Day 16 – National Preparedness Month Challenge – Prayer is Spiritual Preparedness
It’s pretty safe to assume we have all had bad days. Some of us have had bad years. They feel like they will never end and are slowing sucking the life and hope from your life. When you look back at the end of that day (or year), what was it that got you through? It’s often easy to see the friends and family that came to help, the kindness and generosity of others, and those little miracles that gave us just enough to hang on a little longer. They seem so obvious and tangible, but we often forget that quiet pleading prayer for help that preceded those moments of hope and relief. Prayer is what brought the hope to life.
“Prayer helps us transcend the stormy times, It gives us a glimpse of that blue sky that we cannot see from our earthly vantage point, and it reveals to us another vista – a glorious spiritual horizon filled with hope and the assurance of the bright blessings the Lord has promised to those who love and follow Him.” (Prayer and the Blue Horizon, President Dieter F Uchtdorf, Liahona, June 2009)
Looking back in my own life, I’ve realized that prayer is at the source of all the miracles and tender mercies in my life. It was what got me through bad days, and rough patches, and dry spells. Whether it was just the fact that I knew someone was listening, or when someone showed up at my door with exactly what I needed, it started with that frequent pleading to my Heavenly Father.
Looking ahead I see more tough times, and a greater need for hope and faith. There are more storms coming, and just like the increased frequency and intensity of the earthly storms that we face, the spiritual storms will follow the same pattern. Prayer is spiritual preparedness. In demonstrating the accounts of faith and prayer in the scriptures, President Thomas S Monson explained,
“Now, the skeptic may say that these mighty accounts of faith occurred long ago, that times have changed.
Have times really changed? Don’t we today, as always, love our children and want them to live righteously? Don’t we today, as always, need God’s divine, protecting care? Don’t we today, as always, continue to be at His mercy and in His debt for the very life He has given us?
Times have not really changed. Prayer continues to provide power – spiritual power. Prayer continues to provide peace – spiritual peace.” (Come unto him in Prayer and Faith, Thomas S Monson, Liahona, Mar 2009)
We need not fear the future and what it could bring. We need not despair over the disasters that occur, with the power of prayer. However if we’ve let this skill get rusty, we will find the power has dulled and our faith has waned. Practice makes prefect. Prayer can only create the needed spiritual lift if we’ve practiced enough that we have the assurance that it works, and if we are making full use of it. A power tool is of little use if we never plug it in or only use half the speed that is available to us. Now is the time to see what prayer is really capable of producing in our lives, so that we can be more effective in using it when we really need it.
Maximize Your Prayer Potential
Before using any piece of equipment it’s important to read the instructions so that you know how to properly use it, and maximize its potential. So how do we maximize the potential of our prayers?
- When do you pray? – do you only pray in the morning? Evening? Over meals? You wouldn’t play the piano once a week and expect to perform the minute waltz in a recital. You can’t expect the Lord to guide you and bless you in your complicated life if you only ask him a few times a week.
- Where do you pray? Are you trying to say morning prayers while your kids are interrupting you? Is the TV on during meal time prayers? Before praying take a moment to look around and identify potential distractions, remove them or yourself. A radio full of static doesn’t make for an enjoyable experience, and a pray surrounded by noise and interruptions is not one which will go far.
- Are you ready to pray? Just as its best to remove the distractions around you, it’s best to take a moment to remove the distractions inside you. Take the time to think about what you’re praying for, who you’re praying to, and strive to feel the spirit before you open you’re mouth to pray.
- How are you praying?Think of how you would feel if you own children talked to you the same way that you talk to your Heavenly Father.
- Are your prayers like a broken record? Our prayers should be thought out and meaningful, not the same phrases each time.
- Do you sound like you’re placing an order at the local deli? Don’t just place your blessings order and hang up waiting for Him to call your number.
- Is it simply a habit to pray at a certain time each day? Prayer should be done because we seek the fellowship of our Heavenly Father not because its10pmand we need to be getting to sleep.
- Are you speaking with the respect and dignity our Heavenly Father deserves or with the same apathy that your daily conversations possess? Elder Dallin H Oaks explains that “The words we use in speaking to someone can identify the nature of our relationship to that person. They can also remind speaker and listener of the responsibilities they owe to one another in the relationship. The form of address can also serve as a mark of respect or affection.” (The Language of Prayer, April 1993 General Conference)
- Do you sound like your children (“I want, I want, I want”) or are you echoing the gratitude you’re trying to teach them? As a mom, I know this is my pet peeve from my kids! My mom had a sign – “Thou Shalt Not Whine!” Gratitude should be our attitude for prayer.
- Who do you pray with? – Family Prayer is just as important and life
changing as personal prayer. If one or the other is lacking (especially for the parents) the entire house will be effected. The power of prayer is multiplied through regular family and couple’s prayer.
- What are you doing about it? My kids will often come to me with a problem and my first response is typically “What do you want me to do about it?” God is not here to solve all our problems, but to help us work through them. Don’t just pray and hope things change. Listen after you pray for the guidance He sends, and then get to work to make it happen.
Our efforts to maximize the potential of our prayers will maximize our efforts to be prepared! Elder Body K Packer promised, “[You] will see many events transpire in the course of [your] lifetime. Some of these will tax [your] courage and extend [your] faith. But if [you] seek prayerfully for help and guidance, [you] shall be given power over the adverse things. Such trials shall not be permitted to stand in the way of [your] progress, but instead shall act as steeping stones to greater knowledge.” (Do Not Fear, Boyd K. Packer, April 2004 General conference). Let us improve our prayers and be better prepared that we may receive this promise and reach our own potential.
Today’s challenge: The Power of Prayer is Spiritual Preparedness
Good: Examine your prayers, using the questions outlined above. Be honest with yourself – How are you doing?
Better: Pick one area from the above outline in which to improve your prayers this week. Take the time to notice the difference. Read one of the resources listed below.
Best: Pray as you have never prayed before. Take the list above and apply as many improvements to your prayers as needed. If necessary barricade yourself in the closet and make a list of blessings and requests, pray outline, and use a picture of the Savior to help you remember who you’re speaking with. Do this at least once a day for the week. Add study to your practice by reading the teachings on prayer in the scriptures and in the words of the prophets.
Topical Guide – Prayer (More can be learned from the scriptures than any one talk/article)