02 03 The Rhineheart Roost: My first big kid talk! 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

My first big kid talk!

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Good morning, brothers and sisters! I’m Haeley Whetten, and I am grateful to be here this beautiful Sabbath morning to speak to you on the blessings of everyday prayer. As I was thinking about how to speak on prayer, I remembered a thought I had had frequently growing up: if Heavenly Father knows all we do and feel, why is it still so important to pray to Him daily? I guess I’ve always known how important it was to Heavenly Father to hear from His children often, but it never really sunk in until I moved out. You see, like most of you, I have various social media accounts- Facebook, Instagram, and a blog. I record a good portion of my life on those outlets, and my parents have continuous access to them. They know what’s going on in my life through these means, and they can view them any time they desire, but what is even more important than communicating through social media is personal, one-on-one conversation. For instance, I could write about something on my blog, have my parents read it, and then tell them the same story over the phone. Even though it would be the exact same story, it would mean just that much more to my parents to hear it directly from me, not just from words on a page.
Likewise, Heavenly Father wants to hear about our lives from us. One-on-one communication is so important in any relationship, especially the relationship between you and the Lord. Prayer is the sure way we can vastly improve our lives, and, just like vitamins, we need to partake of it daily in order to reap the blessings we desire.
Now, I’m sure we know all those things already. We know what prayer is, we know how important it is, and we know we need to pray daily. But how do we make our daily prayers more meaningful? How can we make them more of a conversation with God, rather than a “vain repetition” of words? In  2 Nephi 32:9 it says: “Behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.” In this scripture, it says that we must council with the Lord in all things- I think that if we were to truly adhere to this advice, and go to the Lord with everything, we would begin to sense a deeper purpose in our prayers, and a closer relationship with Him. In the October 2010 issue of the New Era, Elder D. Todd Christopherson states, quote: “Everything we do ought to be done with an eye toward our Heavenly Father’s blessing and consecrating to our good all of our activities in a given day. So if we sense our need and think about it, prayer becomes more meaningful.
Beyond that, it’s important to remember we shouldn’t just be praying about ourselves, because there are a lot of people in our sphere of acquaintance who have great needs as well, and we ought to be remembering them and what kind of help they need from the Lord. Those kinds of prayers are like when Enos prayed. He prayed about himself first and then about the Nephites and then the Lamanites—even his enemies were a part of his concern. That really makes prayer meaningful, to focus on others.
Lastly, when you’re grateful, when your prayers include a lot of thanks to the Lord for your blessings, they become much more meaningful.” End quote.
 I’m going to let you in on a secret: I pray for myself a lot. More often than I probably should, in fact! And it’s not because I think I deserve more blessings than my fellow men, nor do I think I’m more important than them. But late at night, or early in the morning when it’s just me, I suppose it’s easier to think of what’s going on in my life than others, especially with school, and work and the like. There’s nothing wrong with praying for yourself, don’t get me wrong. That’s part of personal prayer, after all! You need to council with the Lord in all things, yourself included.
That being said, I know I’ve felt particularly close to my Father in Heaven when I pray for others. When I am focused on more than just my immediate situation, and am looking outside of my surroundings, searching for someone who may need the blessings of Heaven, I feel that God guides me towards those that need it the most. I have tried my hardest to never ignore a prompting to pray for someone, because I believe those are not random. They need your prayers in some way or another, though you may not know what they are experiencing that necessitates a blessing. Prayer is one gift that will never run out. You can pray for anyone continually, and you will always be heard.
Elder Christopherson also mentions how important prayers of gratitude are. He reminds us that if we pray in gratitude, our prayers will become more meaningful and sincere. Have you ever said a prayer where you asked for nothing, and instead let your Heavenly Father know all you were grateful for? While it can sometimes get difficult because it’s easier to ask for something rather than focusing on things you’re grateful for, I can promise that prayers of gratitude are so fulfilling. When I am forced to think outside of my needs and the needs of others, I am suddenly overwhelmed with the sheer enormity of the blessings I have been granted. I can assure you that each of us has been blessed beyond imagination. If we try to pray in gratitude at least once every day, we will begin to see other blessings here and there that we may not have noticed before. I know that my life always seems just a little bit sweeter when I make sure to include gratitude in my prayers.
The purpose of prayer is to have communication with the Lord, and communication means more than just speaking to one person and not receiving an answer. It wouldn’t be a conversation if only one person was speaking, would it? God will always answer us, for He always hears us. Even though it may not happen immediately, God WILL answer. In the April 2007 session of General Conference, Elder Richard G. Scott said in his address “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,” which I highly recommend you read, quote:
“Some misunderstandings about prayer can be clarified by realizing that the scriptures define principles for effective prayer, but they do not assure when a response will be given. Actually, He will reply in one of three ways. First, you can feel the peace, comfort, and assurance that confirm that your decision is right. Or second, you can sense that unsettled feeling, the stupor of thought, indicating that your choice is wrong. Or third—and this is the difficult one—you can feel no response.
What do you do when you have prepared carefully, have prayed fervently, waited a reasonable time for a response, and still do not feel an answer? You may want to express thanks when that occurs, for it is an evidence of His trust. When you are living worthily and your choice is consistent with the Savior’s teachings and you need to act, proceed with trust. As you are sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit, one of two things will certainly occur at the appropriate time: either the stupor of thought will come, indicating an improper choice, or the peace or the burning in the bosom will be felt, confirming that your choice was correct. When you are living righteously and are acting with trust, God will not let you proceed too far without a warning impression if you have made the wrong decision.” End quote.
I never thought of it that way- seeing no response as a blessing, but it makes sense, doesn’t it? God trusts us. We are here to be tested and tried, and seeking things through our own free will. This means that when we don’t have an answer quite yet, it is a trust exercise of sorts. We may prayerfully continue on the path, always listening for guidance. Think of it this way: We are like small toddlers learning to walk. We will need the firm, loving, supporting hand that the Lord provides for us. His hand guides us in everything, and it’s like when He answers our prayers. He guides us to the choices that will benefit us, and shields us from those that would harm us. Occasionally, however, He lets us walk alone for a time- not to say He abandons us, because He will never do that, but He steps back and lets us walk by ourselves for a time, to let us choose. That may go on for a little bit, but He will always come for us when we stumble. His hand will always be there to steady us. I’m so grateful He allows us to be independent every now and again. Knowing we are fully accountable for our actions can be a heavy weight, but oh, is it worth it. Gaining experience in this life through trial and error is essential. How blessed we are to have a Father in Heaven who cares enough about us to let us try things on our own.

I have a testimony of these things. I know that prayers are answered, and God knows exactly what’s best for us. I believe I was asked to speak on prayer because Heavenly Father knew I needed a reminder that I am heard, and I needed a reminder of what real, meaningful prayer was. It’s a commonly stated phrase in the church that the teacher is often taught more than the students, and I believe it is the case here. I have been struggling to make my personal prayers meaningful, and I have needed to remember the importance of making prayer a daily habit. Just as I need to continue communicating with my earthly parents while I’m away from home, I need to continue speaking with my Heavenly Father while I’m away from my heavenly home. Keeping in contact with my Heavenly parents is every bit as vital and important as it is with my earthly parents. How grateful I am for this subtle reminder to speak more openly with God, and it is my prayer that each of you will strive to deepen your relationship with your Heavenly Father. I know this gospel is true. I know it exists for us, and I know it is good. I love this church with all my heart, and I know that by praying continually, my love for this church will only deepen. I hope that you, my brothers and sisters, feel the same. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

~Haeley

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