I finished two books today – Designed to Pray, by Kelly O’Dell Stanley and The Book of Mormon abridged and compiled by Mormon and translated by Joseph Smith, Jr. Wow! Truthfully, I feel a little wispy about both of them.
I have enjoyed Kelly’s book more than I expected. I can answer my four questions with a complete and total yes!
- Is the book based in scripture? Yes. As a matter of fact, each chapter heading has scriptures to look up that the day is based around. I liked this feature of the book. I got to have some scriptural background before jumping into what she was saying and the activity.
- Did it draw my heart closer to God? Yes. Every single day. One of the benefits of what I do is the time I have to do it. At first, I thought that getting through the book in two weeks was going to be very difficult, but I woke up each morning eager to read and study and follow that up with a creative way to draw near to God. I learned a lot and found many new ways to talk to my Father.
- Did the writings draw me deeper into the scriptures? See the second answer up there.
- Did this book change my heart? You know that’s a yes too. However, not for the way that seems obvious. I have always been a pray-er. During three days this week, I came upon a hurdle (see yesterday’s post here), that I couldn’t get over. It just kept me in tears and praying my heart out to God to help me. All the while, I kept reading and studying (mostly out of routine), but that kept my heart turned to God. This book changed my heart in that I kept with Him. What usually happens is that I withdraw from Him and this time, I didn’t, and the answers came and I felt closer to Him through it all instead of just looking back and seeing that He helped me. It felt more like a partnership this go around. Next time, well, we’ll see if I learned anything.
I do have a confession to make. I generally have very limited contact with the authors of these books, but something about Kelly made me want to reach out to her, which I did. She kindly sent me her first book, Praying Upside Down, and I cannot put it down! I wish I would have picked it up first. So, I recommend them both. Highly recommend them, as a matter of fact.
There were so many good things in my studies this morning. I wish we could sit and I could open these books with you and we could have a conversation. Mostly, I sit here and talk with myself about what I’ve read, but that’s okay too. I am learning so much! The OA and AA messages were both about serving other people and that our efforts together far outweigh any individual ones we might make. There is an exponential value in working together.
In the conference talk, “Be Ambitious for Christ” by Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, he says,
What does it mean to “be ambitious for Christ”? Being ambitious for Christ means being motivated, focused, and dedicated to His work. Being ambitious for Christ will seldom mean that we are singled out for public honor. Being ambitious for Christ means that we serve faithfully and diligently…without complaint and with joyful hearts.
This talk goes back to the OA and AA devotionals. We must look to God and then serve His children. He goes on to mention some counsel a Book of Mormon prophet gave his son, “Whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions. …keep the commandments of God. …Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good.”
With the added help of God’s direction and working together with others in our service, can you imagine what we might accomplish? I can! We see examples every day of groups working together for the welfare of others – prayer groups, mother’s groups, relief organizations. All of those can do far more with many members than one person could ever do by themselves.
In the final chapter of the Book of Mormon, Moroni, the son of Mormon who had abridged all of the records the civilization had kept, says to us,
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
We can know that truth of all things. That means we can take our service ideas to God and He will help us to know how to best help or even who to help or what organization to join that would use our skills and talents to their fullest. Truth is not limited to what we find in religion or spirituality. Truth is everywhere. In every thing.
I used to teach an early morning class for high school students (Seminary) and I would remind them of this principle all the time. It works with all things. There is truth in all we learn, but unless we take the idea to God, we may never know for ourselves. That’s such a great blessing, isn’t it? Through prayer, we don’t have to rely on what other people think or say, we can know for ourselves. We can know where to go, who to talk to, and everything else. Kelly has reaffirmed that in my heart and has once again reminded me that there are also a million ways to ask. We just need to do it.