Long before we accepted our temporal existence, we knew the journey would not be easy and that we would be tried over and over again to prove our worthiness for Eternal Life. Every one of us knew what we would personally have to work through, and yet, we all accepted. Often times, it’s hard to grasp that concept as we face trials that seem overwhelmingly impossible to conquer while only being able to see the earthly perspective.
Finding hope seems unreachable, and joy is ever so distant. We are bombarded with anger, frustration, fear and sadness to name a few of the many emotions. We tend to feel sorry for ourselves and ask, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?”
As we know, trials come in a vast variety of experiences and are all different and personal. Luckily for us, we know that our Heavenly Father loves us and even though we feel we have been faced with the impossible. We know he would never expect us to deal with something we could not overcome. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and most importantly, he trusts us to follow his plan. Continue reading →
When I first heard the news that my husband, James, had been offered a job working in overseas embassies, I was elated. My joy was even more full when I discovered that our first posting would be in Frankfurt, Germany, where a commute to the temple was only 20 minutes. I am from rural Utah where a commute to our temple district of Manti took two hours. The temple became very important to me after James and I, as newlyweds, were called to be temple coordinators in our married student ward in Cedar City. To move to Frankfurt where I could attend the temple weekly with other sisters in the ward strengthened my love and testimony of the Lord’s holy houses. I learned quickly, however, that I would not always be so close to a temple.
Our next three overseas assignments were in countries where a House of the Lord had not yet been built. I realized quickly that I would need to do as the Bible Dictionary states and make my house “compare with the temple in sacredness.” We did this in many ways and it was a process years in the making. First, we started deleting a song here or there from our music library that we realized was not in keeping with gospel standards. Once we became more comfortable with the idea of erasing those things from our lives, whole albums we had grown up on were tossed. Then we tackled the movies, throwing out all the movies that contained language and other content that would drive the Spirit away. Continue reading →
Several years ago during a visiting teaching appointment, my companion said something that really changed how I pray. She said (paraphrasing), “I was taught that when we pray, we don’t have to fill the entire prayer up with talking. We should pause in between phrases so that we can feel the Holy Ghost and be guided on what to say next. We get more out of prayer, and we truly say what we need to say.”
I felt strongly impressed to follow that advice. As I started to pray that way, I noticed my attitude about prayer changed, my relationship with Heavenly Father strengthened, and my ability to receive personal revelation increased.
I’ve always known that prayer is important, and I believe in the power of prayer, but I really struggled to make my prayers personal. Once during a youth activity, we learned different examples of people in the scriptures praying all day to Heavenly Father (see Luke 6:12, Enos 1:4, Mosiah 21:14). I remember our leader telling us that we should be able to pray like that some day. She said that our relationship with Heavenly Father and our ability to pray should get to that point. I remember thinking, “I’ll never be able to pray like that. I’m a failure at prayer.” For most of my life, I generally prayed using memorized and repeated phrases. I believed in prayer, I knew it was important, but I didn’t feel that I was “good” at praying. Continue reading →
We worship God as the supreme act of faith in Jesus Christ. The commandment to do so, I believe, is equal to the first principle of the gospel: faith in Jesus Christ; the Giver of all commandments. To worship God is to have faith in His Plan made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ; acknowledging our complete dependence and gratitude for both in order to overcome the world and receive the crowning blessing of Exaltation.
It is only by the grace of God, made possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that we are able to repent of sin, overcome personal weakness and eventually become perfected. Grace is a power beyond that of the natural man. Grace enables us to accomplish that which we, left to ourselves, could never do.
Without grace, there would be no hope.
With this understanding then, how important is our faith in relation to obtaining grace? I believe it’s everything; it is the foundation upon which we are enabled to act according to God’s laws of progression. Continue reading →
Many people have shared stories with me over the years of times when they prayed, and the answer was “no.” Some were devastated when Heavenly Father answered in the negative; others just wondered why the answer was what it was. I was reading a story in the August 2015 Ensign, “The Example of a Faithful Father,” by Judson H. Flower, Jr., and it reminded me of a time in my own life when the answer was no.
We want what God wants because what God wants for all of His Children is that we experience joy not only here in mortality but for eternity. Adam taught that “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Might. Joy does not come through external demands, circumstances, or other individuals. Joy is a personal choice that must be claimed. Learning to trust God and turn our will over to His is the great test of this life – and trust me, it is a test – with joy as its great reward!
Consider some of the recent attacks against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – many emanate from individuals’ desires in opposition to the organizational structure and/or its teachings and doctrines. All are vulnerable to the natural man within, who tends to insist on having things his or her way, thinking we know what is best. President Ezra Taft Benson explained it best: “Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Beware of Pride,” Apr. 1989 General Conference). Continue reading →
A part of being a mother in Zion is learning to have conversations with Heavenly Father. Mothers need divine guidance in creating a family of God. My husband and I try to include God in both the creating and parenting of our children. I know that when I make Heavenly Father a part of my daily decisions in the bearing and rearing of my children, He grants me peace and confidence that I do not have otherwise. Over the years, I’ve had a few conversations with Heavenly Father. Recently, I talked much with God about His plan for sending children to my family.
Nearly five years ago before the birth of my eighth child, I wanted with all my heart to be done having kids. We started having children immediately after we married, I was on my tenth pregnancy, and I was tired of being pregnant and nursing. I wanted to finally get on to the next phase of my life. I felt stuck in this phase of pregnancy–nurse baby–repeat. I thought that I could not raise my kids properly until I was finished with that cycle. I prayed and I prayed but never got the spiritual confirmation that I was done having children. Eventually, I quit asking. A couple months later in the temple, I felt impressed that we would have one more boy. I was okay with that and felt like I could be pregnant one more time for one more boy. Continue reading →
Not long ago, I was involved in a Facebook discussion concerning single LDS women who want to marry, yet the opportunity is not given to them. Because it’s a commandment to marry, and they desire to keep all the commandments, they feel conflict because of their inability to keep that commandment.
One friend, Becca, recently divorced and remarried, and who has obviously experienced a lot of conflict of her own, commented that she sees this life as imperfect, and often our situations are not ideal, but that is the way mortality is meant to be. She continued explaining that “when Adam and Eve were in the garden, Heavenly Father gave them two commandments that seemed to be conflicting – multiply and replenish the earth, but don’t eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” which was the only way to gain the knowledge to be able to multiply and replenish the earth. Becca felt that Heavenly Father continues to give us similar commandments and situations, including that of marrying and bearing children, where we cannot guarantee our ability to fulfill those commandments; therefore, we feel distress because we cannot control the situation.
After the above Facebook conversation, I was, of course, intrigued when during the October 2014 General ConferenceRichard G. Scott began speaking of Adam and Eve in the garden. He recounted how they had no challenges, pain, or opposition, yet when they transgressed, they became aware of opposition and the difference between good and evil. He explained that “we are able to understand peace because we feel turmoil.” We have to have opposition so that we can grow, or be “stretched,” including those instances when we have little or no control of the situation. In these times of trial, when we feel unsettled and distressed, he reminded us of four powerful tools that will help us find peace: prayer, scriptures, Family Home Evening, and temple worship.
LDS Charities has released 100,000 dollars in relief funds to help persecuted Christians in Iraq. Mormon Women Stand supports this critical effort to help those who are suffering because they refuse to deny their testimonies of Jesus Christ. We encourage all LDS women to donate to the General Fund of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ humanitarian organization.
We also support global efforts being made to organize fasting and prayer events, knowing that unified prayers, which are a powerful act of faith and trust in God’s power, can bring about miracles. Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principal of the LDS gospel, and seldom has the need for this specific faith been greater.
What is Happening in Iraq to Christians?
In Mormon chapter 8 of the Book of Mormon we read about the brutality and savagery of the Lamanites and Nephites. In an unending war, the Lamanite and Nephite soldiers are brutally murdering and raping women and children. They are feeding the prisoners with the flesh of their kin. They are without humanity.
Today the world is witnessing a similar circumstance in Iraq. ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham (Al Sham meaning the Levant, or Greater Syria)) terrorists, radical Muslims who act outside of the mainstream faith, have been moving through Iraq killing all men, women, and children who are not adherents to the Islamic faith. ISIS warned the people in the cities they have captured that they must convert to Islam or face death. Rejoicing in their savagery, the ISIS terrorist have made music videos and photographed the rapes and murders of innocent women and children. Several graphic images have emerged of Christian men, women, and children brutally murdered because they are not of the Islamic faith. Reports allege that women are being raped, men are being hung and crucified, and children are being beheaded. These children of God are facing three options: convert to Islam and become one with ISIS, stay in their homes and risk death or imprisonment, or run away into the desert in hopes of finding safety.
While we are taught to join in the fight “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children,” (Alma 46:12) we are also warned to not accept the brutality of war. In a General Conference address, J. Reuben Clark, Jr. teaches how we ought to feel when faced with the murder and destruction of our brothers and sisters in different nations. He says:
“as the crowning savagery of the war, we Americans wiped out hundreds of thousands of civilian population with the atom bomb in Japan, few if any of the ordinary civilians being any more responsible for the war than were we, and perhaps most of them no more aiding Japan in the war than we were aiding America. Military men are now saying that the atom bomb was a mistake. It was more than that: it was a world tragedy. Thus we have lost all that we gained during the years from Grotius (1625) to 1912. And the worst of this atomic bomb tragedy is not that not only did the people of the United States not rise up in protest against this savagery, not only did it not shock us to read of this wholesale destruction of men, women, and children, and cripples, but that it actually drew from the nation at large a general approval of this fiendish butchery.” (Conference Report, October 1946, pp. 84-89)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always helped those in need. The humanitarian efforts of members of the church reach many throughout the world. The humanitarian page on the church website states:
“For many years, The Church has been actively involved in humanitarian relief and development activities throughout the world. These include emergency relief assistance in times of disaster and humanitarian programs that strengthen the self-reliance of individuals, families, and communities. Humanitarian projects are funded by donations from Church members and others. One-hundred percent of these donations go directly to help the poor and needy. In-kind material assistance is provided through items donated by Church members and others. Church humanitarian efforts relieve suffering for families of all nationalities and religions and offer hope with the potential for a better life for millions of people around the world.”
Members of the church have heeded the call in donating items, food, and money to assist after earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and with refugees from war-torn nations. Let us again offer our compassion, our hearts, our prayers, and our money in helping our brothers and sisters suffering from the worst brutality and savagery the world has known in more than a generation. We invite you to join the Mormon Women Stand Facebook event, Global Prayer for Iraqi Christians, to unite in prayer and fasting with the worldwide community of Christians on behalf of our courageous brothers and sisters, and their children, who refuse to deny Jesus Christ, even at the peril of their lives, August 23-24th.
Prayer is a gift and a privilege. Most people in the world know that they can pray to a heavenly being. It is a truth that has caught hold, because people instinctively understand it to literally be a lifeline to God. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we understand it to be much more than a lifeline. We believe it is the basis for how we conduct ourselves and ultimately align our will with our Father in Heaven, which is the purpose of our journey here on earth.
How much do we really know about prayer, and what it can do for us? There is much teaching that comes from our scriptures on the practice of praying to our Heavenly Father. I invite you to take a scripture journey, reading the following list of scriptures, in order to discover for yourself what prayer can do for you in your life. Continue reading →