Wow, I can't believe I'm finally 20! The "teen" is out of my age and the "2" is added to the front - weird! It's been a great day so far! My favorite part is probably the sun being outside! It's cold out, but with the sun beaming down without any clouds to get in the way, I'm in a great mood!
This week we had a Zone Development Meeting (like a District Meeting but with the whole zone). Elder Haines and I organized it all and invited the President's Assistants to join us. It ended up being a great meeting! We gave everyone in the zone a responsibility (whether it was giving a workshop or saying a prayer) and had a wonderful experience. Elder Haines and I gave a workshop about family prayer! We started with Elder Haines talking about how important the family is. Then I talked about prayer.
I had everyone turn to page 73 in Preach My Gospel "Pray Often." I asked someone to read the first paragraph, warning them that I would jump in periodically. It starts, "God commands us to pray to Him" -stop! I reread the first sentence and then posed the question, Why? D&C 19:28 "I command thee that thou shalt pray.." Why are we commanded to pray? We came up with answers such as, He wants us to talk to him, so we can get help, so we can thank him, and simply because He wants us to. We continued, "You can pray at any time and in any setting. The Lord has taught us to kneel and pray in the morning and in the evening, as individuals and with our families" -stop! Turn to Alma 34:21 "Cry unto [God] in your houses, yeah, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening" - we've been told to pray not only individually, but as a family for thousands of years! Why is it that family prayer in society is almost nonexistent? We kept reading, "Our Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. Through daily prayer we receive divine guidance and blessings. We should always pray sincerely" - stop. What does it mean to pray "sincerely?" Gordon B. Hinckely said, "The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we are picking up the telephone and ordering groceries - we place our order and hang up. We need to mediate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another. 'Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord' (Isaiah 1:18). That is the invitation. Believe in the power of prayer - it is real, it is wonderful, it is tremendous." I made a few comments and then asked how we could help our investigators learn to do this. I had everyone turn to the Bible Dictionary to look up 'prayer.' The seventh paragraph states, "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7-11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other" -stop! The will of the Father and the will of the child... What does the word correspondence mean? Elder David A. Bednar talked about this in his April 2008 General Conference talk "Ask in Faith." He talks of the greatest example of all when it comes to this - our Savior, Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, "saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. ... And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly" (Luke 22:42, 44). Elder Bednar tells another story: "Several years ago there was a young father who had been active in the Church as a boy but had chosen a different path during his teenage years. After serving in the military, he married a lovely girl, and soon children blessed their home. One day without warning their little four-year-old daughter became critically ill and was hospitalized. In desperation and for the first time in many years, the father was found on his knees in prayer, asking that the life of his daughter be spared. Yet her condition worsened. Gradually, this father sensed that his little girl would not live, and slowly his prayers changed; he no longer prayed for healing but rather for understanding. 'Let Thy will be done' was now the manner of his pleadings. Soon his daughter was in a coma, and the father knew her hours on earth were few. Fortified with understanding, trust, and power beyond their own, the young parents prayed again, asking for the opportunity to hold her close once more while she was awake. The daughter's eyes opened, and her frail arms reached out to her parents for one final embrace. And then she was gone. This father knew their prayers had been answered - a kind, compassionate Father in Heaven had comforted their hearts. God's will had been done, and they had gained understanding." We discussed then went back the Bible Dictionary. It continues, "The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings." Prayer is a form of work... Prayer requires faith, faith requires action, thus prayer requires action. Elder Russel M. Nelson often heard President Gordon B. Hinckley say, "I don't know how to get anything done except getting on my knees and pleading for help and then getting on my feet and going to work." Elder Bednar gave an example in his talk. He said, "Joseph [Smith]'s questions focused not just on what he needed to know but also on what was to be done! His prayer was not simply, "Which church is right?" His question was, "Which church should I join?" Joseph went to the grove to ask in faith, and he was determined to act." Throughout my workshop was a discussion (In my workshops I always start off by telling everyone that I will NOT be doing the talking, they will... in other words, a discussion is going to happen. I learned a lot about prayer as I prepared and taught it. Elder Haines and I then read 3 Nephi 18:16, 19-21 and talked about it with our zone. I then talked about how the Gospel blesses families and I shared a story about a family we are teaching. We taught their family about the concept of family prayer and now the family has a prayer said every night together. The kids wont the the parents go to bed without saying their prayers at night! Their family is definitely growing closer together and their relationship with Heavenly Father is undoubtedly becoming stronger.
I know that the power of prayer is real. I know that our Heavenly Father hears AND answers our prayers. I have an undeniable testimony of this! I have seen instant answers to my prayers, I have seen long-term answers to my prayers. Prayer is real. Like our prophet Gordon B. Hinckley said, "[Prayer] is real, it is wonderful, it is tremendous." Hymn 140 - Did You Think to Pray has such a great message to it: "Ere you left your room this morning, Did you think to pray? In the name of Christ, our Savior, Did you sue for loving favor As a shield today? When your heart was filled with anger, Did you think to pray? Did you plead for grace, my brother, That you might forgive another Who had crossed your way? When sore trials came upon you, Did you think to pray? When your soul was full of sorrow, Balm of Gilead did you borrow At the gates of day. Oh, how praying rests the weary! Prayer will change the night to day. So, when life gets dark and dreary, Don’t forget to pray." Whenever life gets tough, we need to fall at our knees. And pray to Him who knows all things.
Recently I came across a quote by Elder Richard G. Scott that has changed my morning studies. He said, "Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in times of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it. This practice enhances the likelihood of your receiving further light" ("Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge, Ensign, Nov. 1993, 86). I now take notes in all the scriptures I read! Before my studies I pray that I may have the Spirit to be with me, to teach me and edify me as I try to learn more. As I read and feel the promptings and whisperings of the Spirit, I write them down. Every morning I study one chapter from the Book of Mormon, one from the Doctrine and Covenants, and as much of Preach My Gosepl as I can in the hour of personal study I have. This morning I only studied one chapter in the book of 1 Nephi! There are my notes:
1 Nephi Chapter 16
Verse 2 - We must not fear teaching the truth. We must be bold. We must be blunt. Why don't we drink tea? Because the prophets have told us the will of the Lord, which is that. "The guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them down to the very center."
Verse 11 - Before Lehi and his family travel into the wilderness, they gathered all the provisions that the Lord had provided for them as well as "seed of every kind." What is the wilderness of our day? The world - once we step outside our homes, our churches, our temples, we enter the wilderness. What provisions has the Lord provided us with? The Book of Mormon, the Bible, latter-day prophets, the Word of Wisdom, the Proclamation to the World, the Holy Ghost! Are we taking these things with us each and every time we enter into the wilderness? Are we keeping these truths close to our hearts? Now what of these seeds they brought? Notice they don't say "and we did take [food] of every kind." In church, we often talk of planting seeds (see Alma 32:28 to the end). In this story, Lehi brought literal seeds with him. But we must bring those seeds of faith with us. We must plant those good seeds and care for them, water them, feed them, let them take root so that they will be strong enough to withstand the storms of life or when the sun seems to be hidden behind the clouds. Lehi brought his seeds - he continued to nurture and tend to his faith, and he did this through obedience, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, etc. Alma 32 = such a great chapter!! (I read it but didn't take notes, just read what Alma says about seeds of faith).
I was going to write more of my notes, but this email is SO SO SO long! Ahhhh! haha I'm sorry for whoever just read all that! You're probably just bored out of your mind!
Wow... I guess this is my birthday present - all of you have to read my thoughts! ha! Thank you for the wonderful bday packages I have received! I have yet to open them, but can't wait! Life is so good here in Ohio (minus the cold! hehe). A BIG storm is supposed to be here for the next two or three days - people are freaking out thinking the snow will be above our houses! If so, I'll be the last one that people will want to eat since I have the least meat on my body, so no worries there ;)
I hope all is well with all of my friends and family. I feel so blessed and so loved by my fan club and my Heavenly Father. I love our Savior, Jesus Christ. I will forever be indebted to him, as he has saved my life through his Atonement. I owe him all that I have, these two years are nothing compared to what he has done. Christ has made it possible to repent, to change, to become the potential that our Heavenly Father knows we have. "We become what we want to be, by consistently being what we want to become" - Elder Richard G. Scott. I'm slowly becoming what I want to be. I pray that I can do better and be a better missionary. I love you all. And I know that our Heavenly Father loves you all even more. Thanks for listening!
Elder David Dransfield
After our Zone Conference
Al Capone robbed this bank (Forest, Ohio) so it's famous-ish