Welcome to the Talk Of The Week Club. I began this club as a way to share my love of learning and growing in the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My hope and desire is for you to learn and grow in your faith and love of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Each Thursday a new talk will be posted, come back, open your heart and mind, allow yourself to receive and I promise you will be spiritually fed.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Week 9: Prayer

I am so happy to be back and to be able to contribute to the Talk of the Week once again. I have truly missed the opportunity I have to share the gospel with each of you. It's nice to be back.

We've been talking about prayer in our home a lot lately. A LOT. My 3 year old daughter is really struggling with prayer...yes, I said my 3 year old. You see, she thinks it is her turn to pray at every prayer. Cute, huh? Nope, not really. Not when every family prayer or prayer over a meal results in a 5 minute long tantrum about not being able to pray because it isn't her turn. Last night, just before family prayer, I sat down with her and I told her that when we pray we are having a conversation with our Heavenly Father. I then proceeded to tell her that it would be impossible for him to hear us if she was screaming through the whole thing. My 6 year old piped in and said "Nope mommy...Heavenly Father ALWAYS hears and answers our prayers...even if there is screaming, even if we are in the noisiest place in the world HE ALWAYS hears us." She was right (although it didn't help me at all with my 3 year old). HOWEVER, it did give me a wonderful perspective and a warm feeling. He is always there. He always hears us. All we need to do is PRAY. I hope you enjoy this talk by Sister Cheryl C. Lant entitled simply "Prayer."

:) Alida

MP3 Link


Cheryl C. Lant
Primary General President
CES Fireside for Young Adults • September 9, 2007 • Brigham Young University

Cheryl C. LantI would like to begin our discussion this evening by reviewing a story that we are all very familiar with. It is about a young man who lived in a large city. In many ways it was like the cities we live in today. It was crowded, noisy, and filled with people going about their daily activities of work and play—people who were frustrated and stressed at trying to keep up with the life around them. It was a city filled with temptation. There were many voices crying for his attention—voices that invited him to indulge in selfish desires for things, power, fame, and pleasure; voices that encouraged him to cheat a little here and lie a little there; voices that taunted him to join in because everyone was doing it.

This young man had many choices to make. He had a family—a family that was probably a lot like many of our families. It was a family that had both strengths and weaknesses. His parents were good people who took seriously their responsibility to teach their children correct principles and desired that their children would follow the Lord. They were parents who probably made mistakes now and then in their attempts to accomplish this. The father was a priesthood leader. He was diligent in fulfilling his responsibilities to his family and to the Church. Some of the children of the family were respectful and obedient. Others wanted to follow their own mind and will—just like in our families.

This young man was like you young people who are here tonight. He was bright, serious-minded, respectful, diligent, and obedient. He loved his parents and family, and he loved the Lord. He wanted to make the right choices. Like most of you, he listened to his father. But it was hard. And as time went on it became harder and harder. The words of his father separated him from his friends and from the world around him. He wanted and needed to know for himself if the things that his father taught him were true.

We read in the scriptures how he did that and what happened: “Having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father” (1 Nephi 2:16).

Faced with life-altering decisions in his life, this young man turned in humility to his Heavenly Father in prayer, and he received an answer to his prayer. This young man’s name was Nephi.

Nephi had a choice to make in his life. It was very much like the choices we all have to make in our lives every day. Even though our world may look very different from his, the influences that were pulling on him were very much like the influences that pull on us. He had to make a choice between the things of the world and the things of the Lord. We have those same kinds of choices. Nephi chose to put his mind and will into the hands of the Lord. He chose to go to the only true source of truth and righteousness in prayer, he chose to listen to the answers the Lord gave him, and he chose to obey. This simple act of prayer not only opened the door to a great life of opportunity and blessings for Nephi, but it also serves as an example to us in our lives today.

Nephi himself taught in l Nephi 19:23 that we should “liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” And so tonight we are going to talk about the great principle of the gospel that was demonstrated by Nephi. We are going to talk about prayer. We are going to look to the scriptures and to the prophets for understanding. We are going to “liken” these teachings to our own lives.

As we do so, will you think about prayer in your life and honestly and seriously think about the answers to some questions I am going to ask—such questions as: What should I be praying about in my own life? When and how can I pray? When I pray, do I pray with intensity and faith? Do I feel that my prayers are heard? Do I really believe that the Lord will answer me? Do I understand how the answers to prayers come? Do I recognize and accept the answers, even if they are not what I want them to be? Do I understand what it means to wait patiently on the Lord? Do I pray with real intent, thereby ordering my life according to the answers I receive? Do I go forward and act on the answers I am given?

Before we answer these questions, let’s talk about the principle of prayer. Prayer is simply the process by which we are able to communicate with our Heavenly Father. And it is a two-way communication. Elder Richard G. Scott teaches us that “prayer is a supernal gift of our Father in Heaven to every soul” (in Conference Report, Mar.–Apr. 2007, 5; or Ensign, May 2007, 8). No matter who we are, where we are, what our needs are, or what we have done, we are not alone. We have a loving Father in Heaven who has made Himself available to us if we will just turn to Him.

Prayer does many things. Prayer is one of the ways we can express gratitude. It brings comfort and peace. It is through prayer that we are able to receive a testimony. It helps us to sort out our feelings and thinking as we express our concerns and desires to our Heavenly Father. It can give us specific answers. Our minds can be enlightened because revelation comes through personal prayer. Prayer is where repentance begins, it is through prayer that we can know we have been forgiven, and prayer can help us to forgive ourselves and others. Prayer can help us find direction. It can help us in making decisions.

We can receive help in very specific ways. It is through prayer that we can find strength, both in spirit and in body. Prayer can provide protection from all sources of harm and evil. We can access every spiritual gift as we ask in sincere prayer. We find answers to all of life’s questions as we ask in prayer. I know that there are healing powers in prayer—healing in terms of physical needs and healing of the spirit.

Prayer involves the individual—you and me—and it also involves the whole Godhead. All three members of the Godhead are involved in this way: When we pray to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, who is our advocate, answers come from our Heavenly Father by the Holy Ghost. It is through the Holy Ghost that we feel the love of the Father and the Son.

I want you to know that I know that these principles concerning prayer are true. We find these principles taught in the scriptures and in the words of the prophets. I have a personal testimony of the power of prayer because I have experienced many of the blessings of prayer in my own life. But what I really want to talk about tonight is how you feel about prayer in your life—how you are using it to access the powers of heaven. In order to do this, let’s go back to those original questions.

What Do I Need to Pray About?

The first question is: What do I need to pray about in my own life?

Think about where you are in your life right now. Do you worry about things? Do you ever feel overwhelmed or confused? I am sure there are challenges and concerns. What are they? In the Book of Mormon, Amulek teaches us some of the things we should pray about. As we read this scripture together, keep track of the specific things mentioned. We are going to read from Alma 34, verses 17–26:

“Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;

“Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.

“Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.

“Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.

“Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.

“Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.

“Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.

“Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.

“Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.

“But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.”

Does this suggest some things that we could pray about? To me it seems to suggest that we need to pray about everything.

Alma prayed for mercy that he might be saved. He was asking for the Atonement to take effect in his life. He was repenting. He prayed for his family, his possessions, to be a success. He prayed for protection from Satan and temptation. I think that when he was told to pray in his closet and secret places and his wilderness, the Lord wasn’t talking about places he could pray—or at least He wasn’t only talking about places. I think He was telling Alma to go to the secret places in his heart and in his life and pray for all of his personal struggles and weaknesses.

If we liken this scripture to our own lives, we can see many things we could pray about. For you this could include such things as your schoolwork, finding a profession, and meeting and finding a worthy and perhaps an eternal companion. What about beginning your families and your homes? What about your health? What about your own personal worthiness? Could it include your personal testimony, your desire to know how you should serve Him, your need to repent, and your need to be strengthened against temptation? Does this suggest praying for the Holy Ghost to guide you in all things?

When we pray we must be mindful to not just pray for the things we want. We must come to the place where we pray for the things the Lord wants for us. When we do this, we are in essence giving our lives over to Him. We are saying, “I cannot do this by myself. I do not want to do this by myself. I will do it Thy way.”

When and How Can I Pray?

This leads us to the second question: When and how can I pray?

We do, of course, have regular prayers that we have all been taught to say—personal prayers in the night and in the morning. We have family prayers and prayers that accompany our gatherings. These are the first prayers we are taught to say. If we are not careful, they can become routine and even rote.

How many times do we offer a quick morning prayer and then jump up and race out of the door—never giving it another thought? How many times do we fall asleep saying our evening prayers or even skip them all together because we are just so tired? When we consider to whom we are speaking when we pray, how much He has done for us, and how dependent we are upon Him, it gives us pause to think. Taking time to ponder as we pray will give the Spirit opportunity to speak to us.

Family prayers can be powerful. They can unite family members and strengthen them in times of challenge. They can protect. They can bring comfort and peace. When our children were in the mission field, we would figure out the time difference between our home and the mission and then figure out what time—their time—we would be saying our family prayers at home so that they would know just when we were praying for them. Several of them have said that they felt those prayers and were strengthened by them in very specific ways at the very moment they were needed.

But we are taught in the scriptures that these formal prayers are not the only way we can approach our Heavenly Father. In Alma 34:27 we read, “Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare.”

We can always have a prayer in our hearts. What does that mean?

I think it is an attitude of upward reaching from our souls to heaven—to Heavenly Father. It is a fleeting but intense feeling of “Thank you.” “Please help me.” “What is the right thing for me to do?” “What should I say?” “I am so sorry.” It is the yearning for comfort, strength, and guidance when you are in the midst of a situation. It is the feeling of gladness and joy at something beautiful. It is the recognition of the Holy Ghost operating in your life. It is opening our hearts to continual communication. This kind of praying can be more or less constant as we allow it to be. We control it by our activities, our environment, and the condition of our hearts.

What are some of the things that can stop this from happening? Loud and constant music, even good music, can just become noise that strangles a prayerful thought before it is ever formed in our minds. Surrounding ourselves with chaos, clutter, and confusion can stifle the Spirit. Becoming too busy and stressed by everyday life can distract our minds from heaven. Allowing ourselves to be in places where we know the Spirit cannot abide will block our prayers. Allowing inappropriate and ugly images to enter our minds through things we see on the Internet, in movies, on television, or in things we read will destroy our connection with heaven. Being angry, irritated, and annoyed by others can close our hearts.

“But,” you might say, “these things are part of our lives every day. How can we avoid them?” I believe that these things can be part of our everyday life if we let them. We are in control—or at least we can be in control.

It is so important that we each consider our lives and consider what we must do in order to qualify for the blessings of heaven. We will become aware of how close heaven is if we just reach for it. And the very act of reaching for it can help us put our lives in balance with the things of the Spirit. The closer we are to the Spirit, the more our hearts can be open and flowing to our Father in Heaven. For me, the prayer of the heart keeps me closer to the Lord than anything else I can do. And I can do it any place and any time. It is a lifeline to me.

Do I Pray with Intensity and Faith?

Our next question is: When I pray, do I pray with intensity and faith?

Turn back to Alma 34:17–27. This whole passage of scripture indicates that we need to have both intensity and faith. Notice the words: “exercise your faith,” “call upon his holy name,” “cry unto him,” “pour out your souls,” “drawn out in prayer.” This is more than just a dutiful prayer offered in a hurry.

All prayers need to come from deep inside our minds and hearts. How offensive it must be to the Lord—who has offered us so much, who stands ready to give every blessing expedient for our good—for us to hurry through our prayers or sleep through them or have our minds wander or our words be casual and disrespectful, such as using you and your instead of Thee and Thou. How often do we forget Him altogether until we have an urgent need?

Sometimes our prayers are an urgent plea for help. I remember one such prayer I offered when my then three-year-old son was missing. He had been playing with the other children in our yard. I had taken my eyes off of him only momentarily to check on the baby. But suddenly he was gone.

Immediately I offered a desperate prayer for help. The thought came into my mind that he was at the swimming pool of an apartment complex about three blocks away.

Now he had never been to that pool. He had never even been to the apartments. The pool was enclosed in a building and was kept locked at all times. He didn’t even know that it was there. But the feeling was strong.

Running, I called to my 10-year-old son, who was on his bike, to go to the swimming pool as quickly as he could. When he got there he found his little brother and another little boy of the same age who had known about the pool just beginning to wade into the shallow end of the pool. They had all their clothes and shoes on—and even though the door had been open, there was no one else in the area.

Some prayers are intense, and we need answers right now! Thankfully not all prayers are like that. If we go before the Lord in prayer on a consistent basis, He will be there when we urgently need Him.

Praying with intensity seems to indicate faith that the prayer can be answered. Faith is simple and childlike for some of us. It may be borne out of love or out of never having had it tried. For most of us faith is something we have to consistently work to have. We might attain great faith through a singular experience, but the next time our faith is tried we seem to have to start all over again in really trusting the Lord. But I promise you that if you pray, believing that Heavenly Father is there, that He loves you, and that He can answer all prayers, your faith will grow and it will become stronger, and you will be able to come to a place in your life where you will know these things are true. Believing is the beginning of faith.

Do I Really Believe That My Prayers Are Heard and Will Be Answered?

Next question: Do I really believe that my prayers are heard and that Heavenly Father will answer me?

Let me tell you about one little boy’s prayer. His name is Brayden. He was very young at the time—five or six years old. He had been reading the Book of Mormon with his family. The family would read a few verses each day and then have family prayer.

One day they read the words in Moroni 10:4: “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

It was Brayden’s turn to pray that day. He began his prayer in the same usual way, using the same usual words, but then he said something different. He said, “Heavenly Father, is the Book of Mormon true?” Then he paused.

He paused for so long that his father glanced over at him to see if he needed help in finishing his prayer. But he didn’t need any help. He finished by saying simply, “Thanks, Heavenly Father” and closed his prayer. The Spirit entered that home and bore witness to the whole family of the truthfulness of the scriptures. His prayer was one of simple, beautiful faith.

You are a child of God, just as is Brayden. You are of great worth to Him. He has commanded us repeatedly in the scriptures to “pray always.” He has provided the Atonement to bring us back home. Why would He not answer your prayers? He will. I promise He will! But maybe it’s not the Lord that we are questioning. Maybe it’s our own worthiness we question. Maybe it’s our lack of understanding of how God answers our prayers that makes us question.

In order to better understand and answer how Heavenly Father answers our prayers, let us join this question with the next three questions, which are:

Do I understand how the answers to prayers come?

Do I recognize and accept answers, even if they are not what I want them to be?

Do I understand what it means to wait patiently on the Lord?

When we qualify ourselves through personal worthiness, Heavenly Father always answers our prayers. Please note the word qualify. We have to be trying hard to be worthy of the Lord’s blessings.

President Harold B. Lee said: “If you want the blessing, don’t just kneel down and pray about it. Prepare yourselves in every conceivable way you can in order to make yourselves worthy to receive the blessing you seek” (Stand Ye in Holy Places [1974], 244).

We have to be close to the Spirit to know what to pray for and to be able to discern His answers. But this does not mean we have to be perfect or anywhere near it in order to pray and get answers. This is because prayer is one of the ways we are able to repent and one of the ways we are able to become perfected.

Heavenly Father not only answers our prayers; He always answers them in the way that will bless us eternally. This is a principle that is absolutely true. But there are many ways our prayers may be answered. He may say yes. He may say no. He may say not now. Sometimes we may feel that He is not answering us at all because we are not able to discern the answer. We have to trust in the Lord and trust His timing. We need to learn to recognize the answers when they come.

Some answers come bit by bit in order to strengthen our faith. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “We cannot force spiritual things. It must be so. Our life’s purpose to obtain experience and to develop faith would be frustrated if our Heavenly Father enlightened us immediately on every question or directed us in every act” (The Lord’s Way [1991], 36).

Some answers have already been given us, and the Lord is trusting us to act on them. Sometimes we are asking between two equally good things and the Lord is giving us a chance to use our God-given power of agency.

Perhaps in our urgent desire to receive a specific answer to a prayer we are unwilling to put our lives in the hands of the Lord and accept the answer we are given. We want what we want, and we want it now!

Maybe our problem lies in not recognizing how answers come. We are aware that some prayers are answered in spectacular ways, such as Joseph Smith’s First Vision, but most often answers come in more quiet ways. In Doctrine and Covenants 8:2–3 we read about two ways the Lord answers our prayers:

“Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

“Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation.”

The first way mentioned is in our minds. These answers come through the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost as thoughts, ideas—knowledge. These may be flashes of inspiration that we recognize immediately, or they may be ideas that we have to work through and that develop over time. They are usually accompanied by a good feeling.

The second way mentioned is in our hearts. This has to do more with our feelings. We may have negative, confused feelings to warn us that the answer is no. Or the feelings may be sweet, peaceful, reassuring, and comforting. These feelings mean that the answer is yes. These feelings are sometimes likened to a burning sensation that is intense, or the feeling may be very subtle.

The key principles here are that we have been commanded to pray to our Heavenly Father. He hears every prayer. He will answer our prayers for our best good. When we know this deep in our hearts, we won’t get discouraged and turn away from Him. When the answers are not recognizable immediately, we will remain faithful and constant—continually praying to discover His ways. The Spirit can help us, and we will learn to discern how the answers come and what the answers are. It can be different for every person, and it can even be different in each experience we have. I know that as we qualify ourselves to have the Holy Ghost with us constantly, we will be able to more clearly see and understand the answers to our prayers.

Do I Go Forward and Act?

The last question is: Do I order my life according to the answers to my prayers that I receive? Do I go forward and act?

I know that the Lord hears and answers prayers. But I also believe that if we continually pray and then refuse to listen and follow, He will not be as accessible to us in the future. In Doctrine and Covenants 101:7–8 we read:

“They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble.

“In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me.”

When we receive answers from the Lord, we have to move forward in trust and confidence. I don’t think it makes Him happy when we continually seek for another answer when we have already received one. We need to remember what He has given us and act upon it in faith.

Do I Ever Feel Like I Do Not Want to Pray?

Now, if you will forgive me, I want to ask one more question: Do you ever feel like you do not want to pray?

In 2 Nephi 32:8 we read, “For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.”

President Brigham Young taught: “It matters not whether you or I feel like praying, when the time comes to pray, pray. If we do not feel like it, we should pray till we do” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 44).

My dear young brothers and sisters, you are at a beginning place in your lives. It is a new school year, a time for new experiences, new relationships—maybe eternal relationships. You are starting your lives in many ways. You have many important decisions ahead of you. Concerning these decisions, Heavenly Father expects a lot from us. He expects us to do all we can do—to think, to work, to stretch our capacity. But if we are willing to do it His way, placing our lives in His hands, it will be so much easier. And we will get it right.

In the Bible Dictionary we learn, “The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them” (“Prayer,” 753).

All we have to do is humbly turn to Him and ask—and then listen and obey. Put simply, life just does not have to be as hard as we sometimes make it. In 3 Nephi 18:18–20 we read:

“Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.

“Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;

“And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.”

Let us follow the example of Nephi. Let us turn to our Father in Heaven in humble prayer. Let us receive the blessings untold that He has reserved just for us and for our families.

I know that God lives! Jesus Christ lives! They know each of us. They love each of us. They wait for us. May we be quick to respond by turning to Them in humble prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Week 8: He Cares More About the Shoulder Than About the Wheel

I have a confession to make this week's talk was more for me than for you. I hope you will find some wonderful truths and peace in it too. I've been so busy lately going about doing the things I really feel are meant for me to do but I am so tired and sometimes the things I have to do are so hard. I loved reading this talk as a reminder that as we come unto Jesus our burdens are made light. Enjoy.


He Cares More About the Shoulder Than About the Wheel
Monte R. Swain

Brothers and sisters, I’m grateful to be here. I’ve been rather sleepless while preparing my remarks. I’ve felt some concern. But standing here today, seeing you all before me, I feel blessed—blessed to speak from a lectern where saints and scholars and prophets have spoken, and more blessed to come to this campus each day to teach and be taught by wonderful students who are my brothers and sisters and to work with faculty and staff who are reaching for something here that is more than a job.

Today I want to address my remarks to you who may be feeling tired and a little worn down, who may be struggling with feelings of frustration about being a student at BYU, and who may even be feeling a little cynical about what we’re trying to accomplish here. There are some challenging days. There are days when a teacher, an administrator, a classmate, or a roommate does not speak or act as one should in Zion. There are days when you and I do not speak or act as we should in Zion. There are days when we’re confused about a policy or process here that seems inconsistent with the principles of Zion. Sometimes we experience a bit of emotional whiplash when our lives get bumped hard by an experience or a challenge that is painful—painful enough that it pulls us up short and we find ourselves saying, “Wait a minute! I thought this was BYU, the Lord’s school. I thought it was Heavenly Father’s will that I be a BYU student. What in the world is going on here?” You may chuckle—perhaps a bit nervously—at that representation. If you do, it’s probably because you have had some experiences along these lines. And so it’s to you that I address my remarks.

BYU is not Zion. Not yet. It is Zion’s university—and it is under construction. It is a work in progress. However—and this is the core of my remarks today—here at BYU it is not an academic program or an athletic program or even a missionary or leadership program that is under construction. It is you. You and I are the whole point of it.......To read the rest of this address please go to this link

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Week 7: Heavenly Homes, Forever Families

Dear Friends,

As I searched for a talk to share with you this week I was drawn to a message from last February’s World Wide Leadership Training. As I listened again, the memory of the simplicity with which Pres. Monson spoke brought peace to my spirit. He emphasizes three things in “Following the Lord’s Blue Print” for Heavenly Homes and Forever families: Kneel Down To Pray, Step Up to Serve, Reach out to Rescue. He encourages us to have “balance” in our efforts and responsibilities as well as to “build with skill and take no shortcuts” as we follow the blue print. I was running as I listened again to this talk and it made me laugh as I read again – “kneel, step, reach” – sounds like part of a work out video. May we all be blessed as we strive to build Heavenly Homes and Forever Families by following the Lord’s Blue Print.

- Sarah

MP3 Link

Heavenly Homes, Forever Families - President Thomas S. Monson

Heavenly Homes, Forever Families
President Thomas S. Monson

Building an Eternal Home
It is in a spirit of humility that I represent the First Presidency as the concluding speaker for this meeting. We have been inspired and edified by the remarks of Elder Bednar, Elder Perry, and Sister Parkin. Our thoughts have centered on home and family as we have been reminded that “the home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions.”1 A home is much more than a house built of lumber, brick, or stone. A home is made of love, sacrifice, and respect. We are responsible for the homes we build. We must build wisely, for eternity is not a short voyage. There will be calm and wind, sunlight and shadows, joy and sorrow. But if we really try, our home can be a bit of heaven here on earth. The thoughts we think, the deeds we do, the lives we live not only influence the success of our earthly journey, they also mark the way to our eternal goals.Some Latter-day Saint families are comprised of mother, father, and children, all at home, while others have witnessed the tender departure of one, then another, then another of their members. Sometimes a single individual comprises a family. Whatever its composition, the family continues—for families can be forever.We can learn from the master architect—even the Lord. He has taught us how we must build. He declared, “Every . . . house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25). Later He cautioned, “Behold, mine house is a house of order . . . and not a house of confusion” (D&C 132:8).In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, December 27, 1832, the Master counseled, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” (D&C 88:119; see also 109:8).Where could any of us locate a more suitable blueprint whereby he could wisely and properly build? Such a house would meet the building code outlined in Matthew, even a house built “upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24, 25; see also Luke 6:48; 3 Nephi 14:24, 25), a house capable of withstanding the rains of adversity, the floods of opposition, and the winds of doubt everywhere present in our changing and challenging world.Some might question, “But that revelation was to provide guidance for the construction of a temple. Is it relevant today?”I would respond, “Did not the Apostle Paul declare, ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?’” (1 Corinthians 3:16).Let the Lord be the general contractor for our building project. Then each of us can be subcontractors responsible for a vital segment of the whole project. All of us are thereby builders. In addition to building our own homes, we also have the responsibility to help build the kingdom of God here upon the earth by serving faithfully and effectively in our Church callings. May I provide guidelines from God, lessons from life, and points to ponder as we commence to build.

Kneel Down to Pray
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6). So spoke the wise Solomon, son of David, king of Israel.On this, the American continent, Jacob, the brother of Nephi, declared, “Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith” (Jacob 3:1).This divinely inspired counsel comes to us today as crystal-clear water to a parched earth. We live in troubled times.Just a few short generations ago, one could not have imagined the world in which we now live and the problems it presents. We are surrounded by immorality, pornography, violence, drugs, and a host of other ills which afflict modern-day society. Ours is the challenge, even the responsibility, not only to keep ourselves “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27) but also to guide our children and others for whom we have responsibility safely through the stormy seas of sin surrounding all of us, that we might one day return to live with our Heavenly Father.The training of our own families requires our presence, our time, our best efforts. To be effective in our training, we must be stalwart in our examples to our family members and available for private time with each member, as well as time for counseling and guidance.We often feel overwhelmed by the task before us. However, help is ever at hand. He who knows each of His children will answer our fervent and heartfelt prayer as we seek help in guiding them. Such prayer will solve more problems, alleviate more suffering, prevent more transgression, and bring about greater peace and contentment in the human soul than any other way.Besides needing such guidance for our own families, we have been called to positions where we have responsibility for others. As a bishop or counselor, as a priesthood quorum leader or an auxiliary leader, you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. There may be those who come from part-member or less-active families; some may have turned from their parents, disregarding their pleadings and counsel. We could well be the instrument in the Lord’s hands to make a difference in the life of one in such a situation. Without the guidance of our Heavenly Father, however, we cannot do all that we have been called to do. Such help comes through prayer.A prominent American judge was asked what we, as citizens of the countries of the world, could do to reduce crime and disobedience to law and to bring peace and contentment into our lives and into our nations. He thoughtfully replied, “I would suggest a return to the old-fashioned practice of family prayer.”As a people, aren’t we grateful that family prayer is not an out-of-date practice with us? There is real meaning behind the oft-quoted adage, “The family that prays together stays together.”The Lord Himself directed that we have family prayer when He said, “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed” (3 Nephi 18:21).As parents, as teachers, and as leaders in any capacity, we cannot afford to attempt this potentially perilous journey through mortality without heavenly assistance to aid us in guiding those for whom we have responsibility.As we offer unto God our family prayers and our personal prayers, let us do so with faith and trust in Him. Kneel down to pray.

Step Up to Serve
For our example, we turn to the life of the Lord. Like a glowing searchlight of goodness is the life of Jesus as He ministered among men. He brought strength to the limbs of the cripple, sight to the eyes of the blind, hearing to the ears of the deaf, and life to the body of the dead.His parables preach power. With the good Samaritan, He taught, “Love thy neighbor” (see Luke 10:30–35). Through His kindness to the woman taken in adultery, He taught compassionate understanding (see John 8:3–11). In His parable of the talents, He taught us to improve ourselves and to strive for perfection (see Matthew 25:14–30). Well could He have been preparing us for our role in building an eternal family.Each of us—whether a priesthood leader or an officer in an auxiliary organization—has responsibility to his or her sacred call. We have been set apart for the work to which we have been called. In Doctrine and Covenants 107:99 the Lord said, “Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.” As we help to bless and strengthen those for whom we have responsibility in our Church callings, we will in effect be blessing and strengthening their families. Thus, the service we perform in our families and in our Church callings can have eternal consequences.Many years ago, as a bishop in a large and diverse ward of over a thousand members located in downtown Salt Lake City, I faced numerous challenges. One Sunday afternoon I received a phone call from the proprietor of a drugstore located within our ward boundaries. He indicated that earlier that morning, a young boy had come into his store and had purchased an ice-cream sundae from the soda fountain. He had paid for the purchase with money he took from an envelope, and then when he left, he had forgotten the envelope. When the proprietor had a chance to examine it, he found that it was a fast-offering envelope with the name and telephone number of our ward printed on it. As he described to me the boy who had been in his store, I immediately identified the individual —a young deacon from our ward who came from a less-active family.My first reaction was one of shock and disappointment to think that any of our deacons would take fast-offering funds intended for those in need and would go to a store on a Sunday and buy a treat with the money. I determined to visit the boy that afternoon in order to teach him about the sacred funds of the Church and his duty as a deacon to gather and to protect those funds.As I drove to the home, I offered a silent prayer for direction in what I should say to compose the situation. I arrived and knocked on the door. It was opened by the boy’s mother, and I was invited into the living room. Although the room was barely lighted, I could see how small and run-down it was. The few pieces of furniture were threadbare. The mother herself looked worn out. My indignation at her son’s actions that morning disappeared from my thoughts as I realized that here was a family in real need. I felt impressed to ask the mother if there was any food in the house. Tearfully she admitted that there was none. She told me that her husband had been out of work for some time and that they were in desperate need not only of food but also of money with which to pay the rent so that they wouldn’t be evicted from the tiny house.I never did bring up the matter of the fast-offering donations, for I realized that the boy had most likely been desperately hungry when he stopped at the drugstore. Rather, I immediately arranged for assistance for the family, that they might have food to eat and a roof over their heads. In addition, with the help of the priesthood leaders in the ward, we were able to arrange employment for the husband so that he could provide for his family in the future. As priesthood and auxiliary leaders, we are entitled to the Lord’s assistance in magnifying our callings and fulfilling our responsibilities. Seek His help, and when the inspiration comes to you, move on that inspiration concerning where to go, whom to see, what to say, and how to say it. We can think a thought to death, but only when we move upon the thought do we bless human lives.May we be true shepherds of those for whom we have responsibility. John Milton wrote in his poem “Lycidas,” “The hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed” (line 125). The Lord Himself said to Ezekiel the prophet, “Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that . . . feed not the flock” (Ezekiel 34:2–3).Ours is the responsibility to care for the flock, for the precious sheep, these tender lambs, are everywhere to be found—at home in our own families, in the homes of our extended families, and waiting for us in our Church callings. Jesus is our Exemplar. Said He, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep” (John 10:14). We have a shepherding responsibility. May we each step up to serve.

Reach Out to Rescue
On the journey along the pathway of life, there are casualties. Some depart from the road markers which lead to life eternal only to discover that the detour chosen ultimately leads to a dead end. Indifference, carelessness, selfishness, and sin all take their costly toll in human lives. There are those who, for unexplained reasons, march to the sound of a different drummer, later to learn they have followed the Pied Piper of sorrow and suffering.In 1995 the First Presidency took note of those who had strayed from the fold of Christ and issued a special statement entitled “An Invitation to Come Back.” The message contained this appeal:“To you who for any reason find yourselves outside the embrace of the Church, we say come back. We invite you to return and partake of the happiness you once knew. You will find many with outstretched arms to welcome you, assist you, and give you comfort.“The Church needs your strength, love, loyalty, and devotion. The course is fixed and certain by which a person may return to the full blessings of Church membership, and we stand ready to receive all who wish to do so.”Perhaps an oft-repeated scene will bring closer to home your personal opportunity to reach out to rescue. Let us look in on a family with a son named Jack. Throughout Jack’s early life, he and his father had many serious arguments. One day when he was 17, they had a particularly agitated one. Jack said to his father, “This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I’m leaving home, and I will never return!” He went to his room and packed a bag. His mother begged him to stay, but he was too angry to listen. He left her crying in the doorway.Leaving the yard, he was about to pass through the gate when he heard his father call to him, “Jack, I know that a large share of the blame for your leaving rests with me. For this I am truly sorry. I want you to know that if you should ever wish to return home, you’ll always be welcome. And I’ll try to be a better father to you. I want you to know that I love you, and I’ll always love you.”Jack said nothing but went to the bus station and bought a ticket to a distant point. As he sat in the bus watching the miles go by, his thoughts turned to the words of his father. He began to realize how much courage, how much love had been required for his father to say what he had said. Dad had apologized. He had invited him back and had left the words ringing in the summer air, “I love you.”Jack knew that the next move was up to him. He realized the only way he could ever find peace with himself was to demonstrate to his father the same kind of maturity, goodness, and love that Dad had shown toward him. Jack got off the bus. He bought a return ticket and began the journey home.He arrived shortly after midnight, entered the house, and turned on the light. There in the rocking chair sat his father, his head bowed. As he looked up and saw Jack, he arose from the chair; they rushed into each other’s arms. Jack later said, “Those last years that I was home were among the happiest of my life.”Here was a father who, suppressing passion and bridling pride, reached out to rescue his son before he became one of that vast “lost battalion” resulting from fractured families and shattered homes. Love was the binding band, the healing balm; love so often felt, so seldom expressed.From Mount Sinai there thunders in our ears, “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12), and later, from that same God, the injunction, “Live together in love” (D&C 42:45).

Following the Lord’s Blueprint
Kneel down to pray. Step up to serve. Reach out to rescue. Each is a vital page of God’s blueprint to make a house a home and a home a heaven.Balance is key to us in our sacred and solemn responsibilities in our own homes and in our Church callings. We must use wisdom, inspiration, and sound judgment as we care for our families and fulfill our Church callings, for each is vitally important. We cannot neglect our families; we must not neglect our Church callings.Let us build with skill, take no shortcuts, and follow His blueprint. Then the Lord, even our building inspector, may say to us, as He said when He appeared to Solomon, a builder of another day, “I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually” (1 Kings 9:3). We will then have heavenly homes and forever families and will be able to help, to strengthen, and to bless other families as well. I pray most humbly and sincerely that this blessing may come to each of us. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1. First Presidency letter, Feb. 11, 1999; see Liahona, Dec. 1999, 1; or Ensign, June 1999, 80.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Week 6: Privileges and Responsibilities of Sisters

Dear Sisters,

I have appreciated and often pondered President Kimball's quote " To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age. To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling. The righteous woman’s strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times. She has been placed here to help to enrich, to protect, and to guard the home—which is society’s basic and most noble institution." As I recently read President Kimball's full address to the women of the Church 12 and over given in 1978, I was impressed with the power and insights of his testimony and with how much the messages of prophets stay the same. Prophets have a way of teaching us with clarity and boldness. I am so grateful for their words of counsel and direction. As we are willing to hear and heed their messages, great blessings and safety come. I hope President Kimball's words will lift, inspire, and encourage you as they have me.

Much love,


Ensign, Nov 1978, 101

My dear sisters, the women of the Church, young and older, it is such a privilege to have an opportunity to speak to you in your many different locations and situations around the world. I only wish we could meet all the women of the Church in one large body, but we are grateful that the Lord has blessed us with the technology to make tonight’s worldwide assemblies possible. In a way, it is much like the gatherings that used to be held in this historic tabernacle, where all could be sitting together and listening together. I never tire of expressing appreciation for the way in which technology helps us build the kingdom and serve the Saints. In many ways, in spite of the complexities of our growing size, it allows us to keep in touch, perhaps even more adequately than long distances and poor communications did for our pioneer forebears.
This is an unique and significant gathering. Nothing like it has ever been held before in the Church—and so far as I know, in the world.
Yes, there are some wonderful advantages to our modern day. There is much to be joyful about.
May I express appreciation to the sisters in the general presidencies of the Relief Society, the Young Women, and the Primary, who, along with their boards, do so much to serve the sisters of the Church, and have been largely responsible for initiating this coming together here tonight.
This marvelous chorus of young women has set the tone in beautiful song for what we hope and pray for all of you who have come to listen tonight. May the Lord bless them for their beauty of spirit and music.
As one of the few men privileged to be with you in this momentous gathering, I come to you tonight with a message of peace and hope and love, a message of advice and counsel, a message of faith and encouragement and confidence. I trust that what I say will be helpful and beneficial to you.
May I begin with re-emphasizing some everlasting truths. My dear sisters, choose to keep the commandments of God. For men, for women, for young, for old, this is the secret to happiness, here and hereafter. Keeping them with self-mastery and personal discipline allows the real freedoms that exalt and sustain us. The basic commandments are as simple as they are true: the Ten Commandments as given by God to Moses and the addition to them of what the Savior said—to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, might and strength, and thy neighbor as thyself.
Attend to your personal and family prayers and family devotions. Keep the Sabbath day holy in thought and deed. Live strictly the Word of Wisdom. Attend to all family duties. Keep your life clean and free from all unholy and impure thoughts and actions. Cultivate those associations and activities which will not threaten and lower your high, righteous standards.
Study the scriptures. Thus you may gain strength through the understanding of eternal things. You young women need this close relationship with the mind and will of our Eternal Father. We want our sisters to be scholars of the scriptures as well as our men.......
To read more please go to this link.