Saturday, March 8, 2014

Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-14 -- On the Importance of Prayer

"And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;
But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.
And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.
Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer."
Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-14

I really like that it talks about "the house of prayer" in the first verse of this selection. :)  Thinking about that kind of changes the way that I think about church, and the purpose of it.  This tells us that church is about prayer, about communicating with God, and setting aside an entire day to talk to him.  It is about showing him how important he is in our lives, and that we are willing to make his priorities our priorities.  It's all about God.
We continue in the verses and we find that we should always pray, but especially on the sabbath.  We should also confess our sins.  Interesting.  We also find that we should keep our minds on the Lord.  ... Why?  So that our fasting may be perfect and our joy may be full.  I love that those two things are together.  And you know, I don't think that fasting here is just about fasting=not eating.  I think fasting here is the doing "none other thing" ... we're fasting from all the normal things that we do in our lives, and instead dedicating this one day to ONE thing... God.  And what does it say in the last verse?  That that kind of focus is the very definition of rejoicing. :)  So, yes, it is about God, but as with everything else that God offers, it is also about our happiness. :)  Being dedicated to God doesn't mean suffering all the time.  It is about joy... extra, overflowing joy.
"And prayer" ... Prayer is the whole point of all of this.  God started out telling us to go to the house of prayer to help us stay spot-free, meaning that he does want us to go to church.  I think this is clear... but let's not get sidetracked and think that the lesson here is only about church attendance.  If we go to church grudgingly and sit through the meetings, okay, maybe we can check the box that says "obligatory attendance" on our anti-guilt-trip list for that week... but that isn't what this is about.  Our relationship with God is the source of everything good that we can ever imagine.  Everything we are is connected to him.  And prayer is our chance to tap into that vastness, and taste of that love and that joy that surpasses earthly experience.  Our conversations with God can help us get through the day, and how we can be guided and helped in all of our lives.  Church is an awesome place to talk about God and fill ourselves with knowledge about him.  We should definitely go. :) But it isn't the ultimate point.  The point is developing and solidifying our relationship with God.  Attending church is just a part of that overall dedication and that relationship that we build.
Today, let's remember prayer.  Just like we can reach out with a phone call, email, or text to other people, we can reach out through prayer to God.  God is always there waiting on the other side of the conversation.  Prayers can be informal, just like we talk to a friend.  They can be spoken, written, or just thoughts in our heads that we direct to God.  I know a lot of people try prayer and don't think that they are getting through, but if you are one of those people, I urge you to try again, and keep trying.  Never give up.  Sincerity and persistence with prayer can lead us to a friendship with God that includes a vaster happiness than we have ever known.

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