There were a lot of things taught at church today that I really enjoyed and was thankful to have heard, but the one I want to focus on today is the principle of faith coupled with the power of prayer. I know I’ve written about both of these topics fairly often, but these are two things that are extremely important to me and they’re things that I am continually learning about in my own life. At church, we go to learn the basics and the principles of things like faith and prayer. Throughout the week, it’s our job to put it to the test and find out for ourselves just how true and powerful they are. So that’s what I try to do. I’m definitely not perfect at it. In fact, there are a lot more weeks than I’d like where I go to church, learn or remember cool stuff and even write it down. But then I forget about it when I get home. However, Heavenly Father is definitely good to me and He reminds me of experiences I’ve had throughout the previous week that relate a lot more to the things I’ve learned than I realized in the moment. I do know, though, that I would get so much more out of those lessons and applying them in the week if I actively tried on a daily basis to remember those Gospel principles and do something about what I’ve learned. While I thought about that last night, I realized that I needed to make that a priority and take one thing I learned at church and turn it into my personal goal for the week to improve on that one principle. I invite each of you to do the same so you can progress and be able to look back on your week and realize how far you’ve come and how much you’ve actually learned and experienced.
Okay, sorry for the tangent. Back to today’s topic. I’ve come up with an equation that I think is important for each of us to remember when it comes to the principles and powers of faith and prayer: Faith + Prayer + Faith = More blessings than I can say. There’s a reason it’s in that order – faith + prayer + faith. First of all, let’s review what faith is. Faith is NOT to have a perfect knowledge of things (nor is it knowledge itself), but to have hope in things that are true but you can’t see. Faith is also not a testimony because a testimony is bearing witness of something as being true. No. Faith is MORE than just a simple belief that something is true, more than just bearing witness of the truth. It is a trust that something is true – a trust that is strong enough to drive you to act as if you DID have a perfect knowledge of it, to do more than simply testifying or saying you believe. In simpler terms, let’s define faith as a strong belief that drives you to action.
Here’s an example from my own life, though I’m omitting details since it’s rather personal for me. Lately, I’ve been trying to figure something out and so I’ve been saying a lot of prayers. I’m pretty sure this subject almost always comes up in my personal prayers at night. Thankfully, I know Heavenly Father loves me enough to not be annoyed by this constant flow of emotions, questions and other such information having to do with the topic. Before I ever started asking questions, I presented Heavenly Father with my thoughts about it, the situation, my feelings, and what I would like. This is where the first step of faith came in. It takes faith to ask a question you know you might not like the answer to. And it takes faith to say “not my will, but Thine be done.” I know, though, that my plan isn’t always aligned with what God has planned, but I also know that if I were to follow my own plan, I won’t be as happy, receive all the blessings Heavenly Father is just waiting to give me or I may even jeopardize my chances at living with Him again. So I prayed with that in mind. I prayed with faith that I would receive an answer – an answer that was in line with God’s will. Every prayer that concerned this topic ended with some version of “not my will, but Thine be done”. The amazing thing is that I honestly and truly want the Lord’s will to happen because I have complete trust that His plan is way better than mine could ever be on its own. I know I might be sad for a bit if my desires aren’t in line with His, but it would be just a moment and then I would move on and be happy again. Anyway, I prayed to know if there was something specific I needed to do in the coming months and perhaps even years of my life. I prayed daily about it and took the matter with me a few times when I went to the temple. Even after I’d received my answer, I was constantly on my knees about it, making sure it was truly from God, making sure it wasn’t just me wanting it so badly. There was one time I wasn’t thinking anything close to the subject during one temple session and it popped into my mind, leaving me without a doubt that it was definitely an answer from my Father in Heaven. I’ve had several occasions similar to this, and I don’t doubt I’ll continue to receive confirmations here and there until it happens. During that time where I wasn’t sure about the answer, I realized that I never really understood exactly what it meant when people said that faith is an action word. But today in church, someone worded it very clearly for me and I immediately knew that’s what I’d been missing until this experience – when you have faith, it doesn’t mean that you know 100% something is true. It means, though, that you act as if you already know it is true. So for now, until my answer becomes a perfect knowledge, I will simply act on my belief that this specific thing in my life will happen. That means I need to prepare for it, look forward to it, always have it in mind and never doubt it. There’s not much I can do about anything right now, but I still pray to know how I can prepare myself for whatever might happen in the future because it’s so important to me right now.
Can you see now what I mean by saying Faith + Prayer + Faith? Faith needs to always be present and set in our minds. We should always trust and never doubt our Heavenly Father, before and after anything ever happens. And we should take every matter to Him. Someone on my mission, I think it was my mission president said “Have you prayed about it as much as you’ve talked about it?” When we have a decision to make or something that’s on our minds, how often do we turn to family and friends to solve the problem, help us make the decision or just vent? How many of us have a trusted confidant they tell just about everything to? How often do we actually take those very same things to the Lord?
We may say we have faith in God and are willing to do all He wants us to do, but I think that until we get on our knees and pour out our hearts to Him with the intent to act on whatever His answer is, our faith isn’t complete. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ need to be our first source of peace and comfort. They need to be our most trusted confidants. So I invite each of you this week to take a look at your faith and your prayers. Where are they centered? How often do you pray about things, big or small, questions or just worries? Do you turn to Him first or do you turn immediately instead to someone else?
If you turn to the Lord first, walk with Him, talk, laugh, cry with Him, I promise you that your prayers will be answered and you will be guided in everything you do. I promise you that the Spirit will be with you more abundantly and more clearly than it is without faith and prayer. I feel I can promise these blessings because these are things I’ve experienced first hand and I know how much this knowledge and these miracles and blessings have changed who I am forever. I have more joy in every day. I see the hand of the Lord more clearly and I feel His Spirit more than ever. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ because these are only a few the beautiful blessings that come from living it.
I love my Savior and my Father in Heaven. They have never led me to believe that I am alone, and They have never failed to answer my prayers, no matter how seemingly insignificant they might be and no matter how much I may have wanted the answer to be something different. They love me and I love Them. And my life is complete because I know Them.