Tag: prayer

5 Ways Women are Uniquely Important to Strengthen the Kingdom of God

“May the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come”

–D&C 65:6

Listen to this quote by Elder Ballard: “For the devil is stealing time, the time we would spend to wonder at spiritual things. Instead, we get so caught up in the things that ‘seem’ to matter, when all of us need to slow down and find a time to contemplate.”

I have always considered my time-wasting to be merely a matter of my lack of self-discipline. The idea of the adversary getting in my house and family time – STEALING our time, well, it ticks me off and I’ve re-doubled my efforts to not go beyond the time I set aside to have some ‘me’ time without bingewatching 2 full seasons of Friends of Netflix.

As the breadwinner, I don’t have enough time as it is to nurture everyone in my immediate family (husband, 3 daughters) AND get all the church/school/home/life stuff that needs to get done while I feel like a 1-woman circus act, continuously juggling the many balls of responsibility in my life right now.

It’s important to know that some of the balls are made of rubber (“was the PTA meeting on Tuesday? Sorry”) and will bounce back. I worried about those things more when I had single-digit aged kids, but not at all now. Because I know that  the most special and beautiful spheres are made of glass. Investing time, energy, and talent helps ensure I never drop them but instead lift them up and teach them how to choose happiness so they learn to float instead of be juggled by me.

I want you to take a moment to think about how the Devil steals your time.

More than anything else, Elder Ballard’s quote reminded me that I need to create more time to tune it all of and just quietly think, pray, journal and study the scriptures. I used to go to the gym between work and home. It was my time to take care of my body and decompress from my work day and think about how I could be the best wife and mother when I got home. I literally blocked 2 hours out of the calendar from 5-7 every weeknight.

Carving out those moments just to think is not always easy. I equate it to cleaning out the basement: If I spend an afternoon sorting, throwing away, and reorganizing the stuff in our basement, inevitably someone in the family will bring out even more stuff and ask if there is someplace in the basement they can put it “for a while”.

It is that way with thinking time. Life – or sometimes the Devil – has a knack for finding out about our quiet time, and figuring out something “important,” “fun” or “urgent” to shove into that space we’ve just cleared out as our private time for thinking, studying and contemplating.

If we stopped to think more, we’d stop to think, more

I know that making a case to prioritize “thinking time” could appear a little self-focused, but, personally, I think if I stopped to think more, the Spirit would have a better chance to reach me, and I would be better prepared to – what is it we say every Sunday – ‘strengthen home and family’…

If we don’t make the time to think, we will eventually stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, and sabotage ourselves in a self-fulfilling cycle of despair that ensures we don’t receive the very revelations that we so deeply need and desire.

It was the questions that were asked in sincere prayer by a young Joseph Smith that opened the door for the Restoration of all things for humanity.  What would be the consequences of NOT asking questions? Blocking the growth and knowledge our Heavenly Father knows that we need at exactly that moment. How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell you something YOU needed to know, but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of time forever lost as we waste our time.

Think you never waste time? Spent any time on Pinterest lately? Like YouTube? Check your History to see how many hundreds of hours you’ve watched in videos so far this year. Got an Instagram? On average you are spending 3 hours per post taking photos editing them, uploading with the right titles and tags then engaging with your followers as the still, small voice grows even fainter…

And I’m right there with you on Facebook where it seems my best friends are destined to be pixels scattered around the world. I am convinced that “Facebook” is a wormhole to a dimension where 5 hours here is 10 minutes of time there. Then my stomach growls at midnight as I realize I forgot to eat dinner, the kids are already asleep and the only ‘small voice’ I hear is the Adversary gloating over his victory. Again.

President Hinckley once said, “We are here to assist our [Heavenly] Father in His work and His glory, ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’ (Moses 1:39). Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere.” What a humbling statement by a prophet of God. He is saying that what each of you do as valiant Young Women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is as important as what He was called to do as the Prophet before President Thomas S Monson.

Which brings me to your sphere of responsibility to help build the Kingdom of God. After you have time to ponder, what can you do, especially the young women of the church?

The power of a converted woman’s voice is immeasurable…

A woman’s sphere of influence is unique

…one that cannot be duplicated by men. 

Because of that influence, women have an important responsibility
in strengthening the Kingdom of God on the earth.
-Elder Russel M Ballard

Elder Ballard has shared five important ways that women are uniquely qualified to strengthen and build the Kingdom of God

1. Why are we born as a man or a woman? We are here to find each other as part of our Heavenly Father’s Plan of Happiness to experience this mortal plane as one or the other that we have chosen in the pre-existence. This is an eternal vision, not specific to 2015 America. “Most everyone has family or friends who have been caught up in various troubling contemporary social issues,” he said. “Arguing about the issues generally does not bring any resolution and, in fact, can create contention.

It is by focusing on belief in the Lord that will bring reassurance and encouragement as you move forward in doing whatever you are asked to do. Faith is the first principle of the gospel. Our testimonies, peace of mind and well-being begin with taking the first step when we cannot see where it leads, but our Father in Heaven knows it is best for our spiritual growth and eternal happiness.

2. In the April, 2015 General Conference talk, Elder Ballard said: “ Men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but [men] are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by a husband and wife.

I know some of you are thinking, well then, why are men ordained to the priesthood offices and not women? And my response is: why do you need more to do? If you have been a mother to a child – you win at life in my humble opinion. As a trailblazing digital marketing leader in the US, I’m often asked to list my biggest accomplishment and I know they want to hear about the astonishing stories

I tell them my greatest accomplishment so far has been bringing a new life into this world three times. Because NOTHING –  being on an aircraft carrier, meeting the Prince of Wales or the

He has organized His Church as He has.” It is when thinking about the things not fully understood that individuals have to rely on faith.

“Do we believe that this is the Lord’s Church? Do we believe that He has organized it according to His purposes and wisdom? Do we believe that His wisdom far exceeds ours? Do we believe that He has organized His Church in a manner that would be the greatest possible blessing to all of His children, both His sons and daughters?”

Women are integral to the governance and work of the Church, and it is through our participation as we serve as leaders in Young Women, Relief Society and Primary in addition to our service as teachers, missionaries, temple workers, and most importantly, in our homes and communities (that includes online, y’all) —that we are able to use our unique spiritual gifts.

“Let us not forget that approximately one-half of all of the teaching that takes place in the Church is done by sisters. Much of the leadership provided is from our sisters. Many service opportunities and activities are planned and directed by women. The counsel and other participation of women in ward and stake councils, and in general councils at Church headquarters, provide needed insight, wisdom, and balance.”

Elder Ballard added pointedly: “…And let me add that any priesthood leader who does not involve his sister leaders with full respect and inclusion is not honoring and magnifying the keys he has been given. His power and influence will be diminished until he learns the ways of the Lord.”

3. Men and women are equal in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the Church, but equal does not mean that they are the same. Although responsibilities and divine gifts of men and women differ in their nature, they do not differ in their importance or influence. Men and women have different gifts, different strengths, different points of view and inclinations. That is one of the fundamental reasons why we need each other. It takes a man and a woman to create a family, and it takes men and women working together to carry out the work of the Lord in the Church.

4. Elder Ballard explains, “When men and women go to the temple, they are both endowed with the same power, which is by definition priesthood power.”

“While the authority of the priesthood is directed through priesthood keys, and priesthood keys are held only by worthy men, access to the power and blessings of the priesthood is available to all of God’s children,” he said.

Blessings of the priesthood are not limited to men alone; they are available to all who have entered the waters of baptism and subsequently received their endowment in a temple.

The endowment is literally a gift of power. All who enter the house of the Lord officiate in the ordinances of the priesthood. This applies to men and women alike,” he said.

5. The world needs women of the Church who know the doctrine of Christ and who can bear testimony of the Restoration.

“Never has there been a more complex time in the history of the earth,” he said. “Satan and his minions have been perfecting the weapons in their arsenal for millennia, and they are experienced at destroying faith and trust in God and the Lord Jesus Christ among the human family.”

All—women, men, young adults, youth, and young boys and girls—have the Lord’s purposes and His Church to defend, protect, and spread throughout the earth. More distinctive, influential voices of faith from women are needed, for only women can show the world what women of God who have made covenants look like and believe.

None of us can afford to stand by and watch the purposes of God be diminished and pushed aside. I invite you to seek the guidance of heaven in knowing what you can do to let your voice of faith and testimony be heard.

“We must all defend our Savior and testify that He is the Christ, that His Church has been restored to the earth, that there is such a thing as right and wrong. If we are to have the courage to speak out and defend the Church, we must first prepare ourselves through study of the truths of the gospel.”

We live in a world today that is caught in a steep, slippery slide of diminishing moral values. Against that backdrop, your character and integrity as young women of the Church stand out in stark contrast to the surrounding masses mired in mediocrity. Mediocrity is spiritual cancer. You are anchored to eternal truth.

Elder Russel M Nelson said, “As you adhere to the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you will be in great demand. . . . You will gain protection and spiritual strength in complete obedience. After all, those who do not stand for something will likely fall for anything.”

Do your choices and decisions that you make today influence your future? Or the future of others, people you maybe haven’t met yet, or may never meet?  Let me share with you the story of Gøsta Berling of Norway. As a child, he suffered from heart valve damage due to rheumatic fever. As Brother Berling grew older, heart surgery became necessary for him to live. At the time, as this was back in the 1960’s, only a handful of physicians in the world had the training and experience to perform the surgery. One world-reknowned heart surgeon made the trip to Norway and successfully replaced the damaged heart valve, allowing Brother Berlin to enjoy a long, healthy life where he subsequently served as a mission president and translated the Doctrine and Covenants into Norwegian.

In the role of translator and mission president, President Berling had a great influence the lives of many others. And the surgeon who extended President Berling’s life? He was someone who made the most of his gifts and education, performed at the top of his profession as a heart surgeon yet was never sidetracked from the gospel of Jesus Christ or his family.

That surgeon was Elder Russell M. Nelson.

If we develop our character, the Lord will use us to bless the kingdom and the world by blessing individuals. Consider the kinds of decisions you will be called upon to make in your life. How will you use your talents, your education and perhaps most importantly, the spiritual lessons you have learned?

Whether you make your contributions to the world in an operating room, or like me, in a boardroom, or like my mother in a classroom, or most importantly, in your own living room — you can and will make a difference in the world and build the Kingdom of God in these latter days, if you move forward in faith with a righteous life.

The most important lesson to learn today is to bring your decisions and efforts before the Lord in your daily prayers and ask for further light and direction. Trust Him. He knows you, and He loves you.

My dear sisters, alll of us in the Presidency love and admire you; we pray for you. We know that you desire to heed the whisperings of the Spirit, to follow the Savior, and to be His hands in this great work to build the Kingdom of God in these Latter-days. I bear witness that this work is true, that each of you is a child of God. The Savior is at the head of this Church with President Thomas S. Monson as His prophet.

May you always find joy is my blessing and my prayer that I leave with you along with this lesson about building the Kingdom of God, in the sacred name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen

TFOT | Pray Always

Relief Society: Lessons For Our Times
Pray Always
by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

bednar1
This month’s Teaching for Our Times is based on Elder David A. Bednar’s General Conference talk called Pray Always. This lesson was delivered on Sunday, March 22, 2009 to the Relief Society in the Saline, Michigan ward. You can download the powerpoint lesson or click on the Slideshare button on the right-hand side of this blog. This month’s lesson was a highly engaging, interactive discussion informed by the presentation and guided by the questions.

Pray Always | Teaching for Our Times

Pray Always was one of the most inspirational talks given at the October, 2008 General Conference. Let me kick things off by asking a simple question: How do you start your day?
Why do you pray?

We are commanded to “pray always” (2 Nephi 32:9; D&C 10:5; 90:24)—”vocally as well as in [our] heart[s]; . . . before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private” (D&C 19:28). Elder Bednar teaches us three principles that prayer becomes more meaningful:
#1 As we counsel with the Lord in all of our doings
#2 As we express heartfelt gratitude
#3 As we pray for others with real intent and a sincere heart.

How do you prepare yourself for prayer? Where do you pray? What’s the most unusual place you’ve prayed?

And now, behold, I say unto you, that these are the generations of the heaven and of the earth, when they were created, in the day that I, the Lord God, made the heaven and the earth,

“And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth Moses 3: 4-5

How do you feel about prayer? Is it a chore or something you anticipate? What are the sorts of things you pray about every morning and night?

Elder Bednar counsels us that the patterns used by God in creating the earth are instructive in helping us understand how to make prayer meaningful. Consider this example. There may be things in our character, in our behavior, or concerning our spiritual growth about which we need to counsel with Heavenly Father in morning prayer. After expressing appropriate thanks for blessings received, we plead for understanding, direction, and help to do the things we cannot do in our own strength alone. For example, as we pray, we might:

* Reflect on those occasions when we have spoken harshly or inappropriately to those we love the most.
* Recognize that we know better than this, but we do not always act in accordance with what we know.
* Express remorse for our weaknesses and for not putting off the natural man more earnestly.
* Determine to pattern our life after the Savior more completely.
* Plead for greater strength to do and to become better.

Offer a prayer in which you only give thanks and express gratitude.

Ask for nothing; simply let your soul rejoice and strive to communicate appreciation with all the energy of your heart. Do you feel comfortable going to our Heavenly Father in prayer?

I was struck by the story that Elder Bednar shared to support his testimony about prayers filled with gratitude. The humility that is exhibited by Elder Bednar, Sister Bednar and their family make them seem so very authentic as they exemplify His teachings. I’d like to read this story in it’s whole:

During our service at Brigham Young University–Idaho, Sister Bednar and I frequently hosted General Authorities in our home. Our family learned an important lesson about meaningful prayer as we knelt to pray one evening with a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Earlier in the day Sister Bednar and I had been informed about the unexpected death of a dear friend, and our immediate desire was to pray for the surviving spouse and children. As I invited my wife to offer the prayer, the member of the Twelve, unaware of the tragedy, graciously suggested that in the prayer Sister Bednar express only appreciation for blessings received and ask for nothing. His counsel was similar to Alma’s instruction to the members of the ancient Church “to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things” (Mosiah 26:39). Given the unexpected tragedy, requesting blessings for our friends initially seemed to us more urgent than expressing thanks.

Sister Bednar responded in faith to the direction she received. She thanked Heavenly Father for meaningful and memorable experiences with this dear friend. She communicated sincere gratitude for the Holy Ghost as the Comforter and for the gifts of the Spirit that enable us to face adversity and to serve others. Most importantly, she expressed appreciation for the plan of salvation, for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, for His Resurrection, and for the ordinances and covenants of the restored gospel which make it possible for families to be together forever.

Our family learned from that experience a great lesson about the power of thankfulness in meaningful prayer. Because of and through that prayer, our family was blessed with inspiration about a number of issues that were pressing upon our minds and stirring in our hearts. We learned that our gratefulness for the plan of happiness and for the Savior’s mission of salvation provided needed reassurance and strengthened our confidence that all would be well with our dear friends. We also received insights concerning the things about which we should pray and appropriately ask in faith.

If those we love and serve have not heard and felt the influence of our earnest prayers in their behalf, then the time to repent is now. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we pray for others. Do our spouses, children and other family members likewise feel the power of our prayers offered unto the Father for their specific needs and desires? Have you felt when others have prayed for you?

Praying for others with all of the energy of our souls increases our capacity to hear and to heed the voice of the Lord

I loved this line from Elder Bednar: Just as expressing gratitude more often in our prayers enlarges the conduit for revelation, so praying for others with all of the energy of our souls increases our capacity to hear and to heed the voice of the Lord.

*Share with us a time when your prayers were answered. (depending upon time…could break into groups for discussion as well).

Prayer becomes more meaningful as we counsel with the Lord in all of our doings, as we express heartfelt gratitude, and as we pray for others. I testify that the power of prayer is real. That I have been the recipient of prayer and felt my burdens lifted during dark times. I have had others tell me that they knew they were in my prayers. Prayer is our individual way of talking with our Heavenly Father. He is a living God and He answers our prayers. We are blessed to have a living Prophet who guides the church through the revelation he is given in answer to his prayers. And I leave this lesson with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.