Dof g ch12

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Dof g ch12

  1. 1. Prayer and Fasting Chapter 12Introduction 3. We should avoid vain repetitions when we pray (see Matthew 6:7–8; 3 Nephi 13:7–8). A Church hymn proclaims, “Prayer is the 4. We should pray daily and continuously (seesoul’s sincere desire, / Uttered or unexpressed” Mosiah 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 2 Nephi 32:9;(Hymns, no. 145). These lyrics express the innate Alma 34:17–19, 27).longing we all have to communicate with our 5. We should pray for what is proper (see 3 NephiHeavenly Father. Fasting combined with prayer 18:20; D&C 88:64; 46:30).will increase our spirituality and draw us closer 6. Our petitions should be offered earnestly,to God. sincerely, with real intent, and with all the energy and strength of our souls (see Moroni 7:48; 10:4).Doctrinal Outline 7. Obedience helps us obtain answers to prayer (see 1 John 3:22; Alma 34:28).A. Prayer has been a part of the gospel plan from 8. The Holy Ghost will help us in our prayers (seethe beginning. Romans 8:26).See Moses 5:8. E. Fasting should sometimes accompany prayer.B. God has revealed why we should pray to Him. 1. We are commanded to fast (see D&C 59:13–14;1. It is a commandment to pray, both individually 88:76). and in families (see D&C 31:12; 68:33; 3 Nephi 2. Together, fasting and prayer foster spiritual 18:21; D&C 93:50; 68:28). growth and conviction, and bring blessings2. Prayer is essential to salvation (see Alma 37:36–37; (see Omni 1:26; Alma 5:46; 17:3; Helaman 3:35; James 5:16). 3 Nephi 27:1; Isaiah 58:1–12; Matthew 17:20–21).3. Adoration and worship are expressed through 3. It is proper to fast for the sick and for special prayer (see D&C 136:28; Psalm 92:1). blessings (see James 5:15; Mosiah 27:22–23).4. We are commanded to thank the Lord for all our blessings (see D&C 46:32; 59:7). Supporting Statements5. Temporal and spiritual blessings can be obtained through prayer (see James 5:16–18; Enos 1:4–6; A. Prayer has been a part of the gospel plan from Mosiah 24:8–25). the beginning.C. The scriptures tell us what we should pray for. ■ “No divine commandment has been more1. We should pray for the companionship of the frequently repeated than the commandment to Holy Ghost (see 3 Nephi 19:9; Moroni 4:3). pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ”2. We should pray for forgiveness of our sins (see (Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Oct. Joseph Smith—History 1:28–29). 1979, 20; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, 16).3. We should ask for strength to resist temptation and overcome opposition (see Alma 34:23; D&C 10:5; Matthew 26:41).4. Husbands should pray for their wives and children (see 3 Nephi 18:21; Alma 34:21, 27).5. We should pray for all people—both righteous and wicked, friend and enemy (see Numbers 21:7; Matthew 5:44; Enos 1:11–14).6. We should petition the Lord concerning our crops, herds, fields, and flocks (see Alma 34:20, 24–25).D. The Lord has told us how to make our prayersmore meaningful and effective.1. We are always to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ (see 2 Nephi 32:9; 3 Nephi 18:21; 19:6–8).2. We do not pray in order to be seen and heard by others (see Matthew 6:5–6; 3 Nephi 13:5–6).32
  2. 2. Chapter 12B. God has revealed why we should pray to Him. “If you have a new baby, and another youngster■ “This course [prayer] is essential if men are cutting teeth, or one with a fever, you can be upto be saved; there is no salvation without prayer. and down a hundred times a night. (That, of course,How could a man set his heart on righteousness, is an exaggeration. It’s probably only twenty orso as to work out his salvation, without thirty times.)communing by prayer with him who is the author “We finally divided our children into ‘his’ andof righteousness?” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon ‘hers’ for night tending. She would get up for theDoctrine, 581). new baby, and I would tend the one cutting teeth.■ “An important key is turned when we go “One day we came to realize that each wouldthrough the formality of stating our desires to hear only the one to which we were assigned,Him who can grant them” (Boyd K. Packer, Teach and would sleep very soundly through the criesYe Diligently, 12). of the other.■ “Observe that great commandment given of “We have commented on this over the years,the Master, always to remember the Lord, to pray convinced that you can train yourself to hearin the morning, and in the evening, and always what you want to hear, to see and feel what youremember to thank him for the blessings that you desire, but it takes some conditioning.receive day by day” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel “There are so many of us who go through lifeDoctrine, 218). and seldom, if ever, hear that voice of inspiration,C. The scriptures tell us what we should pray for. because ‘the natural man receiveth not the things■ “We would say to the brethren, seek to know of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness untoGod in your closets, call upon him in the fields. him: neither can he know them, because they areFollow the directions of the Book of Mormon, and spiritually discerned’ (1 Cor. 2:14)” (Boyd K.pray over, and for your families, your cattle, your Packer, in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 28; orflocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that Ensign, Nov. 1979, 19–20). ■ “Put difficult questions in the back of youryou possess; ask the blessing of God upon all yourlabors, and everything that you engage in. Be minds and go about your lives. Ponder and prayvirtuous and pure; be men of integrity and truth; quietly and persistently about them.keep the commandments of God; and then you “The answer may not come as a lightning bolt.will be able more perfectly to understand the It may come as a little inspiration here and a littledifference between right and wrong—between the there, ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’things of God and the things of men; and your (D&C 98:12).path will be like that of the just, which shineth “Some answers will come from reading thebrighter and brighter unto the perfect day” (Joseph scriptures, some from hearing speakers. And,Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 247). occasionally, when it is important, some will come by very direct and powerful inspiration.D. The Lord has told us how to make our prayers The promptings will be clear and unmistakable”more meaningful and effective. (Packer, in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 30; or■ “It was a prayer, a very special prayer, which Ensign, Nov. 1979, 21).opened this whole dispensation! It began with a ■ “As we go through life, we ofttimes build ayoung man’s first vocal prayer. I hope that not rock wall between ourselves and heaven. Thistoo many of our prayers are silent, even though wall is built by our unrepented sins. For example,when we cannot pray vocally, it is good to offer a in our wall there may be stones of many differentsilent prayer in our hearts and in our minds” sizes and shapes. There could be stones because(Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Oct. we have been unkind to someone. Criticism of1979, 4; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, 4). leaders or teachers may add another stone. A lack■ “Do you have prayers in your family? . . . And of forgiveness may add another. Vulgar thoughtswhen you do, do you go through the operation like and actions may add some rather large stones inthe grinding of a piece of machinery, or do you this wall. Dishonesty will add another; selfishnessbow in meekness and with a sincere desire to seek another; and so on.the blessing of God upon you and your household? “In spite of the wall we build in front of us,That is the way that we ought to do, and cultivate a when we cry out to the Lord, he still sends hisspirit of devotion and trust in God, dedicating messages from heaven; but instead of being ableourselves to him, and seeking his blessings” (John to penetrate our hearts, they hit the wall that weTaylor, The Gospel Kingdom, 284). have built up and bounce off. His messages don’t■ “Answers to prayers come in a quiet way. The penetrate, so we say, ‘He doesn’t hear,’ or ‘Hescriptures describe that voice of inspiration as a doesn’t answer.’ Sometimes this wall is verystill, small voice. formidable, and the great challenge of life is to “If you really try, you can learn to respond to destroy it, or, if you please, to cleanse ourselves,that voice. purifying this inner vessel so that we can be in “In the early days of our marriage, our children tune with the Spirit.came at close intervals. As parents of little children “Let me give you some examples. I suppose wewill know, in those years it is quite a novelty for have all had someone do something to us that wethem to get an uninterrupted night of sleep. 33
  3. 3. Chapter 12didn’t like, and that made us angry. We can’t forget ourselves but also much about our flawless Father”it, and we don’t want to be around that person. (Neal A. Maxwell, “Insights,” New Era, Apr. 1978, 6).This is called being unforgiving. Now, the Lord has ■ “But is prayer only one-way communication?had some very strong words to say to those who No! . . . At the end of our prayers, we need towill not forgive one another. Many years ago I had do some intense listening—even for severalan experience with being unforgiving. I felt I had minutes. We have prayed for counsel and help.been taken advantage of, and I did not like the Now we must ‘be still, and know that [he is] God’person. I did not want to be around him; I would (Ps. 46:10.) . . .pass on the other side of the street if he came down “. . . Sometimes ideas flood our mind as weit; I wouldn’t talk to him. Long after the issue listen after our prayers. Sometimes feelings pressshould have been closed, it was still cankering my upon us. A spirit of calmness assures us that allsoul. One day my wife, who is very astute and will be well. But always, if we have been honestknows when I’m not doing everything I should, and earnest, we will experience a good feeling—asaid, ‘You don’t like so and so, do you?’ feeling of warmth for our Father in Heaven and “‘No, I don’t,’ I said. ‘But how could you tell?’ a sense of his love for us” (Spencer W. Kimball, “‘Well, it shows—in your countenance it shows. “Pray Always,” Ensign, Oct. 1981, 5).Why don’t you do something about it?’ she said. ■ “The pattern of our lives determines our “‘Like what?’ eligibility to receive the promptings of the Spirit “‘Why don’t you pray about it?’ and to hear the answers to our prayers. Again, let “I said, ‘Well, I did pray once, and I still don’t there be no misunderstanding. Heavenly Fatherlike him.’ does answer our prayers, but often we aren’t “‘No,’ she said, ‘why don’t you really pray prepared to hear him. Some are answeredabout it?’ immediately, but some do take longer, and that’s “Then I began to think, and I knew what she where we may become discouraged” (Peterson,meant. So I decided that I was going to pray for “Prayer—Try Again,” 74).a better feeling about this person until I had one. E. Fasting should sometimes accompany prayer.That night I got on my knees, and I prayed and ■ “Fasting, with prayer as its companion, isopened up my heart to the Lord. But when I got designed to increase spirituality; to foster a spiritup off my knees, I still didn’t like that person. of devotion and love of God; to increase faith inThe next morning I knelt and prayed and asked to the hearts of men, thus assuring divine favor; tohave a feeling of goodness toward him; but when encourage humility and contrition of soul; to aidI finished my prayers, I still didn’t like him. The in the acquirement of righteousness; to teach mannext night I still didn’t like him; a week later I his nothingness and dependence upon God; anddidn’t like him; and a month later I didn’t like to hasten those who properly comply with the lawhim—and I had been praying every night and of fasting along the path to salvation” (McConkie,every morning. But I kept it up, and I finally Mormon Doctrine, 276).started pleading—not just praying, but pleading. ■ “Failing to fast is a sin. In the 58th chapter ofAfter much prayer, the time came when without Isaiah, rich promises are made by the Lord toquestion or reservation I knew I could stand those who fast and assist the needy. Freedom frombefore the Lord, if I were asked to, and that he frustrations, freedom from thralldom, and thewould know that at least in this instance my heart blessing of peace are promised. Inspiration andwas pure. A change had come over me after a spiritual guidance will come with righteousnessperiod of time. That stone of unforgiveness needs and closeness to our Heavenly Father. To omit toto be removed from all of us, if it happens to be do this righteous act of fasting would deprive usthere, and I suggest that persistent prayer might of these blessings” (Spencer W. Kimball, Thebe a way to remove it” (H. Burke Peterson, Miracle of Forgiveness, 98).“Prayer—Try Again,” Ensign, June 1981, 73). ■ “A certain kind of devil goes not out except by■ “Petitioning in prayer has taught me, again and fasting and prayer, the scripture tells us. (See Matt.again, that the vault of heaven with all its blessings 17:21.) Periodic fasting can help clear up the mindis to be opened only by a combination lock. One and strengthen the body and the spirit. The usualtumbler falls when there is faith, a second when fast, the one we are asked to participate in for fastthere is personal righteousness; the third and final Sunday, is for 24 hours without food or drink. Sometumbler falls only when what is sought is, in God’s people, feeling the need, have gone on longer fastsjudgment—not ours—right for us. Sometimes we of abstaining from food but have taken the neededpound on the vault door for something we want liquids. Wisdom should be used, and the fastvery much and wonder why the door does not should be broken with light eating. To make a fastopen. We would be very spoiled children if that most fruitful, it should be coupled with prayer andvault door opened any more easily than it does. I meditation; physical work should be held to acan tell, looking back, that God truly loves me by minimum, and it’s a blessing if one can ponder oninventorying the petitions He has refused to grant the scriptures and the reason for the fast” (Ezra Taftme. Our rejected petitions tell us much about Benson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 92; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 66–67).34

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