General Conference Talk: Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, “One Link Still Holds,” October 1999
I don’t know how family prayer happens in other families, but in our family it seems to be the perfect time for Satan to do his work.
Because it starts the very moment my husband or I say, “It’s time for family prayer.”
And that’s when it begins:
One son winds up quarantined in the bathroom . . .
Another son decides to wield the broken light saber over the heads of his younger brother and sister – because he thought he saw a fly right over their heads . . .
Two more sons start giving each other noogies, rolling over each other to avoid being the last one touched . . .
Which results in knocking over an innocent sibling who was somewhat trying to get ready for prayer, who instinctively has to hit back because, after all, he wasn’t the one who started it . . .
And then there is the one son who is in the corner, oblivious to everything because he is so busy fitting together a 12,341 piece Star Wars Lego fighter of some kind.
And to top it off, the baby is crying . . .
Needless to say, it is by this time that our children are severely reproved with sharpness, but I can tell you - it definitely is not moved upon by the Holy Ghost.
And you’d think we’d learn . . .Oh, no.
So this evening, our lesson was not on the importance of family prayer, but more on how we come ready for family prayer.
And this incredible, heart-rending story told by Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone made tonight’s discussion on family prayer one thay hopefully we can remember during family prayer tomorrow night as well!
"It was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, about 1943—I went to priesthood meeting. There was a large framed board. It had the pictures of all the young men serving in the military. Priests who had been at the sacrament table a few months earlier were now in the war. Each week it would be updated. Those who were killed in action had a gold star by their picture; those who had been wounded, a red star; and those missing in action, a white star. Every week, as a 12-year-old deacon, I checked to see who had been killed or wounded.
"In quorum meeting that morning, the member of the bishopric said: “This Thursday is Thanksgiving. We ought to all have family prayer in our homes.” Then he said, “Let’s put on the blackboard the things we are grateful for.” We did, and he said, “Include these things in your Thanksgiving prayer.” I got sick to my stomach, as we never had a prayer or blessing.
"That night at 6:30 we went to sacrament meeting. At the end of the meeting, the bishop stood up and was very tender. He told about the young men from our ward who had been killed and wounded. He talked about our liberty, our freedom, our flag, and this great country, and our blessings. Then he said, “I’d hope every single family would kneel and have family prayer on Thanksgiving Day and thank God for His blessings.”
"My heart ached. I thought, How can we have family prayer? I wanted to be obedient. I hardly slept all Sunday night. I wanted to have a prayer for Thanksgiving. I even thought I would say it if someone asked me, but I was too shy to volunteer. I worried all day Monday, and all day Tuesday, and Wednesday at school.
"Dad did not come home on Wednesday until early in the morning. Thursday we all got up. There were five boys and two sisters. We skipped breakfast so we would have a real appetite for Thanksgiving dinner. To work up an appetite, we went to a nearby field and dug a hole six feet deep and six feet wide. We made a trench to it as a hideout. I remember with every shovelful of dirt, I thought, Please, Heavenly Father, let us have a prayer.
"Finally at 2:30, my mother called us to come and eat. We cleaned up and sat at the table. Somehow Mom had managed to have a turkey with all the trimmings. She put all the food on the table, including the turkey. I thought my heart would burst. Time was running out. I looked at my father, then my mother. I thought, Please, now, someone, anyone, please can’t we have a prayer. I was almost panicky; then all of a sudden everyone started to eat. I had worked hard all morning and afternoon to work up an appetite, but I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t want to eat. I wanted to pray more than anything else in this world, and it was too late.
"Beloved youth, be grateful for parents who have prayer and read the scriptures. Prize family home evening. Be grateful for those who teach and train you."