Saturday, September 8, 2012
A Little Discourse on the Importance of Family Prayer
Some of you know that we have been under construction for almost three months now. Dave has worked hard to tear out the tile in our entry, carpet in our dining, hallway and laundry room and lay updated tile and beautiful laminate flooring. We are close to being done and it is refreshing and beautiful to look at. I have appreciated the feel and the ease of cleaning compared to the almost always-dirty carpet under our dining table. The one set back was that where we use to kneel down for family prayer on soft carpet, the hard laminate was not conducive to our bone-y knees and we got out of the habit of kneeling before Heavenly Father as a family. We prayed still, but now it was on our chairs sitting at the table.
Just a few days before being asked to speak to you about prayer, I had a gnawing pressure that we ought to somehow find a way to kneel once again in family prayer. So I spoke of my concern to Dave and he readily agreed. He took us to our living room and we knelt down in fervent family prayer. It felt right and good.
Since then, I have pondered upon the many times that our normal lives get in the way of our sincere and proper communication with Heavenly Father. It is no wonder, that in this sublime but degenerating world, we lose our way because of the clever enticements of Satan that artfully lure us to the things not so important so that the most important is forgotten.
Christ teaches the Nephites that they, “must watch and pray always, lest [they] be tempted by the devil, and…be led away captive by him.” And in another instant he repeats, “Ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation, for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.”
Now, there are two points I would like to discuss with you: first is the importance of Family Prayer and second is being a family who prays.
Family Prayer is essential to teach our children the proper relationship we have with God. The bible dictionary teaches us more beautifully than I have ever heard it taught: “Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. 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.
Family prayer is a power that has a crucial affect on every individual in the family, community and nation. Elder John H Groberg said of family prayer,
“Oh, if we would do this, if we would show our families and our God on a regular basis how much we love them, how much we appreciate them, how much we need their help, and how much we rely on His protection, one of the greatest changes for good to ever take place in the Church, in the nation, and in the world would occur. Don’t let anything stand in the way of consistent, fervent family prayer! Think of what you teach by having family prayer. Then think of what you teach by not having family prayer.”
Third Nephi contains Christ’s beautiful discourse on prayer; to the Nephites He admonishes, “Pray in your families unto the Father always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.” (3 Nephi 18:21)
To illustrate how these blessings have occurred in our life because of family prayer, I would like to share a recent experience. This past spring we had the glorious opportunity to visit the beautiful Sawtooth Mountain Range in Sun Valley and Stanley. Dave took the four girls on a mountain bike ride just north of Sun Valley and left me by my own choice at the trailhead with a book in hand. I settled in on a comfortable chair in the shade and delved into the pages of my philosophy book. Dave described the ride to me afterward like this: the Eve’s Gulch trail crosses the stream several times. Narrow bridges have been erected by cutting two logs in half lengthwise and placed together with the cut-side up making a flattened crossway. The width is about 16 inches and the length about 15-20 feet.
Now Hannah is a bit fearless when it comes to mountain biking, but going up the trail she stopped and walked her bike across each bridge. On the way down her confidence had soared and with Dave ahead of her, he had leaped off his bike and was turning around to help her when she zoomed across. Like blazes he was back on his bike hoping to get ahead of her before the next bridge, but by the time he arrived it was too late. She had fearlessly crossed, but halfway across and noticing a hanging branch she ducked her head and lost control. Her bike ran off the bridge and she flew…landing face down with her helmet catching on both sides on the top of two mammoth rocks insomuch that her head was hanging from her helmet. Her feet were still on the bridge so that her body was forming an arc with the stomach suspended lower in the air and her spine and feet oppositely arching upward like an arc of a bow. It was a terrifying sight to behold.
The miracle was that the helmet had protected her head and face from injury. Had she gone a few inches to either side the rocks might have crushed her face and head. After helping her out of the frightening position and upon inspection, Dave found her helmet to be broken in two places, but her little body was safe and protected.
The other miracle was that at the same time this was happening, I had the distinct impression that something had happened to Hannah. I put my book down and allowed my imaginative mind to conceive of the horrible situation she might be in. When I do that I feel overwhelmingly frightened. I knew I needed to stop letting my mind explode with all the alarming possibilities so I bowed my head and prayed with all my heart to the only Being who knew my plight. My Heavenly Father helped to calm my troubled heart almost immediately and a flood of peace enshrouded me. I went back to reading, knowing there was nothing else I could do.
I kind of wondered at that point if I had imagined the whole thing, but it didn’t matter…I had felt something, I had a prompting, I acted upon the prompting and the peace came. About 45 minutes later the group arrived and encircling me they began to explain with hurried and excited voices the experience that I just described to you earlier. Hannah had indeed had the accident and Heavenly Father saw fit that I knew and had accepted my offering in prayer and caused that a miracle happen on her behalf. I stand in awe of Him who knows us and loves us sufficiently to keep lines of constant communication open if we but do our part and pray to Him.
Another of the great blessings that we have received from constant family prayer is that our children have learned to pray on their own. This brings me to the second thought I wish to discuss with you. Recently we have consented to let our adventurous daughter, Elissa go far away to Paris, France. She has been blogging about her exciting experiences, but one in particular was fascinating to me in lieu of my discourse today. She was exploring on her own and taking many pictures. Her goal for the day was to reach the top of the Arc de triomphe.
In her own words she describes the event:
Because my camera had died I was a little disappointed I wouldn’t get a chance to take any pictures at the top. But I remember hearing many stories about people who pray for little miracles, having faith, and get just what they asked for. So I said a little prayer that I might be able to take 5 pictures while up there. As I pulled my camera out of its case and turned it on… nothing happened. Except a little voice told me to take the 2 batteries out, rub them together for several seconds in my hand. (Maybe so that the friction it creates somewhat recharges the batteries? Who knows…) Well It turned right on! And I took a few more than 5 pictures- isnt it great how it all works out when you know it will?!
As a mother, I was thrilled to see that Elissa depended upon prayer for even a small insignificant miracle, but what was most fascinating was her last phrase:
“Isn’t it great how it all works out when you know it will.”
That last phrase reminded me of the a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 90:24 that says, “Pray always and be believing.”
Danish philosopher and theologian, Søren Kierkegaard tells us that we must take that leap of faith into the absurd. The absurd is the thing that seems impossible to believe. For instance, no amount of reasoning could convince a camera savvy person that by merely praying to an un-seeable god and making the illogical gesture of rubbing the batteries together could cause the battery-dead camera to produce pictures. But in fact it did. Our Heavenly Father asks us to be believing in the things that we ask for in our communication to Him.
He promises us that, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.”
Brothers and Sisters, it is up to us to know what we desire and need in our families and it is up to us to be specific, just as Elissa was specific in her prayer of faith. Again, I repeat what the bible dictionary says about this: “[Prayer is] 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.”
Then it continues on, “Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”
Now, let us be mindful of the many enticements of the adversary including the busy-ness of life and construction projects that cause us to forget to properly kneel with our families. When we do so how powerfully will our children and spouses know who they are by virtue of this special communion with our Father in Heaven. This I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.