Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Principles of Prayer found in John 2:1-11

For me, Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine, is a lesson about prayer.

Principle #1 - Prayer is how we communicate with God.
John 2:2 – “Jesus was called . . . to the marriage”

In learning how and why I pray, I have come to recognize Who I need to call when I communicate with Deity. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we understand that it is a commandment to pray to the Father in the name of Christ (3 Nephi 18:19). I am learning that the more my relationship with my Heavenly Father deepens, the more comfortable I am in calling on Him in times of joy as well as in times of sorrow. I know that He knows me and awaits to answer my prayers.

Principle #2 – Prayer is how we petition the Father for our righteous desires.
John 2:3 – “they wanted wine”

I'll admit that there have been times that I have felt guilty for wanting something that was good and right. Or I have had real problems, too big for me to comprehend, and yet, compared to my neighbor or family member, seems so petty in comparison. How can I ask God, who has given me so much anyway, for anything more? Do I have a right? Do my righteous petitions make me sound like I am entitled to those blessings? 

Boyd K. Packer teaches,
“On occasions I’ve had to counsel people for whom the Lord would probably quite willingly approve the thing they intend and want to do. It’s strange that they would come and almost feel guilty about doing something because they want to, even when it’s righteous. The Lord is very generous with the freedom He gives us. The more we learn to follow the right, the more we are spiritually self-reliant, the more our freedom and our independence are affirmed” (Teach Ye Diligently, p. 246).

On the other hand, the absence of petitioning our righteous desires makes us out to be unwise and foolish stewards. We must ask, we must desire to be able to receive.

Neal A. Maxwell writes, 
“Desire denotes a real longing or craving. Hence righteous desires are much more than passive preferences or fleeting feelings. . . .Therefore, what we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity. . . Righteous desires need to be relentless, . . . Therefore, true Christian soldiers are more than weekend warriors. . .The absence of any keen desire—merely being lukewarm—causes a terrible flattening (see Rev. 3:15). . . Brothers and sisters, a loving God will work with us, but the initiating particle of desire which ignites the spark of resolve must be our own” (Ensign, November 1996, 21).

Principle #3 - God will require us to do something in order for Him to answer our prayer
John 2:4 - "Woman, what have I do with (for) thee?"

Our Father is the perfect parent. He gives to us according to our needs, wants and desires. This same question Jesus asked of his mother, (The title "woman:" being much more respectful that we would think of today), He also asked of the three Nephites (3 Nephi 28:4), the brother of Jared (Ether 2:23), and the blind man on the road to Jericho (Luke 18:41). I believe it is a question our Father asks each of us. "What is your solution? What are you willing to do to receive My help? What have you done or what will you do to "prove me now herewith" to open unto you the windows of heaven?" (Malachi 3:10).

Principle #4 – Receiving personal revelation is how God speaks to us
John 2:5,7 – “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it . . . and they filled the [the waterpots] up to the brim”

Julie B. Beck said, “The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.” In other words, when the Lord speaks, listen - and then go and do!

During family scriptures a few weeks ago, I asked my children, “How does the Lord speak to you?” I received nine blank stares. So we sat in silence for a few moments, pondering how the Lord speaks to us. I am learning that recognizing how He speaks (uncomfortable feelings, peace, joy, pure knowledge, etc), requires an obligation on my part. And in fulfilling the obligation He has asked – whether I understand the end result or not – is the way I witness to God that He can trust me do what He asks.

David O. McKay summed it up beautifully, “I want to tell you one thing: When the Lord tells you what to do, you’ve got to have the courage to do it or you had better not ask Him again.”

Principle #5 – God answers prayers
John 2:9 – “the water . . . was made wine”

No, I have not yet seen water turn to wine, but I have seen sorrow transform to joy. I have seen heavy burdens made light. I have seen people I love with all my heart leave their sins behind to come to know Him.  And all this, because I know God answers prayers.

Principle #6 – After prayers of faith, miracles come
John 2:11 – “This beginning of miracles did Jesus . . . and His disciples believed on Him”

I love what President Monson has said, "Does He still hear? Does He continue to answer?” To which I promptly reply: 'There is no expiration date on the Lord’s injunction to pray. As we remember Him, He will remember us.' Most of the time there are no flags waving nor bands playing when prayer is answered. His miracles frequently are performed in a quiet and natural manner."

My testimony is that miracles do happen! For me, the beginning of being able to see miracles happened the day I was born. Since then, I have not ceased to be amazed at how the hand of God works in my life and in the life of my family. 

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