Savior of the world praying for us.

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."

We also discussed how united we have become as a ward and a sisterhood since we have chosen to pray together for particular members of our ward. There is great power in united prayer, sisters and we have seen it in action.

Sister Johansen challenged us to make sure that our family members and those we serve hear us pray for them.

We love you sisters. We pray for you, and we know that you pray for each other. Let us all strive to have our prayers be more meaningful by exercising the steps outlined by Elder Bednar.

Your RS Presidency

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Come What May, And Love It

Hello Sisters:

Today Chelsea Steffieri taught our lesson. She taught from a talk by Elder Wirthlin at our last General Conference. His talk was called, Come What May and Love It. Here is a link to the talk. Chelsea pointed out that this was the final talk given by Elder Wirthlin in a General Conference as he died a few weeks later at the age of 91.

Elder Wirthlin began his talk by telling the story of coming home as a young man very discouraged because his football team had lost a game. His mother's response to him was, "Joseph, come what may, and love it." He said, "I think she may have meant that every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don't sing and bells don't ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result."

Elder Wirthlin said that "whenever my steps led through seasons of sadness and sorrow, my mother's words often came back to me."

Chelsea then shared four things that have helped Elder Wirthlin through times of testing and trial.

1. Learn to Laugh - Elder Wirthlin taught us to laugh at ourselves. He told a very funny story about one of his daughters that could have been horrible embarrassing if she had not learned to laugh at herself. (Click the link above and enjoy the story.)

2. Seek for the Eternal - Look at the big picture. Elder Wirthlin says, "Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is part of our on the job training. These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others." Chelsea talked about the parable of the Olive Tree in Jacob 5. She reminded us that the Olive Trees had to be pruned and dug and grafted and that all of those things are painful processes. This subject reminded me of a story by Hugh B. Brown called "The Currant Bush." The link is here. This story reminds us that "God is the Gardener."

3. The Principle of Compensation - "The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude." Kerinda pointed out that this talk represented the principle of compensation to Elder Wirthlin's family as it was the last one he gave before he died. During those sad days after his death, imagine the peace and joy it gave all of them to know that he would want them to "Come what may, and love it."

4. Trust in the Father and the Son - Elder Wirthlin says, "The 4th thing we can do is put our trust in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. The Lord Jesus Christ is our partner, helper, and advocate. He wants us to be happy. he wants us to be successful. If we do our part, He will step in. He who descended below all things will come to our aid. He will comfort us and uphold us. He will strengthen us in our weakness and fortify us in our distress. He will make weak things become strong."

Chelsea ended with this scripture.

"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." D&C 123:17

We love you, Sisters. We wish for all of you joy and peace in your lives during these sometimes confusing and frightening times. Life is good. We have many blessings. As Sister Stange said during the lesson, "We have more than we don't have." May we all strive to cheerfully do all that we can so that we will be able to stand still with the utmost assurance to see the salvation of God.


Your Relief Society Presidency