For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.—Matthew 18:20
The scriptures are replete with the commandment for the Saints to be one. The commandment applies to Apostles, husbands and wives, families, Church organizations and units, and the everyday disciple of Christ. The commandment has a blessing of great power to all who seek to obey it.
Your Power is Limitless
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught this incredible principle with a promise: “When you are united, your power is limitless. You can accomplish anything you wish to accomplish.”[i]
Jesus taught His disciples in Jerusalem concerning the power of unity, and then He taught that principle anew in this dispensation: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples, where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in the midst of them—even so am I in the midst of you.” [ii]
That “one thing” is often a struggling loved one.
Oneness is exemplified throughout the gospel. The Godhead is comprised of three distinct individuals, whose united purpose makes them one. They should be our model. We become at one with God through the at-one-ment of Jesus Christ, and it is through His at-one-ment that we become one[iii] and joint-heirs with Him.[iv]
Another example of oneness is Zion. Individuals who create of their relationship a Zion are of “one heart and one mind,” and remarkably, this environment results in an interesting effect, which has far-reaching consequences—that of economic equality or the idea of “no poor among them.”[v] Beyond the economic implications, which are Zion’s least requirement, “no poor” also means no poor in spirit—that is, no spiritually or emotionally poor. No lack at all—something stressed-out parents of the wayward can appreciate! Consider the effects of the righteous Nephites’ oneness after Christ’s coming:
And there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another. . . .
And the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land . . . [and they] . . . were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them. . . .
And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.
And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God. . . .
They were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.
And how blessed were they!”[vi]
Imagine inserting the words the family in place of them, they, the people, or the land.
Other scriptural accounts describe the power of oneness in relation to its converting power. Alma and Amulek became one and helped to convert many wicked Nephites. The sons of Mosiah became one and were the instruments in converting thousands of blood-thirsty Lamanites. Alma’s grandsons, Nephi and Lehi, became one and helped convert yet more thousands of the unrepentant. So how can we access the power of gathering in the Lord’s name for our wayward loved ones, even if we are single parents or acting without the faith or support of our spouse?
Unity of Faith Through Purpose, Action, Fasting, and Prayer
President Henry B. Eyring promised us that the wayward soul would return as a reward of our unrelenting efforts and oneness. In many cases, he said, God would call back our children (and one could certainly apply this to other loved ones) through those who are called to serve in the Church.[vii] We should become one with our bishop, family, and trusted and influential friends to apply faith in behalf of our struggling loved ones. Remember, Joseph Smith said, “The greatest temporal and spiritual blessings which always come from faithfulness and concerted effort, never attended individual exertion or enterprise.”[viii]
Caring friends, family, bishoprics, teachers, and other relevant local Church presidencies should be invited to participate in influencing, fasting, and praying for our loved ones. Unity in purpose and action is made even more holy and influential through prayer.
For instance, in the presence of six Elders, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation that, in part, speaks to the subject of the power of multiple voices united in prayer. Because they were gathered in the Lord’s name and united in prayer, the Lord was in their midst and invited them to ask for and receive blessings:
Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom. And, as it is written—Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive.”[ix] Then the Lord blessed them with what they were praying for because “it is given unto you that ye may understand, because ye have asked it of me and are agreed.[x]
That is, they had unitedly agreed, and, as if with one voice, they had asked in faith. This is the principle Alma the Elder applied in rescuing his wayward son. Notice in the angel’s words how others joined with Alma in his quest:
And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to
Then, when Alma the Younger had his experience with the angel, his father gathered those same people to help ensure the experience became one of conversion:
And he caused that a multitude should be gathered together that they might witness what the Lord had done for his son, and also for those that were with him.
And he caused that the priests should assemble themselves together; and they began to fast, and to pray to the Lord their God that he would open the mouth of Alma, that he might speak, and also that his limbs might receive their strength—that the eyes of the people might be opened to see and know of the goodness and glory of God.[xii]
Lastly, as touched on earlier, accessing the power of the unified faith of thousands through the temple prayer roles, and of the faith and help of those across the veil, whom we help when we do the work for the dead, we can effectively gather in the Lord’s name as we strive for the salvation of our children and loved ones, knowing that Christ’s grace and power is thus in our midst and we are His.
Oneness as Couples
Consider the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 38:27 which reads, “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.