Sunday, February 1, 2015


It would be difficult for me to recall a time when my world wasn't bringing questions to my mind. From my prejudiced point of view I never felt myself to be skeptical or negative, but just curious and desirous to have answers.

As far as I can remember I have always had a question about prayer. Not the same question, but there has always seemed to be ‘a’ question.

If memory serves me correctly some of the first questions that were found on lips just learning to vocalize such thing went something like this: Why do we bow our heads and fold our arms when prayer is said? Why do we always pray before we eat? How come none of my friends pray all the time?

As skinned knees and worn out sneakers chased puppies and kicked cans down the street the questions seemed to be: Why do we have to stop playing to say prayers? Why can’t I just say ‘ditto’ and climb into bed since I always pray the same thing every night? How can Heavenly Father listen to everyone who is praying right now?

When acne and popularity determined every crisis and triumph, the questions were usually initiated by someone else: How long has it been since you prayed? Do you feel anything when you pray? Do you ever remember having a prayer answered?

As my life continued along the mortal continuum the questions became less vocally expressed and more of an internal struggle as pondering replaced interaction as a manner of questions and answers.

As I walked down the steps with my graduation folder in one palm and my other hand switching the tassel on my mortar board, celebrating my graduation from Garden Grove Union High School, the questions which filled my mind in those day were: Do Glorious Beings really have any interest in listening to mere mortals? Why is it that some people seem to always hear or recognize interactions from praying while others don't? Will I ever have such a powerful experience while praying that it causes me to boldly proclaim that I know God exists?

Lying on a lumpy bed in a one room apartment in Piedras Negras, Nuevo Leon, Mexico while serving as a young missionary, the questions which pounded with urgency in my brain were: Father did you really inspire President McKay to send me to Mexico on my mission? Father did you really speak to prophets so long ago in this land as the Book of Mormon proclaims? Father can you help me to recognize when I am teaching from my own knowledge and when the Holy Spirit is giving me enlightened understanding?

I can't identify the exact moment or the day and probably not even the decade, but somewhere along the way my questions took a sharp turn from the procedural and wondering about the reality of communication with

Deity to pleading sessions with Heavenly Father about priorities and directions of life.

As I walked the hallowed halls of higher learning the question and answer periods between this child and his Father seemed to be a never ending stream of requests for super natural interference: Is there any way that you can replace my lack of study with your omniscience during this test? Are you really sure I should continue my quest toward gaining advanced degrees? Would you strengthen Kathleen and I so we can jump all the hurdles?

When the titles of husband and father were added to my resume my prayer questions centered on asking of ‘The One’ who had passed though these experiences and could surely give guidance on what and how to proceed: Did the prophets of old give proper counsel on how to discipline children or should their teachings be supplanted by the theories and techniques espoused by modern authorities? Although the profession I had chosen would give me fulfillment and enjoyment, would the recompense be sufficient to provide for the ever increasing needs of our family? How does one gain the strength to give their all to wife, family, Church and career?

As roles in these areas of life shifted and expanded and responsibilities and stewardships of shepherding increased, the conversations with my Heavenly Father reached the level where I could understand to some degree what the ancient prophet Alma was trying to say when he counseled us to cry unto the Lord in all things.

During those prayer packed days, there were some interactions that almost took on a humorous tone and would have invoked deep belly laughter if the communication wasn't of such a serious nature. Couldn't we have had this conversation at 9pm rather than at 2:30am? Do you really want my golf partner to be called as my bishop? Do you understand that the earth is still taking only 24 hours to spin once on its axis?

When Kathleen and I were called to preside over the Colombia Bogota Mission for our Church, there were times when prayer seemed like a red phone crisis instrument: I need to call Elder… right now? We just had major transfers in the mission and You want me to move Elder…? Are you telling me that I need to call the area President and not my first contact in the Missionary Department?

In what will probably be my last task outside of the eternal tasks of fatherhood and parenthood, as I have been given the opportunity to frequently spend time in the House of the Lord, I have found that much of the time I find the questions as well as the answers being supplied in the prayer process: Don't you desire to have a clearer understanding of this principle or doctrine? Maybe you should inquire of the Lord whether you should be sharing that or not? Don't you think you might want to ask if you should put that question on a shelf to be asked when you will be much better prepared to gain understanding?

When all about prayer is measured and found in balance, I am sure that there are some elements which must be included if real interaction is to be felt and obtained: For all our blessings, privileges, opportunities and trials we express continual gratefulness. Our sincere confession of willingness to attempt to pass through whatever probationary tasks might be necessary for our progression will become our natural state. Recognition of love felt from and expressed to our Savior and our Heavenly Father will be constant.

Lest I leave you with the impression that my prayer progression was all in a continual upward march, there were many times when I was doing the one step forward and two steps backward dance: When I would ask for things which were obviously not in line with any plans my Heavenly Father had in mind for me. When I would ask for something which would obviously violate the agency of another of Heavenly Father’s children. When my covetous heart would overwhelm the prudence of good judgment.

Although I feel that all these steps were essential and helpful to my personal prayer progression and I am sure that my stumbling steps would have been even more halting and may even have stagnated in some swamp, I am also pretty convinced that each of Heavenly Father’s children will have to find their own way of opening up communication with Eternal Beings.

I have also come to understand that for myself, although there is benefit and satisfaction in habitual and ritual prayer, the real joy of prayer has come when the reality of communication has brought new understanding and been confirmed to my soul as if without words.

I have come to believe that when the Savior said, ‘After this manner, pray ye,’ He was speaking more of the reality of communication than the exactness of words and motions.

My prayer is that each of us will find ourselves constantly increasing in our ability to communicate with our loving Heavenly Father.

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