Question Box: Prayer

Someone recently asked us if prayer worked and if praying for a sick family member might help her get better.  My short answer: Yes and Maybe.

Prayer is the medium through which we can communicate with God. God is our Heavenly Father and he loves us and wants us to be happy.

The scriptures are full of examples of prayers being offered and answered—Hannah, Solomon, Daniel, Peter, Nephi, Alma, the Savior, and the list goes on. But some if not most of these examples are pretty dramatic. Babies aren’t always conceived, wars stopped, people healed, or lives saved because of my prayers, no matter how much I may want these things to happen. In fact, I often feel like the answers to my daily prayers are rarely (if ever) dramatic and if that’s the case then how do I even know that prayer works?

One of my favorite descriptions of prayer comes from the LDS Bible Dictionary:

“Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them.”

Presumably God already knows what we want and need. Prayer really isn’t about convincing Him to give us what we want. Instead, prayer is about learning to align our desires with God’s will. It’s about us learning how to have a conversation with our Heavenly Father that can change and bless us.

Becoming a parent has broadened my perspective on many topics and prayer is one of them. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father may not be that different from my relationship with my toddler (perhaps we’re all essentially toddlers in God’s eyes anyway). Teaching her how to communicate effectively is one of my jobs. She may be able to physically take a toy she wants out of my hands but I want her to learn to communicate differently. I want her to learn to be polite (please), and grateful (thank you), and I want her to learn to understand her desires and motives and learn to articulate them. I want her to learn how to ask. I imagine our Heavenly Father is the same.

I also know that there are times when no matter how politely she asks for something I won’t give it to her. I love her and I want her to be happy but no matter what she may think I know better than she does that, for example, eating chocolate chips for every meal won’t really make her happy like she thinks it will. Thus, I don’t let her do it not because I don’t love her but because I do love her and I want her to be happy and healthy in the long run.

Similarly, Heavenly Father is a loving parent who wants us to communicate with him. He wants us to be happy and He has a much wider perspective than we do on how that happiness may come to be. Over time (and I believe this is something we’ll be learning our whole lives), as we learn how to pray to him and align our will with His we can learn to trust Heavenly Father and recognize His hand in our lives. We can come feel his love for us and recognize the answers to our prayers, even if they aren’t the answers we expect.

For more articles on prayer, how to pray, and how to recognize answers to prayer check out these great articles hereherehere, and here.

Question Box: Will Jesus Rule from Jackson County, Missouri?

Question: Do Mormons believe that when Jesus returns, he will rule Earth from Jackson County, Missouri?

Prior to Christ’s Second Coming we know certain events will take place. Among the many signs of His coming, scriptures teach that prior to Christ’s return the 12 tribes of Israel and the saints of God will be gathered together both spiritually and physically (Jeremiah 23:3).  The city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt and the Lord will then bring again Zion, the New Jerusalem, down from heaven (Rev. 21:2, Rev. 3:12, Moses 7:60-64).

Latterday revelation revealed to Joseph Smith in 1832 teaches us that this Zion, the New Jerusalem, will be built upon the American continent. In Doctrine and Covenants 84:2-3 the Lord reveals: “Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of this prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.  Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri….”  This is the region known as Jackson County.

Following Christ’s return, Jerusalem and Zion (the New Jerusalem) will exist as two great capitals where Christ’s people will live and where Christ will dwell and reign personally on the earth (Micah 4:2) in some sort of divine government (D&C 45:59, Dan. 7:13-14). Thus the scripture, “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3) will be fulfilled. While we do not know the details of how this divine government will work, we do know that Zion, the New Jerusalem, will be located in Missouri and will be a central place for the ruling and running of the Lord’s Kingdom during the Millennium.

Question Box: Taking the Sacrament

Question: Say you have to work every Sunday, can a Mormon take the sacrament on a weekday or any other day besides Sunday?

A: The sacrament is administered by members of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods under the direction of the Bishop of each ward. There are situations, such as when an individual is ill and unable to attend Sunday meetings, when arrangements are made under the direction of the Bishop for priesthood holders to administer the sacrament outside of sacrament meeting to that individual.  Theoretically, an individual can take the sacrament on any day of the week, as long as it is under the direction of the priesthood leader and administered with the proper authority. In fact, in some parts of the world, sacrament services are held on days other than Sunday, depending on the customs of the country and the needs of the individuals, but it is always administered under the guidance of the bishop or priesthood leader in the area. If an individual is unable to attend Sunday meetings, but wants to partake of the sacrament, they should discuss their situation with their Bishop.

Question Box: Accepting Truth

Q. I am an active Methodist and I believe that Christ is my only savior in this world.  As a non-LDS, does the LDS Church teach that non-LDS Christians will be granted a second chance to hear and accept the LDS gospel?

A. Our Heavenly Father loves all of his children and all of us will be given the opportunity to hear and accept the truth of the gospel. If that opportunity is not had during this life, it will be provided following death, prior to our resurrection and judgment. In 1 Peter 4:6 we learn that “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” It is in this “spirit world” that those who are not given the chance to hear the gospel message in this life will be provided with the opportunity. If they repent and accept the gospel they will then be worthy to enter into the kingdom of God.

However, this doesn’t mean that we put off seeking truth now. Scriptures counsel that “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God” (Alma 34:32). We are also commanded to seek knowledge by study and faith (D&C 88:118) and that we are responsible for working out our “own salvation” before God (Philippians 2:12). While this seeking, preparing, and “working out” of salvation continues after death, we are accountable for the knowledge we receive during this life.

Additional articles relating to this topic that may interest you:

“Who Gets to Be Saved”

“Life After Death”