17 December 2006 From Dad to his Missionary
Well, you asked me to tell you the story about my determination to be completely obedient and my experience in prayer. There are so many stories that lead up to this that I want to write down for my grandchildren someday but I don’t have time to tell them all now so let me just start like this.
Malachi 3:2-3 says “…who shall abide the day…they [that] offer an offering in rightousness…”. I believe that offering is 2 Ne 2:7; 3Ne 12:19; Ether 4:14-15 “…a broken heart and a contrite spirit…”. Malachi 3:7 says “…return unto me and I will return unto you…” and verse 10 “…prove me now…if I will not open the windows of heaven…”. D&C 58:4 “…after much tribulation come the blessings…” and D&C 130:20-21 “…there is a law…upon which all blessings are predicated…”. Last of all D&C 132:5 “…who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law…”. I know this is true.
Like you, I began to prove this to myself through so many little experiences before my mission. I started to truly understand that even though I wasn’t perfect and made lots of mistakes that Heavenly Father always took me back into His arms if I never quit striving or really trying to be better and came back to Him daily with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
When I got out on my mission I wanted to do the best I could do. Because I believed the above scriptures I made up my mind that I would be as strictly obedient as I could be when it came to the mission rules. However, I also was and fun loving and enjoyed each moment that I was in. (Heavenly Father wants all His children to enjoy life within the bounds of the gospel.) I worked hard and I played hard. I prayed hard and I listened to the Holy Ghost but I had (appropriate ) fun all the time.
After Presiding Bishop Hugh B. Brown came to the mission and told us his story (see one of my earlier letters) and his challenge to read, study and practice, listening for the spirit, I was determined (and I had a great companion who wanted to do the same thing) to be even more intense and dedicated in my study, work and play. It would never have been as successful if my companion had not been in on the experiment and been as dedicated.
After studying and praying and listening and reading everything we could find about personal revelation for a full week (and it was pretty intense) we were prepared to put Heavenly Father to the test and ask Him to show (confirm) in prayer how He communicates through my thoughts and feelings. Remember that for a full week we had been praying and seeking direction in our finding and teaching and we were learning and having experiences where we were feeling His input and having successful experiences.
The culmination was getting home, kneeling down and following the steps of prayer. After getting to the steps of asking, asking how He would let me know if what I asked was correct, what feelings and sensations would I have? Then pondering and considering my feelings and reconsidering the question, noticing any changes in sensations or peace / tranquility or change in energy. While pondering I felt butterflys or a warmth in my belly or chest so I asked Him is this was part of the feeling. As soon as I began to ask He confirmed it with a slightly more intense feeling. I told Him that I recognized the feeling and it became more intense. In fact a feeling of peace came over me and I began to recognize a feeling of euphoria that grew until it felt like I was floating or spinning. All my troubles were forgotten and I enjoyed being immersed in this feeling for a period of time.
That experience was just the beginning. I had experienced once in an intense way the feelings that can accompany answers to thought out prayers. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t automatic. It took effort and thought and working things out in my own mind before asking for a confirmation. I still had to exercise my spiritual muscles and practice and pray but Heavenly Father kept adding line upon line. It took additional effort and time to learn more intricacies and to learn to trust the feelings. I guess what I am trying to say is it just isn’t easy. Every answer to prayer requires effort, faith and sometimes repeated searching it out in your own mind (D&C 8) before the feelings of peace and confirmation come even in my old age. Sometimes the answer doesn’t come immediately and I have to trust and believe and wait until I get the next clue and have to take the next step into the dark and wait for the light to come.
Don’t give up. Don’t think that it gets easy. You will become more familiar with the thoughts and feeling that come and will learn to react quicker but the hard questions and the answers that are so important take effort and time.
I love you. Be happy! Happiness is an attitude, an understanding of the plan and faith that Heavenly Father always provides the best things for us if we remain faithful.
Study intently, pray hard and have fun! Be your fun self and don’t bottle up the fun that you can have in every experience!
I LOVE YOU!!! Your Heavenly Father loves you even more that I do if you can imagine that! You are accruing and He is preparing blessings if you will just trust in Him.