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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Building our Relationship with God

Prayer is one of the most important parts of the gospel plan, which is why Satan tries so hard to make us complacent about saying any prayers, much less meaningful prayers. Without prayer, man would never commune with God, and the work of God could never progress. Satan knows this, and tries his best to turn us away from prayer. If the avenue of prayer were not open, then the prophets would never have talked to God, the scriptures would never have been written, and man would be as the animals. However, God did provide a way for man to talk to him, and he talks back to us. His work moves forward by the hands of faithful men, who counsel with him daily.

Joseph Smith once stated, “It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another.” (Documentary History of the Church.) Without prayer, we cannot converse with God; we have closed the proverbial door on him, and are not inviting him in. If we have closed the door on God, then we cannot know him.

If we do invite God in then we can begin to know him, and know his character, and we can begin to understand our relationship with him, as our Heavenly Father. It is then that prayer becomes the most powerful, as the Bible Dictionary states, “Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the Child are brought into correspondence with each other.” When we understand this perspective we are able to counsel with the Lord. Note the word “with.” When we counsel with the Lord we make covenants. We are able to “secure for ourselves and others blessings that God is already willing to grant but are made conditional on our asking for them.” (Bible Dictionary) Counseling with the Lord isn’t the same as simply asking for blessings though, it is making promises that you intend to keep, in order for God to bless you, and others.

Lastly, it is important to ask in faith, “nothing wavering.” (James 1:6) Joseph Smith asked in true faith, nothing wavering, which church to join, and he was visited by God the Father, and Jesus Christ, his Son. Though we rarely have such spectacular experiences when we pray in faith, God blesses us nonetheless, and it is important to recognize the answers God gives us. Sometimes the answers take time, or take our conditioning, and understanding, but they come. It is the nature of God to give us our answers in the way we need them, not necessarily in the way we prefer them. If we are faithful and watch, our understanding will be opened, and our faith filled to overflowing.

By Prayer many great things can happen, our understanding can be opened, and the heavens can be opened upon us. If we do not pray, we are left in the darkness, ever wandering, ever lost, ever unaware that God is ready to pour his blessings out upon us.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Love and Indifference

Alma 31:2 "For it was the cause of great sorrow to Alma to know of iniquity among his people; therefore his heart was exceedingly sorrowful because of the separation of the Zoramites from the Nephites."
I noted in these verses how Alma feels about his fellowman, and our contrast (in general) in our day.
In American culture we try to let others find their own happiness. We don't worry whether they find that happiness in sin or righteousness, as long as their happiness doesn't step on our rights, or in some cases, offend us.
If somebody unrelated to us is living wickedly we tend to just plain forget about them. We may make snide remarks, or judge their choices, but within minutes we've moved on without another thought.
In other instances we take great offense. We grow angry, and our hearts become inflamed with indignation. We are so proud of our own righteousness that we make the grave error of playing God by passing judgment upon our brethren.
In contrast, Alma worries over the sins of his brethren, not out of indignation, but out of love. He's concerned that the judgment of God will come down upon them because of their wickedness. He wants them to repent, and not because of some imaginary offense against him.
He also doesn't ignore the problem. He doesn't look upon sin and inequality with a blind eye to what he doesn't want to see. He wants his people to be happy, all of them. He wants them to live righteously for their sake, not his own.
So, the question I pose is how can we use Alma's example in our present day? How can we change our perspective and approach to today's political climate so that we don't look like a bunch of radical haters?