Monday, August 11, 2014

Seth's Farewell Talk

Grant was the youth speaker.

Good morning, my name is Grant Hackleman. I am 13 years old. I have 3 older brothers, Nathan, Seth and Jaren. Jaren is currently on a mission in Peru. I am starting the 8th grade at Papillion Jr High. I am also serving as the deacon’s quorum president.

My talk today is about the power of prayer. There is a scripture in 3 Ne. 18:20 that says, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.”

I would like to tell you about an event in my life when I first found out for myself that prayer really works.

When I was really young, my brother Nathan and I went on a trip together. We flew to Utah by ourselves unaccompanied. This sounds really scary, but the flying alone really was not bad at all. The airline took great care of us. My mom put us on the plane in Denver and my grandmother took us off the plane in Salt Lake. She then drove us to Idaho. This was the first time I had ever been away from home without my parents. I thought I would be ok but in the middle of the night I woke up and got really scared. Nathan had a track phone that we could use in case of emergencies, so I called my mom and dad. We talked for a little bit and we decided the best thing I could do was to say a prayer to help comfort me. I was too embarrassed to go and wake someone up to tell them I was having a hard time. I had just finished my prayer when all of the sudden my grandmother came down the stairs. She told me she had been asleep, but woke up and knew she needed to check on me. I told her I was scared so she had me come up and sleep on the floor in her room for the rest of the night. I knew that it was an answer to my prayer.

I would like to tell you one more story. This story is about a boy who was one year older then I am now. His name is Joseph Smith. He was pondering upon which church he should join. He did not know what to do, but found a scripture in the bible in the book of James. It said, “If any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” After reading this he realized he lacked wisdom and he needed to ask God. I will quote from Joseph’s account:

14 So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.

15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction…

just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

End of Quote

No matter what age a person is, you can still get answers to your prayers. I believe that Joseph received an answer to his prayer, just like I received an answer to mine. I also believe that each of you can receive answers to your prayers. I’d like to bear my testimony that I know this church is true and that it was restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. In the Name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Seth was the last speaker.  The following is Seth's talk.

Pray Always

(introduce myself...Seth Hackleman...Football... mission etc.)

My topic today is based on the talk given by Elder David A. Bednar during the October General Conference of 2008. The Merrium Webster Dictionary defines the word “pray” as, “to speak to God especially in order to give thanks or to ask for something.” The second definition is “to hope or wish very much for something to happen.”

In the Church we recognize that prayer is so much more than that. Simply stated, prayer is any communication to Heavenly Father from His sons and daughters on earth. This means that prayer is more than simply thanking, and asking our Heavenly father for material needs or wants. We should counsel with the Lord when we pray. That is Elder Bednar’s first principle that can help our prayers become more meaningful, “counsel with the Lord in all our doings.” We are commanded to pray always to the Father in the name of the Son. We are promised that if we pray sincerely for that which is right and good and in accordance with God’s will, we can be blessed protected, and directed. This principle is reassured in (3 Nephi 18:20). That last part is key. “believing that ye shall receive.” Answers to our prayers are based on the level of our faith. If we truly want an answer, but we don’t believe we will actually get one, why would Heavenly Father even bother to give us revelation?

Which brings us to revelation. So we know prayer is how wecommunicate to Heavenly Father, but how does Heavenly Father communicate back. His response to our prayers can be in many different shapes, forms, and time frames, but often times it is through revelation. There is an old saying in the church that says “if you want to talk to God, you pray. If you want God to talk to you, you read the scriptures.” This is because of many reasons. One of which is because the scriptures are records of ancient prophets. We know that prophets are among many things, a spokesperson for our Heavenly Father. So the scriptures are a direct line of communication through that prophet. But another reason is because of the spirit that reading our scriptures bring.

This puts us more in tune with the inspiration Heavenly Father might be trying to reveal unto us. If we listen to the spirit after we have asked in faith, D&C 42:61 tells us about the blessings we can receive. Listening to the Holy Ghost is immensely important, as he is the witness of and messenger for the Father and the Son. The patterns used by God in creating the earth are instructive in helping us understand how to make prayer meaningful. In Moses chapter 3 we learn that all things were created spiritually before they were naturally upon the earth. (Moses 3:4-5). These verses can be similarly related to our action of morning prayer. When we pray each morning, this acts as the spiritual creation of each day. This prepares us for the temporal creation or the actual execution of the day. These morning prayers should in some way pattern how we want our day to go, in recognition of striving to be like our Savior.

A basic example of morning prayer might begin with a reflection of an occasion the day before when maybe we chose not to go to a church meeting, or maybe we failed to be a comforter for a co worker in need. We then recognize that we know better, even though we do not always act in accordance with what we know. The next step is to express remorse for our weaknesses and for not putting off the natural man more earnestly. At that point we should make a decision to act more like our Savior Jesus Christ and plead for greater strength to become a better person. Elder Bednar says that a prayer such as this is a key part of the spiritually preparation for our day.

In Alma 37:36 we read. If we keep this prayer in our hearts through out the course of our day, then we will receive strength through God to change if we truly want to be a better person. If we do this, using our example above, we might notice throughout that day that maybe we have a sudden urge to attend a church meeting that night. Or do something to magnify our calling. Maybe at work we might notice somebody is depressed and recognize they need somebody to talk to. Normally we would have a tendency to justify our situation and say “I would rather go play basketball then go to church tonight.” Or “somebody else will comfort him. I barely even know him.” But instead, since you had that prayer in your heart, you decided to act on those impressions.

When we do act, it is important that we recognize the Heavenly strength we received in answer to our prayer that morning. Say a prayer in your heart in gratitude. At the end of the day, as we get ready for bed we need to close our temporal moments with a spiritual one. So we kneel back down and report back to our Heavenly Father. As we express thanks, we also should repent and ponder ways we can improve tomorrow. If we follow this general guideline, our prayers will become more meaningful and effective.

Elder Bednar’s second principle on making prayer more meaningful ties in to what we have already been talking about, and that is that “prayer becomes more meaningful when we express heartfelt gratitude.” He shared a story that I would now like to read from his talk directly. “During our service at BYU Idaho, Sister Bednar and I frequently hosted General Authorities in our home. Our family learned an important lesson about meaningful prayer as we knelt to pray one evening with a member of the Quorum of the twelve Apostles. Earlier in the day Sister Bednar and I had been informed about the unexpected death of a dear friend, and our immediate desire was to pray for the surviving spouse and children. As I invited my wife to offer the prayer, the member of the Twelve, unaware of the tragedy, graciously suggested that in the prayer Sister Bednar express only appreciation for blessings received and ask for nothing. His counsel was similar to Alma’s instruction to the members of the ancient Church to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all things. Given the unexpected tragedy, requesting blessings for our friends initially seemed to us more urgent than expressing thanks. Sister Bednar responded in faith to the direction she received. She thanked Heavenly Father for meaningful and memorable experiences with this dear friend. She communicated sincere gratitude for the Holy Ghost as the Comforter and for the gifts of the Spirit that enable us to face adversity and to serve others. Most importantly, she expressed appreciation for the plan of salvation, for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, for His Resurrection, and for the ordinances and covenants of the restored gospel which make it possible for families to be together forever.

Our family learned from that experience a great lesson about the power of thankfulness in meaningful prayer. Because of and through that prayer, our family was blessed with inspiration about a number of issues that were pressing upon our minds and stirring in our hearts. We learned that our gratefulness for the plan of happiness and for the Savior’s mission of salvation provided needed reassurance and strengthened our confidence that all would be well with our dear friends. We also received insights concerning the things about which we should pray and appropriately ask in faith. This story reminds me of characters in the Book of Mormon such as Captain Moroni and Nephi. These are men whose hearts swell with thanksgiving. The prayers of their hearts and the prayers of other prophets and members of the church are childlike in their simplicity and powerful because of their sincerity. (challenge) I think we can all learn from the example of Sister Bednar and at least once a week have give a sincere prayer that involves nothing but gratitude and thanksgiving. Include nothing else, just as she did.

Elder Bednar’s final principle is this. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we pray for others with real intent and a sincere heart. It is important to realize that asking our Heavenly Father for blessings and help in our own lives is a good and proper thing to do. However, earnestly offering a prayer in complete selflessness and thoughtfulness of others, and that includes both loved ones and those we have hard feelings toward, is an important aspect of meaningful prayer. A quote from Elder Bednar’s talk says that “just as expressing gratitude more often in our prayers enlarges the conduit for revelation, so praying for others with all of the energy of our souls increases our capacity to hear and to heed the voice of the Lord.” An example of this can be found in the story of Enos. (verse 4-13).

Not that I am counting, but I have 10 more days before I report to the missionary training center. Most of you know I have been called to serve in the Veracruz Mexico mission. These principles Elder Bednar has given are extremely important, but I also think, as a current member missionary, and a future full time missionary, it is important to know how to teach someone the proper order of prayer.

In preparation to my mission, I do my best to get out with our full time elders whenever possible. There is a young kid about 15 years old, we have tried multiple times to bring into the church. When we first started teaching him, the elders asked him to pray and read the scriptures to find out if the things we were teaching him were true. When we returned for our next discussion he confessed he had read a little from the book of Mormon but didn’t pray every night because he wasn’t really sure how. He grew up in a house with only his dad, and they never prayed. So I asked him how he would talk when he was talking to his dad on the phone. (talk about the phone…) praying is very similar to talking on the phone. The only difference is you are communicating with your Heavenly Father.

As long as you are sincere and have faith, the complexity of a prayer does not matter. I did my best to explain to him that the main guidelines were to begin with Heavenly Father and to end in the name of Jesus Christ. As missionaries we can’t assume prayer is something everybody knows how to do. It is a direct access line to God and therefore, is extremely important. Explaining this importance properly can increase the meaning and sincerity of prayer.

I would like to leave you with my testimony that I know God lives. I know he sent his son to Atone for our sins so that one day we can return to live with him. I know this gospel has been restored on the earth in these latter days by a true prophet, Joseph Smith. I know that if we truly strive to make our personal prayers more meaningful, then we can receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, and joy that bringeth life eternal as explained in the Doctrine and Covenants.    

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