One of the great blessings of the pandemic lockdown for many families has been the direction to have church at home. This hasn’t diminished the desire to be with others, but it has created new opportunities for family closeness in ways I hadn’t foreseen.
A friend recently reminded me of President Nelson’s talk announcing home-centered church back in October 2018. Said he:
“As Latter-day Saints, we have become accustomed to thinking of ‘church’ as something that happens in our meetinghouses, supported by what happens at home. We need an adjustment to this pattern. It is time for a home-centered Church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings.” (President Russell M. Nelson, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/10/opening-remarks?lang=eng) (Emphasis his)
Few could have predicted just what that meant for us less than 2 years later.
I want to share something our family has done recently that will be an ongoing habit for us regardless of what happens when church in a meetinghouse resumes. And of course you can do this as an individual as well. It’s just a great experience doing it together with the family where we can counsel together about the things we are praying about.
A few weeks ago we started having a different kind of family prayer. We gathered together not just for the routine morning or evening prayer of thanks and asking for blessings for ourselves or others, but for a prayer of revelation and seeking answers.
1) We opened with a short “basic” prayer to thank the Lord that we could gather and seek revelation and to ask for his Spirit to be with us and allow us to be led in what we were seeking for.
Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
2) We then took a notepad and proceeded to make a list of concerns and all the issues we were dealing with for each member of our family.
3) Then we knelt together in a “prayer circle” to ask Heavenly Father for answers. We didn’t try to prioritize the importance of anything except a family concern we all shared. We followed the method I previously wrote about in a blog post titled, “Ask and ye shall receive.” From that article:
“One day a couple years ago we had some friends over who counseled with us during a particularly difficult trial and they suggested we ask the Lord some questions. These friends had been blessed with some significant spiritual experiences and had taken the time to learn how to ask and receive. Together we prayed with one person acting as voice, opening the prayer and asking our first question. Then, we paused to listen and instead of moving on, we lifted our heads as we received answers and discussed the answers we received to see if we were in unison. If so, we would continue the prayer thanking Heavenly Father for the answer we received and asking the next question. If we were not in unison, we discussed a way to re-frame the question and ask again. We proceeded this way for some time and it taught me some valuable lessons…”
I recommend reading that whole article if you haven’t to see what lessons we learned about receiving revelation and how to detect it, at least how it started off for me.
In these circumstances as a family, I can testify that this verse from the Doctrine & Covenants is true.
D&C 42:61. “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”
Revelation brings joy. It’s a wonderful feeling to feel like you have direction from the Lord.
Over these past few weeks of praying over concerns, our first couple notebook pages are a somewhat messy and disorganized compilation of questions and answers. Yes/no answers are the easiest to ask about and receive so that’s how we frame everything. Twice now, my wife and I have received the same answer that was beyond just a yes/no. Those moments of clarity and revelation are testimony builders that God is hearing our prayers and revealing answers to us that we need to act on. With President Nelson‘s push for us all to receive revelation, this is a habit we have quickly grown to look forward to and don’t plan on stopping.
“…but in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”
We have also learned not to go too long or everyone gets weary. You might generate a long list of things you’d like answers about, but it might take considerable time to go through this process on the whole list. Remember, the Lord will be here tomorrow too. :) I recommend at least seeking direction on something each person has contributed to the pool of issues. That way everyone feels involved and that they are getting their concerns dealt with as well.
There are many keys to getting revelation, such as fasting, prayer, righteousness, etc…, but I want to mention a couple we might not often think of that have made a contribution to my results. Just over a week ago, I attended a wonderful seminar put on by Leslie Householder. Two things stand out that relate to this article.
1) Gratitude is the primary way to get in tune with God. Instead of viewing problems as a barrier to progress, look for the gift of what you are learning when confronted with a problem. Being grateful that God has prepared you to receive a challenge and to find the solution with his help is a good way to have a positive attitude and put yourself in the mode of receiving guidance (revelation). Giving thanks continually in all things, accelerates the flow of guidance. A grateful mind continually expects good things and expectation becomes faith. You might enhance your gratitude by taking 20-30 minutes and writing or praying and expressing all the gratitude you can to heaven for everything you can think of. Once your basic quick list is done, you’ll start thinking, which is always a good thing. :) Thinking will reveal other things you are grateful for and the Spirit will prompt you to think of other things as well. This exercise will help you have the right attitude and feeling within you as you seek revelation.
2) We need to refocus our attention on solutions instead of problems. In a past article, I wrote about having an eye of faith and creating the image in your mind of what you want to accomplish or receive. By holding the vision in your mind, and experiencing the future blessing as if you had received it, you put yourself in tune to receive that blessing. This can be used for good or bad. The things we think about manifest themselves in our lives. Evil thoughts lead to evil actions, but good thoughts lead to inspiration from the right source (God) and how to bring those thoughts in the spiritual/mental realm, into the physical.
This is just me blogging for my benefit now to put a picture together. If it benefits you, then “double-prizes.” :)
1) Take a concern and create the solution for what you want to have happen. Make sure the reason you want it is for a good purpose (check out Simon Sinek’s video “Start with Why” for an approach to identifying your “why”). Now write it down being very specific. Don’t use words that express doubt or fear. Use only positive and empowering language. Look at every word to make sure it’s a faith building approach.
2) Ask the Lord if it’s acceptable that you have this thing come into your life. It could be something like improved income or a health concern or a spiritual gift. Whatever you need or desire, heaven is there to help you receive your righteous desires. This is an important step because your conscious mind might want something that your subconscious mind doesn’t believe you are worthy or ready to receive. You might even be deceived into thinking you can’t have it (which is a state of unbelief). They will fight against each other until you eliminate the false beliefs and traditions in your subconscious mind that are a barrier to receiving the thing you desire in your life and your subconscious programming accepts the new thought as reality and aids you in receiving it.
3a) If you don’t get a confirmation, consider if you are doing this for the right reasons. Consider fasting and prayer to further refine your desire. It’s not always as simple as “well I want this to be able to do that.” It may take a few days of thinking over the solution and getting revelation about how to structure a statement as to what you truly want. Refine your solution statement from step 1 until you do get a confirmation.
3b) If you get a confirmation, you’ve now got the first piece of evidence to convince your subconscious mind not to work against you. :) Don’t sabotage the confirmation by doubting it or doubting that God will help you. You can proceed to step 4.
4) Take a couple minutes each day to visualize the receipt of your goal and feel the emotions and satisfaction that will come to you as though you have already received the thing you are seeking. Feel gratitude for Heavenly Father in knowing he is bringing this thing to you. Create this future with your eye of faith. If you have a hard time feeling positive emotions, think of another positive memory and feel that feeling and want it for this goal. Express gratitude for receiving positive feelings.
5) While in this mode of feeling, ask what you need to do next to act to bring this thing about. Write down the inspiration that comes to you. Then act on it. Each item you act on becomes more evidence to your subconscious mind that God is bringing this thing into your life. You are in the stage of “experimenting on the word” as Alma taught, and watching the seed grow.
Alma 32:33. “And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good.”
Do this every day. Make it a habit. I haven’t made this a full habit yet but am working on it because I have actually done this process and it has worked for me.
D&C 90:24. “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.”
6) There may come moments where you have to make difficult decisions. Stick with the plan you have received by revelation. Trust that things are in motion to help you accomplish your goal or mission.
These steps are geared a little toward individual revelation but you can incorporate the same type of thing in a family prayer circle activity. As someone is seeking confirmation of a course of action, the family can receive a confirmation on next steps or whatever concerns you.
Fear is our greatest barrier. Living in fear is not living by faith and trust that God is directing us. Whenever we create or receive revelation or have a pathway open up to us, there is a decision point to see if we will take the action presented before us to move us along the path of greater faith. Direction will come, but if we let unbelief or fear dictate our actions (or rather inactions), we will be stymied in our physical and spiritual progression. In the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites were blessed because they acted on the inspiration they received.
Helaman 6:36. And thus we see that the Lord began to pour out his Spirit upon the Lamanites, because of their easiness and willingness to believe in his words.
They weren’t caught up in thinking “that was just my mind making that thought up.” “Perhaps that was a bit of undigested beef…”
They simply accepted the fact that the Lord was giving them promptings to act on and they did so. As a result, their faith (and results) increased.
As we seek answers from God and are grateful for everything he gives us, it’s vital that we not only learn the principle of revelation, but use it to direct our lives. We don’t always know where we want to go. It’s very much like wandering in the wilderness without a working Liahona. We need to identify the promised land and seek for it bit by bit. The Lord knows each of us and has put certain desires and abilities in us so we can move forward following our charted course. The day will come when we receive what we are seeking for. This will strengthen our faith and give us the courage to do it again and again until we arrive at “the perfect day.” If you find this challenging, you might start with something simple and inconsequential to build your belief that this works. It has worked for me and the family prayer circle has become a wonderful tool for unity and direction in our home. Through repeated success, you will have a mature tree that provides the fruit of revelation to you forever.
Alma 32:42 “And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.”
(Featured Image by Andriy Popov @ 123rf.com)