We’ve all had the experience of looking at a task before us, knowing how simple it is, yet choosing for some reason or another to not do it or to complete it by easier means.
For a long time now I’ve had this experience every day. I believe in frequently saying both family and personal prayers. I have never been perfect at it. I admit that remembering to say my prayers first thing in the morning is not a strength I have, nor is it my strength to get back out of bed and kneel to pray at night once I’ve already pulled the covers up to my chin.
There were years when I made my personal prayers my daily goal and I did really well at it, and then there were years when I seemed to slip into a different routine or skip prayers altogether. Sometimes thinking of an excuse not to do something is easier than just doing it.
A Change in my Personal Prayers
I was reminded this past week of the difference such a simple thing as personal prayer can make in my life. A few weeks ago my husband and I were asked by our bishop to give a talk, or a fifteen-minute sermon, on obedience during our church meeting. During the several talks I have given over the course of my lifetime I have found that my preparation has always helped me see a weakness I’ve overlooked or an area in my life that needed improvement.
This time as I prepared my talk I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty for not kneeling when I said my personal prayers. It’s a very simple thing, yet it’s something that often has me lying awake in bed for minutes while I talk myself out of it. The result is usually a short prayer in my head as I drift off to sleep.
As I prepared this talk I couldn’t shake the image of kneeling by my bed to pray. I felt that for some reason, this was a time in my life that I really needed to do so. The night after giving my talk I went to crawl into bed as usual. As I turned off the light and went to pull back the sheets I heard the words I had spoken earlier that day, and then I remembered that image, and the words of the Savior as he taught his disciples to kneel and pray.
13. And it came to pass that when they had all been brought, and Jesus stood in the midst, he commanded the multitude that they should kneel down upon the ground.
14. And it came to pass that when they had knelt upon the ground, Jesus groaned within himself, and said: Father, I am troubled because of the wickedness of the people of the house of Israel.
15. And when he had said these words, he himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him (3 Nephi 17:13-15).
After such a reminder from the Spirit I decided to kneel, and as my knees hit the ground I felt a sudden sense of closeness to my Father in Heaven that I hadn’t felt in a long time. It was if I had been yelling my prayers across a large room, and suddenly the act of kneeling had set me right at my Father’s feet. I was surprised at how humble and vulnerable I suddenly felt. It was one of the most sincere prayers I had uttered in a very long time.
Donald W. Parry taught that “Kneeling evidences humility, submission, and meekness.” I have knelt in prayer many times since that night, and not all of them have been as powerful, or as spiritually enlightening. But I know there’s power in showing the Lord that we are humble, submissive, and meek. That power helped me lay my troubled soul at my Father’s feet that night.
Power to Change
Ezra Taft Benson taught, “When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.”
The power and strength we each need to change our lives come from being obedient, especially in the little things. You may not have a problem with kneeling while you pray, but maybe you struggle with judging others, letting your anger get the better of you, or being dishonest. You can change that.
So if you’re getting angry, take a deep breath or walk away. If you find yourself judging, take a minute to think about why someone might be doing something, or what struggles could be going on in their life. If you hurt someone’s feelings, apologize. If you disobeyed the law, make it right.
Regardless of whether you were obedient last year or yesterday, you can be obedient now. You can be obedient tomorrow. You can have access to that power Heavenly Father gives to those who are intentionally obedient. You can change. It’s all about your next decision. Make it a good one.
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© No Nightlights by Kyra Sutherland