Saturday, November 29, 2014

Prayer: Line Upon Line

Confessions of a Mormon Bishop
Tom Obenchain 16 Nov 2014

            I am a Mormon bishop and I have a confession to make. I think I may have only just learned to pray. I know, right? How is that possible? I’m a bishop for crying out loud. I have to know how to pray. And of course I do know how, but I’ve learned to deepen my prayers and make them more meaningful and powerful. I’ve practiced for years. But I just now think I am beginning to get it right.

Learning to Pray

            I learned my first lessons of prayer while gathered with my family around my parents’ bed each night. In between fidgeting and a bit of daydreaming, I managed to soak in the patterns of prayer and more importantly the heartfelt desires of my family. In turn I prayed, too, “Dear Heavenly Father, I thank Thee for this day and for my many blessings. Please help me have a good day and to have fun. . . .” As I grew, my prayers advanced to include statements like, “Help this food nourish and strengthen our bodies.” and “Help us get everything done that we need to.” Though I smile as I write this, I am not belittling these prayers.

            Prayer changed in a big way for me when I was eighteen. I needed to make a decision about going on a mission. I knew two things: first, that I wanted to serve, and second, that I needed help and I needed answers. When I knelt to pray I remember facing the question of whether God was really there. At that moment I needed to know, really know. I prayed with real intent for perhaps the first time in my life. When I left my room I had learned two things: first, that God did indeed exist for he had manifested Himself to me through the Holy Ghost, and second that He is merciful, so merciful that he cared deeply for a poorly prepared prospective missionary trying to do the right thing.

            As a missionary in West Germany, I began to hear more of the whisperings of the Spirit. We prayed a lot as missionaries. We woke up and prayed. We prayed before we studied, and before we left the apartment. We prayed with investigators. We prayed with members. We prayed over our meals and in the evening before bed. I drew much strength from prayer, but my prayers, I think, lacked power. Prayer had yet to lodge in my heart. But in mercy God blessed those we taught despite my lack of understanding.

            While in an apartment in Rexburg, Idaho, I fasted and prayed about a girl that I liked, a lot. When no clear answer came to the question of whether she was the one I should marry, I was sure I had messed the whole thing up. I feared that I didn’t really know how to pray and get answers. Later that same year in Logan, Utah, I was prompted to pray about another girl. The Spirit then taught me that my earlier frustrations with prayer and fasting had been to teach me what “no” felt like. When “yes” came, it was powerful and sure.

            After Julie and I were married, we prayed together about starting a family, about where to live and work. After I finished school, when we were desperate for a ‘real’ job, we prayed. God taught me that fear can get in the way of answers. It took desperate times for me to listen more carefully and to hear His encouraging voice. He taught me to trust Him in new ways.

            As my family and career progressed, I continued to pray, but somehow I managed to trip and fall. I remember being in a place where prayer had become a chore. I knew I needed to pray. I believed in prayer. I had experienced powerful prayer, but somehow I still found myself struggling. I was busy, stressed out, feeling like I could not live up to all of the expectations that I felt were pinned on me.

            Exhausted, I would fall asleep kneeling at the bed at night. I judged myself harshly. This in turn made it harder to pray the next time. I would go days, dare I say weeks without really praying. Guilt and the fear of losing my testimony would get me on my knees, but my prayers were not what they needed to be.

            I don’t remember a single solution to this crisis. I only know that I didn’t give up.

            Even after long stints of shallow, distracted prayer, I would desperately approach Heavenly Father for help. I remember being confused by His patience. I remember feeling loved and understood and couldn’t quite figure out why I could possibly receive such inspiration and mercy. Now when I am tempted to mourn my mistakes, I am reminded that my wrong turns have been compensated for with divine course corrections, every swamping of my boat has been met with stilled storms and unseen, bailing hands.

            Today, I am a bishop. I have prayed to know who to call as counselors. I have prayed about callings and ward members. I pray for my children and my wife and my friends. I pray for those struggling with addiction and those scared because of difficult family situations. I pray for people to come back to church and I pray for those people in such desperate need that they lack hope. On Sundays, I feel like a missionary again. I pray before I leave the house, I pray as we start bishopric meeting and then in other meetings and with each person who comes for an interview. I pray with my family. I pray with my wife and even when I catch myself falling asleep on my knees, I crawl into bed without a heavy heart, because I have finally learned God is patient and loves when his children pray, even very tired bishops.

Deepening Our Practice of Prayer

            I wish I had learned more about deepening my practice of prayer earlier in my life. It is never too early to build a more meaningful connection with Heavenly Father. I’d like to share ten things that have helped me deepen my practice of prayer. I hope they will help you connect or even reconnect with Father in Heaven in more powerful ways.

1. Make More Time for Prayer: Deep, powerful prayer takes time, lots of time—more time that we typically give ourselves. Today, I find more and more time for prayer. Ten minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes are usually not enough. I need to lots of time to dump everything at God’s feet and to feel His grace and love for me.

2. Learn to Focus: Voicing my prayers helps me focus. When I pray out loud others do not need to hear me. There is something powerful about the human voice. We don’t use it often enough in prayer. I write down the promptings that come so that I can go back and reread them to remember how I felt. As I focus better, I pray longer and my experiences with my Father in Heaven become more powerful. Powerful focused prayer makes me to want to pray more.

3. Get Rid of the Junk: Let go of fear, doubt, worry, and other anxious thoughts. Often, I need to write out what is bothering me and then ask Heavenly Father to help me know the truth about who I really am and how He sees me. When He answers through His Spirit, He does answer! I am able to arise renewed and strengthened, alive with a desire to serve and to act boldly. It is when I have given Him all of my junk and asked for an hundredth time if He is sure I can give Him even more that I begin to understand the never failing love of God.

4. Express Deep Gratitude: Remembering and expressing gratitude for my most cherished blessings always raises my sensitivity to the Spirit as I pray. Taking time to feel my gratitude instead of just thinking about what I’m thankful for changes the way I pray.

5. Beat the Early Bird: It is in the early morning hours that I have learned to be quiet and pour out my soul, day after day. The quiet, early hours (between four and six) allow me to focus without the pressures of pending responsibilities. If I get up and get ahead of my task list, I can have the time I need to pray while the pressures of life are still putting on their running shoes.

6. Pray Always: I pray in the car, as I walk the dog, in the elevator, at my desk at work or at church. Continual prayer feeds me and quiets my fears of inadequacy. I love conversing with my Father in Heaven. I honor Him by reverently approaching Him, but I am always relieved to feel His familiar love, again and again.

7. Get Back Up: When I fall down and my perceived failures mock my efforts with prayer, I ignore these tactics of my adversary, “. . . for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray1,” When I don’t feel like praying, especially because I have been lax in my habits of prayer, I muster the courage to approach God again, ready for chastisement only to find that my own chastisement has been quite enough. He is only too glad to hear from me again, his yet somewhat wayward son.

8. Don’t Avoid Emotions: I let myself cry regularly as I pray. As men we need to get over the whole crying thing. Emotions are a powerful part of who we are. The Savior wept. So can I. When I am alone with my Father in Heaven, I give myself permission to shed the tears that help speed the cleansing process. This advice in not only for men. Women, too, can hold in things and try to bear burdens alone. We all must learn to let our fears, our cries of shame, our lack of faith flow out through powerful emotion.

9. Ask Lots of Questions: The principles of the gospel open to me when I pray with questions, many questions. Again my journal becomes an indispensable tool for my question asking.

10. Relax: I am no longer surprised when I feel the Spirit as I pray day after day. What used to be an occasional occurrence has become a regular one. All I needed to do years ago, when I was so desperate to feel like my prayers were making it past the ceiling, was to relax and trust the words of scripture that tell us that He is kind, so kind and patient that he will not upbraid2 or scold us for asking.

            Tomorrow morning, I will arise earlier than seems normal. I will express whatever is on my mind and listen for the Spirit to remind me of blessings already granted. I will ask questions and I will beg Him for help for members of my family and my ward. I will thank him for being patient while I continue to learn to pray. I confess that I think there is even more to learn about prayer. For now, however, I am content. Today, I am sure of prayer’s power. I am sure God listens and answers and counsels with His children. I look forward to my time with my Heavenly Father. I am so grateful that I have learned to call His name and listen as He, in turn, calls mine.

12 Nephi 32:8
2James 1:5

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

7 Things All Mormons Should Know about the King James Bible

by Kelsey Berteaux for LDSLiving Magazine

            Latter-day Saints use the King James Bible along with other scripture to learn the will and word of God. But while you may know your Bible verses, you probably didn’t know these things about the King James Version of the Bible.

            In 1979, the LDS Church published its first edition of the Bible in English, and in 1992, it was officially adopted by the Church as the Bible of preference.
            But if you’ve ever looked at the title page of your LDS quad and wondered about King James and his Bible, you’re not alone.
            Here are seven things all Latter-day Saints should know about the King James Bible (KJB). 
1. The 1611 King James Version of the Bible is actually a composite of several earlier translations, not a new translation of older Greek and Hebrew manuscripts.
            While the 47 translators who created the KJB were instructed by King James to consult the older (and closer to the original) Greek and Hebrew texts, they mostly referred to existing versions of the Bible.
            This, as modern-day Church leaders note, is problematic because it obscures the original text: “When a sacred text is translated into another language or rewritten into more familiar language, there are substantial risks that this process may introduce doctrinal errors or obscure evidence of its ancient origin.” However, they also affirm, “While other Bible versions may be easier to read than the King James Version, in doctrinal matters latter-day revelation supports the King James Version in preference to other English translations.”
            Fun fact: The Tyndale New Testament translation, which makes up an estimate 90% of the KJB New Testament, actually coined news words in English, including “Passover,” “peacemaker,” “scapegoat,” and even the adjective “beautiful.”

2. Politics in the 17th century affected how some words in the King James Version were translated.
            The KJB purposefully reinforces the structure of the Church of England and the ordained clergy. For example, the word "church" was never to be translated as “congregation.” And the influence of period politics didn’t stop there.
            One important reason the project was commissioned in the first place was because King James I of England didn’t like some of the footnotes in the then-current official version of the text, the Geneva Bible. A specific example he cited was a footnote justifying the Hebrew midwives who disobeyed the king’s order to kill all male Hebrew children. These notes and other aspects King James disagreed with were also censored.
            Certainly, as the First Presidency has said, “The Bible, as it has been transmitted over the centuries, has suffered the loss of many plain and precious parts.”

3. Many common English idioms are rooted in the King James Bible.
            The language we use today reflects teachings and stories from the King James Version of the Bible. An estimated 250 English idioms are said to have originated in the KJB. Here are just a few examples of how the "stick of Judah" has grown together with our modern-day culture:
“a drop in the bucket” (Isaiah 40:15)
“fall flat on your face” (Numbers 22:31)
“escape by the skin of my teeth” (Job 19:20)
“a sign of the times” (Matthew 16:3)
“sour grapes” (Ezekiel 18:2)
“at wit’s end” (Psalms 107:27)
“go the extra mile” (Matthew 5:41)

4. The King James Version of the Bible was written to be read aloud.
            In the 1600s, most church-goers couldn’t read. And even if they could, the expense of owning a copy of the Bible was a luxury most couldn’t afford. Taking this into consideration, the creators of the KJB made sure that their work would flow well not only for reading, but also for speaking. It’s considered to be one of the most beautifully written Bibles in cadence and imagery for this reason. And its beautifully crafted phrases are designed to linger in thought.
            However, this extra consideration for the cadence and elegance of the words often came at a sacrifice of faithfulness to the original Greek and Hebrew.
            Still, given this background, reading the KJB aloud is a practice worth trying during regular scripture study.

5. The translators who worked on the King James Bible admitted that there were human errors in the work, even though the message was the word of God.
            Echoing the words in Mormon 8:17, that “if there be faults [in the Book of Mormon] they be the faults of a man,” the translators of the KJB wrote in a foreward to their work, stating that “perfection is never attainable by man, but the word of God may be recognized in the very meanest translation of the Bible.”
            They also explain that their numerous changes do not imply previous faults in the book, but that “the whole history of Bible translation in any language [. . .] is a history of repeated revision and correction.”
            Unfortunately, this foreward was later dropped from most print versions of the book, and without it, some groups have developed the perception that the “authorized” Kings James Version is somehow perfect and the only inspired Bible. Still, for LDS readers, it is the preferred Bible.
            Fun fact: New versions of the KJB were often named after printers' errors. The first authorized edition is known as the "Basketball Bible" because it uses "hoopes" instead of "hookes" when referring to the construction of the Tabernacle. A 1631 edition was called the "Wicked Bible" because it wrote the seventh commandment as "Thou shalt commit adultery" (leaving out the "not")!

6. When it was first printed, the Kings James Version was criticized for being too easy to understand.
            Though modern readers sometimes have a hard time understanding the antiquated language of the KJB, at the time of its first printing, the initial criticism for the new Bible was that it was too simple. Because other versions had been difficult and needed interpretation and great thought to understand, the idea of a Bible that was “easy” concerned some groups who were “looking beyond the mark.”
            The original preface anticipated this concern and observed how the language of other Bibles kept them from being understood. The translators also explained their purpose in this shift: “we desire that the Scripture may speak like itself . . . that it may be understood even of the [common people].”

7. Nearly 100,000 changes have been made to the 1611 King James Bible.  
            Up through about 1769, an estimated 100,000 textual changes have been made to the first edition of the KJB. Most of these are minor, and the vast majority were made to standardize spelling with the rise of the dictionary and add or slightly alter punctuation. Without these, a modern reader would struggle even more with the text when running across spellings like “sonne” for “son,” “yron” for “iron,” “citie” for “city,” and hundreds of others.
            Over time, some other small changes were made, but whether or not these changes alter meaning significantly is up for debate. Notably, these alterations are not listed in italics like other textual additions the original translators added for clarity in English. Some examples include:
Acts 16:1 — “which was a Jew” changed to “which was a Jewess”
1 Peter 2:5 — “sacrifice” changed to “sacrifices”
Isaiah 47:6 — “the” changed to “thy”
Isaiah 49:13 — “God” changed to “Lord”
Ezekiel 3:11 — “the people” changed to “the children of thy people”

What this means for Latter-day Saints

            Joseph Smith said, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” For Latter-day Saints, knowing the history behind the KJB can contextualize the teachings of the gospel found in the Bible.
            How? The 1992 First Presidency statement on the King James Version of the Bible explains: “The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.
            “While other Bible versions may be easier to read than the King James Version, in doctrinal matters latter-day revelation supports the King James Version in preference to other English translations. All of the Presidents of the Church, beginning with the Prophet Joseph Smith, have supported the King James Version by encouraging its continued use in the Church.”

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Our Agency

Know This, That Every Soul is Free
Hymn 240
Music: Roger L Miller, born 1937
Text: Anon, ca. 1805, Boston

Know this that every soul is free
To choose his life and what he'll be;
For this eternal truth is given:
That God will force no man to heaven.

He'll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.

Freedom and reason make us men;
Take these away, what are we then?
Mere animals, and just as well
The beasts may think of heaven or hell.

May we no more our powers abuse,
But ways of truth and goodness choose;
Our God is pleased when we improve
His grace and seek his perfect love.

Friday, November 21, 2014

9 Things People Get Wrong about Mormons

by Kelsey Berteaux 18 Nov 2014

            “What are you doing? You can’t use a calculator!”
            My hands froze on the keypad, and I looked to my fellow seventh-grader who had made the statement. We were in math class working on a homework assignment, and I hadn’t realized calculators were prohibited. It looked like all my classmates were tapping away on their electronic math aids. So I asked back, “Why?”
            “Aren't you Mormon? You can’t use calculators.”
            And that’s when I realized: my classmate thought being Mormon was the same as being Amish.
            After assuring him that I had arrived at school that morning in a car and that I had plans to use a computer later, I got back to my assignment, calculator in hand.
            But that wasn’t the last time I’d hear something strange one of my classmates, coworkers, or even close friends who had an odd idea about what it meant to be Mormon. Here are eight more times I or one of my LDS friends have heard something about our beliefs from others who clearly didn’t quite get what it means to be a Latter-day Saint:
     2. But you don’t celebrate Christmas.”
            The birthday of Christ is definitely something Latter-day Saints do celebrate (since we are Christians). We also observe Thanksgiving. And New Year’s. And other state and national holidays. In a recent survey, we even found that 95% of us celebrate Halloween.
            When someone first accused me of this in junior high, it took me a few days to realize where he probably got that idea from: in addition to being not Amish, Mormons are also not Jehovah’s Witnesses. And we do celebrate holidays, with cake, decorations, presents, and everything. 
      3. “So, you dig up dead people and baptize them?”
            No. I corrected the high school senior who asked me this and explained that “baptisms for the dead” aren’t a literal baptism of a deceased person’s body. This ordinance is done in name and by proxy in LDS temples. And we’re not forcing the deceased person to be baptized—it’s up to that person’s spirit whether or not they accept the baptism on the other side of the veil. But the moral of the story? Mormons aren’t grave robbers, either.  
      4. “Are you going to marry your cousin?”
            Also no. I think the person who asked me this question thought intra-family marriage was a Mormon practice from a mixed-up misunderstanding of a few things: the Church’s history with polygamy, our tendency to have large families, and a dash of how members are counseled to date other members.
            Today, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don’t have multiple wives, and unless there’s a situation a la Star Wars going down, Latter-day Saints don’t date members of their own families, either. (Just like everybody else.)
      5. “That must mean you like Jell-O and casseroles.”
            Actually, I can assure everyone, including the sweet girl who said this to me my sophomore year in college, that my culinary inclinations (like most peoples’) are not based on where I go to Church on Sundays.
            What I can say is that Mormons do tend to have large families, and large families tend to have inexpensive food like casseroles more frequently. But even though I was one of five kids in my home growing up, we almost never ate Jell-O or casseroles. Or Jell-O casseroles. None of that. In fact, based on LDS Living Facebook comments, I’d say that a fair portion of my fellow Latter-day Saints both in and out of Utah would agree with me that the Mormons and Jell-O connection is rather tenuous.
      6. “How’s Donny Osmond doing?”
            If someone asked me this, I'd have no idea how to answer this question. I get that Donny Osmond is a famous LDS singer, but any random Latter-day Saint probably isn’t a close enough friend of a celebrity to know how they’re doing, whether that celebrity is Mormon or not. We might have seen his latest show, or recently downloaded his app, but the highest hope most of us can aspire to is finding our three degrees of Donny Osmond.
      7. “Mormons don’t dance.”
            This funny clip from Cheers has probably planted this question in a few people’s minds: 
            But as Norm notes, Mormons are (still) not Amish. And we can dance (and send flowers, too!). We even organize large dances for youth and young single adults that are often held inside our church buildings.
            Now, I’m not saying we all dance well, and we are given the guideline to avoid “positions or moves that are suggestive of sexual or violent behavior,” but there’s certainly no rule entirely prohibiting us from busting a move on the dance floor.
      8. “All Mormons are Republican.”
            While the LDS Church will occasionally make official statements about politics based on moral issues, it does not endorse one political party over another. Rather, it encourages members to be informed and politically active, and notes that “principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties and candidates.”
            Yes, there may be more of us Mormons on one side of the spectrum, but that doesn't mean we’re all Republicans.
      9. “How does it feel to be an oppressed Mormon woman?”
            Let me just hand the mic to renowned LDS author and CEO of Deseret Book, Sheri Dew, on this one:     
            If you're not inclined to watch, here's a quick summary:
            Dew says that it seems easy to draw the conclusion that because women are not ordained to the priesthood that somehow we've been given less. But here are just a few things women in the Church get:
            We pray in public meetings. We speak. We expound scripture. We teach the doctrine. We lead organizations for all the women and young women and children of the Church. We teach the gospel on missions. In the temple, women participate in ordinances of a priesthood character. 
            Women receive revelation, gain testimonies, and stand in equality with men before the Lord in matters pertaining to godliness and holiness. We have the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. We receive an endowment of knowledge and power. We have spiritual gifts, including charity, spiritual intuition, and moral courage. We receive all the blessings of the atonement. 
            Women are at the very center of the plan of salvation; every person comes to earth through the courage and strength of a woman. 
            We get everything. 
            She concludes, "Does it sound like the Church is holding me back?"
            And that’s just scratching the surface. Check out more about LDS women and the priesthood
            There are lots of rumors about "the Mormons" floating around on the internet and in peoples' heads.        When in doubt, ask a Mormon--or ask the missionaries. They can help you!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Importance of Scripture Study

B      Basic

I       Instructions

B      Before

L      Leaving

E      Earth

Monday, November 10, 2014

Come & See: The Church of Jesus Christ Always Will Be a Missionary Church

Elder David A Bednar
"The Church of Jesus Christ always has been and always will be a missionary church. The individual members of the Savior’s Church have accepted the solemn obligation to assist in fulfilling the divine commission given by the Lord to His Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19–20).

"Latter-day Saints take seriously this responsibility to teach all people in all nations about the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. We believe the same Church founded by the Savior anciently has been reestablished on the earth by Him in the latter days. The doctrine, principles, priesthood authority, ordinances, and covenants of His gospel are found today in His Church."

"But our eagerness to declare this message is not merely the result of a sense of spiritual duty. Rather, our desire to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with you is a reflection of how important these truths are to us." 

"The invitations we extend to you to learn about and test our message grow out of the positive effects the gospel of Jesus Christ has had in our lives. Sometimes we may be awkward or abrupt or even relentless in our attempts. Our simple desire is to share with you the truths that are of greatest worth to us."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

25 Ways to Pray

            One of the greatest blessings we enjoy as children of a loving God is the opportunity to connect to Him through personal prayer. We Mormons follow a basic pattern in our prayers — we address Heavenly Father with reverence, give thanks, petition God with our needs and desires (using ‘thee, thou, thy, and thine’), and close in the name of Jesus Christ.

What do Most People Pray For?

     A recent survey performed by LifeWay Research and reported by Religion News Service shows that Americans pray about the following:

*       Family or friends — 82%
*       Their own problems or difficulties — 74%
*       Thanks for recent blessings — 54%
*       Their own sins — 42%
*       People in natural disasters — 38%
*       Appreciating God’s greatness — 37%
*       Future prosperity — 36%
*       People of other faiths or no faith — 20%
*       Government leaders — 12%
*       Celebrities or people in the public eye — 5%
*       None of these — 2%

            Mormons probably pray about all of these things, but would probably add our missionaries, members of the armed forces, our church leaders, and increasingly, would Jesus please come soon.

How Many Kinds of Prayer are There?

            We might need reminding that there are many kinds of prayers, and we might want to choose one form when it is specific to our circumstance. This might help us to focus our minds, hearts, and our faith to a single purpose when we pray. Here are 25 kinds of prayer you might want to try.

1. Prayer of gratitude. The perfect time to acknowledge God’s greatness and loving kindness. It’s always a wonderful experience to just give thanks and not ask for anything.

2. Prayer for forgiveness. For this, preparation is needed.  We must first acknowledge our distance from God and wish to be reconciled with Him. This is a first step in the repentance process and begins with the realization that our thoughts and actions have offended God.

3. Prayer over sacrifice. Ever pray over your tithing and fast offerings, or that quilt you made for humanitarian aid? Notify God that you are making an offering, and you wish it to go to building up the kingdom, helping the poor, or rescuing the afflicted. Send it on its way with a prayer in your heart and try to imagine the people who might benefit from your offering.

4.  Prayer upon rising. Does the prayer with which you great the day differ from the prayer that ends it? Perhaps it should. Productivity, safety, guidance, and the company of the Holy Spirit are all needed as you begin your day. Also thanks for a night’s sleep (whenever you happen to get one) and the realization that you’ve awakened in good shape.

5. Prayer upon retiring. What a great time to review the day and repent of the harsh word, the hasty judgment, the unkind thought. This is when I go child by child and pray for my children.

6. Acknowledgement of God’s children around you. Once before a meal in a bustling restaurant, my friend uttered a quiet but audible prayer on the food and asked God to bless everyone at that restaurant with the needs and righteous desires of their hearts. Suddenly, my mind and heart awakened to the people around me. Total strangers I had ignored before. It was a miraculous transition and a blessed one. Next time you are at Disneyland…

7. Prayer before a meal. If any Mormon prayer has become formulaic, it’s this one. A great family home evening exercise would be to dissect this prayer and see what you’re really after. I am always grateful to have food available when I want it, a blessing unknown to many of God’s children on the earth.

8. Prayer after a meal. Gotcha. Mormons don’t do this, but Jews do, and think of the value of thanking God for a meal well-enjoyed after it’s done.

9. Prayer of invocation. An invocation is the act or process of petitioning for help or support; a prayer of entreaty (as at the beginning of a service of worship). So, an invocation would be the opening prayer in any church meeting, but could it also be the prayer just as you are leaving for a trip or starting school?

10. Prayer of benediction. Surprisingly, a benediction is also an invocation. We invoke blessings from God at the closing of a church meeting or other event. Usually the benediction is the closing prayer, the short blessing with which public worship is concluded, but could it also be the prayer of thanks after a successful trip or semester at school?

11. Psalm. Most of us are not songwriters, but most of us are singers. God has said, “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads” (D&C 25:12). Notice the Lord said nothing about how well we sing. Sing the hymns as if you had written the words yourself, and they become prayers very easily.

12. Communal prayer. Many prayers performed by Mormons are for the congregation, too, as with opening prayers in sacrament meeting or Relief Society, but this specifically refers to the Church and to God’s kingdom rolling forth in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. Most prayers in ancient Israel were communal in that they were prayers for all Israel, and not just for the individual. These prayers can be lifted for missionary work, for humanitarian relief, for our church leaders, for the sincere-hearted of the world to be prepared to receive the gospel.

13. Prayer in the temple. For all those whose names have been submitted due to trials or illness, these have a special, profound power not just because of where the prayer takes place, but because of the worthiness of the supplicants.

14. Prayer for healing. Often accompanied by fasting and with family and friends participating, these prayers are lifted in emergencies where a loved one is sick or injured. Where the priesthood power is not present, the prayer of faith can bring forth its own miracles.

15. Prayer of remembrance. In Old Testament times, the yizkor, or prayer for the dead, was thought to aid in their salvation. We utter prayers of remembrance on holidays set apart to remember all our dead, or those who died in battle. We can pray for ancestors to accept the gospel in the spirit world. We can pray for those whose names we take to the temple. Another form of a prayer of remembrance is to recount our spiritual experiences that are the anchors of our faith.

16. Sacramental prayer. This is perhaps the only prayer in Mormonism that is pre-written and read verbatim. In fact, it must be perfectly recited, because it is an ordinance with saving power.

17. Covenantal prayer. We make covenants at baptism and in the temple, but we also make covenants personally and privately in prayers lifted to our Father in Heaven. We might be reminded of the experience of Lucy Mack Smith, who, ill and near death, covenanted with God that if He would save her life, she would seek Him with all her strength. She recovered, and kept that covenant.

18. Prayer for help in service. This is the prayer of Visiting and Home Teachers as they seek to be perceptive to the needs of the families they teach; also of the Relief Society, Primary, and other auxiliary presidencies as they seek guidance in the service they render. Some members of the Church claim that these prayers are the ones that illicit the most inspiring answers, the most spiritual experiences.

19. Prayer for guidance in making decisions. Should I choose this college, marry this person, move to this city, join the military, serve a mission? The Lord promises guidance for these life-changing decisions, and the answers we receive are often so revelatory, that they become spiritual anchors for us all the rest of our lives.

20. Political prayer. If the study mentioned above is correct, not many of us are praying for our governmental leaders. Or for good people to choose to volunteer to lead. Or for moral goodness to triumph in the public square.

21. Preparedness prayer. Do you have enough water in your emergency storage? Have you asked Heavenly Father that question? A Mormon father in Haiti was inspired to fix his back gate. Then Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake. Had he not done so, he and his wife would not have escaped their back yard in time to avoid a crumbling stone wall whose collapse could have killed them. What specific preparations do we need for our own, personal circumstances?

22. Prayer of helpless desperation. The old adage is that there are no atheists in foxholes, because all are praying for their very lives. This is when you are at the end of your rope and only God can save you. For many, this is their very first experience with personal prayer.

23. Prayer of surrender of will. Often, this prayer follows #22 (the prayer of helpless desperation) after it has been answered, and #1 (the prayer of gratitude). In it, we confess the fallibility of our own will, and surrender it to God. Really the only thing of value we have to give Him, the gift of our will into His care can be the real beginning of our lives ….

24. Prayer of release.  From this life to the next. It is our final benediction upon everything that is temporal and temporary. It is at that moment that we begin to see what is really important.

25. Prayer for those left behind. Do we realize that mortals on earth are not the only ones praying? Millions and millions who have gone before and have already passed to the other side are praying for us, and for God’s will to be done; for evil to be finally defeated, and the Plan of Salvation to achieve its end. Have you ever contemplated that while you are praying fervently for one thing, your ancestors and heaven’s angels are praying that you won’t go that direction, so that something better will come to pass? Prayer and getting answers to prayer might be more complicated than we thought!