Mar 05

‘Praying with’ vs. ‘Praying for’ the Holy Ghost

Personal PrayerIt should be noted that praying to receive the Holy Ghost and praying by the power of the Holy Ghost are two separate things. Praying by the power of the Holy Ghost assures that we are in tune with the will of God.

Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, “we know not what we should pray for as we ought” (Rom. 8:26). But we read that the Nephite Twelve, while praying, “did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire” (3 Ne. 19:24). Our most productive prayers will include all three members of the Godhead; we will address our prayers to our Father in Heaven, pray in the name of Jesus Christ, and pray as prompted by the Holy Ghost. Having the Holy Ghost express God’s will for us through our prayers should be the goal of all Latter-day Saints. That way, “the time will come when we shall know the will of God before we ask. Then everything for which we pray will be right. That will be when, as a result of righteous living, we shall so enjoy the companionship of the Spirit that he will dictate to us what we should ask.”

Individuals who ask for the companionship of the Holy Ghost and pray by the power of the Spirit will discover marvelous things happening in their lives. God will give them temporal and spiritual direction, and at length their lives will be spiritually transformed through Christ. The time will come when these Saints will be “purified and cleansed from all sin,” and then they will “ask whatsoever [they] will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.

“But know this, it shall be given [them] what [they] shall ask”(D&C 50:29–30).

Ensign, January 1996, p. 38 (“After This Manner… Pray Ye” by Donald W. Parry)

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Nov 13

Why Bother Keeping a Journal?

What is so important about keeping a personal journal?

First, let’s establish a scope of what we are talking about. In my mind, a personal journal is something that I would pass on to my posterity. Therefore, I would write in it the things of most importance to me for them. This would be things like personal revelations and spiritual experiences, as well as major events in my life.

1 Nephi 19:3“And after I had made these plates by way of commandment, I, Nephi, received a commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these plates; and that the things which were written should be kept for the instruction of my people, who should possess the land, and also for other wise purposes, which purposes are known unto the Lord.”

Nephi understood that the things that he was going to write on the plates were for the instruction of the people who should live in the land after he did. He wrote on these plates the plain and precious parts of the prophecies and ministry that took place among his people. Nephi wasn’t the only person who thought this way.

1 Nephi 5:21 – They were able to preserve the commandments of the Lord unto their children.

The experience of the Mulekites demonstrates some good reasons to keep written records:

Omni 1:17“And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them.”

It seems to me that the fact that their language had become corrupted had a direct relationship to the fact that they had no records with them.

Let’s take another look at this concept from a different perspective:

Moses 1:5–7:

“5 And a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration;

 

6 And by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled.

7 Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.”

Adam kept a book of revelations. He used it to teach his children to read and write. As a correlation to this, they had a language that was pure and undefiled. Therefore, his children were able to learn the same language. They were able to teach it to their children the same way. It’s interesting to note that this process is called “this same Priesthood”. The process of recording one’s personal revelations is considered to be a thing of the priesthood.

D&C 68:4“And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”

How could it become “scripture” save it were written down? The very root of the word, “script”, means “to be written.” When we are moved upon by the power of the Holy Ghost, we need to write it down. We can thus preserve a perfect memory of the event. We then have that memory recorded for retrieval at a later date. This can be for many reasons, one of which Nephi mentions:

1 Nephi 19:18“And I, Nephi, have written these things unto my people, that perhaps I might persuade them that they would remember the Lord their Redeemer.”

Throughout the Standard Works, the word “remember” and slight variations thereof appear hundreds of times. Do you think it’s important that we remember the teachings of the Lord to us? What about those personal things that He has revealed to you personally?

There is an article in the New Era, December 1980, page 26. It’s by President Spencer W. Kimball, and it’s called “President Kimball Speaks Out on Personal Journals.” He explicitly states, “We hope you will do this, our brothers and sisters, for this is what the Lord has commanded, and those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives.”

Well, a prophet has stated that it is a commandment, so that’s good enough for me.

Mosiah 17:4“But he fled from before them and hid himself that they found him not. And he being concealed for many days did write all the words which Abinadi had spoken.”

Why did Alma write all of this? He wrote it because he believed it and knew that it was true. So why don’t we write down our own personal convictions and revelations?

Let’s take a look at what the Nephites thought about writing things down.  One passage from 2 Nephi 25 and one from Jacob 4:

2 Nephi 25: 23 & 26

23 – “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

26 – “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”

Jacob 4:1–4

1 – NOW behold, it came to pass that I, Jacob, having ministered much unto my people in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates) and we know that the things which we write upon plates must remain;

2 – But whatsoever things we write upon anything save it be upon plates must perish and vanish away; but we can write a few words upon plates, which will give our children, and also our beloved brethren, a small degree of knowledge concerning us, or concerning their fathers-

3 – Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents.

4 – For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.

Look at the reasons that these people gave for writing. They wrote to persuade their families to believe in Christ and to be reconciled to God. They wrote so that their families would know where to look for a remission of their sins.  Let us all make time to write down our spiritual experiences, personal revelations, and anything that would promote faith among the members of our families.

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Oct 29

The Most Important Knowledge to Gain

Upon considering the things taught recently at the Sperry Symposium and at General Conference, it has become clear that there are different types, grades or levels of knowledge that one may gain.  Which are most important?

Let’s consult the words of Spencer W. Kimball to discover his feelings on the matter of the most important knowledge we can gain:

“Yet secular knowledge can be most helpful to the children of our Father in Heaven who, having placed first things first, have found and are living those truths which lead one to eternal life. These are they who have the balance and perspective to seek all knowledge-revealed and secular-as a tool and servant for the blessing of themselves and others. They know that preeminent among all activities in this life is preparing themselves for eternal life by subjugating the flesh, subjecting the body to the spirit, overcoming weaknesses, and so governing themselves that they may give leadership to others. Important, but of second priority, comes the knowledge associated with life in mortality.”

“Of all the treasures of knowledge, the most truly vital is the knowledge of God, of his existence, his powers, his love, and his promises. Through this knowledge, we learn that our great objective in life is to build character. In fact, we learn that the building of faith and character is paramount, for character is higher than intellect, and perfect character will be continually rewarded with increased intellect.”

“Thus, our real business on earth is to master self. And as we master ourselves, we will learn to master the earth and its elements. Most important, we will learn how to help others overcome and perfect themselves in all ways of living.”

“In the same way, let us seek the truth. Let us first seek the truths of God, and then let us live them. Then let us seek after the truths of his earth. Let us seek learning ‘by study and also by faith.’ (D&C 88:118.)”

“And let us remember that it is not so much what we know that is important, as what we do and what we are. The Master’s plan is a program of doing, of living, not merely knowing. Knowledge itself is not the end. It is how we righteously live and apply that knowledge in our own lives and how we apply it to help others that describes our character.”

“If we seek true happiness, we must expend our energies for purposes larger than our own self-interests. Let us ponder prayerfully how we may effectively and lovingly give service to our families, neighbors, and fellow Saints. And let us know that when we learn to do this we have learned one of the great truths of eternity.”

Spencer W. Kimball, “Seek Learning, Even by Study and Also by Faith,” Ensign, Sep 1983, p. 3

Further, how important is it that we continue learning throughout our lives?  Two wonderful talks have come to my attention about the cruciality of continuously learning.

The first, given by Eliot Butler in September 1976, is entitled “Everybody Is Ignorant, Only on Different Subjects.”
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The second, given by Marion D. Hanks in June 1955, is entitled “Learning Never Ends.”

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All three of these addresses are inspiring in directing one’s focus to how important it is always to continue learning.  They also clarify what types of things are the most important to learn.

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Sep 19

Why Study the Gospel?

Studying the Gospel isn’t always at the forefront of most peoples’ minds.  They may think more about the immediate, weighty matters of life.  What some folks may not realize, though, is that a knowledge of the Gospel is part of why we are here.

Understanding the Scriptures should be a high priority for us all.  What loving parent, when a child leaves the house, wouldn’t make sure they knew how to get back home?  Of course it’s up to the child whether they do come back home.  If the child is away for an extended period of time, wouldn’t their parent want them to call home and tell them how things are going?  Thus it is with us: we are given commandments to read the scriptures and have daily communication with the Lord.

When you study the Gospel, you are also quite likely going to have the Holy Ghost to be with you.  The Holy Ghost has a refining, settling effect on your life.  If your life seems like it’s hectic, what more could you want than having the companionship of one of the members of the Godhead to be with you?  This is one of the reasons that I enjoy contemplating the Gospel.  I am able to feel the companionship of the Holy Spirit.

As you put more effort into your studies, you get much more out of them.  A slight daily glance at the Gospel will not get you very far.  But if you dig in with all your might and study the Gospel the best way you know how, you will gain an understanding of why we are here.  You will have the Holy Ghost to be with you.  You will have a more fulfilled life.

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