Elder Nelson spoke exactly the words I needed and continue to need to hear as a husband and a father hoping desperately to keep my relationship with my wife and children strong.
I was especially moved by his description of the priesthood as having to “calm the minds and heal fractures in the hearts of those we love.” We all are fractured and imperfect. And in the natural course of things our relationships will fracture. We will not be able to heal our marriages and our families unless we earnestly seek to have the power of the priesthood in our homes.
But that power requires great effort. We can’t expect it to come simply by virtue of an ordination. So Elder Nelson asked a highly inspired question: “Are we willing to pray, fast, study, seek, worship, and serve as men of God so we can have that kind of priesthood power?”
His description of prayer particularly struck me. “We need to pray from our hearts. Polite recitations of past and upcoming activities, punctuated with some requests for blessings, cannot constitute the kind of communing with God that brings enduring power. Are you willing to pray to know how to pray for more power? The Lord will teach you.”
I’d never thought before of praying to know how to pray or praying for the strength to pray. Like so many, I feel that my personal prayer is an untapped resource that simply does not live up to its potential. So often my thoughts and prayers become rote. So often I go through the motions. And I don’t really get the benefits.
Elder Nelson made clear that the real test, however, isn’t how long our prayers or how well we study the scriptures. The real test is how we are doing in developing Christlike attributes. “So I ask, how would our family members, friends, and coworkers say you and I are doing in developing these and other spiritual gifts? The more those attributes are developed, the greater will be our priesthood power.”
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I’m putting in lots of effort to study, attend, and serve, but I feel like I’m spinning in circles when it comes to developing these attributes. And yet, I also know that change can come slowly and almost imperceptibly.
How do you gain confidence that you are developing attributes of the savior? How can you be sure you are on that upward path?
I wish I knew all the answers. But I do have faith in the divine promise that those who follow Christ will be perfected in and through him.