“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

Writing is where we truly learn. Join the Journey.

I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Gifts of Prayer Alma 31-33, Enos. JSHistory

My three year old daughter expresses her joy at her birthday gift-
a daisy dress with matching head band-a gift from her grandparents. 
I love gifts. I love most how they change my life for the better. I love how they connect me to family and help create relationships. It seems we always remember the wonderful gifts given us.

Gifts are lovely things. They entice us. They surprise us. They fill us with joy.  Prayer is a gift and like a well presented gift it will surprise us with the joy of God's love in our life.

Gifts were meant to be opened and prayers were meant to be given.  When we take time to open the gift of prayer, the gifts of God make themselves "present" (no pun intended) in our lives. How many of us would receive a gift from a dear and loving friend and then say to them, I'll open it later. God gives us the daily gift of prayer so that he can bless us daily and lead our lives with the guidance of the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Prayer is a gift that brings peace.
Gifts present us with new opportunities and treasures. Prayer does the same. But we must learn how to open the gift of prayer and allow it to help us feel and see God's presence in our lives.

Alma prayed that he and his brethren might have success in their Zoramite people. He understood that when we invite God to be a part of our desired goals, and then invite him through prayer, we invite success. (Alma 31)
Alma prayed
Alma understood the power that prayer brings to one's life work. Alma prayed for strength, (vs30), comfort and patience (vs31), success and the ability to bear their afflictions (vs 32-33), and power and wisdom (vs35) to help them help the missionary work.

When Alma taught the Zoramites (Alma 32) on the hill Onidah in the land of Antionum, he said that he "had never beheld" such a manner of worship. The Zoramites had allowed their pride to alter their beliefs as to whom they prayed and ultimately their manner of prayer.

All of the Zoramites had helped build their synagogues and their tower of prayer known as the Rameumptom. But only one person at a time on one particular day of the week was allowed to offer one rote prayer. And only those members who were rich enough, stylish enough, popular enough, or good enough were allowed to use the Rameumpton. It reminded me a little bit like our modern way of dealing with one another publicly- like playing "king of the Mountain," or a popularity contest.

Their craft of worshiping did not allow for personal prayers, for the hope of redemption, or even for salvation for others not of their faith. In fact it really didn't allow for the salvation of many of the poor of their faith, but it did require the poor to help in the labor and maintenance of their synagogue.

The Praying Mantis is so called because of his
front legs that are ever ready to offer prayer. Anywhere.
When Alma discovers these poor who had been divided out from them and not allowed into the synagogue for worship, he rejoiced at the opportunity to teach them correct principles of prayer.

He taught them that they could use the gift of prayer at any time, in any place, for any purpose
and for any amount of time. He quoted the Old Testament prophet Zenos, "

Thou art merciful, O God, for thous hast heard my prayer, even when I was in the wilderness;...when I did cry in my field...thou didst hear me. and in my house, and my closet.
Yea, thou art merciful unto thy children when they cry unto thee, to be heard of thee and not of men, and thou wilt hear them." Alma 33: 3-8
Alma goes on to explain how Zenos' prayers were heard by God in "congregations," or when "cast our or despised by mine enemies." As he explained that the gift of prayer did not require a specific setting or presentation of place, he helped them understand that prayer to God requires a simple sincerity and honesty of heart.

He also explained how Zenos taught how prayer to God the Father is connected to his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ's life was more than an example, Jesus became the mediator between us and God.  Zenos explained, "for thou hast turned they judgments away from me, because of thy son."

Prayer is a gift that is given to us by our loving Heavenly Father. It requires that we thank him, our Heavenly Father for the blessing he sends, then ask Him for what we stand in need of, and then to close our offering in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayer is a gift that is given to anyone who believes or desires to believe in God and his son Jesus Christ. It is not reserved for a select few. It is not only for the educated. All that is required is a sincere desire to have a personal relationship with God.

Gifts often bring us new ways of looking at and appreciating the world around us. Sometimes we receive items that have instructions or require work. Prayer requires work. Enos tells us "I cried unto him in mighty prayer...all the day long..and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heaven."(vs4)  Sometimes we don't receive answers in the time or manner that we expected. That is why the answers we receiveare a gift.

Gifts are often misunderstood. In this era of entitlement many believe that gifts should be tailored to the desires of the one who will receive. But gifts were never intended to only appease the insatiable desires of a child's heart. When given and received with humility and with respect gifts can offer great insights into the givers heart. It can help the receiver to grow in ways he would not have known. In fact gifts are meant as a way of guiding us along our earthly journey of growth. They were first given not just for the joy  of receiving the unexpected but also of offering needed items of sustenance and survival.

Prayer is one of those gifts essential for survival. Again Enos taught "for he said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it." (v15) Prayer provides us with joy and with the opportunity for personal growth. It provides us with insights and new perspectives. But mostly it provides us with a window into God's truth.

Farmers are aware of the power of hard work, knowledge and prayer. Only God can give us all that we truly need.

The prophet Joseph Smith learned firsthand of the power of prayer when he read James 1:5, "If any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all me liberally (freely) and upbraideth not." Because he read and believed James invitation to pray, he walked into the woods near Palmyra New York and like Enos knelt in sincere prayer. He asked of God. And he received of God.

Prayer changes things. It's a positive force for good in our lives. Prayer is the gift that keeps on giving.

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