John the Baptist, through a terrible plot, is beheaded. When the news of his beheading reachs the Savior, Jesus crosses the sea and retires to a (remote) desert place. It appears that he is mourning and is looking for a place of solitude.
However, he is not permitted to do so because immediately upon arrival, a multitude of more than 5000 had followed him! What does Jesus do? He doesn’t turn them away. He administered to them first. Food is miraculously produced. At the end of the day, he compells his disciples to leave by boat, and then he himself “sent the multitude away”. I’m certain there were probably many personal exchanges in that dismissing of the multitude.
All this happened, while looming in the back of his mind was the death of his cousin, closest of kin.
And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to : and when the evening was come, he was there alone. (vs. 23)
This footnote on prayer simply illustrates how even Christ employed this tool for strength and guidance.
2 Nephi 32 and John 3:2-21
I’ve spent the past few days working on implementing more organization into my life. Selecting organizational tools that will help me to unify the different aspects of my life. My concern was the lack of the Spiritual in the process. These two chapters have been a re-orientation of sorts, while allowing me to also see how the tools that I’ve been developing can work with this spiritual focus.
Prayer and the words of Christ will show me what I am to do. My organizational tools, when appropriate, will allow me to put into words those action items that the Spirit dictates to me. My personal aim and vision allows me to give focus to the Spiritual in my own life. The term “giving Christian father” seems to embody my personal aim.
The fact that I am willing to bring all this before God is evidence of nature of these deeds. “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
I’m in a very good spot this morning!
I am reminded this morning of promises that the Lord Jesus Christ has made to his faithful disciples.
John 14:13-14 reads: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”
Matthew 21:21-22 reads: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.“
I am brought to consider the verses from the later part of the Book of John that highlight the love of God, chapters 13 – 17.
From the Topical Guide, Love of God:
- he loved them unto the end: John 13:1 .
- ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another: John 13:35 .
- If ye love me, keep my commandments: John 14:15 .
- he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father: John 14:21 .
- my Father will love him, and we will come unto him: John 14:23 .
- As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: John 15:9 .
- Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved: John 16:27 .
- world may know that thou … hast loved them: John 17:23 .
- love wherewith thou hast loved me: John 17:26 .
I am brought to consider these passages and others as we begin into our stake conference activities this weekend. I am also reminded of Mormon’s teachings in Moroni 7:
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail— (vs. 46)
With this reminder to pray for and cleave to charity, the love of God, I am then brought to consider a profound invitation found in John 14:12-14:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
A study of humility has lead me to consider the question: how to be humble? Spencer W. Kimball answers:
“How does one get humble? To me, one must constantly be reminded of his dependence. On whom dependent? On the Lord. How remind one’s self? By real, constant, worshipful, grateful prayer.” (Humility, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 16 Jan. 1963], pp. 2–3.)
In 2 Chronicles 15:3-4, it reads:
Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.
But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.
How is the armor of God maintained, Paul shares the key at the end of his analogy:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; (Ephesians 6:18)
Not directly related to the previous statements, but Isaiah points to Sabbath Day observance as a crucial ingredient in preparation for entrance into the temple. (See Isaiah 56:6-7)
Just re-read this talk on priesthood and personal prayer and there are passages that I want to commit the principles to memory:
This is what I’ve learned: God is not interested in long prayers. Rather He is interested in specific prayers, and us knowing what we should be praying for.
“Ye worship ye know not what… Salvation is of the Jews.”
Here are the paragraphs that I need to come back to:
So you will pray for the way to know their hearts, to know what things are amiss in the lives and the hearts of people whom you don’t know well and who are not anxious to have you know them. You will need to know what God would have you do to help them and to do it all, as nearly as you can, feeling God’s love for them.
It is because you have such important and difficult priesthood calls that President Smith suggests that when you pray, you always plead with God that He will bless you with His Spirit. You will need the Holy Ghost not once but as much as God will grant it to you for your constant companion. That is why we must always pray that God will guide us in our service to His children.
Because you cannot rise to your priesthood potential without the Spirit going with you, you are a personal target for the enemy of all happiness. If he can tempt you to sin, he can lessen your power to be led by the Spirit and so reduce your power in the priesthood. That is why President Smith said that you should always pray that God will warn and protect you from evil.6
He warns us in many ways. Warnings are part of the plan of salvation. Prophets, apostles, stake presidents, bishops, and missionaries all raise the warning voice to escape calamity through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and making and keeping sacred covenants.
As a priesthood holder, you are to be part of the warning voice of the Lord. But you need to heed the warning yourself. You will not survive spiritually without the protection of the companionship of the Holy Ghost in your daily life.
You must pray for it and work to have it. Only with that guide will you be able to find your way along the strait and narrow path through the mists of evil. The Holy Ghost will be your guide as He reveals truth when you study the words of prophets.
Getting that guidance will take more than casual listening and reading. You will need to pray and work in faith to put the words of truth down into your heart. You must pray that God will bless you with His Spirit, that He will lead you into all truth and show you the right way. That is how He will warn and guide you into the right path in your life and in your priesthood service.
I was drawn to this passage this morning in trying to comprehend the mercies of the Son of God upon me. So frequent are the powers of renewal that I have been able to access through faith on the Son of God, that it is amazing — truly amazing — that he would care enough for me to give me another chance. (I feel like I’m paraphrasing the hymn “I Stand All Amazed,” but this is precisely how I feel this morning.)
After explaining to the people of the Zoramites that they should plant the seed of faith in their hearts, the people inquired further as to how or on what should they place their faith. The bulk of this chapter then is used to show, through the words of other prophets, how their faith should be centered on the Son of God.It is interesting that in these verses that Alma references, not only do they illustrate that we should exercise faith on the Son of God, but they also show that because of their faith in Him, these prophets were able to obtain mercy.
The first prophet quoted, Zenos, illustrates how this mercy was obtained through his prayers. There are keys within this passage as to why his prayers were heard:
- Thou art merciful unto thy children when they cry unto thee, to be heard of thee and not of men, and thou wilt hear them.
- Thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity.
- It is because of thy Son that thou hast been thus merciful unto me.
And then the prophet Zenos, in this passage that was quoted, concludes:
Therefore I will cry unto thee in all mine afflictions, for in thee is my joy; for thou hast turned thy judgments away from me, because of thy Son.
I am now asking myself if I can do this. Last evening, I allowed myself to be weighed down because of a particular affliction that was purely circumstantial. Could I not have cried for help, and instead of judgments, obtain mercy?
This morning, after reading passages from Mosiah 15, I’ve prayed “Help me to become a more effective publisher of peace.”