Tag Archives: prayer

My Testimony

By Guest Blogger Laura Pitt

Most of my life, I didn’t think I needed a God. I was agnostic, at best. When I started college in Seattle in 2009, I was in a relationship with a very manipulative and hurtful person. I turned into a very sad and dependent young woman; as long as I was with this man, I believed I did not need to be accountable to anyone except him. This relationship, and other personal events, led to what I call my “rock bottom” in the winter of 2010. I felt so alone and so forgotten that I didn’t think I should be in this world anymore. These thoughts scared me, and a little feeling, a little voice said, “Just wait, and if you still feel this way tomorrow, get help.” I moved home, sought proper treatment, and went to a local community college in the meantime. (And the guy? He’s out of my life forever!) I learned immediately from my rock bottom that I cannot isolate myself, that my friends and family are here for me and want me to be happy.

After a year of working hard at community college, it was time to return to my university.  When I moved back to Seattle this fall, I quickly became overwhelmed with fear. I kept hearing, What if I’m not good enough?

I remember the day so clearly. I was going to officially declare my major. When the adviser explained opportunities within the major, I broke down crying. I told her that I was upset about my bike (which I discovered that morning had been stolen), but I knew it was just the last straw. I felt alone and forgotten again, and I knew I wasn’t going to get through school (and life, for that matter) if I kept living with these feelings.  They paralyzed me, and I just knew there had to be a way to get past them.

I left the meeting completely embarrassed. I walked back home through campus and saw some LDS missionaries. They’d been on campus a million times before, and I had ignored them a million times before. But that day, a little voice said to me, “Go talk to them. They’ll listen.” When the elder asked to pray with me, he asked afterwards how I felt. I was crying (happy tears, this time!) and said that it was comforting and really nice to have someone pray for me. To which he responded, “What you’re feeling is the Holy Ghost.”

In that ten minute conversation, the elder had demystified so much to me about the Godhead (I had heard of but never understood the concept of the Holy Ghost before). There had to be something to this church, I quickly realized.  The elders gave me a Book of Mormon and made an appointment with me the next day to see their church and to have a lesson.

I tried to bail out of that meeting. I called and listed almost every stereotype about the LDS Church as my reasons for not going, and the elder stayed on the phone with me for twenty minutes explaining why each stereotype was inaccurate. I caved, “Alright, I’ll still meet you guys today.”

And I’m so grateful I did. Each lesson was more and more eye-opening. I did have questions, but there were always answers. Every doctrine and every commandment comes with so many blessings (I can write about this, but it’d take a whole other article!). The elders always asked me to pray, read the Book of Mormon, and to go to church.

I had attended numerous Protestant services in my past, but was never compelled to return. However, I loved every moment on Sunday at church for LDS, and I know now that I love it so because it is the true and restored church of Jesus Christ.  I always felt I had to settle when going to other church services, but this was perfect.

I was baptized and confirmed three weeks and two days after my first meeting with the elders. The adversary used my past against me, telling me I was not worthy and deserving of happiness—there was no point in me trying to be a good person anymore because of mistakes in my past. Through my baptism, I was finally released from the grasp of my past. I promised to God that I will try every moment to be the best person I can be, and that I will not turn away from his love ever again. The gift of the Holy Spirit was the “thing” that was always missing for me. Yes, I had already learned that my friends and family loved me and were there for me, but sometimes they couldn’t understand my feelings and my thoughts. I joined so many different clubs and organizations trying to seek that comfort. The Holy Ghost is God’s blessing to me after I chose to be baptized. My Heavenly Father has always been there for me. He did get through to me in my darkest, most humble moments, through the Holy Spirit, but now I have it with me always.

I testify that Heavenly Father never gives up on you. He will be there for you during your highest highs and your lowest lows. He feels everything you feel, and he knows you better than anyone (even you, sometimes). I know that Heavenly Father knew exactly what I needed to go through so that I could come Home. He knew it would take twenty-one years of investigating before my heart would be humbled and soft enough to finally receive these revelations. I am not alone, I am not forgotten, and I am loved perfectly by my Heavenly Father. The trials I’ve faced here have built my testimony, and I now have no doubt in the truth of the gospel. My life itself hasn’t really changed, but I face each day now with a peaceful and joyful anticipation instead of dread and fear, and that’s the greatest comfort Heavenly Father can give me.

My First Fast

By Guest Blogger Marc Jorgensen

For me, understanding my relationship between myself and God has not always come easily. Coming to know that God truly exists has been the most critical component of my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Knowing that God knows and understands me helps me to trust him.

The first time I seriously fasted was a pivotal point in my life. It allowed me to feel much closer to God, and gave me a real knowledge that he actually listens and responds to our sincere prayers. Fasting involves going without food and water for a twenty-four hour period; when we fast we are encouraged to have a specific need or blessing that we ask from God, which, if it is appropriate and we are worthy, we will receive. I learned about this process repeatedly since I was a kid, and had made attempts at fasting growing up, none of which had a lasting impact.

But something was different when I was seventeen years old. My mind was more mature, and I felt I had arrived at a point where I should actually sacrifice something and have a sincere fast if I expected actual answers to prayers from God. I cannot recall what I specifically prayed for, but I do remember the strong desire I felt to supplicate God to help me complete the fast.

I was over six feet tall and used to a high daily food intake. So, almost immediately after beginning my fast (with a prayer) my mind and body were constantly pulling at me to eat or drink. It was very difficult, and more than a few times I found myself praying to overcome my appetite.

This experience was entirely different than any other attempt I had made. My prayers became more focused, and I felt my faith in the reality of God growing tremendously with each passing hour. When I read the Bible or the Book of Mormon that day, my perception to details and insights into passages increased. With this new understanding, the scriptures became less a story and more a reality to me. Essentially, as I focused less on my physical needs, my spiritual sensitivity became more refined and I became aware of things I never noticed before.

This was an eye-opening experience. I did learn to be in better control of my body, but more importantly it established a firm belief that God really exists, and that has stayed with me. This knowledge continues to positively influence my thoughts and actions to this day.

Three Ways To Keep Your Cool In An Existential Crisis

calm like sunlight through a window

At some point this may have happened to you. You’re in transit somewhere, maybe on a bus to work and playing Angry Birds on your smartphone, maybe driving to school and thinking about anything but class, maybe on a run with headphones in, listening to Adele. And then it hits you, mid-angry-bird-arc across the screen, mid-commute, mid-‘we-could-have-had-it-all’ at full volume: you think to yourself, “What am I doing with my life?!” This thought comes in different versions, like “what is the purpose of my life?,” “what am I going to do after I graduate?,” “I’m not in a job I love,” and “what is the meaning of life?” (although the last one is considered so cliché in American culture that we leave it as a non-vocal, internalized question).This is what I call an existential crisis. It happens to everyone, for some more often than others. To mitigate the negative effects of an existential crisis and to find the real meaning in life, I take a few actions.

 1. I realize that not knowing my full purpose or path doesn’t mean I don’t have one. God has a purpose for us that will bring us the most joy, and that purpose is to enable us to enjoy all his blessings. The scripture that goes along with this comes from a prophet named Mormon. He says, “…I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.” Words of Mormon 1:7.  Whether or not you know the specifics, you have a purpose and path for your life.

 2. I talk to God about it. Prayer is a conversation with God. You’re not going to just ramble on, though, because you aren’t going to him just to chat. You’ve got a question (you know, that existential question about the meaning of your life). Talk to God and tell him your situation: you don’t know what to do next or what your real purpose is. God promises “ask and ye shall receive,” but you can’t just pray once, with the attitude “God I’m here to get what I want from you as fast as possible and then I don’t plan to talk to you again until my next existential crisis.” You have to form a good relationship. After all, God isn’t a robot. He’s our father. Believe it or not, he wants us to grow and wants to lead us to the right answer thoughtfully so we can truly incorporate it. You have to be consistent, not because you have to prove to God that you really mean it (he knows; after all, I’m pretty sure he reads minds). You are proving to yourself that you mean it. The more you work for an honest desire, the more you will value the gift. Nephi, the first prophet to speak in the Book of Mormon, says, “I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh… my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee” 2 Nephi 4:35

Action item: Talk to God right now – try it now while you’re thinking about it.

 3. I strive to be interdependent.As much as you think you can find purpose in isolation, purpose just doesn’t work that way. Somehow the magical ingredient that you need is another person or people, and it always involves making their lives better. Consider God’s purpose for a second: “His work and glory – the purpose for this magnificent universe – is to save and exalt mankind” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, You Matter to Him. Helping and working with others is one part of every human being’s purpose and the key to finding the specifics of your individual purpose.

Action item: Write down the name of one person you know. Next to their name write down one thing you will do to make his or her life better before you go to sleep tomorrow.

Guest Blogger Annie: Receiving Answers through the Holy Ghost

The evidence of God’s love for his children is abundant. As a loving father, one thing that is very important to him is communicating with his children, which he does by means of the Holy Ghost. After an individual is baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This means that, as we keep ourselves worthy, we can enjoy the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Even those who have not been baptized can feel the influence of this Spirit. This is especially important if you are learning about the gospel, because it means you can ask God questions and he is able to literally answer you. God and Jesus Christ both have physical bodies, just like us. Since the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost, has no physical body, he is able to speak to us through thoughts, feelings, and promptings. Getting in touch with the Holy Ghost is a delicate process. In order to create a relationship with the Holy Ghost, you must behave in a way that invites his presence. God gave us many commandments to help us to do this. Abstaining from alcohol and drugs keeps our minds clear, sharp, and more able to receive communication. Watching movies that do not contain violence, distasteful language, etc. keeps our thoughts in a good place. Following commandments not only keeps us out of situations that are uninviting to the Spirit, but also our obedience shows Heavenly Father that we are responsible and ready to be instructed.

This all must seem a bit hard to swallow—that God can speak to people, and that he can even speak to you. It is a beautiful truth, and fortunately, one that can be easily tested. Once you learn how to access the power of the Holy Ghost, your many questions and doubts about gospel principles, church standards, and our beliefs will begin to come to light. The Holy Ghost will be one of your most important tools in the learning process. So whatare some ways to find out whether the Holy Ghost actually works? Let’s run an experiment.

First, following the commandments is a good place to start. Try to reduce negative influences in your life in order to create a spiritually conducive environment in your heart. Next, start praying to God; have sincere conversations with him in which you tell him your thoughts about the gospel, ask for help to understand the concepts that confuse you, and ask him questions about the concepts you don’t believe. Specifically ask him for help to feel the Spirit. Ask him to help you understand the language of the Spirit, to teach you what the Spirit feels like.

Moroni was a prophet and the final record-keeper of the Book of Mormon, about six hundred years ago. In his conclusion of the record, he gives this invitation and promise: if you read, ponder, and then “ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith… [God] will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:4-5).

If you do not immediately feel that your questions have been answered, don’t worry. Heavenly Father teaches us patience by working on his own timetable. Additionally, the Spirit often speaks to us through the words of prophets—both modern day prophets and those from the scriptures. If you diligently keep listening, reading, studying, and pondering, you will receive an answer, just like Moroni promised.

I know that the Holy Ghost is a real being, and that he has the power to communicate to us the truths of God.  I have learned this for myself through hard work and patience. Though my connection with the Holy Ghost is not perfect, it is one of my favorite relationships. He has the ability to comfort me in times of pain. He helps me learn, both spiritually and academically, beyond my natural abilities. He guides me as I prayerfully make decisions. His influence makes me a better person, more loving, more understanding, and more willing to serve others. He is a dear friend, and I encourage you to prayerfully invite him into your life.

Prayers & Answers

Somebody once shared the following story with me about a friend of his who was walking in central park in New York City, “Above the sounds of city life he heard the song of a bird. He stopped and listened. Those with him had not heard it. He looked around. No one else had noticed it. It bothered him that everyone should miss something so beautiful. So he took a coin from his pocket and flipped it into the air. It struck the pavement with a ring no louder than the song of the bird. Everyone turned: they could hear that! It is difficult to separate from all the sounds of city traffic the song of a bird, but you can hear it. You can hear it plainly if you train yourself to listen for it.” That phrase, ‘you can hear it if you train yourself to listen for it’ is what we need to do. We need to train ourselves to understand how God talks to us.

I wanted to know if the Book of Mormon was true so I decided that I would read it and search it. I then prayed to see if it were true. I did not feel I received an answer to my prayer. I read, studied, and prayed more. Still I felt no answer was coming. After several months I decided to study something else. I studied how God speaks to man through the Spirit. After learning about the Spirit, I again brought my request to the Lord and received an answer. I had not ‘received’ an answer before because I had not trained myself to hear ‘the bird’. Once I learned how the bird or the Spirit worked then I could hear and understand it.

“There are so many of us who go through life and seldom, if ever, hear that voice of inspiration, because ‘the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Cor. 2:14).”

I was the natural man and had to learn the things of the Spirit. The Lord taught me how to hear the bird. Sometimes I hear the bird but I do not understand what he is singing. I am still the natural man and need to work harder to understand what God is trying to tell me. The scriptures tell us that we will be taught by the Spirit, precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little. I know that the Lord will continue to teach me as long as I have a true desire to learn and understand what He wants me to know and do.

The Spirit plays such an important role when we pray. We pray and ask for help in our lives but seldom do we sit and try to hear the bird and what he is singing. When we pray we need to listen as we would at any other time. The Lord will teach us through the Spirit but only when we are willing to learn and be taught. I want to be taught and will continue to train myself to listen to the Spirit as I pray and search for answers. Before I made this post, I shared it with a friend who recommended I write a future post about ‘what I’ve heard so far from the bird’. In a few weeks I will put together a few experiences and share them with you. For now, please share your experiences with answers to prayers. How has God answered your prayers?

My Conversion

The following is from Bev King, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who relates in this blog how she was first introduced to the “Mormon” Faith:

Sixteen years ago I was yearning to find a group of Christians to join with.  I grew up in the Episcopal church, and there was much about the Episcopal church that I loved and still do love.  I found the cathedral-like beauty of the church interior and the sacred music very uplifting.  I liked the fact that my church was interested in social justice issues.  I resonated with the values of love and service of the Episcopal church, but I was looking for something more.   I explored many different religions but didn’t find one that suited me.  I was spiritually adrift.

After many years of spiritual drifting, I prayed to find a Christian group with whom I could continue my spiritual journey.  I had a desire to deepen my relationship with God and be joined with people who shared the same values.  I never dreamed that when I signed on for my first acting job on the feature film, The Crucible, that I would find the answer to my prayer on that film set.   I developed a friendship with a woman I met on the set of The Cruicible.  One night, we had a conversation about religion.   She told me she was Mormon, I exclaimed, “Mormon, I’ve never known anyone who is Mormon.  Tell me what you believe.”  And she did.

Everything she told me resonated with me.  She told me that there is a Spirit World where we lived with God before we are born.  Families can live together forever.  We live with God after we die.  That life on earth is a time where we can grow and change and can become more like Christ.  She told me many other things that made sense to me.  One important thing that she told me was that each person is entitled to personal revelation directly from God.  My interest was piqued.  I wanted to learn more.  I started going to church events with her and then started to go to church meetings, and three months later converted to the LDS faith and was baptized.

In the LDS church, I have found something very precious.  I have found a group of people who live their religion. They don’t leave their Sunday values in church.  They endeavor to live them 24/7.  I learned that God does hear our prayers.  God is real, and I can have a personal relationship with Him.  For this and so much more, I am so very gratedul for the restoration of the gospel and the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that espouses these precious teachings.

A Christ Centered Home

My family is now a family of 4. Don’t ask me how we got to this point, I have no idea. I feel like I should still be in college with my roommates eating pizza and cookie dough while watching chick flicks. But here I am, finally realizing I’m a real adult (think it took me long enough?). I’ve been reflecting on the influence I have on my family and especially my children and I’ve realized that the influence I have on them could either make or break their happiness in life. No pressure. I’ve had a few negative experiences lately (in places where I was expecting positive experiences) that have made me take a step back and recognize that really my home is the only place where I can guarantee that there will be a loving and Christ centered atmosphere. But the only way to guarantee this is if my husband and I make it that way. It’s harder than it sometimes seems. Now that life is much more hectic and jumbled with a very young baby  and a 3 year old I’m finding it’s harder and harder to stay focused on Christ and to have that loving environment.

Though my husband and I have always tried to be doing what is right we are realizing we need to be more dedicated and more diligent. The past 4 days we have made sure that we have read scriptures together as a family (usually only a few verses, we do have a 3 year old) and talked about what the scripture meant and how we can apply it to us. We have had a family prayer before my husband is out the door for work and we had a short but meaningful Family Home Evening (this one is tricky for us because my husband works late so we are going to be experimenting to find out how we can better fit it in).  I kid you not, the past 4 days have been so much better than the month before. My son has had fewer tantrums, I have been more patient, I’ve felt less scattered and all over the place. There has been a real difference in how our home feels. Though it’s hard to always fit things in with crazy schedules and crazy children I’ve learned I can’t afford not to. I owe it to my children to have Christ as the center of our home so that they can feel love here and feel safe here and know that no matter what lies outside of our front door they will always be able to feel the spirit in our home.

Mormon Missionaries

On Sunday we had the full-time missionaries over.  When we asked them how things were going they really brightened up and told us about a family they just started teaching. They said in their first lesson with this family they talked about prayer because no one in the family had ever prayed before. They shared with us what a powerful experience it was for them to watch this family pray for the first time and how happy it made them that the family had a good experience praying together.

I think often people are kind of scared of the full-time missionaries or think of them as aggressive preachers.  I wanted to share this moment we had with the missionaries to just display the attitude of most of the full time missionaries. Most of them just want to help people be happy. They get excited when they see people coming closer to God because they know it will help them find happiness. Missionaries go around teaching the gospel as a way of helping people.

Not everyone is going to be interested in what the missionaries have to say and trust me, they know that, but they try to reach and talk to as many people as possible so that hopefully they can find the people that are interested or who are looking for more out of life. I very much respect and admire the full time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Generally, missionaries are 19-23 years old. They leave home for two years and work every day from 6:30am-10:30pm. They often have to learn a new language or be immersed in a new culture with very little training. They face rejection daily and quite frankly serving a full-time LDS mission is just plain hard. But, the vast majority will tell you that it is worth it because they were able to help bring even just a few people closer to Christ. That takes guts, courage and strength. I’m really glad to be a part of church that cares so much about those searching for more truth.

Priesthood Blessings of Healing

I just got back from a couple of weeks in Utah.  My younger and only sister got married. This trip turned out to be more eventful than planned. A week before my sister’s wedding my dad had to unexpectedly have back surgery. Right before surgery my dad received a priesthood blessing of healing.

Healing priesthood blessings are quite common among Mormons. I have received healing priesthood blessings before and after the birth of my son and at other times when I’ve been very sick. Was I miraculously healed every time I’ve had a healing priesthood blessing? Was my dad miraculously healed after receiving a priesthood blessing? In short, not every blessing has the same results. Some have miraculous healing experiences and some don’t.

Having access to the priesthood is not like have access a magic wand. The priesthood allows worthy members of the Church to do the work of God through His power. If it is God’s will that someone is miraculously healed, they will be. My uncle had a brain tumor when he was 13. It was a type of tumor where the prognosis was not good. He received experimental medical treatments as well as a priesthood blessing. In the blessing he was promised that he would heal and serve a full time mission for the LDS Church and have a family. He was miraculously healed and everything he was promised in his blessing eventually happened.

My dad was not necessarily miraculously healed. After receiving the blessing he still needed surgery and there will most likely be lasting effects from his problem. However, he was blessed with the strength necessary to face his challenges. He was able to enjoy my sister’s wedding day and dance with her at the reception even though 6 days before he had had serious back surgery.

Sometimes a healing priesthood blessing takes the health challenge away and sometimes we are able to have borrowed strength from our Savior to endure, either way, I think it is pretty miraculous.

What I Believe

My husband was asked to give a talk in church yesterday on “Why I Believe.”  A lot of our friends came to hear him that aren’t members of our Church, and I absolutely loved the whole experience.  I think his message hit home in some way with every person in there.  My husband’s talk prompted me to want to explain the same–but I’ll start with “What I Believe.”  I’ve been digging bullets so I’m just going to state some of my top beliefs in a simple list.  Some of these may seem bold, but it’s what I believe.

  • I believe that God is my Father and that I am His child.
  • I believe that I existed before this world, and that I will continue to exist after I die.
  • I believe my life has a purpose, and that it is to grow and develop and progress closer to and more like Christ, and to help my family and others do the same.
  • I believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and that His atoning sacrifice has made it possible to live with God again after this life.
  • I believe that I can live with my family after this life.
  • I believe in personal revelation–that God still speaks to anyone who is willing to listen.

Would love some of your beliefs up here.  Please comment!