Welcome to my Blog site. It's a collection of many thoughts that are important to me, and some insights I’ve learned “...along the way.” I think of myself as just a simple man with a testimony of Jesus Christ and the restored Gospel. But, I have lived (and continue to live) an extraordinary and enjoyable life. I've tried to share some highlights here. I have so many good memories.
In the Summers on our property, I usually turned our horses out at night to graze in the pasture. When the earth is in darkness during a new moon, I loved walking out into the field, taking in the peaceful majesty of the night, and viewing the inspiring canopy of stars overhead.
Horses have excellent night vision. They could see me standing in the field, but I could NOT see them in the darkness. They would walk toward me and gather very carefully and gently beside me. It was inspiring when I sensed those large animals approaching out of the darkness to stand beside me. They knew who I was, I was their friend, and they trusted me. Those moments reminded me of a verse written by the Prophet Isaiah. At the time, the Prophet saw that the Israelites had turned away from their God. Isaiah lamented: “The ox knoweth his master, …but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider”(Isaiah 1:3). Israel’s animals knew their masters (and trusted them), but, as a people, Israel knew not (or had forgotten) their God, who is their Master. It was true in the days of Isaiah, and too often, it is true today. I believe it is essential to know and trust our God who loves us and provides for us (John 17:3).
Another important lesson I learned from our horses was to “…be prepared for and anticipate the morning light.” Our little ranch laid in a beautiful mountain valley. I usually fed the horses late in the afternoon just before sunset, and again in the mornings, just before dawn. The winter nights can be long, dark, and exceedingly cold. So, on those frigid mornings, I noticed the horses would always gather on the far west side of the pasture and patiently wait to catch the first bit of sunlight as it broke over the tops of the east mountains. They were waiting for the warmth of the sun. I also watched for the sun to rise above the eastern horizon because I too knew as soon as it did, I would “immediately” feel the warmth of the sun on my shoulders.
This morning sunshine and warmth was an excellent lesson for me and a “type” of the Savior’s influence and in my life. I learned that in times of hardship and despair (whether by personal or external causes), if I turned away from the cause of my discomfort and embraced the love of Jesus Christ, He would “immediately” bless and comfort me with the hope and warmth of His love. I knew I might not be made completely whole “immediately,” but I would feel His love and have hope “immediately” as the “great plan of redemption” is “brought about” in me! I also learned that lasting joy and hope would come as I continue to draw near to the Lord, learn more of Him, continue to follow Him, and embrace His Plan of Happiness.
“Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.” (Book of Mormon, Alma 34:31)
My horses knew who I was. They came to me because they loved and trusted me. They also understood the blessings of the warm sun on their backs after a cold winter night. Of course, these similes are overly simplified compared to the Great Love Jesus Christ has for His children and the blessings He promises us when we “Hear Him” and turn to Him! I believe Jesus Christ knows us, understands our challenges and weaknesses, and has divine love and mercy for us. When I soften my heart and sincerely turn to Him in faith, I “immediately” begin to feel a portion of His loving influence, and I begin to heal. The effect is warm and inspiring, like the early morning sunlight on my shoulders after a long, cold, winter night. His warming influence gives me immediate comfort and hope!
As we move away from the difficult and challenging events of 2020, I wanted to take this opportunity to express myself in writing. This past year has certainly been a difficult and challenging time. We have all shared common and unique experiences and feelings. Many among us have suffered much. So, I felt I needed to share some personal thoughts and opinions surround this very unusual time. For the record, these are just my own personal observations and opinions. I am not an ecclesiastical leader, nor am I a person of authority. I am not trying to impose my opinions; I am trying to express my observations and thoughts. I am just a man with a computer and a viewpoint.
I am a proud citizen of the United States of America. I love my country. I support the rule of law, the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. I strive to honor and support our National and Local leaders. And I vote my conscience!
I am also a retired military officer. It was my privilege to serve in the United States Air Force from 1968 through 1994. On the day of my commissioning, I solemnly swore an oath to my God and my Country. I have not forgotten that oath, and it has no expiration date. In essence, I made the following oath: “…I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, Foreign and domestic, …I bear true faith and allegiance to the same; …I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and …I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
While on active duty, I lived and served in various locations around the World. I am a Vietnam War Veteran (like so many other brave veterans, my eyes have seen and taken mental pictures my brain cannot forget). After Vietnam, I served as an Air Force Intelligence Specialist. Later, I received advanced training as a Military Foreign Affairs Officer. My primary area of focus was the Middle East Area. My duties included serving as a regional area specialist (analyst, trainer, and area briefing officer). In that capacity, I also served in many other faraway locations, both peaceful and hostile. In 1994, I retired honorably from active duty. I have always been proud to be an American and to wear the uniform of the United States Air Force (USAF).
However, some of the national events this year (2020) in our country have caused me to worry about our future. America is still the greatest country in the World, “a Promised Land,” and “a beacon on the hill.” Along with millions of other Americans, I still “acknowledge the providence of Almighty God” on America, the country and home I love. I still have Hope, but I am concerned about some of the events I have witnessed this year in our nation. So, I want to express my thoughts and feelings about what concerns me and a little about how I am dealing with these events.
This has been an unusual (and at timed disturbing) year in our history! The year has been dominated by a worldwide pandemic, caused, and spread by foreign adversaries. It has prematurely claimed the lives of many thousands of American citizens, nearly shut down our national economy, and caused the imposition of national and statewide “social distancing.” Our regular and essential social activities (e.g., traveling, visiting, mingling, dining out, attending religious services, celebrating the Holidays, etc.) have been limited, and in some cases, prohibited. And, we have watched (and sometimes experienced) increased social unrest, violent protests, looting, and rioting (racial and political) in major cities across our country. These are apparent attacks on the nation our Founding Fathers envisioned and established. And clearly, they are attacks on our most cherished beliefs and principles of freedom. Sadly, these issues have not been resolved yet.
Also, this has been a hate-filled and divisive National Presidential election year. In contrast, we would like to have seen a more civil and constructive dialog between the two major parties as we seek “honest and dependable candidates who would uphold and defend the Constitution.” Sadly, that has not been the case. Instead, we have witnessed a climate of social and political unrest, including strident and hateful political dialog in our country. There appears to have been a breakdown in civility and an exhausting struggle between the major political parties. They have become polarized, antagonistic, and unwilling to compromise. Now, we are learning; there has been an apparent effort to undermine our otherwise regular and trusted voting and election process. This includes the overwhelming evidence of severe and illegal voter fraud and ballot manipulation. Clearly, some political party members/players are cheating! And it has become difficult to identify positive, meaningful, and noble campaign efforts.
With all that we see going on in America, I also see another serious problem. The major news outlets, which should provide honest, fair, and objective coverage, have taken sides in the ongoing struggle and are providing grossly partisan propaganda. Many so-called news agencies have abandoned real news in favor of and supporting a radical anti-American agenda. It is apparent; we can no longer rely on the traditional mainstream news outlets (print and broadcast news) to gather and present the truth. Their dishonesty is a betrayal of their professional duty. And I know many thousands of U.S. citizens feel as I do. (Frankly, there are a few honest news outlets still available. We just need to look hard to find them.)
Year 2020 has been unlike any year I have ever witnessed. And I suspect these developments (the pandemic, the rioting and violence, the hateful political dialog, the apparent voter fraud, and the “fake news”) are all somehow related and probably orchestrated. Combined, they have created an atmosphere of “Great Tribulation” in America. These conditions have been troubling to me. They undermine the strength of our great nation. And I fear they are the seeds of anarchy in this promised land of peace!
However, despite these disturbing developments, I still have Hope for a glorious future in America. I am still striving to stay calm and will continue to obey the rule of law. I continue to pray regularly to my God for blessings upon our great nation, the United States of America. I trust in God, and because of my faith in Jesus Christ, I have Hope. But I believe I should also be prepared. I must be prepared! (I confess I have considered buying a firearm to protect my home and family. I believe that is my duty!) I am grateful for a true and living Prophet on the earth today. I trust our Prophet and all the Brethren who serve with him! I sincerely pray for their good health and their continued and inspired leadership as they guide the Lord’s Church in these days of tribulation. I strive to align myself with the Prophet and the Brethren and follow their counsel. And I continue to seek and listen for inspiration, guidance, and reassurance from the Holy Spirit of God.
So, what more can, or should I be doing? (What should we do?) Indeed, we must support national and local efforts to mitigate and control the national COVID-19 pandemic. We must respect and honor our national and civic duty. But we must also take a stand against anarchy. When and where possible, we must expose the lies, defend the truth, and support local and national law enforcement. We should also respect and defend the inspired Constitution of the United States and support and honor the Bill of Rights. We should never allow others to censor or silence our freedom of speech nor our right to peaceful assembly. Where possible, we should stand up and fight back against their censorship. And we should always speak the truth.
On a very personal level, I firmly believe we should also be prepared spiritually (we should keep our lamps trimmed)! Find time to prayerfully study and ponder the Holy Scriptures. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ! Learn of Him! Be still …and, know that He is God! Remain true and faithful to Him! And serve others in need!
Finally, despite this past year of much tribulation, I am still healthy and comfortable at home. I am 74 years old, I am still retired, and I still have my “hobbies.” I live in a great place. I love my wife and family, and I have good neighbors. Although my confidence in this great nation’s peace and safety has been challenged, I still have Hope for America. I am confident America will survive. I still love and trust the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and Redeemer, the God of Heaven and Earth! I am thankful for His love and have Hope for the future because of Him!
I believe we all have insightful thoughts and ideas of great value that can be (should be) recorded. They are gained through our personal experiences and observations, sometimes by challenges we experience, sometimes by the examples of others, and at times, by inspiration from the Holy Spirit. These often come to us in fleeting moments of insight. And when they do, it is wisdom that we make notes and record them. We should ponder on these thoughts and cherish the insights. Over the course of our lives, if we record our meaningful thoughts (and internalize them), they will build our character, and they may likely bless the lives of others who read them.
If we record these thoughts, it is also wise to organize and formalize them. Write them down and elaborate with clarity. Ponder and carefully organize your thoughts/insights. And, use your best writing skills.
Here are some steps you might consider:
Strive to be good and live a good life. Be kind to others and true to your personal understanding of “goodness.” Be positive! Try to improve yourself and be better. And, always “Look for the Good!”
Be aware of life and be a thinker! During any given day, good ideas and thoughts will come to you. Keep your mind open for these moments of inspiration. Look for them; anticipate them; record and remember them!
Always be open to inspiration and guidance from the Holy Spirit. Strive to be sensitive to positive spiritual promptings. Listen with your heart.
Earnestly try to understand and respond positively to the guidance and inspiration you receive. Follow that guidance!
When thoughts comes to you, make quick written notes to yourself as a reminder (or you will forget). Briefly record the key elements of your thoughts and ideas. (Eventually, when you are preparing to formalize and record your thoughts, you will want to refer to these notes.)
Preselect a quiet and comfortable place (if possible) to sit down and organize your thoughts. And, pick a time that will be the least distracting (kids are in bed, TV is off, etc.).
Then, go to that same place, at that same time regularly (i.e., daily) to think, ponder and write. Overtime, this will program your body, mind, and senses. This will help you focus. Eventually, when you go to that same place, at the same time, your brain and body will click into a creative mode, and your creative thoughts will flow.
Before you begin writing, spend time thinking and pondering about what you want to record. What is your message? Refer to your daily notes!
Select positive insights that interest and inspire you. Then ask yourself: “What do I want to convey?” “Is it of value?” “Do I want to share, or is it too personal?”
When you have settled on a subject, try to imagine the main message or key points you want to record. Consider outlining your topic: thesis statement, introduction, body, conclusion.
Then, when you feel ready, begin writing. Do not worry too much about grammar and spelling. You can go back later to edit and correct errors and style. But for now, just begin writing your thoughts! Craft it later.
After your first draft, edit and correct your writing. Then, have someone you trust read and review what you have written. Listen to their inputs and thoughts. Afterwards, make final corrections and adjustment.
Now, “sleep on it.” And, in the morning, review again what you have written. You may want to make some final adjustments; but, when you feel good about it, you are done! Update, save, and post/publish.
By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Today I am having what I refer to as a personal (and healthy) “senior citizen introspection.” I am 74 years old, relatively healthy, comfortably retired, and my eyes are wide open. My mind is clear, and I have time to think! Life has been good to me, and I am a happy man! But I have recently been thinking more deeply about who I am and what I should be doing with my life now, today.
As individuals, I believe we should periodically evaluate our personal behaviors and activities and ask ourselves, “…how am I doing?” We should do these personal performance interviews or reviews with ourselves regularly. It is good to evaluate how we are doing and hold ourselves accountable. Of course, these would be unique interviews/reviews. Each would be a personal and private interview about who we are, who we want to be, how we are doing, what we should be doing, and perhaps what we need to change.
My interviews are probably vastly different than yours. I am retired now and have been struggling a little lately with my daily accomplishments and my self esteem. I am healthy in mind and body. But I tend to live from day to day or week to week, and sometimes I wonder: “What should I focus on? What is important? What can I do that is meaningful? What should I be doing?” Of course, our answers to these questions will be different for each one of us. Frankly, we know ourselves better than anyone else may know us. So, having a personal and private interview with ourselves is best. And, we need to be honest! To help me in this process, I like to ask myself the following five simple questions (or something similar to these):
“How am I showing my Love for God?”
“How do I Minister and show Love to others?”
“Do I faithfully administer my stewardship duties?”
“What am I doing that I should STOP doing?”
“What am I NOT doing that I should START doing?”
These are general but very personal questions. I ask them of myself; and, I answer them for myself.
I have always tried to keep busy doing what I think is meaningful. But a few years ago, I came across the following quote from President George Albert Smith (1870-1951). As I read and pondered about his comment, it occurred to me that I must do more …I want to do more!
“We are not here to while away the hours of this life and then pass to a sphere of exaltation, but we are here to qualify ourselves day by day for the positions that our Father expects us to fill hereafter.” (President George Albert Smith)
I have thought about this quote many times. It helps me focus more clearly on what is essential and meaningful. And, it gives me a greater appreciation for time and the value of each new day. The available time is a unique gift full of opportunities! Whether or not I take advantage of that “gift” is up to me. Throughout life, some sorrow and sadness may inevitably occur. I may have regrets. But, I shouldn’t dwell on my regrets. If I focus on what is important and essential, I am optimistic. I will find joy, great memories, and happiness. I may not always find opportunities and blessings, but they will come! Each day is a new “TODAY” … and I have Hope. Today is now, and it is what we have! It is the critical and decisive moment!
“One of the illusions of life is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year. He only is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with worry, fret, and anxiety. Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.”(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
So, what should I/we be doing “TODAY?” Our Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, gave this wise counsel: “Pray to know what to STOP doing and what to START doing. Pray to know what to ADD to your environment and what to REMOVE so the Spirit can be with you in abundance.” On another occasion, he added, “…every day we should ask ourselves, ‘How can we better live as Jesus Christ taught and lived?’”
President Nelson has also given this important advice: “…one of the most important things we need to learn in life is to know who we really are. We have been created for a purpose. Learn of your divine purpose and then live up to it. … I promise you that when you begin to catch even a glimpse of how your Heavenly Father sees you and what He is counting on you to do for Him, your life will never be the same!”
We should align ourselves with The Doctrine of Christ
As a retired man with “time and freedom,” I often think about what I am doing …or should be doing. The five questions I mentioned at the start of this post help me redirect my life for good. But to be honest, I am still a work in progress. Regardless, one thing is obvious: To enjoy true happiness in this life and the Fullness of Joy in the Worlds to Come, we must learn and follow our Heavenly Father’s “Plan of Salvation,” and “the Doctrine of Christ.” That is what we all should be doing! Stated more clearly, we should be striving to be more like our Savior, more Christlike! We should follow His example and His teachings, “keep the commandments of God” (as best we understand them), honor our “Sacred Covenants,” and align ourselves with His ordained leaders, “the Brethren” (the Apostles and Prophets).
We should Pray and Seek Inspiration
We should also pray often to the Father and ask for forgiveness and guidance in this life. (He genuinely loves us and will answer our sincere prayers.) And we should seek (through obedience to His Commandments) to be worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit (the Holy Ghost) in our lives. In our prayers, and throughout each day, we should listen carefully to hear the promptings of “the still small voice” of the Holy Spirit. We should try to clearly recognize His whisperings and promptings, learn to rely on His influence, and follow His guidance. (For more insight into personal prayer, please see the Note at the bottom of this post.)
Concerning our relationship with the Holy Ghost and His influence in our lives, President Nelson has given this advice: “. . .in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation. Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.”
In this life, with the many challenges we have concerning “what is the truth,” “what is right,” and even “what we should do,” the Holy Ghost is our friend. He is “the Revelator,” “the Comforter,” and “the Holy Spirit of Truth.” His primary mission is to reveal the truth and bear testimony of God the Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ. However, if we are worthy and seek His influence, He will also influence and guide us each day as we strive to live as God would have us live. And, He will help us know “what we should be doing!” We should seek His guiding influence in our lives. And I sincerely believe He should become our “Best Friend!”
We should Learn of Jesus Christ and try to be Like Him
Jesus the Christ is the Holy One of Israel. He is the Beloved Son of God the Eternal Father and the only begotten Son of God in the flesh. As prophesied and recorded in the Holy Scriptures, He came to Earth to fulfill His Father’s Great Plan of Salvation to redeem all mankind from sin and death. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Because of Him, we can be redeemed and gain Eternal Life with God, the greatest of all gifts (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7). All He asks is that we learn of Him, have Faith in Him, repent of our sins, follow His example, and keep His commandments. He has promised that if we follow Him and keep His commandments, we will have joy in this life and Eternal Happiness in the Worlds to come.
So, “What Should I Be Doing?” I know there is much that must be done. But, spiritually speaking (and I believe this is important), I should be learning of Jesus Christ and trying to be like Him. As I learn of Christ, I should follow His examples and teachings; and, I should seek to be guided by the Holy Spirit. This is all part of the Great and Eternal Plan of Salvation and Happiness. The essence of this true principle is simply taught in the following children’s song about Jesus (performed by The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square):
(Please Note: If you would like to read more concerning a personal perspective and tips for “a meaningful prayer,” please click on the following link and see the post Pray unto the Father.)
I’ve been thinking about the upcoming local and national elections this year in America. I believe this is a critical time in our history, and the decisions we make will have a major impact on the future of our representative democratic republic. A lot rests upon us as citizens to elect “honest men and wise …and good men” (D&C 98:10) to govern and uphold our nation and our values.
So, what are our obligations? Simply stated, it is our solemn duty to become accurately informed, involved in the debate, and vote our conscience. As the Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound. ‘Tis right, politically, for a man who has influence to use it.” (History of the Church, 5:286). These points are especially important within the context of the current political climate. Much is at stake this year. It appears that current political leaders in Washington do not represent the majority voice and will of the people and are more focused on their own political or personal agendas. U.S. citizens (and other residents) seem to be more and more dependent on support from the government. And, many of our eligible voters appear willing to support the politicians who will maintain their so-called “personal entitlements.” Add to this, our National Debt is ballooning grossly out of control. This is a recipe for disaster.
For now, we still have the protection of our freedoms as spelled out in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but it’s not a stretch to see how those rights might be stripped away …if citizens neglect their national responsibilities, and if the Congress doesn’t act to defend the constitution and support the rule of law. Consider this from the Holy Scriptures: “I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed, and the law also maketh you free. Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn. Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.” (D&C 98:8-10)
In addition, during this election year, our church leaders have reiterated their counsel on this subject and once again provided clear guidance for our consideration: “Citizens of the United States have the privilege and duty of electing office holders and influencing public policy. Participation in the political process affects their communities and nation today and in the future. We urge Latter-day Saints to be active citizens by registering, exercising their right to vote, and engaging in civic affairs.” (The First Presidency)
I hope we will all participate in the political process this year, and exercise our “influence” fully in whatever capacity and to whatever extent possible. May we actively uphold the Constitution of the United States and the freedoms set forth by our inspired Founding Fathers. May we become accurately informed, involved in the debate, and vote our conscience. And, may we seek out and elect “honest men and wise …and good men.”
The year 2020 has been a year of Great Tribulation. It is a presidential election year when the country should unite in constructive dialog to elect capable leaders who are honest and dependable; and, who will uphold and defend the Constitution. Instead, there appears to be a complete breakdown in this noble effort and between the two major parties. It is unlike any election year I have ever witnessed. The political parties seem polarized and unwilling to compromise. There appears to be a climate of hatred and complete political unrest, including strident and hateful political dialog from both major parties, and a possible effort to undermined the election process.
In addition, there are significant intervening variables that are also creating havoc and tribulation in America. And I suspect, they are all somehow related. Consider these: the current COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our society, and it alone has claimed the lives of at least 30,000 people in America (some estimate as many as 200,000 lives); there have been federal and state restrictions imposed on attendance at church worship services and meetings; many schools throughout the nation remain closed; radical Marxist groups are successfully pushing to defund the police nationwide; violent protests and riots are destroying sections of many major American cities; thousands of businesses across the country have been vandalized and closed; in just the last three or four months more than 20 million U.S. citizens have become unemployed; and, a revolutionary Marxist organization is now sponsoring and tainting professional major league sporting events. These disturbing developments have created an atmosphere of Great Tribulation in America.
I am very frustrated and troubled about the current situation in our nation. I am most troubled by the ongoing and out of control chaos, rioting, and looting in many of our major cities. These are the seeds of anarchy and they need to be stopped.
I am also troubled about the current national election environment. The campaigning and selection process is becoming increasingly negative and misleading. And the major news outlets, which are expected to provide honest and objective coverage, have taken sides in the campaign and are only providing grossly partisan political coverage. As American citizens, we can no longer rely on traditional news outlets to get and present the truth. I believe this is a betrayal of their professional duty and I know many thousands of other citizens feel as I do.
We live in difficult times. Throughout these developments, I have asked myself, “…what more can I do?” Personally, I am striving to stay calm and will continue to obey the rule of law. I continue to trust in our God, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the rule of law, and our good leaders. Ultimately, I will cast my vote in support of the people and policies I support. In the meantime, I pray regularly to our God for His blessings upon our great country (the United States of America), and I continue to prayerfully study the Holy Scriptures and the “Come Follow Me” curriculum. I am grateful we have a living Prophet to guide us. I trust him …and, all the Brethren! I pray for their continued good health and strength, and their ability to lead in righteousness. I strive to follow their counsel and align myself with the Prophet and the Brethren. And, I seek and listen for guidance and reassurance from the Holy Spirit.
Important Point: Trust in the Lord and follow the Prophet.
Dealing with Inevitable Tribulation.
The subject of “tribulation” has been on my mind for many years, but more so this year. I do not think it is something we can ignore …nor pretend it doesn’t exist.
In the Holy Scriptures, we read that in the world, we “…shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). Search the scriptures, and you will find many references to tribulation, and in some cases to “Great Tribulation” (Rev 7:14). In this life, there are many forms of tribulation. The Topical Guide to the scriptures suggests several synonyms to tribulation: i.e., affliction, anguish, distress, grief, misery, oppression, persecution, sorrow, suffering, and trouble. Trials and tribulations will come to us all. Even the righteous will experience distress in the world. Apparently, we cannot avoid tribulation in this life.
Important Point: We will have Tribulation.
I also believe there are many levels of tribulation. It can occur both mildly at times, and more severely at other times.
As a young married man in the late 1960s, I remember experiencing mild levels of tribulation. I did not recognize them at first, but my dear wife did. She recognized my stressful situation and the events that brought on the “mild tribulation.” This was a time in my life when I was overly stressed and often very tired. My sweet wife recognized that my sense of “mild tribulation” came on when I was overly tired, very hungry, and stressed about our family finances. Her solution was to quickly resolve the conditions that brought on the stress. She knew me and was able help me overcome my “mild tribulation.” More than once, she saw me come home from work with that “troubled look in my eyes.” Each time, I was experiencing stress and “mild tribulation.” When she saw me in that condition, she clearly understand and then applied her solutions: she simply sat me down in a comfortable chair to close my eyes and rest while she prepared an excellent meal; we eat together; and then, she had me organize and pay our bills. In the end, it was like a miracle. The feelings of “mild tribulation” were gone.
I learned that if I were overly tired, hungry, and needed to work on our finances, I would become too stressed. I could easily handle all three events individually, but not all three at the same time. I needed to recognize, prioritize, and then resolve each issue. In the above case, once I was rested and fed, I was better able to handle our finances.
Of course, this was a very mild case of tribulation with a simple solution! But, it is also a very simple example of a very real but mild tribulation experience. Not all tribulation (or troubling events) are that simple. We all have our own unique “triggers” that may activate a mild form of distress or grief in us. One thing is certain, in this life troubling events will periodically occur and they will likely cause some form of tribulation. I believe mild tribulation is healthy and can motivate us to find solutions, improve, and mature. It is wise to know our personal limits, our own signs of “tribulation,” and our possible or probable solutions.
Of more significant concern are the events that cause greater tribulation. In this world, there are many causes of greater tribulation. Some of these we bring upon ourselves because of poor/bad choices and decisions. We are all human, and our choices have consequences: good and bad! Our bad choices often cause us (and others) some levels of tribulation.
There are also many other external causes of greater tribulation. These are mostly out of our control. In addition to the aforementioned ongoing crises in our country, they may include military conflicts/wars, poor health or a severe injury, death of a loved one, separation or divorce, serious concerns for our children, the stress of a significant family relocation (moving away), financial insecurity, loss of employment …and, many other events. Dealing with just one of these external causes may constitute a certain level of “tribulation,” but it is not necessarily debilitating. However, dealing with two or more of these simultaneously will likely cause much greater tribulation.
Sadly, these types of events rarely come alone (by themselves). And, multiple events or causes of distress will compound our level of tribulation. Thus, they will more likely bring additional and greater tribulation.
Finding solutions to “Greater Tribulation.”
From a spiritual perspective, not knowing or understanding God, nor His great and Eternal Plan for His children, is often the cause of great fear in this life and a lack of hope in the future. In that state of darkness, we will find our personal resilience weakened during times of tribulation.
Be assured, our loving Heavenly Father is alive and well. He loves all His children, and He has a Great and Eternal Plan for us. One of the great blessings of prayerful and personal scripture study is the comfort you gain from a better understanding of our Heavenly Father’s Great Plan of Salvation (or, the Plan of Happiness).
Also, as we read and ponder on the Holy Scriptures, learn of God, and follow the Lord, we will likely benefit from a much more significant influence of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives. With the influence and companionship of the Holy Spirit (AKA the Holy Ghost, the Comforter and/or the Revelator), we will better understand and be prepared to manage the tribulations we will experience in this life. “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5). Knowing the truth will lift and comfort us.
Important Point: Our loving Heavenly Father is alive and well. He loves all His children, and He has a Great and Eternal Plan of Happiness for us.
Scripture Study will bring Peace.
The Holy Scriptures also provide specific counsel, words of wisdom, and comfort in dealing with tribulation. In the Old Testament, we learn that “when thou art in tribulation …turn to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 4:30). If we are honest and faithful to His Commandments and our Covenants, the Lord has promised He will send His Comforter (the Holy Ghost) to be with us. In the New Testament, we learn “tribulation worketh patience” (Rom. 5:3) and the Lord “comforteth us in all our tribulation” (2 Cor. 1:4). In the Doctrine & Covenants, the Lord counsels the Saints to “Be patient in tribulation until I come” (D&C 54:10).
Important Point: Immersing ourselves in regular, humble, and prayerful scripture study will bring the peace that exceeds all understanding and will comfort us during difficult times of tribulation.
One of my most comforting scriptural references is Doctrine & Covenants 101:16. At the time, the Saints in Missouri were suffering great persecution (and tribulation). Angry mobs drove them from their homes. The mobs threatened their lives. The Saints lost their homes, their furniture, their personal property, and their livestock. The Prophet Joseph Smith prayed to God for their welfare and in part received this message from the Lord “…let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God” (D&C 101:16).
Important Point: “Be still and know that (He is) God.”
Have Faith in the Lord.
President Dallin H. Oaks has given this great counsel: “Whatever the causes of large increases in anxiety …our first line of defense is always our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We trust in His promises of peace and in the cleansing that His atonement makes possible. Instead of being swept along in the anxiety and fear, … rely on the assurances of a loving Heavenly Father. Rely on the counsel of His loving Son, a Savior who has assured us that “if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30). The Lord promised that in the midst of prophesied destructions and tragedies, He will protect the righteous.” President Dallin H. Oaks, “Racism and Other Challenges.”
We live in difficult times and circumstances. However, we are not forgotten by our God. I know that our Savior Jesus Christ is fully aware of our current situation. I also know that He will soon return again to a people who have been gathered and prepared to meet Him; a people who are united in Faith in Him (Moses 7:61-64).
Dear friends and loved one, I know God the Father is alive and well. He is our Heavenly Father, …the Father of our Spirits. He knows who we are. He knows our names …and our needs. He wants us to be safe and happy in this life, and He wants us to return home to Him. He loves us and He has a plan for our happiness. He will help! If you have distanced yourself from God, stop where you are and turn to Him. Do what you must to restore your fellowship with Him. Adjust your behavior, repent of your sins, and align yourself with the one true God and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. God will answer earnest and sincere prayers. As you pray to Him, try to listen to His message; Hear Him! And, follow your prompting. His arms are wide open. He wants you to listen, obey, and ultimately come home!
Finally, if you are interested in additional spiritual comfort during these “times of tribulation,” please click on the link below and listen to inspiring music sung by the award-winning Norwegian singer Sissel, accompanied by the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. This is good and beautiful advice via music for times of tribulation (or a pandemic). Please note: the lyricist’s name and the words to the song are provided below.
Also note, this site and the link below are protected by both Norton Security and Web Hosting Security. It is safe and secure! Thank you, SAE
Reading the Book of Mormon daily (or on a routine basis) is a spiritually rewarding experience. It can inspire us with examples of faith, obedience, courage, strength, and hope. And, if we are faithful, it will strengthen our testimonies of the Lord Jesus Christ and teach us of His Doctrine, “the Doctrine of Christ.”
However, for some, faithfully reading the Book of Mormon daily has been a difficult practice to maintain. For various reasons, they find it difficult to continue a regular reading schedule. For example, they may be distracted by a busy life, or they may see parts of the book difficult to read and understand, and their original commitment to reading may wain. I would like to address a few of these possible “roadblocks” to regular reading of the Book of Mormon.
But first, please remember, the Book of Mormon is an ancient and Holy book of scripture. In addition to just reading the book, we should always begin our sessions with a personal and sincere prayer to our Heavenly Father. In our prayers, ask specifically for His aid in reading and understanding what you read. And, allow the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts. (Note: For a more detailed approach to why and how to best prepare and study the Holy Scriptures, please see the post “Why and How to Study the Holy Scriptures.”)
Over the years, I have noticed there are at least a few (probably many) challenging obstacles or “Roadblocks” to reading the Book of Mormon. These are not all bad. Mostly, they are more of a challenge, and they can be educational. I would like to address three.
The “Stop and Go and Repeat” Problem.
Several Latter-day Saints have told me they “…love the Book of Mormon and want to read it more regularly,” and occasionally read it “cover to cover.” However, they often admit they have never been able to read the entire book “cover to cover,” nor read much beyond 1st Nephi. They claim to have read 1st Nephi many, many times. Each time they get distracted and begin to waver in their resolve to continue. This wavering usually occurs near the end of 1st Nephi, or when reading 2nd Nephi. Then, their daily reading begins to diminish. Typically, several days or even weeks later, when they attempt again to read the Book of Mormon “cover to cover,” they feel they must restart back at the beginning by rereading 1st Nephi. While this is a noble idea (finish what you start), too often it just adds to the number of times they have read 1st Nephi ONLY …and stopped, …again! I call this the “Stop and Go and Repeat” problem.
Let me share two possible solutions to this “Stop and Go and Repeat” problem. First, avoid the tendency just to start over each time …all the way back at the beginning! Suppose you are stuck reading somewhere in the first two or three books of the Book of Mormon. Well, just jump on over to the Book of Omni and the Words of Mormon. These are handy little books within the Book of Mormon that will help to clear much confusion and restart your reading.
The two books contain only one chapter each. Yet, they summarize and tie together the major events from the Land of Nephi to the beginning of the Zarahemla period (a gap of about 200 years). The Book of Omni includes very brief entries from five different individuals, most notably Amaleki, who touched on the origin of the peoples of Kings Zeniff, Noah, and Limhi. The Words of Mormon chapter was written about 500 years later by the Prophet Mormon (about AD 385) near the end of his life. Mormon wrote and inserted this writing just before the Book of Mosiah to tie all other Book of Mormon records together. In these valuable little books, the writers introduce King Benjamin (a Holy Man), a great Nephite King. He fought and destroyed the Lamanite Army in battle and established peace in the land of Zarahemla.
So, this time, I suggest you “restart” your reading of the Book of Mormon by first reading The Book of Omni and The Words of Mormon; and then allow yourself to flow into the Book of Mosiah. That may be all you need to get your reading back on track. Later, you can return and reread the entire Book of Mormon from the beginning; and of course, take on the “Isaiah Chapters” another day!
A Second possible solution you can try would be to following some or all the bulleted items below. These eleven items are just a small list and an excellent selection of significant events you can read about in the Book of Mormon. To be sure, there are many more throughout the Book of Mormon, but these are some great reads that are sure to inspire additional reading.
NOTE: Try reading these rewarding assignments in order, but that is not necessary. Each reference can stand alone and be inspirational!
Read 2nd Nephi 28-33: Nephi’s final message. He speaks of our day.
Read 2nd Nephi 31-32: Nephi explains “the Doctrine of Christ.”
Read Mosiah 1-6: King Benjamin’s powerful sermon. Serve our God and become Saints through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Read Mosiah 7-8: Ammon finds the lost people of Limhi and teaches.
Read Alma 5-16: Alma’s missionary message (repent and keep the commandments), and his experiences.
Read Alma 17-27: The missionary work of the Sons of Mosiah to the Lamanites.
Read Alma 32-34: Alma and Amulek teach about faith, repentance, and redemption.
Read 3rd Nephi 9-30: Jesus Christ visits the Nephites and teaches “His Doctrine.”
Read Mormon 7: Mormon’s last recorded words of counsel. He speaks to the “…remnant of the House of Israel” in the Last Days.
Read Mormon 8-9: Moroni’s inspiring completion of his Father’s record. And finally,
Read all ten chapters of the Book of Moroni: Moroni’s final words that seal the Book of Mormon and speak directly to us (all of us) in this dispensation).
These are all inspiring references to look up and read. You could even treat these as inspiring “stand-alone” reads. I hope you will be inspired and gain additional insights from and about our Redeemer Jesus Christ; and, some of the greatest men who have ever lived.
The “Isaiah Chapters” Challenge.
Sadly, for some individuals, another barrier to successfully reading and enjoying the entire Book of Mormon is the so-called “Isaiah Chapters.” The challenge of understanding the writings of Isaiah is real and very understandable, whether you are a new reader of the Book of Mormon or not. I have heard several individuals express something like: “I struggle with the Isaiah chapters. I do not understand them.” Or, “…I cannot get through the Isaiah chapters.” In addition, others have also asked, “How can I get through the difficult Isaiah chapters and begin to enjoy more of the Book of Mormon?” They claim the “Isaiah Chapters” are like a wall to them.
As with the “Stop and Go and Repeat” problem, I also have two possible points/solutions (or a few) to help one read and maybe understand Isaiah and the “Isaiah Chapters.”
First, do not fret about it!
If you find yourself struggling with the “Isaiah Chapters,” just move on for now. They are not going to go away. You can return to them when you are ready. For now, be flexible. Keep the Book of Mormon handy and refer to it often. And, try reading some of the referenced bullets above.
My Second point or solution concerns the mystique surrounding the writings of Isaiah. If you are still struggling to read Isaiah, please do not give up. I hope the following quotes and insights will help you strive more to understand the many direct citations and references to the Prophet Isaiah found in the Book of Mormon. Of course, this inspired scriptural guidance (listed below) applies equally to all the Isaiah chapters, as well as the frequent references to Isaiah by other Book of Mormon Prophets (such as Nephi and Jacob). But more importantly, the first two bullets below are commandments from our Savior Jesus Christ Himself. Please, if you are struggling to read Isaiah, prayerfully, and seriously consider these four scriptural references:
The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded us that we “…ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1).
The Lord added: “…ye have them before you, thereforesearch them” (3 Nephi 20:11).
The Prophet Nephi wrote, “Isaiah saw the latter-days.” He added the writings of Isaiah are “…plain unto all those that arefilled with the spirit of prophecy” (2 Nephi 25:4).
The Prophet Nephi also taught, “…theyshall be of great worth unto them in the last days; for in that day shall they understand them; wherefore, for their good have I written them” (2 Nephi 25:8).
These scriptural references should help motivate each us to continue our quest and not let the “Isaiah Chapters” overwhelm us. Remember, Jesus Christ has commanded us to read them diligently. Isaiah saw the “latter-days.” Many of His writings and prophecies were written for our time and provide prophetic warnings and guidance to us. Isaiah’s prophecies are vital and of “…great worth” to us in these, the “…last days!”
Now, I recognize the writings of Isaiah are a challenge for many of us, but it is well worth our efforts to try to understand them. The bulleted items above should motivate us to continue reading, but if we sincerely want to “understand Isaiah” better, I believe it will require much greater study and understanding of Jewish traditions, including historical and political events at the time of Isaiah. I feel I am beginning to understand a little more, but I also know I have a long way to go. Over time, I hope to gain a much clearer understanding and a greater appreciation for the Prophet and his prophetic writings. I am especially encouraged by Nephi’s comment: the books of Isaiah are “…plain unto all those that arefilled with the spirit of prophecy” (2 Nephi 25:4). Each day, may we all be found more worthy of the influence of the Holy Spirit; and thus, more “…filled with the spirit of prophecy.”
The “War Chapters” Challenge.
I also know that some readers of the Book of Mormon have had problems with the “War Chapters.” Thousands and thousands of bodies (men, women, and even children) slaughtered on both sides of the battles. “Oh, the humanity!” Human bodies are heaped up in mounds or thrown into the river to allow an army to cross over to the other side …or, just wash out to sea: so much hand-to-hand violence, death, and the smell of death all around. I understand the visual problem, and I wish it were not necessary.
I do not clearly understand the necessity for all the carnage. As a retired military man myself, I have seen and participated in wars and conflicts, and I still struggle to get some of the images out of my mind. They nevertheless trouble me even today. But I accept the counsel of “the Spirit” to young Nephi: “The Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes” (1 Nephi 4:13). And, like Nephi, “I do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:16-17).
However, I am comforted somewhat when I read about Nephi stumbling upon the drunken body of Laban in the night (1 Nephi 4:6-18).
Laban was the “keeper of the plates of brass.” The plates contained the language, genealogies, and histories of the House of Israel. Nephi was commanded by his Father to return to Jerusalem and get the Plates of Brass from Laban. In their first attempt, Laban threatens Laman (Nephi’s oldest brother) with his life, …and Laman fled. Later, they showed Laban their family gold, and silver, and all their precious things, and offered to exchange them for the plates of brass. That effort also failed. The brothers fled again, and Laban stole all their valuable items. In their third attempt, Nephi went alone, “not knowing beforehand the things he should do.” After stumbled upon the drunken body of Laban, Nephi was “constrained by the Spirit” to “Slay him.” Nephi hesitated, but the Spirit said again, “Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands; Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief” (1 Nephi 4:12-13).
And, if it is of any additional consolation, I have another thought on the “War Chapters.” I can see some analogous bits of wisdom that we can learn. And perhaps, these “bits of wisdom” can be of benefit to the Saints in the Last Days. The bulleted items below may be a bit of a stretch, but consider how valuable they would be if we could learn them from the “War Chapters” and apply them in our personal and family life.
Anticipate and be prepared in advance (while you can) to battle evil.
Plan and maintain a personal strategy to defeat evil in all forms.
Build fortifications, walls, and barriers to protect yourself, your family, and your home from evil.
Build up and strengthen your defenses against evil.
Do not allow evil spies or enemies to infiltrate your strongholds.
Sharpen and fine-tune your weapons/tools to fight against evil.
Train before the battle. Build strength and endurance for the fight against evil.
Put on the whole armor of God. Protect the “vital parts” from evil.
Avoid laziness and remain vigilant against the infiltration of evil.
Stay healthy. Eat wisely, drink water, exercise, and get your sleep.
Be self-reliant. Have a good supply of necessities.
Stay out of unnecessary debt. Build and secure a financial nest egg.
Have Faith in the Lord and keep the Commandments. The “Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes” (1 Nephi 4:13).
The wars and carnage recorded in the Book of Mormon were actual events. They occurred many years ago and ultimately destroyed the Nephite Nation. We know there will also be conflicts in the last days. I believe the evidence of present and future wars are all about us in the world. I am not sure the nature of the coming battles, but I know many will be wars waged between good and evil. And I am confident they will be wars fought both spiritually and temporally. We need to prepare by firmly establish ourselves on the Lord’s side.
The messages and lessons of the Book of Mormon are a great blessing to us living in the “Last Days.” We can learn from the prophets. They warned us of wars (and the cause of wars) in their days and ours. Additionally, we can learn much from the records of the battles fought in the Book of Mormon, and from the examples of great heroes like General Moroni, General Mormon, Helaman and his stripling warriors, and many others. And, we can better prepare for whatever will come. We must prepare ourselves, be skilled, and firmly on the Lord’s side. Today, we are fortunate and blessed to have Prophets and Apostles to guide us. I am confident if we follow the Prophet and stay on “the Covenant Path,” all will be well for us.
In conclusion, the Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ. It was prepared and preserved by ancient Prophets of God. These were some of the greatest men who have ever lived. They were inspired and guided by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation. The Book of Mormon has come forth in our day by the gift and power of God. It contains the fullness of the Everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ and will lead the faithful children of God home to Him, our Heavenly Father and His Glorified Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is available today for all to read. Following the “Doctrine of Christ,” as presented and taught in the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 31 and 3 Nephi 11), will lead the honest in heart along the path of redemption in this life …and, exaltation in the world to come.
We should prayerfully read and study the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ!
I believe the Lord hears and answers the sincere prayers of the Faithful. However, He does not always answer prayers according to our will. Nor does He answer them in the manner and time we might desired or expect. We may think our concerns are of great importance and urgent, but the Lord knows all things, and He knows what is best. A scripture comes to mind: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). To illustrate these points, I would like to share two personal examples of “urgent” prayers.
As a young missionary in the mid-1960s, my companion was severely and mortally injured in a farm accident. As I prayed over his gravely wounded and dying body, I called upon the Lord to spare his life. I felt confident that the Lord would answer my prayers. After all, my companion was a faithful full-time missionary in the service of the Lord, and I had offered an earnest and heartfelt prayer. As I labored over his body, I continued to pray quietly in my heart and mind promising the Lord, “I would dedicate my life in His service if He would just save my companion.” Sadly, my companion was not “spared.” I agonized for days over his loss, but eventually, I realized, my companion is now with the Lord, and he is still in His service. But what of my faith and prayers? Did the Lord answer my prayers; or were they offered in vain? Yes, the Lord answered me, but not as I had hoped. They were the selfish prayers of a desperate young man asking for something contrary to the will of the Lord. In the end, the Lord answered according to His will and wisdom.
As time passed, I reflected frequently on the death of my companion and the desperate promise I made to the Lord: “I would dedicate my life in His service if He would just save my companion.” At one fleeting moment, I remember thinking briefly: “I guess I’m off the hook now!” However, it was a foolish thought. Frankly, I was wrong. Events and consequences in this life should have no bearing upon whether we should choose the right and serve the Lord. Choosing to serve the Lord is always the correct decision. Making that choice should be independent of life’s consequences. In my case, I knew I had already decided to serve the Lord with all my might. It was a Holy Covenant I had made previously. One I should continue to honor.
Several years later, another significant prayerful event occurred. It was 1975 and we lived in Germany. The Stake Presidency visited our Military Servicemen’s Branch to reorganize the Branch Presidency. In that process, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by the Stake President. It was a great interview. He did not call me to serve in the Branch Presidency, but later in the day, the President asked me to meet with him again. In that second interview, he said: “Brother Edgar, we came here today to reorganize the Branch Presidency of the Bitburg Branch. We did not plan on reorganizing the Elders’ Quorum Presidency. However, it has become clear in my mind that the Lord wants you to serve as the President of the Bitburg Branch Quorum of Elders. Will you accept that calling?” I was certain the Stake President had received inspiration from the Holy Spirit, so I said: “Yes, of course.”
Then the Stake President added, “our Priesthood Meeting will begin in about 10 minutes, and we would like to sustain the new Elders’ Quorum Presidency in that meeting.” He pointed to an empty classroom and added, “will you please go into that room and take about five minutes to pray for the names of two brethren to serve as your counselors in the presidency?”
Wow! I knew the Stake President held priesthood keys. I knew I had just been called by him and by inspiration. I knew the Lord answers prayers. I knew I was worthy. And I knew I had five minutes to receive an answer. I remember thinking to myself: “Scott, PAY ATTENTION and learn! Within five minutes, you will receive a revelation!” In fact, there was no need to wait five minutes. As soon as I knelt and began to pray, two distinct names came clearly into my mind.
Does the Lord answer our prayers? Yes, He answers prayers to advance His Great Plan of Happiness, and because He loves us. For me, I have often prayed for what I want, but God always gives me what I need when I need it. I have learned not to question the will nor the wisdom of God. I just make sure my lines of communication are open.
Note to the Readers: This post contains a simplified explanation of very personal insights on prayer. They are honest insights I have learned regarding sensitive and spiritual matters. I treasure these and hold them very close to my heart. They are shared here with humility and gratitude. As you read this post, I hope you will do so with the same spirit it was written and shared.
I want to share some thoughts and insights about “prayer, how to pray, and how to receiving answers to prayers.” These thoughts are very personal. But first, let me begin by affirming: I know God our Heavenly Father is alive and well! He truly is our loving and Eternal Heavenly Father. He loves each of us …all of us; and, He has a Divine Plan to redeem us all from our current “Fallen” state. He knows who we are; He knows our names; He knows our struggles; and, He knows what we need. I know God loves us and has asked us to pray to Him. And, I know He answers our sincere prayers. He wants to answers our prayers! He is always open to receiving and answering our meaningful and sincere prayers.
Meaningful and sincere prayer is not usually a “one-off” prayer uttered randomly or in a moment of crisis. Instead, it comes over time through regular and humble supplication to God the Father. I know that when we faithfully and sincerely ask Him, He will answer. Often, under the right spiritual circumstances, our sincere prayers may be answered in our hearts and minds …as we pray! However, more often, they are answered later, but always …in the Lord’s time! We will probably not hear a voice. Most likely, it will be a warm feeling of confidence or reassurance from the Holy Spirit as we move forward in faith. And, sometimes, the answer may be a kind but simple sense or message of “No.” Regardless, our Heavenly Father will answer our meaningful and sincere prayers.
I want to illustrate this point by reflecting on an experience in the life of my family. In April 1984, my dear wife, Jenny, passed away suddenly. That was a very desperate and emotional time for our family. Instantly, I became the sole caregiver for our seven children, all between the ages of five months and 13 years; and, we were living far away in Europe. At the same time, these children were left with a somewhat flawed and broken father who loved them more than anyone. In the days that followed Jenny’s death, it was difficult for me to pray. I did not blame God for her death; I had not lost my faith. I just did not understand! “Why would God allow Jenny to die and leave us on our own? It didn’t seem right. We needed her more than He did (it seemed).” Of course, I was wrong! He knows more perfectly what is best, and what we needed. In desperation and remorse, I fell to my knees, and I began to pray more earnestly and sincerely than I had ever prayed before. Through it all, I always knew how important my children were to Him; but I also began to realize and understand more deeply that God knows who I am …who we are. And, I sincerely felt more than ever before that God trusted me with the care of my children, His children. I felt that if He knew and trusted me as He did, then all would be well. I could do this! And, that knowledge strengthened me and made it possible for me to move forward in faith. I haven’t forgotten that lesson. Our Heavenly Father knows who I am, and He trusts me. That was the answer I needed to hear.
I also realized that I was not alone. So, early on and over time, prayer to our Father in Heaven became more and more important and meaningful to me. Today, I look forward to my prayers because I sincerely and honestly know I can speak to Him, and He will hear me. But what do I do to prepare for these visits? That then is what I want to write about in this post.
Before praying, it is important to clear my mind of distraction: try to focus. I try to anticipate my visits and ponder in advance about what I will say. When possible, I try to pray at the same pre-selected quiet place in my home. I begin by spending a little time standings with my head down and my arms along my sides. I try to think about what I’m about to do and to whom I’m about to speak (pray to). Then, I try in my mind and in my spirit to reverently invite the influence of the Holy Spirit around me. At the same time, I try to be aware of my physical senses. Frequently and often, I feel the influence of the Holy Spirit before I begin to pray. The influence comes to me as an emotional tingling about my body: and often in my head, neck, shoulders, and back.
When I feel ready, I try to imagine in my mind the Father looking down on me. I ponder and try to visualize Him in my mind. I try to imagine being in His presence …standing in His presence! Then, I kneel as if before Him and begin to pray vocally. My prayers are spoken reverently and softly, but they are vocal. I try to pray with sincerity, reverence, and gratitude. During my prayers (and throughout the each day), I strive to keep my mind open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the “still small voice.”
When I pray, what do I say? Expressing gratitude for our Heavenly Father’s divine love is essential. Also, I ask sincerely for forgiveness. I know I have weaknesses that limit my growth. So, often my prayerful desire is to know what I lack or what I’m missing; what more I should know; and, what I should do? I try to talk to the Father about these things. Also, I pray for the welfare of family and others, sometimes explicitly, other times generally. Often, I feel enlightened by the Holy Spirit concerning what to say. At all times, and regardless of what is said, I try to maintain a respectful, humble and sincere attitude of gratitude!
After each prayer, I like to pause while still on my knees and briefly continue to contemplate and meditate. I try to open my mind and senses, and listen for the influence of the Holy Spirit. These are often moments that lift me spiritually above my natural condition. Then, going forward each day and night, I try to remember my prayerful experiences and always strive to behave as a Disciple of Jesus Christ.
I know I still have much to do to draw closer to the Lord; but each day, at the end of meaningful prayers, I always have a greater sense of hope. And, I have a greater feeling of love and a desire to be of greater service. I love personal prayers and these opportunities to open up and sincerely speak with Heavenly Father. And, I am so grateful for the positive and sweet influence of the Holy Spirit.