When teens graduate from high school and leave home to taste independence, they enter the dangerous decade of young adulthood. In the thrill of freedom, they often explore forbidden paths which lead to destructive behaviors, habits, and detours. By contrast, what parent could want more than to hear the following words from a son or daughter during these critical years? Here is a short extract from a long list of lessons learned from our oldest grandchild who recently returned from her mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was hard work. She said she is not the same person that she was 18 months ago.
- I have learned why we need opposition and the trial of our faith.
- I have learned the important role of the Holy Ghost, and why I never want to live without the guidance of the Spirit.
- I have learned the importance of family and what I want my future family to be.
- I have learned what it means to truly love people.
- I have learned that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is infinite and intimate.
- I have learned what Heavenly Father can accomplish through 19 and 20 year- old men and women.
- I think the greatest change in me is that I can say with confidence that I know the truths of the gospel for myself.
- There is a certain peace and joy that comes when you know the truth. It comes from the Savior. That is what continually motivated me to wake up every day with excitement to share it with others.
- I have learned that I have great reason to rejoice!
It is inspiration from God to send missionaries of young adult age to spread the good news of the gospel worldwide. In the process of blessing others, these young adults are shaped in magnificent ways. I am a grandmother with great Reasons to Rejoice!
Several people in the post office rushed to assist a woman maneuvering her husband’s wheelchair through a narrow doorway. The need was obvious and urgent. But I think there are many people who have hidden handicaps which are even more debilitating than physical ones. They are equally urgent but we don’t rush to help because we don’t see them. The physical eye cannot see emotional wounds or heavy burdens borne deep inside. This requires a different kind of vision which comes from whisperings of the Holy Ghost. If I am attentive to the quiet voice of the Spirit, it is possible to perceive hidden wounds and needs. Specific ideas of how to help can come from that same source. Then I can spring to assist or comfort as instinctively as I did the woman in the post office. If someone is hurt in a street accident, an ambulance comes quickly, but if a person is broken in spirit, depressed, afraid, burdened—little is done. Yet this person may be in greater need of rescue than the other. I pray to have eyes to see unspoken wounds and burdens of the soul, and to leap without hesitation to minister comfort. “The nearer we get to our Heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on [others]; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs” (Joseph Smith).
A friend told me that before her family kneels for prayer each evening, they take a moment to reflect and share a particular experience that day which manifests Heavenly Father’s love. The person offering the prayer then includes expressions of gratitude for those specific things. In this way, family members are being made aware of one another’s kindnesses from God. This exercise also helps avoid vain repetitions and keeps expressions fresh. Though our children are now grown with families of their own, we continue the tradition of kneeling for family prayer whenever we gather together in our home. It is a sweet finish to every family activity before we hug goodbye. There is truth to the adage that “families who pray together—stay together.”
- Prayer is an acknowledgment that God is our Father and Jesus Christ is our Savior.
- Prayer is a sincere confession of mistakes, and a request for forgiveness.
- Prayer is recognition that we need help beyond our ability.
- Prayer is an opportunity to express gratitude to our Creator.
- Prayer is a privilege to ask God for specific blessings.
When families kneel together in humble supplication both morning and night, they enjoy a bonding spirit of love and unity.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF LIFE? Before we came to earth, we lived as spirit children of Heavenly Father. We gathered together in a great council in heaven where Heavenly Father presented His plan for us to come to earth, obtain a physical body, gain experience to progress toward perfection, and ultimately realize our divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. A Savior would atone for the sins of all mankind, making it possible for us to repent and become clean again. In that premortal realm, we chose to accept Heavenly Father’s plan and Jesus Christ as our Savior. Because of the Savior’s Atonement and Resurrection, we can return to God’s presence and progress to live the kind of life He lives. We shouted for joy at the opportunity to come to earth, progress through experience, and prove that we would be faithful to our premortal promises. This is the greatest of all Reasons to Rejoice!
I know something of the colossal EFFORT parents give while rearing children to become responsible adults. Yet our children don’t understand this concept until they become parents themselves. I embrace the truth that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are “united in purpose, in their love for us, and in the WORK they are doing in our behalf” (Robert D. Hales). We are like toddlers, getting ourselves into dangerous situations as we explore our mortal world. Just as earthly parents keep a constant vigil on their accident-prone toddlers, we, as Heavenly Father’s children, are constantly watched, rescued, redirected, disciplined, taught, comforted, fed, washed, and nurtured by divine hands. Someday when our vision is expanded to see all, we’ll likely be astounded to recognize the patient, loving WORK performed in our behalf. “The ultimate goal, the purpose of all God’s work, is not merely to save us from death and hell, as wonderful as that is in itself. The ultimate goal for sons and daughters is to grow up to be what their parents are” (Stephen Robinson). God is teaching me, step by step, to grow up to become like Him, providing every needful thing. I appreciate my Father’s WORK to get me there.
Why do we address our prayers to Heavenly Father and close in the name of Jesus Christ? First, because Christ commanded us to do so: “Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name” (3 Nephi 18:19). The Savior reminds us often in the scriptures of the ascendant order of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ–who performs the will of His Father. They are two distinct beings but united in purpose, attribute, and love. Praying in the Savior’s name is a reminder that salvation and resurrection come only through Christ’s infinite Atonement. At baptism I pledged my willingness to take Christ’s name upon me and follow His commandments. This covenant is renewed each week during sacrament. The Savior’s name is sacred. I should always pronounce it in reverent tone, never casually or rushed. (Too often as prayers are closed, the Savior’s name is hastily spoken, garbled, or unintelligible.) I want to honor Jesus Christ by following and serving Him faithfully all of my life. I can also demonstrate honor by articulating His holy name with reverence when I close my prayers.