Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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.


Wendy said...

What a great insight! In PP (personal progress), I'm working on improving my prayers.

LeAnn said...

Thanks so much for sharing these insights. I too have had sweet moments in prayer.
I love this section of the Book of Mormon and have pondered deeply when reading these verses.
Blessings to you! LeAnn

Jocelyn Christensen said...

Ooh, the type of Christ comment. How wonderful!