by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom
This was one of my favorite talks during last conference. The unspoken invitation was part of a group that helped me change my prayers. This is one I wish I could be in Relief Society when it is discussed (unlikely chance since my current calling prevents me from attending).
I have always been a prayerful person. Even when younger I developed this routine where I said a verbal prayer then a silent prayer at bedtime. Then with my finger I would draw two vertical lines down my pillow and circle them. As an adult, I still say a silent blessing on my lunch while sitting at my desk at work. Praying is just something I have always done.
But lately, I feel as if I have been doing it wrong. Perhaps I have slipped into the condemned habit of ritual prayer. Not on purpose. It’s just that the same things weigh on my mind every day. I pray for each family member by name. That always falls into the same plea to “keep [so and so] safe.” As if it’s possible that if I were to neglect to mention so-and-so some terrible thing would befall him or her and I would be to blame.
I also pray for our prophet and “those that serve with him.” And I pray every night for our country though sometimes those prayers have sounded like “I don’t know how to fix us but I know we need thy healing touch.”
After reading this talk though and other similar ones from conference I decided to change up my prayers. Instead of the blanket of “being safe” I tried to come up with specifics for each person. For the youngest, I started asking for things like “let them learn how to develop their talents” or “let them recognize thy light and have the power of discernment” or “help their parents know how to keep them physically safe from the evils of today” or “let their parents know how to communicate with them individually with each of their different interests and abilities.”
What does prayer have to do with this talk about miracles and faith?
This: “A critical question to ponder is “Where do we place our faith?” Is our faith focused on simply wanting to be relieved of pain and suffering, or is it firmly centered on God the Father and His holy plan and in Jesus the Christ and His Atonement? Faith in the Father and the Son allows us to understand and accept Their will as we prepare for eternity” (Ibid.)
Do I really want my loved ones to escape this mortal life unscathed and untouched? That is a unrealistic notion that will lead to disappointment. Or do I want each one to recognize God’s hand in his or her life, be grateful, and walk toward the light? Even when the inevitable trial arises?
The greatest miracle is “the Resurrection of our Lord” (Bible Dictionary, miracles). It’s more important that my family member recognizes that miracle and work towards reconciling with God than to escape this life without hardship or sorrow. My prayers have simply been modified with this goal in mind. I still pray every night (sans the double prayer and pillow marking). I still pray for those things that weigh heavily on my mind (family). I just pray with the overall goal in mind.