Morning and Evening Prayer

As we engage in making our prayers more meaningful, we need to understand how they work and what the purpose of regular prayer is.

Elder David A. Bednar gave a great explanation of this in a talk given in the October 2008 General Conference called ‘Pray Always’. D&C 10:5 reads “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan…” but how do we exactly always pray? How will this constant prayer help?

To address why it’s important to offer morning and evening prayers, Elder Bednar said:

“The patterns used by God in creating the earth are instructive in helping us understand how to make prayer meaningful. In the third chapter of the book of Moses we learn that all things were created spiritually before they were naturally upon the earth.

“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).

We learn from these verses that the spiritual creation preceded the temporal creation. In a similar way, meaningful morning prayer is an important element in the spiritual creation of each day—and precedes the temporal creation or the actual execution of the day. Just as the temporal creation was linked to and a continuation of the spiritual creation, so meaningful morning and evening prayers are linked to and are a continuation of each other.”

As we have these morning and evening prayers to plan, create and account for our days, we will naturally over the course of time find it becomes a habit. We will then remember to spiritually ‘create’ our day and to account to the Lord what we’ve done with the time we’ve been allotted by Him. This can also help us realise the heavenly help we are receiving every day. As such, we will find ourselves praying always.

Elder Bednar continued “Morning and evening prayers—and all of the prayers in between—are not unrelated, discrete events; rather, they are linked together each day and across days, weeks, months, and even years. This is in part how we fulfill the scriptural admonition to “pray always” (Luke 21:36; 3 Nephi 18:15, 18; D&C 31:12). Such meaningful prayers are instrumental in obtaining the highest blessings God holds in store for His faithful children.” If we do want to become more like our Heavenly Father, we need to have His divine support and strength to do so. The importance of daily, fervent prayer in receiving this help is vital. Without it, we will struggle to overcome the effects of Satan and therefore, we will struggle to have the influence of the Spirit in our life guiding us back to Him.

The Love of God

This entry is based on a Conference talk given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the October 2009 General Conference.

God’s love for us is infinite and all-encompassing. There is a vast array of evidence of this love and He does show it. “I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love…” (2 Nephi 1:15), “let us love one another: for love is of God…” (1 John 4:7), “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son,” (John 3:16) – these are just a few passages that describe the love of God. The miraculous thing is that He loves each and every one of us, no matter who we are or what we are becoming.

President Uchtdorf said “I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly…He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.” God’s love extends to all of His children. Whether we accept it His love or not is a different matter – but he will always be there.

What does this ultimate love do for us? It is very important because we can then trust in God that He will protect and provide for us when it is when it is the best for us. God does not need us to love Him But oh, how we need to love God!” President Uchtdorf continued and went on to say For what we love determines what we seek. What we seek determines what we think and do. What we think and do determines who we are—and who we will become.This is a powerful thought because that means if we truly love God (which includes keeping his commandments – see John 14:15) then we will become more like God – something which is taught in the scriptures that is a goal for us – “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48).

Following President Uchtdorf’s talk at the same Conference was a talk given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks. He said “Some seem to value God’s love because of their hope that His love is so great and so unconditional that it will mercifully excuse them from obeying His laws. In contrast, those who understand God’s plan for His children know that God’s laws are invariable, which is another great evidence of His love for His children.” As God is perfect, He must uphold His laws and the consequences of them. He does this to protect all His children. If He allowed mercy to rob justice “…the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.” (Alma 42:22)

At some point we see God showing anger towards His children – some would say that if He truly was a loving Heavenly Father then He would not express any anger or punishment. How can wrath and anger be an evidence of perfect love? Elder Oaks affirmed “He knows that only through obedience to His laws can we become perfect, as He is. For this reason, God’s anger and His wrath are not a contradiction of His love but an evidence of His love.” He went on to give the example of a parent being disappointed in a child’s behaviour, or even angry in a constructive manner – but doing it because they love the child and they want them to make the right choices now and later in life.

If we are truly wanting to fulfil admonition in John 14:15 to keep the commandments, we need the love of God. President Uchtdorf said “Divine love is the factor that transforms reluctant compliance with God’s commandments into blessed dedication and consecration.” If we link this principle with the thoughts presented by Elder Oaks – we learn that if we love God, we will understand why He asks what He asks. We see the blessings of commandments and, because we love Him and desire the blessings, our willingness to keep the commandments improves. Not only this, but as we see the results (the evidence of our faith), our faith increases and we are more willing to be obedient.

We are assured in scripture that we receive blessings for obedience to commandments – in D&C 130:21 it tells us “And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” As God wants the very best for all His children, He has revealed these ways, these eternal laws (these commandments) that if we live our lives in obedience to them, we can receive what He has.

The love of God is everlasting, unchanging – as are His laws. Elder Oaks went on to say “The effect of God’s commandments and laws is not changed to accommodate popular behavior or desires. If anyone thinks that godly or parental love for an individual grants the loved one license to disobey the law, he or she does not understand either love or law.” That means that we don’t have to fear that God’s love for us or His laws will ever change – they are constant. This is another evidence of this love.

As disciples of Christ, we need to try and emulate this love in all that we do. President Uchtdorf explained this in a marvellous way. He said Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple’s path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning, and wonder. Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship. Love is the way of the disciple.Love should be at the centre of all that we do. As we improve and increase our love we can become more Christ-like.

Moral Discipline

This entry is based on a talk given by Elder D. Todd Christofferson in the October 2009 General Conference.

Elder Christofferson began by relating a story told by President James E. Faust, who says he was interviewed whilst he was in the army and the questions turned to religion. They asked “In times of war should not the moral code be relaxed? Does not the stress of battle justify men in doing things that they would not do when at home?” After debating within himself whether to give the more popular answer or the answer he knew to be true, he said “I do not believe there is a double standard of morality.” President Faust, believing he would have scored low, was surprised when he learnt he had passed the interview. He recognised we all have moral agency but we must have moral discipline so we can make the correct choices, even when faced with uncertain situations.

Elder Christofferson explains moral discipline as “self-discipline based on moral standards. Moral discipline is the consistent exercise of agency to choose the right because it is right, even when it is hard.”

The scriptures are abundant with stories of people who have chosen the right in difficult circumstances. We read of Joseph, who was tempted by Potiphar’s wife. He said to her “There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife; how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9) Even then she persisted – later “she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled…” (Genesis 39:12). He could have easily succumbed and no one would have even known – but he know it was wrong, and that God would have known. He had moral discipline.

In the world, there is a problem with moral discipline. We are reliant on laws and governments to enforce standards of a moral nature. Elder Christofferson quoted Walter Williams, a columnist, who said “Gentlemanly behavior [for example, once] protected women from coarse behavior. Today, we expect sexual harassment laws to restrain coarse behavior. …Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as a means for regulating human behavior. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. Our increased reliance on laws to regulate behavior is a measure of how uncivilized we’ve become.” If we truly were civilised as a whole group of individuals, there would be no need for laws to prevent violations of moral standards. Even then, some of those moral standards do not meet the Lord’s standards. As a result, the world as a whole loses entitlement to the full blessings and support of God. Elder Christofferson further explained “Societies will struggle in vain to establish the common good until sin is denounced as sin…”

Another scriptural example of moral discipline were the sons of Helaman. These valiant young men were a great exemplification of moral discipline. “Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.” (Alma 53:21), “…yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” (Alma 56:47) They had been taught at a young age about moral standards and when the difficult decisions came, they did not falter in exercising their moral agency to defend their families and the right to worship their God.

This example of the army of Helaman leads onto another reason why it’s important to teach our children the principles of the Gospel which we cherish. Elder Christofferson said “I have heard a few parents state that they don’t want to impose the gospel on their children but want them to make up their own minds about what they will believe and follow. They think that in this way they are allowing children to exercise their agency.However, we know that in D&C 68:25 that “…inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.” The reason for the need to teach children about the Gospel is clear – if we do not teach them, then how will they know about it? In order to use their agency effectively then they need to know what the ‘choice’ is. Satan is not going to allow anyone to go through this life without his ‘curriculum’, so we need to teach the Lord’s way also. If the Gospel is not taught, then they only have one choice placed in front of them…

“In some cases, temptation may have the added force of potential or actual addiction. I am grateful that for an increasing number of people the Church can provide therapeutic help of various kinds to aid them in avoiding or coping with addictions. Even so, while therapy can support a person’s will, it cannot substitute for it…” Elder Christofferson went on to say. In order to overcome any addicition or habit, professional help can intervene. Even Church led help can support. However, if we ourselves do not engage our moral discipline and our faith in Christ’s Atonement, then our efforts to overcome such addictions will not be successful. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the ungodly out of temptation…” (2 Peter 2:9). As long as we have faith in the Saviour, then He has told us “will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27) – it is possible through faith in Jesus Christ!

Finally, we can take hope in the fact that as we are morally disciplined, others around us will see that and they’ll be more likely to do the same. This is why Paul counselled “…be thou an example of the believers…” (1 Timothy 4:12) so that it may transfer the effect to someone who needs that example to improve. It will also have a beneficial impact for us in this life – “…let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power…to see the salvation of God…” (D&C 123:17) – we will be blessed with strength and for eternity as we make decisions which uphold the moral standards which we strive to attain, even when it is difficult to do so.

Family History Urgency!

This is a short extract from the October 2009 Ensign which I liked, just to highlight how there is a need for everyone to engage with the work of salvation for the dead, and no excuse not to!

All Done?

Some say, “My family history is all done.” Others say, “Uncle Fred is doing it all.”

That’s a bit like saying, “I don’t go to Church, but that’s okay because Uncle Fred goes for me.”

The fact is that we need to be personally engaged in family history so our hearts will be turned to our fathers. Then we will forge that welding link between our ancestors and us that is so important to the Lord.

Think about it. We each have four grandparents and that doubles each generation. In 10 generations we have 512 “grandparents”—not counting the thousands of other family members they bore. In 16 generations, we have nearly 33,000 direct ancestors. Our family history hasn’t all been done—I guarantee it.

Truths and Deceptions

This entry is based on an entry in the Ensign (October 2009) by a sister called Jennifer Nucklos.

In this troublesome world, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is spreading to every corner of the globe. More and more are accepting the invitation to come unto Christ by receiving this Gospel through the principles and ordinances that he taught. We are really becoming the “stone…cut without hands,” (Daniel 2:34) in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Therefore, Satan is continuing his work with lies that he has crafted over millennia of deception and misery. In particular, he aims to lower our opinion of ourselves. As he achieves this – the afflicted person will lower their potential by these destructive thoughts and even find themselves lost, with the tragic view that they are not worth the trouble. These lies are mainly fuelled by our own thoughts and misinterpretation of scripture. Here are some examples:

Lie: Because of my weakness and failings, God is continually disappointed on, frustrated with, and even angry with me.
Truth: God loves me and rejoices in me because I am His child.
We all have weaknesses. Christ himself said “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble…” (Ether 12:27) so we actually have weaknesses and failings for a reason, and the Lord has allowed it. However, some misunderstand why we have these weaknesses and let these thoughts drag them down, which sometimes lead to further imperfections and therefore causing the person to lose the faith needed in Christ to overcome their trials. God’s love is perfect and “we are the children of God,” (Romans 8:16) so He will always deeply love us – even if we turn our back on Him. So, we can take comfort in the fact that He loves us and, through Christ’s Atonement, He can “make weak things become strong.” (Ether 12:27)

Lie: I’m not as righteous, spiritual, attractive, or kind as that other person; therefore God must love that person more than He loves me.
Truth: God knows my individual potential and progress intimately. He does not compare or rank me with His other children.
People may do this, because someone is ‘better’ than us they will like them better. However, God is not like us in this way. “God is no respector of persons,” (Acts 10:34) and so He loves one person just as much as the other. Elder Jeffrey R Holland said “He does not mercilessly measure [His children] against their neighbours. He doesn’t even compare them with each other. His gestures of compassion toward one do not require a withdrawal or denial of love for the other…” Just imagine your unconditional love for a parent, child or spouse, then multiply immeasurably – that is how much God loves each and every one of us.

Lie: I need to prove that I’m worth loving by being perfect. Only when I’m perfect will I be able to experience love from God and others.
Truth: Even though, I’m not perfect now, I can have constant access to divine love.
Whilst I do not think we consciously think that we need to be perfect to earn God’s love, I do think we place restrictions on ourselves because we are not good enough – thus really believing we do need to be perfect for God’s love and blessings. Sister Bonnie D Parkin said “Do we frequently reject the Lord’s love that He pours out upon us in much more abundance than we are willing to receive? Do we think we have to be perfect in order to deserve His love? When we allow ourselves to feel “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love,” (2 Nephi 1:15) … we realise that we don’t need to be immediately perfect.” If God only showed love to those who were perfect…there wouldn’t be a lot of love given, only to Christ! Those who strive to live God’s commandments do receive blessings as a result from keeping those eternal laws – but the love and desire that God has for us to return to Him is always there for every child of His.

Lie: I’m a terrible failure. I’ll never be good enough because I keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
Truth: I’m not perfect, but the desires of my heart are good. I can feel inspired to progress.
Godly sorrow is something we need to repent, it is a good thing. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation…” (2 Corinthians 7:10) . However, there are some who unfortunately feel this sorrow to a detrimental level. They feel upset and unworthy because of their imperfections, leading them to think they’ll never be good enough. I’m sure many have felt this or feel this on a regular basis. However, as we partake in the sacrament, renew our commitment to the Lord on an even more regular basis then we can progress. It may take a lifetime (in fact, it will) but as we rely on Christ and do what we can to be better, then we will get there, no matter how many times we fall.

Lie: I have too many issues, hang-ups, and past mistakes to be blessed and happy.
Truth: No mistakes, no personal challenge, no past circumstance is outside of the healing and redemptive power of the Atonement.
If we believe in Christ, then we need to believe His words if we are to overcome this lie. President Boyd K Packer taught “…save for those few who defect to perdition…there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness…Restoring what you cannot restore, healing the wound you cannot heal, fixing that which you broke and cannot fix is the very purpose of the atonement of Christ.” Through Christ, all sin can be overcome – we can be mended and modified through the eternal, universal, redemptive power of the sacred Atonement. Alma the Younger felt it and said “there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” (Alma 36:21)

As we learn and understand these eternal truths, we can accept that we are imperfect – that even if we serve God “with all [our] whole souls…[we] would be unprofitable servants,” (Mosiah 2:21). Yet, we can still have God’s loving arms wrapped around us, for He loves His children, each and every one of us.

Gift of the Holy Ghost – A Sure Compass

This entry is based on a talk given by President James E. Faust in the April 1989 General Conference.

Christ had always prophesied that his life would end earlier than expected – leaving the Apostles to administer the workings of His church on the Earth. The very thought of that must have been worrying for the Apostles. However, Christ always spoke of peace and comfort to them. In fact, He promised to send them the third member of the Godhead – the Holy Ghost. He said “I will not leave you comfortless…But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:18,26).

The Holy Ghost has many roles and influences on those who receive it’s gift of being a constant companion. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that the mysteries of God’s kingdom “are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him.” (D&C 76:116). The Spirit of God is vital if we are to learn and grow in the Gospel, what a blessing!

However, if we want the fullness of this power in our lives, we need to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is possible to feel the enlightenment before receiving the gift. For example, Cornelius (a Roman centurion) felt the power of the Holy Ghost in Peter’s teaching and testifying and “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” (Acts 10:44) – and they hadn’t yet received the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is necessary for seekers of truth who wish to gain a testimony of Christ and His Gospel before baptism.

In the journey of Lehi and his family, they were miraculously given a “round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whether we should go into the wilderness.” (1 Nephi 16:10) – the Liahona. This device led the family through “the most fertile parts of the wilderness,” (1 Nephi 16:16), the safest way to the promised land. However this compass had another miraculous feature. The Liahona pointers did work “according to the faith and diligence and heed which [they] did give unto them.” (1 Nephi 16:28) Because of this inspired compass, the family reached their destination. The Liahona was a sure compass – and it is a perfect object lesson for the working of the Gift of the Holy Ghost. As we use our curious gift, paying heed to its still, small voice and staying worthy through our faith and diligence to have it – we will be comforted and guided through the more ‘fertile’ areas of life and reach our desired destination. “And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” (1 Nephi 16:29)

However, because of the effectiveness of small and simple things, that too is how Satan works. Thomas R Rowan explained “Author and commentator Malcolm Muggeridge once told a story about some frogs who were killed without resistance by being boiled alive in the cauldron of water. Why didn’t they resist? Because when they were put in the cauldron, the water was tepid. Then the temperature was raised ever so slightly, and the water was warm, then a tiny bit warmer, then a bit warmer still, and on and on and on. The change was so gradual, almost imperceptible, that the frogs accommodated themselves to their new environment—until it was too late. The point that Mr. Muggeridge was making was not about frogs but about us and how we tend to accept evil as long as it is not a shock that is thrust on us abruptly. We are inclined to accept something morally wrong if it is only a shade more wrong than something we are already accepting.” 

This is frighteningly true. If we are ready to accept something that is only slightly wrong, we gradually become worse and worse until “the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” (2 Nephi 28:21) The Holy Ghost is given so we can detect those movements and steer clear of them.

Not only does the Holy Ghost give guidance, it also gives comfort – hence the title ‘The Comforter’. It can give us feelings of comfort and I’m sure that even just the knowledge that we have the third member of the Godhead with us is comfort enough.

Even if we feel lost, if we are faithful to our covenants we make when receiving this gift, we will never be left comfortless. It will lead us to our just reward with our Father in Heaven. The Prophet Joseph Smith appeared to Brigham Young in a dream and told him

“Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and to be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the still small voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the Brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God.”

As Joseph Smith said, the Holy Ghost will not lead us astray and we will be able to recognise its influence if we are aware and listening for it. “The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy sceptre an unchanging sceptre of righteousness and truth.” (D&C 121:46) As we live, earnestly striving to keep this wonderful gift effective in our lives, we will truly have a sure compass!

Seek Learning by Faith

This entry is based on a talk given by Elder David A. Bednar given in February 2006, and it also has links with a Mission Conference given by Elder Bednar in the Leeds Mission in September 2009.

When we study the word of God – we need to allow the Spirit to be there. Like with any investigator, it’s the Spirit that truly teaches us. It opens the pathway into our heart. “…the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men…” (2 Nephi 33:1). We must invite the Holy Ghost, then we can be taught and allow the Spirit to work within our heart.

In my last entry (Enos’s Pattern of Faith), the cycle of ‘assurance->action->evidence’ was discussed. The same needs to happen in our study if we desire a more effective, revelatory experience as we study. There are a couple of great examples of this in the scriptures. Nephi, when asked to retrieve the plates from Laban, had the assurance being spoken about. He says “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless I went forth…” (1 Nephi 4:6-7). He was led by the Spirit, thus he knew with a powerful assurance, that he would be led right.

Elder Bednar wonderfully explains the relationship between these three elements of faith. He says “These three elements of faith…are not separate and discrete; rather, they are interrelated and continuous and cycle upward. And the faith that fuels this ongoing process develops and evolves and changes.” As we practise this cycle – like a muscle, it’ll get stronger with more and more use.

An excellent example of these three elements is found with Joshua, the children of Israel and the ark of the covenant. They had to cross the river Jordan to move forward. So the Lord promised “…as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord…shall rest in the waters of Jordan…the waters of Jordan shall be cut off…and they shall stand upon a heap…” (Joshua 3:13). So the priests with the Ark of the Covenant went in. It is interesting to note that they had to get their feet wet before it would happen. They had the assurance from the Lord and they had to act – and of course “…the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan…” (Joshua 3:17). They received the evidence that their faith was correctly placed in the God of Israel. Please note that they had to wet their feet in the river before they received that evidence – they jumped and the Lord moved the ‘light’ with them – that is how faith grows.

The principle of learning by faith hinges heavily on the person’s agency to choose, and not being acted upon. For example, when Adam and Eve hid themselves from God in the Garden of Eden, God asked “Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9) and “Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree…?” (Genesis 3:11). God, being omniscient, would know where Adam and Eve were and what had occurred (let’s not forget this was part of the Plan of Salvation before Adam and Eve even stepped foot in the Garden). This was a learning experience for them, rather than the Lord finding them out. Another example – Jesus walking through a crowd was touched on His garments by a woman, desiring to be made whole. Christ asked “Who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5:30) and then “…the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.” (Mark 5:33). This was the Son of God – He knew who had touched His robe, she knew this woman more than she herself did – but He allowed her to come forward and learn for herself. In both of these situations, the learner acted for themselves – coming forward to the light – and grew from the experience.

“Learning by faith requires spiritual, mental and physical exertion and not just passive reception,” stated Elder Bednar. Just like Moroni 10:4 says, we need to “ask with a sincere heart, with real intent…” – we show our sincerity by our action and then we will receive our answers. For example – Joseph Smith, as a young man, went to a grove of trees to pray. He prepared himself to “ask in faith” (James 1:6). Not only this but he went with a sincere intent to act. He said “My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join…I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong…” (JSH 1:18-19). Joseph asked, not only for the knowledge of which Church was right, but also which he should join – what he should do! If we desire to seek learning by faith, we must also be willing to act on the answer – or else, how can we expect that answer? God knows the intents of our hearts so if we are not prepared to act but wish for an answer, we need to change.

Now, as teachers – whether we are leaders, missionaries, parents – we need to relay these principles to our ‘students’. However, Elder Bednar highlighted implications it has on us:

1) –
“The Holy Ghost is the only true teacher.”
We need to remember that no matter how well planned and prepared we are, no matter how eloquent we are, if we don’t have the Spirit as we teach then our teaching won’t be effective. We are not the teachers – the Holy Ghost is. Elder Bednar uses a great analogy of a fibre-optic cable. “…you and I are much like the long, thin strands of glass used to create the fibre-optic through
which light signals are transmitted…Just as the glass in these cables must be pure to conduct the light efficiently and effectively, so we should become and remain worthy conduits through whom the Spirit of the Lord can operate…” We are not the light source, only the channel or conduit by which the light is sent and received. If we do teach without recognising where the real teaching comes from and take praise to ourselves, then it is priestcraft. 2 Nephi 26:29 gives a great definition of that. It says “priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world…” – they substitute themselves for the true ‘light’. We need to be careful of this or we become tainted with the sin of priestcraft and lose the power of the Spirit.

2) – “We are most effective as instructors when we encourage and facilitate learning by faith.”
As the teachers, it is our responsibility to not only teach, but also help others teach themselves. The old saying  goes if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime – rather than giving him a fish to feed him for a meal.
Elder Bednar points out that, in his experience, the best instructors he has had he’s had are those that don’t give him the answers – rather, helped him find answers for himself. For example, I have found the same to be true. My MTC teacher was incredible! This wasn’t because he was intelligent or gave answers to all of our questions, in fact it was quite the opposite. When a question was asked he would say ‘let’s look and see’ and then search with us. Elder Bednar then said “The most important learnings are caught – not taught.” When we guide students to seek learning by faith they act for themselves, feel the Spirit and get answers to questions they didn’t know they even had.

3) – “An instructor’s faith is strengthened as he or she helps others seek learning by faith.”
The Apostle Paul said “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?” (Romans 2:21). When we teach we can ultimately  be the ones who gain the most as we study for the lesson, teach it and get insights from the students as they seek learning by faith. It is actually a scientific fact! You learn more – as a percentage – if you teach something to someone else rather than studying or listening to it yourself.

Finally, Elder Bednar spoke about a recent example of seeking learning by faith. He talked of President Hinckley’s Book of Mormon reading challenge. President Gordon B. Hinckley declared that if all who listened would read the Book of Mormon before the end of 2005 then it would bring “…an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.” (Ensign Aug 2005). Many were given an assurance by a prophet of God. Many acted on this assurance, and received an evidence. I was one of these. My testimony of the Gospel has been miraculously strengthened by this experience.