Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bayley's MTC Report Day


A very willing helper (who may have wrestled this away from one or two other equally willing helpers).

Bags successfully checked (weighing in at 47 and 49 pounds!) and heading to security.




Lots of goodbyes.


Next up at security!

We found a place to watch from.

Preparing to take off.  Someone waved to us.  We are pretending it was Bayley.

Arriving at Salt Lake City.  Thanks to the Briscoe family for these pics (and the ride).

Meeting up with friends.

At the Wyeview Apartments/MTC.

And off she goes.



Sunday, June 23, 2013

Farewells


Kegan, Bayley and Rhys each spoke in Sacrament meeting today.  Bayley flies out on Wednesday. June 26th, Kegan on Tuesday, July 2nd, and Rhys on Wednesday July 3rd.

Farewell Talk Kegan

The Gift of Prayer

      Good morning/afternoon. For those of you who are not here to listen exclusively to me speak, my name is Kegan Enright and in little more than one week I will be on a plane heading for the Mexico City MTC preparing to teach The Gospel in the Chile, Vina del Mar mission.  Where I will teach and preach in whatever form of Spanish I find myself capable of.
I have been asked to speak on How I can make my prayers more meaningful.  We have been given the gift of prayer by our Heavenly Father because he loves us and the gift of prayer is as priceless as any. As a child I remember praying in thanks for my pillow and my blanket and I doubt living in South America for almost two years will dampen my gratitude for such possessions.
The late Apostle of the Church, James E. Faust, gave a brilliant talk on prayer at the 2002 General Conference, in which he said  “When God placed man on the earth, prayer became the lifeline between mankind and God...Each of us has problems that we cannot solve and weaknesses that we cannot conquer without reaching out through prayer to a higher source of strength. That source is the God of Heaven to whom we pray in the name of Jesus Christ” The gift of prayer is divine and has been given to us by a loving Heavenly Father and it is essential that we use it.
     James E. Faust defined prayer as, “...A humble acknowledgment that God is our Father and that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer...a sincere confession of sin and transgression and a request for forgiveness...it is recognition that we need help beyond our own ability...it is an opportunity to express thanksgiving and gratitude to our Creator.  Understanding the magnificent gift of prayer is the first step in making our communion with our Heavenly Father more meaningful.  The gift of prayer has been given to all of us as God’s children, “It matters not our circumstance, be we humble or arrogant, poor or rich, free or enslaved, learned or ignorant, loved or forsaken, we can address Him.”

How We Pray
     As you pray, recognize that Father in Heaven is near and He is listening.  If we simply go through the movements of prayer without thought then the power is lost.  It is not an honest and sincere prayer but a check mark on a list.  The gift of prayer, though given liberally to all men, is not to be taken for granted.  Richard G. Scott stated in his 2007 conference talk, “I wonder if we can ever really fathom the immense power of prayer until we encounter an overpowering, urgent problem and realize that we are powerless to resolve it. Then we will turn to our Father in humble recognition of our total dependence on Him. It helps to find a secluded place where our feelings can be vocally expressed as long and as intensely as necessary.”  I know I have made the mistake of often times taking prayer for granted, but there have certainly been times when I have been witness to the power of prayer in some of the simplest ways.  I distinctly remember one night when I was desperately trying to fall asleep despite the thunderous snores of an anonymous roommate.  I had almost decided to move upstairs to sleep when I realized I hadn’t prayed for help.  I proceeded to kneel beside my bed and pray that I might be able to get to sleep so that I could work early in the morning.  No sooner had I finished praying then the snoring ceased and I was able to sleep soon afterwards.  I also remember an imminent rain storm at my last Aaron’s Camp almost disappearing completely after the opening prayer for our fireside.  Whether our needs be great or small, Heavenly Father is there, we just need to remember to ask sincerely and in faith. 


Search for Answers
     The restoration of The Church and Joseph Smith’s first vision is a testament to the power of meaningful prayer.  Joseph Smith, a young man living in Palmyra, New York prayed alone in The Sacred Grove in the year of 1820.  Joseph Smith asked in faith and with a sincere desire to know the true gospel of God.  His prayer was answered by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ who helped him to restore the full and true gospel of Christ.  Just as Joseph Smith’s prayer was answered so can we receive answers to our prayers.  Although we will probably not receive a vision like Joseph Smith did, Heavenly Father would never leave us without an answer to our prayers. Richard G. Scott put it perfectly when he said “He will always hear your prayers and will invariably answer them. However, His answers will seldom come while you are on your knees praying...”   Our prayers will be answered through the Spirit,  “He will prompt you in quiet moments when the Spirit can most effectively touch your mind and heart.” 
Answers to our prayers can come in many ways. It was Richard G. Scott who said “Often when we pray for help with a significant matter, Heavenly Father will give us gentle promptings that require us to think, exercise faith, work, at times struggle, then act. It is a step-by-step process that enables us to discern inspired answers...Seldom will you receive a complete response all at once. It will come a piece at a time...”  “It is true that the answers to our prayers may not always come as direct and at the time, nor in the manner, we anticipate; but they will come.”  They will come not when we believe we are  ready but when God is ready and when he knows we are ready.  Patience is a key to finding the answers to our prayers.  Doctrine and Covenants 4:6 reads -”Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.” - Patience is up there alongside faith, virtue, and godliness and by patience it  does not mean we are expected to ask and merely wait, it means we are expected to have the endurance to search continually even if our answers are not found immediately.  Without the patience to wait for a full answer we can misinterpret an incomplete answer.  In fact we must be thankful that we are allowed to struggle for a time before an answer comes. Our character will grow;  faith will increase and we will better understand the answers that are given in time.
     When searching for an answer we must obey our Heavenly Father’s  counsel to “study it out in our minds.  Often you will think of a solution; as you seek confirmation that your answer is right, help will come. It may be through your prayers, or as an impression of the Holy Ghost, and at times by the intervention of others.  Leaving on a mission in a few days I know I will act as the answer to other peoples prayers and they to mine.
     Learning about missionary work throughout my life and even more so in recent months.  A missionary’s role is not to convince investigators of the gospel’s truth but to bring the gospel to others and let the spirit testify to them.  The spirit can also testify to us as an answer to a prayer Richard G. Scott defined the way the Spirit answers prayer by saying, “...He will reply in one of three ways. First, you can feel the peace, comfort, and assurance that confirm that your decision is right...Second, you can sense that unsettled feeling, the stupor of thought, indicating that your choice is wrong. Or third—and this is the difficult one—you can feel no response.  What do you do when you have prepared carefully, have prayed fervently, waited a reasonable time for a response, and still do not feel an answer? You may want to express thanks when that occurs, for it is an evidence of His trust. When you are living worthily and your choice is consistent with the Savior’s teachings and you need to act, proceed with trust.”  There will be times when we pray for a confirmation of our choices.  Remember feeling nothing does not mean your answer is not worth your Father’s time or the Holy Spirit’s, it is because they trust you, because you are going in the direction and making the decisions that God wants you to. 

Gratitude
       By using the gift of prayer every day we show gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the gift of prayer and we can use that gift to thank him for everything that he has given to us.  Prayer gives us the ability to speak with God, it is not a one way communication.  We would not press our earthly parents with questions and requests before simply walking away.  Take the opportunity to express your love for your Heavenly Father and allow Him to help you through your life here on Earth.  Search the scriptures, pray in locations and atmospheres where you can feel the Spirit.  Remember prayer is your time to speak to God, in faith and with love so never forget
     I know that in the next couple of years I will be more grateful for prayer than I ever have before.  I am leaving family and friends to teach in a place I have never set foot.  I will miss all of you and my brother and sister up here with me on the stand.  I am scared and excited and honestly a little depressed that I will miss the baptism of my baby sister.  But I know for a fact that it is all more than worth it.  Through the power of prayer Joseph Smith was able to commune with God and Jesus Christ and he was able to restore this Church and we can all pray to our Father in Heaven just as he did.  Because we have been given the ability to pray we are not alone in this life and we can always turn to our Heavenly Father in times of need and he will answer us.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Farewell Talk Bayley

A couple of years ago, I was preparing to graduate from community college and was looking for where to go to continue my education and complete my Bachelors degree.  I wanted to stay in Colorado, and so I had narrowed down my choices to two options: UCCS here in Colorado Springs, or CSU in Fort Collins.  Both options had their pros and cons, and as I was praying to know which school to go to, I decided that the answer lay in my financial situation.  UCCS being the more affordable choice, but CSU being the preferred choice, I decided that I would accept and move forward at both universities, but would only attend CSU so long as certain financial circumstances were to fall into place.  As such, I sent my acceptance to both universities and prepared to go and tour the CSU campus and attend the transfer-student orientation.  As I moved throughout the day, I kept imagining myself living there, attending school there, and I loved it - possibly because of the abundance of pizza and ice cream places, but whatever.  After the orientation ended, I went out and sat under one of the many trees around campus and as I sat there I felt so at peace, so content, and excited, that I knew I wanted to go to CSU.  And when I say that I knew, I’m not referring to the excitement I had felt throughout the day, but to a strong and powerful feeling of peace I received that this was the answer to my prayers, that this was where I should be.  
Soon it became apparent to me that none of those financial circumstances I had earlier based my decision on were going to come through for me, and that by all means UCCS would be the more financially sensible school - but I could not deny the knowledge I had gained that day that I should attend CSU.  Now, after I’ve graduated and my time in Fort Collins has come and gone, I know why God told me that was the place for me.  Though I know that I would’ve been fine - and certainly wealthier - in choosing to go to UCCS instead, my choice to attend CSU led me to meet some of the greatest people I have ever met, to be independent and realize that maybe I should’ve learned to cook something other than Ramen during my time at home, and to face challenges and situations that helped me develop into the person I am today.  I don’t know what would be different should I have stayed in the Springs, and I’m sure it would be nothing drastic - I don’t *think* I’d be dead, who knows, but I know that I am standing before you all today with a testimony that has been tested and strengthened by the experiences I had and by the people I met in Fort Collins.
Allow me to share another story.  During my last year in the church youth program, I decided to go about re-reading the Book of Mormon.  I don’t know exactly how many times I had read through the entire Book of Mormon up to that point, but this time I was going to keep a journal to write down whatever thoughts and impressions I had while reading, or to write out the verses that were particularly powerful to me, or even, in a number of cases, to illustrate scenes - badly though, just with stick figures.  As I finished the Book of Mormon that time, I can remember reading, in the very last chapter, in the Book of Moroni, chapter 10, verse 4, which reads:
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moroni 10:4)
As I read those words, I realized that that was exactly what I had just done.  Though I grew up reading the Book of Mormon, knowing the stories it contained, of heroes like Nephi and Samuel the Lamanite and Ammon, I realized then that I didn’t just enjoy these stories, but I knew they were true - I knew that the Book of Mormon was written by prophets of God, that it was a pure and true testament of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
What do I mean by saying “I knew”?  I mean that as I set that book down that night, I knew that this book was from God, and that this gospel was the true and restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and that as such I knew who I was, where I was from, what I was doing, and where I was going.
Both of these stories are stories of personal revelation - of revelation I received for myself.  In his talk “The Spirit of Revelation,” Apostle David A. Bednar defines revelation as “communication from God to His children on the earth and one of the great blessings associated with the gift and constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.”  We are blessed with the knowledge that this revelation - this direct communication from God - is not reserved for a mere few - for a spiritual elite, but it is a blessing available to all of us.  Though we often think of “revelation” as some dramatic vision or angelic visitation, as Elder Bednar said, it is associated with the gift of the Holy Ghost, and so often it comes to us in the still small voice of the Spirit, maybe as a feeling or impression, a peace of mind or heart, or a sure knowledge.  Now, it is important to understand that in discussing personal revelation, I am not suggesting that we are all prophets of God.  Personal revelation is just that: personal.  Boyd K. Packer, in his talk on this subject in 1994, explained “You may receive revelation individually, as a parent for your family, or for those for whom you are responsible as a leader or teacher, having been properly called and set apart.”  That said, personal revelation is a great and beautiful gift we have been given, but one that - like many of God’s gifts - requires understanding.  And what better place to turn to for such understanding and instruction than the Book of Mormon.
Today I’d like to look at three stories in the Book of Mormon that teach us about personal revelation.  The first of these is found in the first book of Nephi, chapter 4.  Nephi and his brothers have returned to the city of Jerusalem, at their father, Lehi’s, request, to obtain the plates of brass - a sacred record - from the man Laban, who has thus far proved unwilling to give up the plates.  One night, after being refused and cast out of Laban’s house, Nephi returns to the house, where he comes across a drunk Laban and slays him, enabling him and his brothers to obtain the plates.  However, Nephi didn’t just kill Laban on a whim.  In fact, he writes “I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.  And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands,” (1 Nephi 4:10-11) he continues, “Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword” (1 Nephi 4:18).  This was a moment of personal revelation, in which Nephi was open to, received, and followed revelation given to him by the Holy Spirit.  This revelation to slay Laban was instruction from God specifically, and personally, to Nephi.  
This story has always impressed me because the revelation that is received is not warmly welcomed - Nephi says he “shrunk” from the voice of the Spirit.  And yet, he recognized it as the Spirit, not as his own thoughts.  Rodney Turner, a professor of ancient scripture at BYU, wrote “Nephi was a righteous man; he was well acquainted with the promptings of the Holy Ghost and knew the difference between his own thoughts and divine revelation,” for those concerned by God’s commanding his servant to kill, Dr. Turner compares the story of Nephi and Laban to the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac, writing “the incident may well have been a trial of faith for Nephi. The Lord could have helped him procure the record in some other way. Instead, the Lord allowed Nephi to struggle....The God who proved Abraham is the same God who proved Nephi.  Like Abraham, Nephi obeyed and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.”
So what does the story of Nephi and Laban teach us about personal revelation?  Well, Nephi’s actions lay out a pattern for us to follow.  He received personal revelation only after he proved himself faithful and obedient - “Let us be faithful,” he counseled his brothers, “in keeping the commandments of the Lord” (1 Nephi 4:1).  The night as he entered Laban’s house, he demonstrated faith in declaring “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do” (1 Nephi 4:6).  Thus Nephi teaches us that obtaining personal revelation requires consistent faith and obedience.  It makes sense, if you think about it - why would God entrust us with personal revelation if we have not shown ourselves worthy to hear it, recognize it, receive it, and obey it?
Similar principles are taught in the second Book of Mormon story I would like to share, which is the story of Enos, a young man who went out and prayed to God asking for forgiveness for his own sins and also for his brethren, the Lamanites.  After earnest prayer, he heard the voice of the Lord, forgiving him of his sins and granting unto him his righteous desires.  This story is a perfect story of personal revelation - of an answer to a prayer, and, just as with Nephi, revelation came to Enos because of his faith.  Enos himself wrote “Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.  And I had faith, and I did cry unto God” (Enos 1:15-16).  When he hears the Lord’s voice granting him forgiveness, Enos asks “Lord, how is it done?” to which God replies “Because of thy faith in Christ” (Enos 1:7-8) and later promises “I will will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith” (Enos 1:12).  Just as Nephi trusted in God and demonstrated faith, so did Enos.
In addition to this, the story of Enos teaches us that personal revelation requires diligence and hard work.  “My soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker,” he writes, “and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication,” (Enos 1:4) and also “I had prayed and labored with all diligence” (Enos 1:11).  Throughout the Book of Enos, Enos also describes this experience of prayer as “a wrestle which [he] had before God” (Enos 1:2) and a “struggling” - and “many long strugglings,” - “with the Spirit”.  This prayer is not just a mumbled recitation given after Enos is already lying in bed, ready for sleep.  The phrases “mighty prayer,” “labored with all diligence,” “a wrestle,” and “struggling,” all imply that this prayer is a real spiritual - even physical - ordeal, a difficult task that requires hard work and diligence.  If we desire or even expect answers to our prayers, personal revelation from God, then so too must we work for it.  I’m sure we all know from experience that we can desire a good grade in school all we want - but unless we work for it, we won’t receive it - unless of course, you are some sort of of Ferris Bueller, but most of us at least cannot coast through life on likeability, I know I can’t, and we have to work for what we want.  So it is with personal revelation.  God will not grant revelation to those who merely want it, but are unwilling to work for it.
So far, these Book of Mormon stories have taught us that personal revelation comes from faith, obedience, and diligent hard work.  The last story I would like to share with you combines all these principles, but then also shows us that these blessings of personal revelation are available to all.  It is the story of the sons of Mosiah, who was the righteous king over the land.  The sons of Mosiah were four brothers - Aaron, Omner, Ammon, and Himni - who stand apart from many Book of Mormon heroes in that they spent their youth years, along with their friend Alma the Younger, son of the prophet, “seeking to destroy the church, and to lead astray the people of the Lord, contrary to the commandments of God, or even the king” (Mosiah 27:10)  However, their fathers prayed much to God on their behalf, and those prayers were answered when an angel appeared to the five young men and commanded them to cease their wicked ways.  Alma and the sons of Mosiah repented, and then all went on to become great missionaries of the Lord.
In the Book of Alma, chapter 17, they are finally reunited after years of preaching and teaching the gospel, with many more years of missionary service ahead of them.  Verses 2-3 read: “Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding, and they had searched the scriptures diligently that they might know the word of God.  But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught they taught with power and authority of God.”  
The word “therefore” is important here - it tells us that the sons of Mosiah having the spirit of prophecy and revelation is a direct result of their diligent scripture study, their prayer, and their fasting - all of which demonstrate faith, obedience to God’s commandments, and hard work.  For me, this story of personal revelation is especially powerful because it is not the story of a single choice experience - such as hearing the voice of the Lord.  Rather, the sons of Mosiah “had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation.”  Though there is no voice or angel appearing (at least not at this time) to these missionary brothers, it is still a story of personal revelation.  Because they had that spirit, we know that they were guided by the Spirit, trusting in God, wherever they went, and that they lived lives guided by the Spirit and by God - even though they were not perfect, even though they had worked against God in their past.  After they came unto God and repented, that didn’t matter.  They were no less worthy than Nephi or Enos to receive personal revelation.
I’ve always loved the story of the sons of Mosiah, but recently its gained an added measure of meaning and significance to me.  The sons of Mosiah are siblings who all went out and served their missions together, all in different places, but all united in their service to God.  You can see why I’m particularly fond of this story right now.  Though my brothers and I never went out actively seeking to destroy the church of God, which I think certainly puts any challenges we may have presented in perspective, we didn’t walk a perfectly paved road up to this point.  There was the time Rhys and I decided to booby trap our upstairs playroom in an imitation of Home Alone.  Though at the time the tacks hidden in the carpet and the Play-Dough-trap on the ground (intended to catch any would-be invaders - apparently we thought Play-Dough had adhesive properties) seemed like a good idea, I can see now why our parents were less than thrilled.  That particular bit of movie-inspired mischief is rivaled only by the time Mom and Dad discovered the hard way that their shampoo, mouthwash, and hydrogen peroxide had all traded bottles at the hands of a few of us Dennis-the-Menace fans.  Then of course was the time I hit a baseball through the dining room window shattering glass all over Dad and his computer, there are the many holes Kegan has punched in walls over the years, and there is the time Rhys yanked his own tooth out, unwilling to be one-upped by his twin’s missing teeth.  The three of us may have spent many Easters and Christmases conning our younger siblings out of the good candy, and we may have worried our parents with our many hours obsessively smoothing our hair (the boys) or our collection of empty tiny airplane liquor bottles (me) but now we are all here today, all called and prepared to serve our missions and to serve our Heavenly Father.  I hope to be a missionary of the likes of the sons of Mosiah, to have that spirit of revelation with me to guide me, and to one day “rejoice exceedingly” in the righteousness of my brothers when we are all reunited once again.  Of the sons of Mosiah it is said that they “traveled throughout all the land, zealously striving to repair all the injuries which they had done to the church...explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them.  And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer” (Mosiah 27:35-36).  That is the kind of missionary I want to be, and I am grateful for their example.
Just as the sons of Mosiah, we are all entitled and capable of having that spirit of revelation us always, so long as we follow those examples given to us in the Book of Mormon and are faithful, obedient, and hard working.  In addition to these three, I would like to add one last attribute we should nurture in order to be receptive to and worthy of personal revelation, and that is desire.  We must have a deep and real desire to receive and follow any revelation we may receive.  Allow me to read again Moroni 10:4:
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost.”  
This is promise given to all of God’s children, not to just some select few - personal revelation is available to all, so much as we have faith, are obedient, work for it, and desire it, having “a sincere heart, with real intent.”
I bear my testimony to you all that these things are true.  That this gospel is perfect, and true, and joyous.  I am so excited and so humbled by the opportunity I have been given to share these things I know with the great people of Texas and Louisiana, and to share with them the joy and peace I have found in my Savior, Jesus Christ, and in this great restored church.  Personal revelation is real.  God is our loving Heavenly Father, and he is always there for us, whenever we need His help, His comfort, or His guidance in our lives.  I urge you all to seek out the great blessings of personal revelation that are available to each and every one of us, and may God be with you till we meet again.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen









Farewell talk Rhys

Hola, buenos dias. El nino esta saltando. For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, I’ll translate. Hello, good day, the boy is jumping. As you all are witness to, I am well on my way to becoming a Spanish genius and though I don’t ship out for just over a week I’ve been given the opportunity to show off my Spanish skills and speak alongside my sister and my twin. The subject of my monologue this morning is how we receive personal revelation. We all know the word revelation, defined by the Bible dictionary as “meaning to make known or uncover.” The prophets of the Bible and the Book of Mormon have all received divine revelation concerning the Church and its followers. However, each and every person is able to receive personal revelation concerning their own issues or dilemmas. All it can take to receive personal revelation sometimes, is to ask. I’ve heard plenty of times before the excuse that there are so many people in the world - seriously, a lot - that Heavenly Father can’t think it important to worry over any single person’s problems. But, as a very old and very wise man once said, “. . . nine hundred years of time and space and I've never met anybody who wasn't important before.”
Concerning my own personal revelation, I could not have asked for a more painfully ironic experience while writing my talk even if I had wanted to. Agonizing for hours on end over a single talk about personal revelation, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to get going and just write this darn thing. I won’t embarrass myself further by divulging just how long it took me to come up with my brilliant plan of how to get help writing the talk on personal revelation.  An old poster I have branded on my brain from seeing every morning in seminary for four years says, “When you want to speak to God, pray. When you want God to speak to you, read the scriptures.” This poster changed the way I receive personal revelation, I always begin scripture study with a prayer in which I ask questions I may need to know the answer to or simply want to know the answer to. After hours of agonizing over a single talk, the thought of this poster smacked me into talk writing mode and I prayed and studied before sitting back down to write.
This isn’t how I’ve always done scripture study, before I ever saw that poster I never took scripture study quite as seriously. Oftentimes in my rebellious, polo-shirted, and high-fastening-pants youth, all it took was a prayer. I remember one such occasion when a younger brother got a large piece of meat stuck in his throat. My parents were helping him calm down and breathe while considering how they were going to rid him of this horridly oversized piece of meat. I was worried about my brother and decided to get down on my knees and pray that he would be alright and at the same time worrying that I wasn’t helping. There wasn’t a voice that commanded me to shove my hand down my brother’s throat and heroically dislodge the meat as I had partially expected, but there was a small voice--my own voice in my head telling me to get off my butt and go see what my dad needed. I hurried down the hall and into my parents bedroom where I immediately heard my dad ask for a can of soda. This was an odd request, for those of you who don’t know, my dad has never actually been particularly fond of soda and the only reason we actually had some in the house was that Dad had brought home extra cans from a school event that week. I rushed to get a soda and planted it in my dad’s hand and he proceeded to open the can and start helping my brother drink the soda. My first thought was that we were going to make him drink as much soda as possible, shake him up, and watch as the soda shot back up through his throat and clearing it of all offending meat. There was no spraying soda show as I had pictured, Dad simply fed him a little bit of soda at a time until it succeed in dissolving the meat to a small enough size that he could swallow it. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed at the lack of spectacle, but It was a really good thing that my dad was in charge and not me.
Prayer can be a great source of revelation, has been, and can always be relied on for assistance, and to guide a person where God needs them most. In 1 Nephi, we read the story of a family living in Jerusalem and led by a righteous man named Lehi. Lehi is an excellent example of a father using personal revelation to help him guide and lead his family. In chapter one of 1 Nephi, Lehi moves his family out of Jerusalem due to the expiration date on the city that he recently learned about through personal revelation. Chapter 1 verses five and six of 1 Nephi reads, “Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people. And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly.” After this, Lehi goes to sleep and has a dream in which he is warned of the destruction of Jerusalem. Though Lehi warns the people of Jerusalem of their impending doom few, if any, heed his words and he ends up taking his family away, with much grumbling and murmuring from Laman and Lemuel. The first book in the Book of Mormon is filled with moments like this. Whenever Lehi is struggling he will always pray for revelation to guide him and more often than not  will have a trippy dream that answers his prayers.  Cue Laman and Lemuel murmuring.
I cannot honestly tell of a single dream I’ve had which has answered a prayer of mine, other than a few in which I’ve been able to fly. While I was younger I would always feel a prompting after a prayer that I always knew must be an answer. But, as I grew older, I was always less and less certain of what was an answer and what was just a passing thought or feeling. This was just about up to the point when I started early morning Seminary. It must have been the second day that I first noticed the poster on the wall that read, “If you want to talk to God, pray. If you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures.” A simply-put message that changed how I thought about prayer and scriptures and also led to me using the two together more than I ever had before. I remember one Monday after a long school day in which I heard a lot of Mormon jokes and mormon bashing in my Philosophy class. I hadn’t spoken up, it was just the second week of classes and I didn’t want to draw a lot of attention to myself, but I felt bad that I hadn’t spoken up. That night I read Matthew 7. Verse 7 of chapter 7 reads, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” This verse reminded me of the poster in seminary and prompted me to stop reading, get on my knees, and pray concerning what I should do. Following the prayer, I knew just what I ought to do. I closed my scriptures and opened them at random and the pages fell open to a page I had marked with a piece of paper from the previous seminary year. Romans 1: 16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” I knew what I had to do. That Wednesday after class, everyone in the class not only knew I was Mormon, but they also had some myths concerning Mormonism busted, horns and arranged marriages immediately following high school among them.
I know I’m not the only one to have received help and guidance from the scriptures. Even before a young fourteen year old Joseph Smith experienced the first vision, a revelation of a much smaller scale peaked his interest. In the early 1800s, Joseph sought to know which of all the churches he had been witness to were true. I’ll read Joseph’s own account of his smaller scale revelation. “While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did;” Joseph’s scripture study leads him to actively seek God and eventually led to his first vision. While Joseph receives much of his revelation from God following his prayer, but it started with curiosity and a single verse of scripture.
Few if any of us can claim to have had an experience quite like Joseph Smith’s First Vision, but revelation rarely does come in such heavy doses. More often than not it is a small voice, or simple scripture verse. No matter what the case, revelation is almost like a divine opinion, a path God sets you on. Always stay in tune to the spirit and worthy of revelation, and be prepared to act on that revelation. To quote the lady Galadriel, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” Just be prepared so that when it’s your turn, you know what to do, and remember, “If you want to talk to God, pray; if you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures.”


Temple day March 22 2013