by Lori West
I want a share a few verses of a song by a contemporary music artist. The song is called “No” by Cherie Call.
A little boy at the end of a day knelt by his bed to say prayer
And Father up in Heaven heard the prayer he prayed
And listened to each word with greatest care
The boy said,
"Please bless that tomorrow I won't have to take a bath,
And bless that they will cancel school for snow."
And God had the power to protect him and never let him grow
But He said, "No." And there are yeses that our Father can hardly wait to give
And they are packed in every crevice of the lives we live
Sometimes God will pour down miracles and amazing twists of fate
And other times He chooses just to whisper, "Wait."
How many times have I prayed for blue skies
So no one has to cancel the game
And I feel so abandoned when the sky gets dark
Never knowing all the ones who prayed for rain
And usually the story's even trickier than this
With solutions that only God could know
But if you ask Him if He's ever overlooked you
Or ceased to love you so
He'll say, "No."
Have you ever had someone tell you “no” when you are certain that what you want or are asking for is the best thing?
As a child, I lived in Florida, and Florida is hot. One summer day, I had been outside playing all day long. I was tired, hot, and hungry. As I walked home, I knew I needed some kind of refreshment to cool me off and fill my belly. Then I thought of it: Popsicles! We had some in the freezer at home, and as I continued on my way, I literally salivated when thinking of them!
When I arrived, I went to the kitchen (where my mom was cooking dinner) to ask her for a Popsicle, and she said, “No!” I was so frustrated! A hot dinner was something that I didn’t want, I was already hot! Couldn’t my mom see I needed something cold and refreshing, rather than a hot dinner?
Obviously, my mom was more interested in the health of my body than the temporary refreshment I was seeking. In my mind, that Popsicle was going to solve all of my problems at the time. It would have cooled me off and filled my belly. What I didn’t know was that it wouldn't have provided for proper growth.
I have learned I am often like that in my prayers with my Father in Heaven. I can see what He could change or fix and it would solve my problem at the time. However, providing my immediate comfort would not provide for my spiritual growth.
The theme of our Women’s Conference today is “Rejoicing on the Covenant Path.” My topic is “Personal Revelation and Prayer.” In preparation for today, I spoke with several ladies in our stake to ask them what they are praying for. Some of the things that they are praying for are:
- To have a child
- Struggling or wayward children
- To be able to forgive
- Healing from the past
- Concern over a recent medical test
- Where to relocate their family to
- A new baby that is not properly thriving or growing
We are often uncomfortable when it is time for us to grow. I will mention the growth of lobsters. The rigid shell of a lobster does not grow. When the lobster is ready to grow, it becomes very uncomfortable in its shell. The lobster will typically crawl under a rock for protection and actually shed its shell, and a new one will form on its outer body.
When we become uncomfortable (and we may feel like crawling under a rock as well) it may well be that it is time for us to grow too. Our time is a challenging time. These are the final winding up years before the Savior’s return to the earth. Along with the deteriorating world conditions, a battle is being waged for the souls of men. The adversary has unleashed every tactic possible to weary us, weigh us down, or distract us.
Alma chapter 57 recounts the battle that Helaman waged against the Lamanites in regaining some of the cities that had previously been taken from the Nephites. Although the Nephites prevailed in this battle, Helaman’s army suffered great loss. Beginning in verse 25:
25. And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.I have always loved that account in the scriptures. How wonderful to learn of these covenant-keeping young warriors that “there was not one soul of them who did perish”. Recently, I have thought much more on the statement that followed next in the scriptures, specifically, “yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.” Every single one of them was seriously injured in the battle.
26. And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by His marvelous power.
I feel that this is symbolic of our lives. We will all receive injuries from this battle. Some of us will even faint from the loss of blood, but we will be upheld and preserved if we keep our covenants, as these young warriors did.
Of all people that have reason to rejoice, it is us! Heavenly Father has covenanted to bless and protect His covenant people! We know the end of the story and how this all works out.
There is a line from the show "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." A song is sung when Joseph has been imprisoned. The words say, “Don’t give up Joseph, fight till you drop, we’ve read the book, and you come out on top!”
We are all on equal footing when it comes to prayer; Heavenly Father meets us where we are. Do you remember when Alma encountered the poor Zoramites that were not permitted to worship in the synagogues? Alma taught them that they always have access to our Father in Heaven through prayer.
I had the blessing and opportunity to read this book by Sister Julie Beck, “Joy in the Covenant.” If you hunger for inspired words and how to better access the joy of your covenants, pick up a copy of this book!
Sister Beck says:
“Each of us is a unique child of God, with an individual divine identity. When we are baptized, we also gain a family identity. We become part of the covenant family of our Father in Heaven, the house of Israel, called to assist in the work of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Those tied to His covenant family are empowered and blessed through their faithfulness. How do we access that power, and the whispering of the Spirit?
"I compare accessing the Holy Ghost to listening to music on a radio. First, you must have access to a power source, and plug in the radio. Next, the radio must be powered on, and finally, you must tune into a station. Receiving instruction from the Spirit is much the same. Proper priesthood authority is likened to the power. When we are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power is activated (powered on). The final step is that we must be in tune to receive the inspiration and guidance of the Spirit."
1. Proper Priesthood Authority (power outlet)
2. Baptismal Covenant (switch to turn on the radio)
3. Whisperings of the Spirit (tuning the radio to a station so that you can hear)
I don’t know about you, but I know that I need access to inspiration, guidance, and heavenly power every single day. I never know what I will encounter in a day, or what I will need to be prepared for. If I have that power with me, I will be able to respond effectively and appropriately with the obstacles that I face. Someone cannot access this power for me, I must do it myself!
My understanding of prayer has grown over the years. I was sitting in a lesson when I was younger and the instructor told the class to look up at the ceiling. Do you guys know what a popcorn ceiling is? It is a ceiling that has thousands and thousands of small bumps. The instructor said that each of those bumps represents a prayer that was said that stopped at the ceiling because it was insincere. He told us that people often say prayers rather than pray.
That was a great object lesson idea because it caused me to ponder on the sincerity of my prayers, and I have never looked at ceilings the same since that lesson. It has taken me much time and learning to understand more of the purposes of prayer.
Often, my prayers have been one-sided. If it were a telephone conversation, it would have sounded something like this: "Hello, this is Lori. Thanks for the protection that you provided as we traveled yesterday. Here is what I need today. Thanks again, bye!"
Prayer is so much more than "thank you" and "please bless." Some of the purposes of prayer I have learned are: to express gratitude, to receive guidance or blessings, to repent, to invite the Spirit, to develop or build our relationship with God, and to seek His will.
I invite you to ponder the purpose of prayer. I would like to focus for a minute on the last one, “To seek His will.” Why? President Nelson said, “Anytime you do anything that helps anyone--on either side of the veil--take a step toward making covenants with God and receiving their essential baptismal and temple ordinances, you are helping to gather Israel. It is as simple as that.”
During this last reading through the Book of Mormon, my mind caught hold of the phrase “being favored of the Lord.” As I studied what that meant, I found that those receiving ongoing protection, guidance, and help were those that sought and followed the will of God. In other words, they helped Him with His work! Heavenly Father desires to bless those that help Him.
I often have my very large family over for dinners and gatherings. When family arrives, I can usually be found in the kitchen finishing dinner preparations. When family members join in and help, my heart rejoices and is grateful that they are willing to help me with my work. This demonstrates to me that they care about me. We demonstrate our love and care for our Father in Heaven when we help Him with his work.
I would invite you to look around the room, or think of family members, neighbors, work colleagues, or friends and think of a way to more fully help our Heavenly Father with His work. Sisters, we are surrounded by covenant-keeping women, who have promised to bear one another’s burdens, mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. That is one of the reasons that I rejoice on the covenant path! I have walked some very dark paths, and without my sisters that have lifted and blessed me during those dark times, I may have been lost.
I bear witness that our covenants bless us, and by keeping them, we are doing our Father in Heaven’s work and it will bless the lives of others. I leave this with you in the sacred name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.