Prayer, Service and a U-Turn

Today, until just recently I was having a great day. I felt so peaceful and just... happy. I really couldn't find anything that seemed to break in and distress the 'groove' so to speak.... until this afternoon. I am disappointed that I can be so easily acted upon and I am really disappointed that I 'allow' myself to have negative reactions to things. Even when something isn't good and is negative, it doesn't mean that I need to dwell on it and it doesn't mean that I have to forget all the good that I am surrounded with. So why do I have such a hard time focusing on the positives?

Anyway, I decided to pick up my scriptures and do a 'random' reading. Yesterday at church, there was a great discussion by two members of the stake presidency on the importance of scripture reading. I have sat through MANY lessons on this topic throughout my life with small variations based on teaching skills and class interest and focus, but essentially they have been all the same. You must read your scriptures because:

1. It is a commandment and you will be held accountable.- Some teachers have suggested that you will be cursed for not reading, others have suggested that you will 'lose blessings' without appropriate scripture study, and others have gone to even more interesting lengths; one I remember in particular is John Bytheway who thought we 'might' have to confess to the actual prophets who wrote these books after we die that we didn't read them because … *** insert lame excuse here***.

2. If the scriptures are a gift given to us by a loving Heavenly Father to help guide us, give answers and advice, and offer comfort and hope... then how ungrateful are we if we allow this positive and loving gift to sit on the shelf collecting dust? I know of one member who was born in the church and while she has had periods of inactivity she has for the most part been a faithful attendee (she confessed to me several months ago that she has never read the Book of Mormon.) How many others of my faith fit in into this mold?

The phrase 'reading the scriptures' is one of the best generic answers for church. Any question asked with very few exceptions can be answered with it and it will be an unassailable answer. But while it is an 'easy answer', it tends to not be an easy thing to do. And the lesson on Sunday mentioned that when we pray, our answers from God are more likely to come from the scriptures than anything else. I have always thought that answers would come in many other ways as well as scriptures- instead I learned that if you do not read your scriptures, you are less likely to receive answers at all. The stake presidency also talked about how scripture study is uniting- that those who read the scriptures become bound closer to others, even if they are not reading them together. He said that scripture study helps you to interpret true miracles as well.

So today.... today, when I felt confused and sad, I picked up my scriptures and opened them randomly and landed on Alma chapter 34. These verses really pulled me and I read them over and over for almost a quarter of an hour.

17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;

18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.

19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.

20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.

21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid–day, and evening.

22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.

23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.

24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.

25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.

26 But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.

27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.

28 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith.

(Book of Mormon | Alma 34:17 - 28)

I realized that I have not prayed enough lately. I have cried (probably more than necessary I should think :) but I have closed myself off from many but I have also started in my pain to close myself off from my Father. Until that moment I hadn't really realized it. Lately, I have given a short prayer and immediately fallen into sleep. If I wake a few hours later, my brain simply continues a circular pattern of the same fairly horrible feelings and thoughts that have been running through my subconscious for a few months now... and the thoughts will continue for hours until exhausted I fall asleep again. In verses 27-28, Amulek (the speaker) reminds his audience that it is not enough to pray constantly about your welfare, but you must also pray for the welfare of others. I was struck suddenly by the idea that if I am not constantly working for my good but also the good of others, my prayers will be next to useless. I will be crying and begging just to hear the sound of my own voice. Sounds embarrassing and foolish.

So I think I have been doing things a little backwards lately. I have been volunteering and spending my free time working to help my family and others and exhausting myself so that I do not have time to think... no time to read scriptures... and no energy to pray. So I think I need to make a 180 degree change... and start praying more, reading more... and then volunteer and continue to do my work for my family and for others. This may help me find the path I have been looking for over the last few years.


  1. A very honest and heartfelt post. Sometimes we do so much in an attempt to make things right or to not feel things, that we forget that just sitting quietly and being still may be what we need. For me, I have always found answers in simple things like walking along a beach or through the woods. Taking time to nurture your spirit may be the most important thing you can do for your family... and especially for yourself.

  2. It however is one of the hardest things for me to do... have you ever seen me sit still Rocky? :) But I am working on it and I appreciate my family and friends not giving up on me. Someday I will be less hyper....