This column entry is focused on a basic, “I already know this” principle – the principle of prayer. Sometimes, it’s good for me to think through principles over and over, at various times of life when I’m going through different kinds of experiences.
“When life gets dark and dreary, don’t forget to pray” [from the hymn “Ere You Left Your Room This Morning” by Mary Kidder and William Perkins.]
Is it harder to pray when you’re feeling happy, or when things fall apart? When there is a reprieve, or when the adversarial winds are blowing?
Through the years, I’ve come to see that “to pray always” is not only the best way to go. It’s the only way to go. There isn’t a thing that comes up, a thought I have, or a schedule to make that wouldn’t benefit from prayerfully consideration.
Sometimes, we have to think about praying, before we go on with our conversation, our day, our work, our vacation, the most minute or the grandest and most huge of decisions. Once we begin to remember, and think about prayer, we’re going to get into the habit of always making it part of our mental processes. Spiritual processes, too.
“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.” [Doctrine & Covenants 88:63]
Prayer is a go-and-do concept. It’s an “I need to act on it” principle. In our problem solving processes, prayer is an essential step in the procedure. It’s a communication portion of learning, gaining revelation, and gaining a more clear direction.
Do More Than Ask
If we’re simply going to Father in prayer, asking Him to hand us the answer, we may get frustrated. He doesn’t always just answer that way: We are required to think about it, ponder over it, go to pertinent scriptures, and come up with an answer that we believe is correct. Then, we can go to Him, asking for a sustaining of our decision.
What if we don’t get an answer? Or we make the wrong one? Elder Dallin H. Oaks offered the following explanation of this kind of experience: “We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality” (“Teaching and Learning by the Spirit,” Ensign, March 1997, 14).
Simple Questions for Making Decisions
President Ezra Taft Benson suggested that we use the following six questions as a guide in decision making:
1. Could it retard or injure spiritual or moral progress?
2. Could it create unhappy or unpeaceful memories?
3. Is it contrary to the revealed will or commandments of God? …
4. Could it harm any individual, family, or group?
5. Would the decision make [me] a better person? …
6. Could a blessing be derived from this particular action?
Once we’ve gone through these questions, we can go to the Lord in prayer. There, we can share our feelings, thoughts, and preparation. He will let us know, through the Holy Spirit, what is best. So, why would we ever want to leave heavenly direction out of the equation?
Some of those bigger decisions can’t be made in a flash. It takes time, pondering, sorting through it a little each day. This way, we are able to mold things properly in our mind and heart. At the same time, we are able to be molded into a better follower of Christ and gain a closer relationship with our Father in Heaven. What a wonderful blessing, right?!
A little note here: Sometimes, we may feel as though we got the answer, and it turns out to be the wrong one. There is a fine tuning that goes on as we grow in the process of prayer and decision making. I know our Father makes room for error, and the Savior’s grace covers our mis-steps.
One Step At A Time
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” [Lao-tse] This is true!
And, being true, we can make our eternal journey one step at a time. Knowing this to be so, we can conscientiously, respectfully, wisely approach all our decisions, our choices, and our problems with prayer.
If we think to pray, the next step – and those that follow- will take us in the direction we desire.
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, and grandmother who joined the LDS Church as a teenager. She has worked for many years to share her testimony of Jesus Christ with other folks. Please visit her website at www.goodnessmatters.com She created this website, her latest venture, as a place to share goodness and offer hope.
Her propensity for being the queen of embarrassing moments notwithstanding, she sums up her journey thus far like this: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” She has taught Church youth & family programs for more than 25 years, has written books, hundreds of columns, & created hundreds of songs all with the intent of growing goodness and pointing people to Christ. She also writes for the website www.nauvootimes.com . Vickey loves the mountains, the ocean, going on drives with her husband, laughter, her kids and grandchildren, and eating brownies.
She teaches Gospel Doctrine in her ward and her husband, Dean, serves on the High Council.