Thursday, September 30, 2010 2 comments

Small Positive Changes in Families Can Multiply the Harvest of Blessings

Here’s a quote from Elder Eyring that particularly struck me today:
Most of us have had some experience with self-improvement efforts. My experience has taught me this about how people and organizations improve: the best place to look is for small changes we could make in things we do often. There is power in steadiness and repetition. And if we can be led by inspiration to choose the right small things to change, consistent obedience will bring great improvement. (“The Lord Will Multiply the Harvest”, An Evening with Elder Henry B. Eyring, 6 February 1998, emphasis added)
While the context for Elder Eyring’s talk was improvements in seminary instruction, it seems like it can easily apply to families as well. There are certain things that we do quite often in families, so if we can find small ways to improve in those things, then the effect of the blessing will be multiplied.

What kind of things happen often (or should be happening often) in families?
  • Family prayer (daily)
  • Family scripture study (daily)
  • Personal prayer (daily and more)
  • Family Home Evening (weekly)
I can also think of some things that are not considered spiritual in nature, but which happen (or could happen) often enough that small positive changes could still multiply blessings.
  • Family meals
  • Family chores
  • Family discipline
  • Conversation during family errands and chauffeuring
I’m sure that you can think of more that are individualized to your family. I want to challenge you to seek for inspiration about what small changes you could make that would multiply the blessings in your family.

I know that President Erying’s counsel is wise and true because I’ve been trying an experiment recently, trying to make two small changes in our family. One is in our family scripture study.

Rather than only wrestling on my own with scriptures that puzzle me, I have begun to ask my husband what he thinks about them. I have enough experience with being taught by the Spirit that I know that Heavenly Father will give me answers when I seek them, but I want to make sure that my husband gets opportunities to teach our family about the scriptures, and what better way to do that than to ask him questions about what we are reading? This might sound patronizing, but it’s not. I ask questions on things I don’t know, so we both stretch together as we think about it.

From preliminary results of this effort, I’ve noticed that our scripture study is more interesting. It feels like we’ve grown together as a couple. And I notice that my respect for him is increasing.

The second experiment I’ve been trying is in my personal prayers. Last Sunday in sacrament meeting the talks were about “praying like Christ,” and I was once again reminded of just how sporadic my personal prayers were. A scripture was read about how we shouldn’t perform anything unto the Lord unless we had prayed that our performance would be for the welfare of our souls and I started to think about how so often I tend to get distracted in the middle of doing something. I began to wonder what would happen if I prayed before every task I did. I wondered if that would help me keep from getting distracted. I also thought about how much time I spent doing certain things simply because I was trying to procrastinate doing what really needed to be done. I wondered if praying before each task would give me the heart and the will to not procrastinate in the first place.

I’m in my third or fourth day of this particular experiment and I can already see blessings. First, I remember the Lord much more. Second, it has made me more mindful of my motive for doing what I do. If I know I want to look at some websites because I want to waste time, I feel I can’t pray for a blessing on that, and if I can’t pray for that activity to be blessed, then I might as well not look at those websites at all. And I find myself not resenting that because I am intent upon doing my experiment: I want to pray and I want the Lord to bless me. It is automatically improving my priorities. I feel happier. It has also humbled me in a way that it is hard to describe, but which has shown me how little I know and yet I don’t resent it because at the same time I’m gaining this sense of how vast the wisdom of God is. It’s something more than rational and I don’t understand how it works; I only know that frequent prayer has brought it.

What experiment will you try? Or maybe there is something you are doing right now. Will you tell me about it?
Friday, September 24, 2010 5 comments

“O That I Were an Angel!”: A Look at the Wish of Alma’s Heart

We are familiar with Alma’s exclamation in Alma 29 when he wishes he could be an angel so that he could cry repentance to the whole earth. But he turns away from this wish with words that have consistently puzzled me: “But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish” (Alma 29:3)

How did Alma sin in his wish?! Every time I read these words, I would go back to the preceding verses, trying to detect that sin because if Alma (an undeniably righteous man and a high priest) detects sin somewhere, it would behoove me to understand what that sin is so that I can avoid it myself.

His wish is:
  • To be an angel
  • To go forth
  • To speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth
  • To cry repentance unto every people and declare unto every soul repentance and the plan of redemption (that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth)
On the surface, it has always seemed like these wishes were harmless, but when I began to think about the motive behind the wishes, I began to notice that Alma realized his motives weren’t right and that later in the chapter he worked hard to remind himself of some important truths to get himself to relinquish those wishes.

Alma wants to be an angel because he thinks that would make him a more effective teacher. I suppose he remembered how amazing it was to have that first angel visit him and the four sons of Mosiah to stop them from fighting the church, and he thought that a more dramatic or powerful appearance would give him more success. I imagine that his run-in with Ammonihah stubbornness caused him to yearn for ever greater powers of persuasion and authority.

I suppose that we may fall into the same sin if we think, “Maybe if I were a bishop/relief society president/stake president/general authority, then people would listen to me better when I’m trying to share the gospel or teach an important principle.” We forget that the Lord has taught that those who receive His servants receive Him, and those who receive Him receive His Father. I imagine that promise applies whether the Lord's servant is a nursery leader, 16-year-old priest, or prophet.

Alma eventually tells himself this: "But behold, I am a man, and… I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me." (Alma 29:3) It’s a good hard look at reality and a reminder that his state is something that the Lord has given him to make the best of. “Why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?” (Alma 29:6) He already has a special calling to do—he’s the high priest!
4 I ought not to harrow up in my desires, the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.
5 Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience. (Alma 29:4-5)
Alma had to remind himself of the principle of agency and that it wasn’t proper to violate that agency. No matter how powerfully persuasive and authoritative the servant of God, ultimately they can’t coerce their audience.

There’s another part of his wish that is problematic: that of wishing he could declare repentance to every soul. It sounds good, but if just one person does all the preaching and teaching, no one else gets any experience, and that’s not what Heavenly Father wants.

It might be helpful for us to take a minute to think about how this wish might have arisen in Alma’s heart in the first place. Alma was a very skilled and effective teacher and evidently he was a prolific writer as well. Consider that the largest book in the Book of Mormon is the Alma’s portion, and that is after Mormon abridged it. Alma probably saw a lot of other peoples’ teaching, saw what they were doing ineffectively, and wished he could have done it instead so that those errors could be avoided. But he recognized this would be contrary to the wisdom of God:
7 Why should I desire that I were an angel, that I could speak unto all the ends of the earth?
8 For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true. (Alma 29:7-8, emphasis added)
Well, just like Alma wanted to be an angel, I wanted to have the best scripture blog that everybody in the world reads. I want everybody to learn from me. BUT… this chapter has taught me that it is wisdom in God that there be many people from all nations writing about the scriptures and witnessing online about the gospel. I know very well that it is impossible to write something edifying without learning by the Spirit in the very act. So when I see so many bloggers' edifying posts, I’m happy because I know that the Spirit is teaching those writers and I remember how the Spirit has taught me. And when I see so many of these good blogs with so many attentive readers, I’m happy because that means so many of my brothers and sisters appreciate the things of God and are seeking out what is virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy. Ultimately I feel to echo Alma at the end of chapter 29:
15 Behold, they have labored exceedingly, and have brought forth much fruit; and how great shall be their reward!
16 Now, when I think of the success of these my brethren my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy.
17 And now may God grant unto these, my brethren, that they may sit down in the kingdom of God; yea, and also all those who are the fruit of their labors that they may go no more out, but that they may praise him forever. And may God grant that it may be done according to my words, even as I have spoken. Amen.
(Alma 29:15-17)
Sunday, September 19, 2010 2 comments

What is Amos’s point in these weird verses?

4 Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey?
will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing?
5 Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him?
shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all?
6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city and the people not be afraid?
Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not [known] it?
7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:4-7)
We know verse 7 pretty well, but what is far less clear is the three verses that lead up to it. It is easy to just gloss over them and stick to what we know.

Today after our reading, my husband and I tackled these verses. One thing I have discovered really helps me to figure out strange verses is to try to pin down just what it is that confuses me about them. As I was looking at verses 4-6, I noticed that they were all questions. It seemed like they were all rhetorical questions that Amos was using to try to develop some kind of idea. But I couldn’t get what point he was trying to make because the imagery just seemed too odd. A bird falling into a snare where no gin (trap) was laid? That’s weird. A lion roaring in the forest when he has no prey? Wouldn’t that frighten all the animals away and make it harder? All the images seemed like they were completely unnatural.

That’s when it hit me—that’s what Amos was trying to say! It would be completely unnatural for a bird to to get caught where there was no trap. It would be unnatural for a lion to roar when he doesn’t have prey yet. (It would scare the prey away!) It would be unnatural for trumpet to be blown (presumably as an alarm) and for people not to be scared. He was pointing out that just like it would be unnatural for those things to happen, it would be unnatural for the Lord to do something without revealing it to His servants the prophets first.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 2 comments

Wholesome Recreation in Family

“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” (Family Proclamation)

I believe that wholesome recreation is one of the ways we can refresh our strength in our families.

The scriptures describe some incidents that, while they don’t specifically include those words “wholesome recreational activities,” could possibly include good family fun.

And after we had traveled for the space of many days, we did pitch our tents for the space of a time, that we might again rest ourselves and obtain food for our families. (1 Nephi 16:17, emphasis added)

For Lehi and his family, traveling must have involved a lot of labor, so staying in one place was rest. Today it is the opposite. Travel involves a lot of sitting, so a good way to rest from that is to do something active.

When my family went on long road trips, frequently we children got antsy and rambunctious in the car, so she adopted the practice of stopping every so often at playgrounds along the way so that we could release that pent up energy. Even today, we still like playgrounds.

The Book of Mormon also has at least one cautionary incident of which I am aware of about UNwholesome recreational activities.
And after we had been driven forth before the wind for the space of many days, behold, my brethren and the sons of Ishmael and also their wives began to make themselves merry, insomuch that they began to dance, and to sing, and to speak with much rudeness, yea, even that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither; yea, they were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness. (1 Nephi 18:9)
The dancing and singing was wholesome, but when they added rudeness and witty put-downs to the mix, they got themselves in trouble to the point that they began to be “lifted up” in pride, and forgot God’s power.

Here are some principles that I feel are part of WHOLESOME recreation (aka, principles of good fun):
  • Edifying
  • Build teamwork & trust
  • Build talents
  • Stretch the imagination and creative faculties
  • Involve conversation and doing things together
  • Are not at the expense of the ego of any family member
  • Can be rest for the weary (sedentary) or an outlet for pent up energy (active), but ultimately they are refreshing.
  • Can be spontaneous or planned

My memories of great family activities:
  • Spontaneous late-January trip to Disney world
  • Vacations that always had something crazy happen (causing me to start keeping a vacation log)
  • FHEs playing Dark Tag out in the yard
  • FHEs sorting photos and putting them all in photo albums
  • Family reunions at a YMCA camp for a weekend
  • Family work projects, like cleaning all the junk out of the hardware store Dad was going to turn into an orthodontic office
  • Tickle fights with dad
  • Decorating the Christmas ginger bread house
  • When dinner was crackers and about 6 different types of cheese
  • Playing Sardines
  • Riding go-carts
  • Spontaneous family sing-alongs
  • Family leaf-raking party after which everyone played in the big leaf pile
  • Going on flashlight walks on Sunday night
  • Playing tag on the kids castle playground
  • Playing in the mud puddles during a hard rain
The above pictures were taken a family reunion that met at a park.

Can you think of any other principles of wholesome recreation? What are some of your best memories of refreshing family fun?
Friday, September 10, 2010 12 comments

Follow the Brethren and Never Fall

Today I happened to be thinking about the story in the Book of Mormon of the 2000 stripling warriors and how not one of them was killed in battle. I began to wonder why the Lord wanted this story written and transmitted to us. How does it apply to us? How many of us have to fight on the front lines? (Some of us do, but what about the rest of us who don’t?)

But wait, all of us fight spiritual battles EVERY DAY. That’s when I realized what a great lesson and promise this story has. Those stripling warriors were firm and undaunted and obeyed and observed to perform every word of command with exactness and according to their faith it was done unto them (Alma 57:20-21). And they were commanded by a prophet. The result of their zealous obedience was that not one of them died.

The lesson is clear. If they followed their prophet-general and not one of them fell, then if we follow the prophet and our leaders, then not one of us will fall away. If everyone in our families follows the prophet, none of our families will fail. We will look back on our mortal lives with wonder and say:

And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of [our] exceeding faith in that which [we] had been taught to believe—that there [is] a just God, and whosoever [does] not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power. Now this was [our] faith… and [our] minds are firm, and [we]… put [our] trust in God continually. (Alma 57:26-27)
Friday, September 3, 2010 4 comments

Happiness in Family

“Happiness is family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Family Proclamation)

This tells us that we need to look very carefully at the four Gospels and at Christ’s teachings in 3 Nephi for ways that we can incorporate more of them into our family life.

When we are told that happiness in family is most likely to be achieved when founded on Christ’s teachings, that tells us a little something about our statistical chances of success, although the language is numerically vague. It tells us we have a better chance of having a happy family going that way than by any other way.

That language of “most likely to be achieved” also acknowledges that even good families are not happy all the time. There’s a lot of chaos in family life and the greater the number of family members, the greater the chances for conflict. But the more family members are aligned with the teachings of Christ, moments of pleasure, peace, satisfaction, and contentment are more likely to occur. (The trick is to get everybody aligned..)
10 Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.
11 And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. (Alma 41:10-11)
This shows us that until we are truly converted to the Lord, we will be “in the gall of bitterness” and “in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.” But once we are...
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it. (Mosiah 2:41, emphasis added)
There are some things in the scriptures that teach things to increase or decrease happiness.
And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. (Abraham 1:2, emphasis added)
Abraham sought the priesthood because he found out that there was greater happiness to be found in it. This shows us that attaining the priesthood brings happiness. And since the priesthood is meant to bless all the families of the earth, it is instrumental in increasing the happiness of every family member.
Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement (2 Nephi 2:10, emphasis added)
If happiness is affixed in opposition to punishment, this suggests to me that one way we can bring greater happiness in our families is by giving rewards for good as well as punishments for bad. When children receive rewards for good works from their parents, they can better understand rewards given by God.
Do ye suppose that ye shall dwell with him under a consciousness of your guilt? Do ye suppose that ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being, when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws? (Mormon 9:3)
This verse suggests to us an earthly counterpart. If we would be unhappy to dwell with God knowing we have broken His laws, family members will find themselves unhappy at home when they break family rules. We are happier at home when we know that we are keeping the family rules. Guilt gets in the way of happiness.
Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. (1 Kings 10:8)
In the above verse, the Queen of Sheba is speaking to King Solomon after having observed his wisdom and how he runs his kingdom. If we can share wisdom with our children, they will be happy. (They may not know it unless an outsider points out to them how blessed they are, but they will be happy.)
3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed (Psalms 127:3-5, emphasis added)
Do you mothers and fathers know how happy you are?
For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. (Psalm 128:2)
This shows us that part of happiness is enjoying the results of our labors. We can help our children to be happy in work by paying them something for it.

Next we have some scriptures that describe happiness that comes from more difficult circumstances.
Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (James 5:11)

Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty. (Job 5:17)

But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; (1 Peter 3:14)
Finally, in our efforts to bring happiness to our families, we should not be surprised to find our families acting in counter-productive ways. The Book of Mormon notes this phenomenon:
Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity. (Helaman 12:2, emphasis added)
This should warn us that we may see this cycle in our families too.
Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen. (D&C 87:8)
Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God (D&C 109:8)
I know that it is true that happiness in the family is most likely to achieved by following the teachings of Christ.
Thursday, September 2, 2010 4 comments

Respect in Families

“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” (Family Proclamation, emphasis added)

What exactly do we mean by R-E-S-P-E-C-T?
“esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment…
deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly…
the condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect.
to hold in esteem or honor: I cannot respect a cheat….
to show regard or consideration for: to respect someone's rights…
to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with: to respect a person's privacy. ”
There are different types of respect that we give or get in this world and they have to do with what we value, what we feel is worth admiring. Respect can be based on:
  • personal appearance.
  • personality/charisma.
  • skill-set.
  • experience.
  • wealth.
  • fame/notoriety.
  • family connections/genealogy.
  • power/influence.
  • divine nature
  • obedience to the principles and commandments of the gospel
Now, I want to you look at that list and pick out which of those types of respect you have for the members of your family. Which forms of respect to you have to your spouse? Children? Parents? Extended family?

Next, think about what types of respect in the list above can be called temporal and which can be called eternal.

What types of respect in the list above do you have for the person you admire most in the world?

What types of respect in the list above do you extend to the person living who you like least in the world?

What types of respect do you give yourself?

What types of respect does God extend to us as His children? "And [Jesus] said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." (Luke 16:15) Before we can correctly incorporate respect in our families, we have to adopt the Lord’s values and respect what He respects. That means thinking carefully about what we respect and why, and doing some repentance if necessary.

I want to say a little something about respect based on divine nature. I think respect for a person’s divine nature will lead us to act according to certain principles that are linked with divine nature. Four things are tied to our divine nature—gender, intelligence, agency, and potential. So if you respect someone’s divine nature, you have to respect their gender, their intelligence, their agency, and their potential.
  • We respect gender by reaffirming the eternal roles of men and women, giving opportunities for development of the skillsets related to those roles, and allowing individual gender expression to develop at its own pace. (The world may say this is limiting, but from the eternal perspective, it is empowering.) We respect gender by reaffirming the necessary complementary nature of male and female in procreation and raising a family.
  • We respect intelligence by teaching each person, by exhibiting faith in their ability to learn and apply what they’ve learned, and by searching for ways to draw out their innate talents and gifts.
  • We respect agency by teaching about choices, allowing choice, and allowing the consequences that come from those choices.
  • We respect potential by speaking hopefully of a person’s future in terms of the possibility of blessings for keeping the commandments and by giving them a vision of a bright future in which they have conquered their present difficulties.
When I see respect in the scriptures, it is most often respect for obedience and personal righteousness. I’ll point out some examples.
And now my son, Laman, and also Lemuel and Sam, and also my sons who are the sons of Ishmael, behold, if ye will hearken unto the voice of Nephi ye shall not perish. And if ye will hearken unto him I leave unto you a blessing, yea, even my first blessing. (2 Nephi 1:28)
This is Lehi speaking at the end of his life, exhibiting great respect for his son Nephi. This could only have happened because of Nephi’s personal righteousness.
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers over the land of my people. (2 Nephi 5:26)
Nephi respected the righteousness of his two younger brothers.
Behold, my beloved brethren, I, Jacob, having been called of God, and ordained after the manner of his holy order, and having been consecrated by my brother Nephi, unto whom ye look as a king or a protector, and on whom ye depend for safety, behold ye know that I have spoken unto you exceedingly many things. (2 Nephi 6:2)
Jacob respected Nephi for his righteousness too.

Next we see some characterization of the 2,000 stripling warriors.
Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. (Alma 56:47)
Their respect for father’s liberty and mother’s teaching was based on their parents’ personal righteousness.
Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them. (Alma 57:21)
The stripling warriors respected Helaman the prophet so much that they tried to do exactly what he said. Because of their careful obedience, it is obvious that he respected them just as much. All of this respect was based on personal righteousness.

Next we have Joseph Smith’s account of after the angel Moroni told him about the plates.
49 The first thing that I can recollect was a voice speaking unto me, calling me by name. I looked up, and beheld the same messenger standing over my head, surrounded by light as before. He then again related unto me all that he had related to me the previous night, and commanded me to go to my father and tell him of the vision and commandments which I had received.
50 I obeyed; I returned to my father in the field, and rehearsed the whole matter to him. He replied to me that it was of God, and told me to go and do as commanded by the messenger. I left the field, and went to the place where the messenger had told me the plates were deposited; and owing to the distinctness of the vision which I had had concerning it, I knew the place the instant that I arrived there. (JSH 1:49-50)
To obey the angel by telling his father, Joseph must have respected his father’s personal righteousness. And his father must have had a certain amount of respect for Joseph too, since he believed him.

Not only must our families be built and maintained on the principle of respect (among other things), it must be the right kind of respect.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010 3 comments

Pray IN your families

“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” (Family Proclamation, emphasis added)

When Christ visited the Nephites, He instructed them to pray always to resist temptation, and He also added instructions for fathers. "Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed" (3 Nephi 18:21).

Of course, I think this can apply not only to fathers, but to mothers and children as well. But the thing that I want to point out is that little word “in” and how it helps us. “Pray in your families” is different from “Pray for your families when they’re not around” (although that should be done too) and it is different from “Pray about your families.” What this seems to teach us is that prayers for our family members should not just occur in private, but also out loud while with them.

There is something about hearing someone else pray for you and mentioning your challenges to the Lord that is profoundly moving and comforting. Unless you’ve had this experience, it is hard to explain how deeply it can affect you. I remember a few times when my mother prayed for me out loud when I was particularly troubled and I learned something about her love for me and her faith in Heavenly Father which I believe will stay with me forever. I can’t think about it now without tears. Similarly there is something so precious about hearing my husband pray for me and my specific struggles.

The Book of Mormon records an instance of this to give us an idea. In this instance, Christ himself prays for the people.
15 And when he had said these words, he himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him.
16 And after this manner do they bear record: The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father;
17 And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.
18 And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying unto the Father, he arose; but so great was the joy of the multitude that they were overcome. (3 Nephi 17:15-18)
I used to think that the key to this experience was that it was Christ doing the praying. But now because of my experience of having heard my mother and my husband pray for me, I believe that the key lies in the factors of 1) praying out loud 2) advocating for the hearers. I believe that this experience is accessible to every one of us if we cultivate the habit of praying in our families for each family member and their particular circumstances. As we advocate to the Father for those around us who hear us, we become a type of Christ, who continually advocates to the Father for us.

This month, I am going to celebrate the family with posts relating the scriptures to family and strengthening the family. Jocelyn Christiansen will be celebrating the family on her blog We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ. There will be posts there each day and many others will add links to their posts celebrating the family.