As I entered church today my heart began pounding. I was going to be speaking today. In my church there is not a paid pastor or clergy men but things are done by callings and volunteers. Eric and I were asked if we would speak in church today. And while this is also a lot longer than most of my posts, I felt like I wanted to share my talk from today as it expresses my feelings, several events that happened in my life and the testimony that I have of the power of prayer. So if you get a few quiet moments today, hopefully my talk about prayer will help bring some peace to your day.
I began the talk by introducing myself, which I am not sharing here, and then began...
Today I have been asked to speak on President Monson's conference talk "Stand in Holy Places".
One of the greatest truths of the gospel is that we literally have a Father in Heaven. He isn't just some great power or spirit; but our Father who knows and loves us. He wants us to succeed, he wants us to have a relationship with him and talk with him always.
President Monson taught "It is a relationship I cherish—one I would literally be lost without. If you do not now have such a relationship with your Father in Heaven, I urge you to work toward that goal. As you do so, you will be entitled to His inspiration and guidance in your life...He freely gives if we but seek them."
So how do we seek Him? We can seek Him through scripture study, through church and temple attendance. But if we truly want to know Him- we need to talk with Him through prayer.
We are told to pray always unto the Father in the Son's name. Now before your knees start feeling sore from the thought of praying always- there has to be another way.
I know I do a lot of self talk.
"come on Emily just one more mile."
"okay calm down- breath Emily"
"you do not need that second brownie- put it down Emily."
And the more serious times where I ask what I should do to help my kids, what I should do to rid my mind and heart of an ill feeling. In these times, rather than ask myself these questions- in my mind I address my Heavenly Father- so I am continually having a prayer in my heart.
In President Monson's talk he recalled the story of his $5 bill he was sure was lost in the laundry sent out. He pleaded to his father in heaven for that bill to be in his pocket when his pants returned- and it was.
I too recall a time as a child when I sent a plea out to my Father in Heaven. My family was on vacation in Ohio. We went to this huge park along a river. After we played to our hearts content we began walking down a path that ran along the river. We stopped off at a row of bathrooms along the path. Each bathroom was it's own individual room with a large door from the outside leading in. I finished my business, went to open the door and it did not open. I pulled on the handle and the handle moved but the door did not. I panicked. I banged on the door- nothing. What was I going to do. I then remembered what I had been taught at home and in primary- I folded my arms said a prayer and then began banging on that door again. By this point my mother and sister had returned, heard the banging and rescued me much to my relief. My mother on coming out of the bathroom herself had not seen me and figured I had headed down the path following the rest of my family. As she went down the path she felt prompted to return to the bathrooms. I am grateful she listened to that prompting and returned to rescue me.
My prayer was answered through the actions of another - in this case my mother.
Prayers can also be answered through the scriptures. During my sophomore year of high school as part of gym class we were playing volleyball. The team I was on we're doing pretty good, except for teammates crashing into each other as everyone was forgetting to call for the ball. So as the ball came over the net, I would shout out-"call it". Apparently this got on the nerves of one of my teammates- I apologized but said we would play better if people called it. She did not like my response and decided to respond by trying to make my life miserable for the next several months. She would openly criticize me in front of others, bump into me in the hallways, and just find any way to make me miserable. I would slowly change after gym in hope of avoiding her outside of the locker room; I changed the path I took to some classes to avoid her-it was awful.
One evening as I lay in my bed upset wondering what I should do and praying for help, I felt like I should open my scriptures. I opened the Bible to Matthew 5:44 which reads "but I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite fully use you and persecute you." That night I prayed for the strength to be kind- and I am sure I also sent up a plea for her heart to be softened.
Valentines day was soon approaching. I had bought these little boxes filled with Hershey kisses to give my friends- as I looked at those boxes I knew what I needed to do.
On valentines day I headed into class- we were now in a classroom for the health portion of class. I quietly approached her desk, set one of the boxes on her desk said Happy Valentines day and walked away. My heart was racing a million miles a minute and I dare not look back her way. She never said thank you, but she also never teased me or bumped into me again. My prayers- with the aid of the scriptures had been answered.
President Monson stated: "The storms will still beat at our doors from time to time, for they are an inescapable part of our existence in mortality. We, however, will be far better equipped to deal with them, to learn from them, and to overcome them if we have the gospel at our core and the love of the Savior in our hearts."
When I prayed for love, to love my enemy- I was then equipped with answers of how to deal with my problems.
And sometimes, at those times when help may be needed the most prayers can be answered through a direct answer.
A year and a half ago we were vacationing in Utah. While there Eric's mom and one of his sisters bravely agreed to watch all of the grand kids so the rest of us could enjoy a morning session at the temple. I had to rent a temple dress as I was 32 weeks pregnant and mine definitely would not fit over my belly.
I sat and relished in the spirit during the session. I love the joy I feel and know that I am making it possible for someone else to feel that joy too. During the session when we stood for the first time- I suddenly felt some water trickling down my leg. I was not having any contractions and wondered what in the world was happening. I sat down along with everyone else and began wondering what I should do, should I just stick it out and not spend a lot of time in the Celestial room?
What was happening I pleaded. At that moment I heard a voice very distinctly tell me "everything is going to be all right.". I was immediately filled with peace. We were all prompted to stand again, the water that then ran down my leg left no doubt what I should do. I gathered my things, went into the isle motioning for Eric to follow and went to the back of the room. I told the temple worker my water had broke.
"Congratulations!" she said.
"No, it's too soon."
As I lay in the hospital the next couple of days trying to keep the baby in as long as possible - that distinctive answer I received resonated through my mind letting me be filled with peace despite
everything going on. And when my son was born at 32 weeks and during his 19 day NICU stay- while there were times of uncertainty and fear- overall I knew all would be well.
And all is well. And while I could have felt, why did this happen? Why couldn't the answer have been that he would make it to 40 weeks as he was supposed to be- the answer I received did not take away the trial- but helped me get through it with peace and increased faith.
Our prayers are heard and will be answered. Sometimes the answer may be- you figure it out. Which is often my answer to Lucas while he is doing his homework. Yes, i know the answer- but then what would he learn? Our Father wants us to learn, to grow, so sometimes we are told to figure it out. When Lucas figures out the right answer, I will smile and assure him it is right. Our Father in Heaven will give us that same assurance also.
Other times answers will come strongly and quickly- if my toddler is wondering what would happen if he touches a hot stove- I am not going to stand by and let him figure it out. But will give a very distinct answer. When we receive these answers or promptings do we respond and react or do we let our hand get burned?
Just as my son has learned to look up and look at my eyes while he is writing his answer as my eyes will give away if he is doing it right and my toddler has learned which tone in my voice means- danger very serious- as we come to know our Heavenly Father we too will recognize
his voice and know how he answers us.
But no matter how or when the answers comes or what the answer is- our prayers are heard. Heard by our perfect Father in Heaven who can see the whole picture and who wants us to be truly happy and return to Him someday.