October 4, 2007

Instructions To Newcomers

Jedediah M. Grant September 24, 1854
This discourse begins with an interesting statement:
While the sacrament is passing it may be well to speak a few words to the people.
It seems from this, as well as a few other discourses I've read thus far, speakers would continue through the blessing and/or passing of the sacrament. Sacrament meetings were generally held at the Tabernacle and throughout the Church at certain regional meetings. It wasn't until the late 1870s, shortly before Brigham Young died, that "sacrament meeting" became a weekly local ward function. But I digress.
Emigration to Utah was highly advised by the Church, and missionaries would encourage people to "gather" with the Church in the Utah territory. The saints continued to emigrate to Zion in a relatively steady flow through the 1850s, interrupted only a few times- most notably by the Utah War. Handcart emigration didn't begin until 1856, so at the time this sermon was given it addresses saints who gathered via ship and overland ox train companies sometimes consisting of several hundred people. When these companies arrived in Salt Lake they would usually be addressed by President Young or one of the apostles regarding life in the valley, and other general instruction on living with the saints. Jedediah M. Grant took this occasion to inform the saints that the fledgling territory wasn't perfect:

I am aware that some Elders who go forth and preach long and pious sermons, frequently represent Zion as one of the most delightsome places in the world, as if the people in Salt Lake City were so pure and holy that the flame of sanctity would almost singe the hair off a common man's head. Others suppose when they come here, that they are to be fed, clothed, and housed independent of their own exertions. Some of the Elders have told the Saints in England that the first two weeks after they landed here all they would have to do would be to contemplate the beauties of Zion, and be furnished two weeks' provisions.

The imaginations of some Saints have been so exalted by the Elders who preached to them, that they suppose that all our pigs come ready cooked, with knives and forks in them, and are running round squealing to be eaten; that every tray is filled with bread, every manger with potatoes, and every man's wagon with the choice fruits of the earth.

On the contrary, when the Saints from abroad come to Zion, they will find the people so busy that they can scarcely find time to speak to them, and if they have lost some of their friends on the way, the people in Zion have not time even to help them mourn.

When saints arrived they were usually set up in temporary residence with the Salt Lake community where they could get their feet under them for a few weeks, then it was right back into the fire; they would be sent to different settlements and asked to join in the work immediately; those whose journey was paid for by the Perpetual Emigration Fund to start repaying. It must have been quite the effort! It tended to serve as a sort of "sifting," and any who gathered out of convenience, or manifested a large lack of conviction sometimes kept going right through to California. They didn't know Zion isn't just a place; it's a state of mind:

If you Saints who have just arrived here expect a heaven, I will tell you how to get it; if you have brought a small one with you, keep it, and keep adding to it; that is, if you want a heaven, go to and make it. But I will tell you one thing, if you neglect to pray, neglect to watch, neglect to do your duty, and to serve your God for yourselves, you will be apt to become dissatisfied, disheartened, and dispirited, and wish to go back from whence you came.

But the opposite will be the result with those who keep the commandments of God, who watch and pray, who are active in their spirits and in their religion, and work out their salvation with fear and trembling, if you please, or they may work as hard as they please without fearing and trembling, if they have a mind to. Consequently, when you come here, it is essential that you keep the same religion that you embraced before you started to come here.

Saints joining the Zion community weren't to go there for a live of ease and little responsibility; they were to mourn with those that mourn, comfort those needing comfort, perform their temporal labors dedicating themselves to God, and ...this sounds a lot like the baptismal covenant, and the instructions given by Alma to his renegade Church in the wilderness:
And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life— Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you? (Mosiah 18:8-10).
Elder Grant cautioned the Saints to be aware not all saints were saints:
But in the midst of this people you will find various stripes of character. The net has been cast into the sea, and, if the parable is true, it has drawn to the shore all kinds of fish, and you must not he alarmed if you find in Zion some curiosities. [see Matt. 13:47.] If I wished to find the best men in the world, I should go to Zion to find them; if I wished to find the biggest devil, I would look in Zion for him, among the people of God; there I can find the greatest scamps. I believe the words of Christ are true, that the net has gathered of every kind of fish; that it has gathered men of every class (Jedediah M. Grant, Journal of Discourses 3:65-70).
Keeping this in mind should prevent us from being alarmed at the actions of other members of the Church; not that it is much of our business to begin with what others do if they are not under our stewardship. Keep in mind the Lord acknowledged the Church; that He was well pleased with it "collectively, and not individually" (see D&C 1:30).
New members, as well as old, would do well to take this counsel the Mormon pioneers received to heart.
Poetess/prophetess Eliza R. Snow wrote some apt verses on the subject, which encourage us to have patience, and to remember we have work to do. It may seem a little "works-heavy," but the sentiment of the words are important in our discipleship, and so nearly echo Elder Grant's words it just may be Eliza was in this meeting before taking up her pen. Of that, however, I have no proof:

Think not, when you gather to Zion, Your troubles and trials are through-- That nothing but comfort and pleasure Are waiting in Zion for you. No, no; 'tis design'd as a furnace; All substance, all textures to try -- To consume all the "wood, hay and stubble," And the gold from the dross purify.

Think not, when you gather to Zion That all will be holy and pure -- That deception, and falsehood are banish'd; And confidence wholly secure. No, no; for the Lord our Redeemer Has said that the tares with the wheat Must grow; until the great day of burning Shall render the harvest complete.

Think not, when you gather to Zion, The Saints here have nothing to do But attend to your personal welfare, And always be comforting you. No, the Saints who are faithful are doing What their hands find to do, with their might; To accomplish the gath'ring of Israel They are toiling by day and by night.

Think not, when you gather to Zion, The prize and the victory won -- Think not that the warfare is ended, Or the work of salvation is done. No, no; for the great Prince of Darkness A tenfold exertion will make' When he sees you approaching the fountain Where the truth you may freely partake.

"Think not, When You Gather to Zion," Hymns (1948), no. 21
This concept was discussed in an earlier post regarding sermons by President Young and Elder Franklin D. Richards. Click here for more.

October 2, 2007

"Where Our Hearts Are, There Our Thoughts Will Be"

Brigham Young
July 13, 1855
During the 50s and 60s President Young made a point to travel throughout the Utah settlements to hold conferences for members all over the territory. These caravans often included several apostles, and about 50 others, and were greatly anticipated by members excited for a visit from the prophet. At one such conference at Provo in the summer of 1855, President Young addressed the Saints on their temporal and spiritual duties:

As the people have now begun to assemble, I take the liberty of making a few remarks. I request those who profess to be Saints to exercise faith, and to endeavor to realize that the worship of God is sacred, and beneficial to His people. It is true the we have much to do of a temporal nature, as it is termed; many duties pertaining to daily business and the affairs of this life devolve upon us.

This is necessarily the case, for if we are to build up the kingdom of God, or establish Zion upon the earth, we have to labor with our hands, plan with our minds, and devise ways and means to accomplish that object.

There is a time for all these duties, and there is also a time to serve the Lord by praying, preaching, singing, meditating, watching, and fasting. Inasmuch as there is a time for all things, and as this is the time that we have unitedly set apart for the express purpose of worshiping the Lord, and of enjoying His Holy Spirit by calling in our reflections pertaining to earthly things and objects, that we may attend more immediately to a deep reflection and contemplation of heavenly things, it is necessary for these my brethren, who have accompanied me to this place, to bring their thoughts to bear upon the things that are present, and while we are here, to let Great Salt Lake City remain where it is-don't bring it here.

Brigham knew these new settlers had a lot of care; the droughts threatening crops, mouths to feed, farms to establish, roads to build, irrigation canals to construct, and many other labors. Still, he hoped they would let their minds take a break from the temporal, especially when going to meeting:

Those who have left their families at home, and are away from their houses, cattle, fields, flocks, herds, and other possessions, and also all who have assembled from the different settlements in this county, one and all, let all your affairs, those that you were obliged to leave at home stay where they are, and you stay here and worship the Lord.

In this way every person who has assembled here can feel to leave their affairs and effects where they belong, and bring their minds to bear upon the spiritual things of the kingdom of God. Then they can have their minds enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and understand that which will make them rejoice.

If those are our feelings and determinations, the candle of the Lord will be lighted within our hearts, but if we keep our minds constantly upon our families and effects, we shall be but little benefited by coming here; this is true in regard to each one of us.

Where our hearts are, there our thoughts will be: and if our thoughts are bound up in our earthly possessions, we had better remain at home and attend to what we have most set our affections upon, and not pretend to try to obtain happiness from any other source.
This expression is along the lines of Lehi's reminder to his sons before he died:
Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal (2 Nephi 9:39).
His advice to missionaries was the same; keep your mind on the work:
Those who go out to preach the Gospel and at the same time say, 'My poor wife and my poor children; and I shall be glad when my mission is out,' seldom do much good.
He exhorted again, keep your minds on the Lord when at meetings:
When people assemble to worship they should leave their worldly cares where they belong, then their minds are in a proper condition to worship the Lord, to call upon Him in the name of Jesus, and to get His Holy Spirit, that they may hear and understand things as they are in eternity, and know how to comprehend the providences of our God. This is the time for their minds to be open, to behold the invisible things of God, that He reveals by His Spirit.
Brigham believed one reason we are commanded to meet together often, at least each Sunday, was to engender unity. He said prayer was another way unity could be increased, with families as well as in the Church:

Again, suppose a family wish to assemble for prayer, what would be orderly and proper? For the head of the family to call together his wife, or wives, and children, except the children who are too small to be kept quiet, and when he prays aloud, all present, who are old enough to understand, should mentally repeat the words as they fall from his lips; and why so? That all may be one. If the people will ask in faith, they will receive, and let all mentally ask precisely as does the one who is spokesman.

Let all leave the cares of their work behind them; let the kitchens take care of themselves, and let the barns, the flocks and herds take care of themselves, and if they are destroyed while you are praying, be able to freely say, 'Go, they are the Lord's; He gave them to me, and I will worship Him; I will assemble my family and call upon the name of my God.'

By leaving business and the cares thereof where they belong, and attending strictly to worship in its season, if not at first, you soon will be united, and be able to bring every evil principle into subjection. If all are bound up in this manner, don't you see that it will make a mighty cord of faith?

As with Martha and Mary, Jesus would have us "choose the good part," that of loving and listening, rather than "running faster than we have strength" while neglecting the "weightier matters of the law" (see Luke 10:40-42; Mosiah 4:27; Matthew 23:23).
In speaking more of prayer, Brigham encouraged the saints to repeat the words of prayers in their minds, alluding to a higher order of prayer:

I will now ask this congregation, how many of you thought of mentally repeating my prayer as the words came to your ears? Did you realize that the order of prayer required you to mentally follow the words of the person who was praying? With us every one should mentally repeat the same words and ask for the same things as does the one who leads vocally, and let all say, amen.

There are times and places when all should vocally repeat the words spoken, but in our prayer meetings and in our family circles let every heart be united with the one who takes the lead by being mouth before the Lord, and let every person mentally repeat the prayers, and all unite in whatever is asked for, and the Lord will not withhold, but will give to such persons the things which they ask for and rightly need.
He concluded the topic with an appeal to unity through meetings and prayer:
In some denominations the hearers are accustomed to cry out, 'Amen, amen, amen, hallelujah, praise the Lord,' &c., during the prayer service, and immediately let their minds wander to the ends of the earth. That is not the right way to pray, but let every one throw off care for their effects, for the Lord knows all about them; He protects them while we are with them; and He is equally able to protect them while we are absent; therefore, while engaged in worshiping Him, let every heart be concentrated upon the subject before them. If this congregation will take this course, I promise them that they will go to their dwellings satisfied that the Almighty has been with us to strengthen us; but if our minds are like the fool's eyes, we shall be profited but little.
By following the counsel, we shall be profited greatly. Brigham closed to give way to the next speaker:
It seems to be hard work for me to speak here this morning, and I will give way and let the brethren occupy the remaining time this forenoon. The ideas that I have laid before you, if you think of them and lay them to heart, will do you good; and in our protracted meeting we may be spiritually benefited, and receive joy and satisfaction. I feel to bless you all the time, and pray that we may be prepared to build up Zion and to inherit the fulness of the glory of God on the earth; this is my prayer continually. May the Lord bless you. Amen (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:51-65).

October 1, 2007

Trials and Happiness

Orson Pratt
Jedediah M. Grant
May 10 and 20, 1855 In this discourse, Pratt began by contrasting the attitudes of the first Utah settlers with the attitudes of more recent emigrants:
We see, from what has been portrayed before us, the trials and difficulties that we, some of us, have had to endure in this Church; we also see, from what he has explained, the patience of the people in passing through those difficulties; no murmuring, no complaining, no faultfinding, but all taking hold with one heart and one mind to do the will of God, under the most straightened circumstances. We can contrast this feeling with what we see manifested by some of our new emigrants; some of them come in here feeling dissatisfied, having become so in crossing the plains; they will differ with each other, lose the good spirit, and allow themselves to be controlled by an evil influence. I say we can see...a great contrast between those that first came here, and those that now come (Journal of Discourses 3:12-13).
Granted there must have been a little complaining here and there, but overall, Pratt felt the attitude of the first Mormon pioneers was much more positive than the new emigrants. He explained why he believed that was so:

Now the question might arise in the minds of some: "Were the pioneers who came here so much better than those persons that now come?"

I think not.

"Then why was there no murmuring, nor fault-finding, nor apostasy?"

The reason is obvious; those who first came here had more experience in such matters than the new emigrants have, who come here almost without experience in those things which they naturally come in contact with when crossing the plains. In fact there are very few in the world that would do any better than the ‘Mormon’ pioneers did the first year they came here. It requires experience to enable people patiently to pass through the scenes of trial that were endured by the pioneers, and those who first came into these valleys.

Take our late emigration that have crossed over the plains, and let them be driven a few times from their comfortable habitations, and let them wander for months in the cold winter, and then send them off on an expedition, such as the pioneers took to this country, and you would see them quite a different people: you would see them altered and improved by the course of experience they had passed through; they would be benefited by certain kinds of experience which others have passed through before them; and, if attentive, they would add many important items to their former stock of wisdom and knowledge.

Consequently, it requires experience, not only for the old members, but for the new; and should the new members be permitted to come from the old countries, and meet with no poverty, no affliction, it would not be known whether those persons would endure such trials; and hence the necessity of such trials to give people experience.
It needs no extensive retelling: the early Latter-day Saints endured an awful lot of trials. They must have got all their murmuring out of the way at that time! Trials weren't reserved for the early saints only; every member is promised trials. While the new emigrants had encountered trials before joining the Church, they should expect some problems to continue after gathering to Zion:

Then, it is not surprising to me that the Lord takes certain measures to bring those persons into difficult circumstances; in fact, we have the Lord's own declaration for it, that He will try this people, not in some things, but in all things, to see if they will abide in the covenant, and He says, "If they will not, then they will not abide in me."

Here, then, we perceive that each will have his share of trials, either in the beginning or in the advanced state of the Church. We do not know what they will be, only so far as God has revealed in His word.
Pratt said experiencing trials was requisite in the plan of God, that we might experience opposition in all things. In opposition we can make our own choices (see 2 Nephi 2). This learning by trial is a hard doctrine. We want to take Christ's yoke upon us because his yoke is easy, and his burden is light (Matt. 11:30). Notice, the yoke is still there, and some pulling is still required. Elder Pratt said God will test us with trials to see if we will obey Him in all things. This concept was emphasized by Elder Henry B. Eyring in his general conference address shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. In the midst of commotion; wars, rumors of wars, Elder Eyring noted an increase in the discussion of prayer. When in trouble, people turned to God in prayer:

The great increase in heartfelt prayer, and the public acceptance of it, has been remarkable to me and to others. More than once in recent days, someone has said to me with great intensity and with a sound of worry in the voice, 'I hope that the change lasts.'

That worry is justified. Our own personal experience and God’s record of His dealing with His children teaches us that. Dependence on God can fade quickly when prayers are answered. And when the trouble lessens, so do the prayers. The Book of Mormon repeats that sad story over and over again."

He then quoted a most powerful selection. Helaman 12:1-3:

And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.

Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.

And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.

As Elder Eyring explained, when the trouble lessens, so do the prayers; a sentiment echoed by Elder Pratt:

Should all this people here in Utah be called to pass through such scenes as some of us have been called upon to encounter, I believe there would be many who would say, "Let us endure these things with all submission and patience before God."

In order to do this, it is necessary for us, in our prosperity, to remember the Lord our God, for if men and women will not remember the Lord, when the heavens smile upon them, and when health is in their habitations—if they will not acknowledge the hand of God then, and be thankful for the blessings that they receive, you may be sure that they will not be so well prepared to endure trials, and to pass through adversities, as those who have, in the days of their prosperity, humbled themselves before the Lord, and acknowledged His hand in all things. There are individuals in this Territory, of a careless disposition,and you may mark them, and those that have waxed fat, and their hearts are upon the things of this world, that when tribulations come, they will be the ones to quake and fear, while those who have taken a different course will be able to stand.

Many of the saints who didn't complain while crossing the plains had endured trials earlier in their discipleship. Elder Pratt related something he learned from Joseph Smith while the saints were enduring one of these many trials. When saints began settling at Commerce [later Nauvoo] in the Spring of 1839, the area was a muddy, swampy mess. These new settlers had just been evicted from their Missouri homes, enduring cold weather, as well as inadequate shelter, clothing and food, thus arriving to Commerce in a weakened state. Hundreds of people became sick with malaria, most likely because of the stagnant condition of the land. Joseph filled his house with the ill, and tents full of sick people filled his yard. All over Commerce people were suffering. Joseph himself, while trying to care for the sick, was soon overtaken with the illness. (see History of the Church 4:3-5)

Regarding these circumstances, Elder Pratt related the following:

I heard brother Joseph, when speaking of those that were sick in Nauvoo, make remarks similar to those that I have now made. He said, that those who would not, when in good health, call upon the Lord, and acknowledge His hand in all things, and remember him, would not have faith when it was needed-he said that those individuals would have but very little faith in the days of their calamities and affliction. Then seek to get faith and spirit sufficient to assist us in the days of our afflictions, that we may be prepared for all the vicissitudes of life. We ought to know that we are well off at the present, but all do not realize this fact. How often I have thought of the remark made by the Prophet; nothing can be more true than that remark; it carries its own evidence with it, that those individuals who have wealth and riches in abundance, but do not remember the Lord, when troubles come, they will be in the greatest distress, generally speaking.

Elder Pratt may have had a selection from the Doctrine and Covenants in mind when he related this story. Many of those saints suffering in Commerce, when driven from their homes in Missouri, learned a valuable lesson about prayer in good times as well as in times of trouble:

Verily I say unto you, concerning your brethren who have been afflicted, and persecuted, and cast out from the land of their inheritance— I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions; Yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels. Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son. For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified. Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances. They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble. In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me. Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding their sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards them. I will not utterly cast them off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy (D&C 101:1-8).

Whether our trials are caused by our own mistakes, the mistakes of others, or events completely out of our control, it is vital that we have established a relationship with God before and as the trials come. Staying close to God at all times means we'll be close to Him in hard times. With all this dreary talk of trials, we need to remember life isn't all about the garbage we have to deal with. We can experience joy in the present; even amidst trials. Too many saints believe we might have to postpone all joy until the next life, missing out on the joy of everyday living. Brigham Young was a firm believer that we should have joy here and now, as well as joy anticipating eternity. Horace Greely, a famous newspaper man, wrote a chapter on Brigham Young in his book An Overland Journey From New York to San Fransisco in the Summer of 1859. He described the prophet thusly:
He was very plainly dressed in thin summer clothing, and with no air of sanctimony or fanaticism. In appearance, he is a portly, frank, good-natured, rather thick-set man of fifty-five, seeming to enjoy life, and to be in no particular hurry to get to heaven (ibid. chapter 21).
Brigham enjoyed the "here and now" alongside anticipating the "there and then" of the great Millennial day. Brigham's philosophy was one of happiness, and he spoke of it often in his sermons; he called the gospel "happifying." What made this man happy? After all the trouble he experienced, how could this man preach happiness? He had happiness figured out:

I have learned enough to be happy, when I am in the enjoyment of the blessings of the Lord. That is a great lesson for a man to learn. There are two things that make this people unhappy, if ever they are unhappy, viz., themselves, and the spirits that are around them. This, however, will more particularly apply to individuals… Will you make yourselves happy? You are greatly blessed of the Lord, all the day long, and should be happy; but we are apt to close our eyes against this fact, and fancy ourselves miserable, when we are actually blessed. I have learned not to fret myself about that which I cannot help. If I can do good, I will do it; and if I cannot reach a thing, I will content myself to be without it. This makes me happy all the day long. I wish you to learn the same profitable lesson. Who hinders you from being happy? from praying, and serving the Lord as much as you please? Who hinders you from doing all the good in your power to do? Who is there here, to mar in any way the peace of any Saint that lives in these peaceful valleys? No one (Journal of Discourses 1:1).

We can enjoy the here and now. Ten days before Pratt's discourse on trials, Elder Jedediah M. Grant expressed his views on joy in the gospel even in times of trouble:

In order to understand the principle of happiness you must not be ever complaining, but learn not to fret yourselves. If things do not go right, let them go as they will, if they go rough, let it be so; if all hell boils over, let it boil. I thank the Lord for the bitter as well as for the sweet; I like to grapple with the opposite: I like to work and have something to oppose. I used to dread those things, but now I like to grapple with opposition, and there is plenty of it on the right hand and on the left. When trouble gets in among you, shake it off, or bid it stand out of the way. If the devil should come...kick him right out of your way; bid him depart, do not allow him to have place in your habitation, but learn to be happy… [G]ive me a religion that will make me happy here, and that will make me happy hereafter. If you have the blues, or the greens, shake them off, and learn to be happy, and to be thankful. If you have nothing to eat but johnny cake, be thankful for that, and if you have not johnny cake, but have a roasted potatoe and buttermilk, why, be thankful; or if you have a leg of a chicken, or any other kind of food, learn to be thankful, and if you have only one dollar in your pocket, learn to be as happy under these circumstances as if you had ten dollars... I want the Saints to live in a way that they can feel happy all the time, and then we shall enjoy the Holy Spirit; then we shall meet in heaven to part and meet again... (Jedediah M. Grant, Journal of Discourses 3:7-10).

Living the gospel amounts to following Christ, and we do so by doing the basics. Doing the basics can enable us to experience confidence in trials through the comfort of the Holy Ghost.

Elder Eyring gave a few reminders on how to receive and retain the influence of the Holy Ghost:

The words and the music of this conference will lead you to do what will strengthen you against the danger of a drift away from heartfelt prayer. From what you hear you will feel promptings to go to the scriptures. Follow the promptings. You will be reminded in this conference of service you committed to give when you entered the waters of baptism. Choose to obey. If you ponder the scriptures and begin to do what you covenanted with God to do, I can promise you that you will feel more love for God and more of His love for you. And with that, your prayers will come from the heart, full of thanks and of pleading. You will feel a greater dependence on God. You will find the courage and the determination to act in His service, without fear and with peace in your heart. You will pray always. And you will not forget Him, no matter what the future brings. I bear you my testimony that God the Father lives. He loves us. He hears our prayers, and He answers with what is best for us. As we come to know Him through His words and in His service, we will love Him more. I know that is true (Henry B. Eyring, "Prayer," Ensign, Nov. 2001).
*In the future I'd like to explore the value of sorrow in the gospel. Sometimes it seems we overemphasize happiness to the extent it is seen as sinful to feel sorrow, but we are also taught that Christ feels sorrow. There is something important in proper sorrow that deserves to be explained further.