Good morning brothers and sisters. My name is Mason Marsh, Mason for short, and I have been called to the Taiwan Taichung mission, speaking Mandarin Chinese leaving this Wednesday.
I have been asked to speak on the power of effective prayer. This is a perfect topic for a returning college freshman to speak on, especially me. I was praying constantly to do well on tests and that my brother would let me come and eat at his house, saving me from the cafeteria food. Prayer though is not only a tool to be used in those times when we are stressed out or are in immediate trouble, but something to allow us to stay in constant contact with our Heavenly Father above.
One of the conference talks that I really drew from this past conference was the talk by president Nelson titled, “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into our Lives”. Within this talk, we are highly encouraged to take personal time, away from all other activities, to individually study the life of the Savior and His atoning sacrifice. The key in doing such a thing lies in us choosing to have faith in him and following him. “Faith in Jesus Christ propels us to do things we otherwise would not do. Faith that motivates us to action gives us more access to His power.” Accessing his power beyond having faith, can be done by reaching UP to him in faith with a diligent and focused effort, not just having faith. Such efforts require prayer.
When I think of this diligent and focused effort, I am reminded of a pamphlet/book that my dad gave me for my past birthday. My pops always gives me readings that he thinks I can gain from, which I love because they are often readings my grandpa showed him when he was growing up. Many have probably read or heard of this one, that being “As a Man Thinketh,” written by a British philosophical writer James Allen. He writes, “His wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with his thoughts and actions.” (As A Man Thinketh by James Allen)
This highlights the active part of prayer. In Alma 37:37 it says:
37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; (yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day. )
Counseling is a two way activity. We cannot be the counselor who is asking another questions, yet not waiting for them to respond to our questions. If we decide to ask Heavenly Father for guidance, but then walk away before he answers, we do not gain anything of value.
How do we receive answers is yet another question that we many have about prayer. Recognizing answers can be difficult, for they do not always appear in bright neon lights, but can be subtle and have to be searched for. The Lord always knows each and everyone of our eternal purposes and does not want any of us to fail. For that reason, he does not let us fail if we learn to heed the council of spiritual promptings that can result from prayer. One of my religion professors from the fall taught me that spiritual guidance comes in three different forms corresponding to a traffic light. Sometimes we will receive a red light meaning we should definitely use caution in our proceedings. Sometimes we will receive a green light, meaning it would be a good idea to make a certain decision or continue on. The third type of guidance would be the yellow light, which can be demonstrated in a personal experience.
(Tell about hikes)This past semester some buds and I decided to start taking weekly Thursday sunrise hikes on various trails in Provo. The first hike we did started at 4 am and went to the peak of the mountain that has the big y logo on it. We were all wearing shorts and and maybe a light sweatshirt. We started off by hiking the well used switch back trail that leads up to the big y. From there we veered off to take a trail that went off to the side of the mountain, up through the canyon, through a meadow and supposedly onto the top. Unfortunately, and we were definitely not expecting it, there was still snow on the ground when we got to the meadow. This was especially not good for me who was just wearing Vans. Because of the snow, we were not able to see the trail so we looked up, saw the top of the mountain and went that way. At that point we had the whole recipe for disaster, but what you don’t know is that we said a prayer before we left. Not receiving any strong impressions not to go on the hike, we continued with caution. Knowing that we had already said a prayer and simply counting on that as safety insurance would have led to someone probably getting injured. What we did though was use our best judgement and safely ascended, using each other as assistance and going slowly.
These yellow lights are usually when you receive no distinct answer. In this situation, our professor reminded us that the Lord has our eternal purpose (reaching the top of the mountain) in mind, so he would not let us make any terrible decisions, but we should proceed using our best judgement, applying truths that He has given us, often truths that can be found in the scriptures.
Scriptures are a key player in answering questions to prayer. The scriptures are full of prophetic and heavenly council, so by asking questions through prayer, and then diligently searching the scriptures for an answer, we are often led to what we are searching for. I love a part of President Nelson’s talk that says, “When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. … having that faith hope and charity, as talked about in Moroni 7, one is able to access the fullness of Jesus Christ’s power.”
Moroni 7:26 says: 26 And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.
As long as we are always praying “with a sincere heart, with real intent, [exercising] faith in Christ.”
The next two years, while on my mission, I know are going to be so amazing but so difficult. Prayer, I know, will always be something that I will have to turn to for help and guidance. My pops told me to read in D&C 50:13-27, specifically in versus 17-18 which says:
17 Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
18 And if it be by some other way it is not of God.
This is a reminder to always have the spirit with you, because it is not through the broken Chinese of a missionary that people are converted, but through the spirit. I think the quote by Michael Scott is fitting which says, "Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.” This is not meant to be a selfish desire, but a desire that all can see that Light of Christ that I hope that I can carry with me at all times which will draw them in to want to know more about the gospel.