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Why prayer

Many reasons are given in the scriptures for why we are to pray.  The reason featured in this post is God’s love and how we receive His love through the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us in the prayer of faith.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.  (Romans 5:1-5)

In the words of Jude, we keep ourselves in the love of God by praying in the Holy Ghost.

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 1:20,21)

This was the experience of the early church.  Recall, for example, how in the fourth chapter of the Book of Acts it is recorded that Peter and John were detained by some authorities following the healing of a lame man and the preaching of Jesus Christ and the resurrection.  After being threatened and set free, Peter and John reunited with other members of the church, and when they joined in a mighty prayer together with one accord, they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.  And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. (Acts 4:23-32)

Love was the confirming witness that they all had indeed been filled with the Holy Ghost upon praying together in faith.  The evidence of their faith, which was the love or charity they expressed, came in several forms, including all of them speaking boldly God’s word, which is truth.[1]  We know this is significant because, as Paul explained, speaking the truth in love is at the very heart of unifying and edifying (building up) the body of Christ, which is the church.

And he [Jesus] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we, in the unity of the faith, all come to the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love(Ephesians 4:11-16)

Other confirming witnesses of God’s love dwelling within them and in their midst by faith (i.e. evidences that are in keeping with the love of God) included their being of one heart and of one soul and of having all things common.  The source of these several witnesses is, in very fact, what sets Jesus’ disciples apart from those who have yet to receive His love.  In Jesus’ words to His disciples, their love one to another would be the means whereby all men would know that they are His disciples.

A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.  (John 13:34-35)

Thus we conclude that the early church exhibited such boldness to both speak and live out God’s word in the face of threats and persecutions because of the love of Jesus Christ which dwelt within them.

… If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. (I John 4:12b)

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.  (I John 4:16-18)

Their Lord had promised He would abide (continue) with them always to the end of the world.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:17-19)

He told them in plain termsIf ye love me, keep my commandments,” which included His commandments to pray always.[2]  The promised blessings in doing so would be that Jesus Himself would pray unto the Father for them and He would give them another Comforter, which is the Spirit of truth, even the Holy Ghost.

If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.  Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.  He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to himIf a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.  He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings; and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:15-26)

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you; continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.  (John 15:9,10)

Please note that our Lord is not speaking here about a love we may come by naturally for those who are close to us, such as friends and family.  Rather He is talking specifically about God’s love by which we may be made perfect in Him.  Refer again to the fourth chapter of I John:

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world. (I John 4:16,17)

These words help us better understand how we may keep Jesus Christ’s commandment to be perfect even as our Father who is in heaven is perfect, as recorded in the fifth chapter of Matthew.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love only them which love you, what reward have you? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans the same?  Ye are therefore commanded to be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:45-50)

Summarized thus far, God gives us the ability to love as He loves through the gift of His indwelling Spirit, which we receive through prayer.  For it is written, “… the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”[3]  When we pray, therefore, we should seek first and foremost to be filled with God’s love unto His honor and glory.  More particularly, we should seek to be constrained by His love so that we may be guided by His Holy Spirit in all we ask, think, and do, especially in how we seek to worship God.[4]  For, if we are led by the Spirit of God, and thus the love of God, we will do no harm.[5]  Instead, we will do that which is honorable and just and right in the sight of God,[6] for God is honorable and good in all His ways.  This is not all.  Through God’s Spirit, whom we receive in prayer, we are enabled to have true and enduring fellowship with God and each other in and through His love.[7]

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then are all dead; and he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.  Wherefore, henceforth live we no more after the flesh; yea, though we once lived after the flesh, yet since we have known Christ, now henceforth live we no more after the flesh.  (II Corinthians 5:14-16)

Thus the appeal of Jesus:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  (John 15:4)

Without charity, without the pure love of Christ dwelling within us, we can do nothing of eternal benefit or consequence.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.  (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

And so Jesus prayed:

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.  (John 17:20-23)

It is to this end that God is building us together for an habitation of His Spirit, of whom Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone. That is, He is building the church, which is His body, so that we may be one in Him.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit(Ephesians 2:19-22)

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.  (I Corinthians 12:12-14)

… for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  (II Corinthians 6:16)

In the words of John, God bestows His love upon us so that we may be called His children.  This is not all.  John writes that everyone who hopes to be like His Son, Jesus Christ, when He appears in glory purifies himself or herself as He is pure through His pure and perfecting love, charity.[8]

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (I John 3:1-3)

And so Mormon calls us to pray with all the energy of heart that we may be filled with the pure love of Christ by which we may be like Him when He appears again unto the world.

Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail; but charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth for ever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with them. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son Jesus Christ, that ye may become the sons of God, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is, that we may have this hope, that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.  (Moroni 7:52,53)

It is this particular hope, to be like Jesus when He returns, that makes us not ashamed to live godly lives in the face of persecution and tribulation because God, through His Spirit of truth, the Holy Ghost, fills us with His emboldening love.

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:5)

Return now to Jude’s summation on how we keep ourselves in the love of God, that is, by praying in the Holy Ghost.

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.  (Jude 1:20,21)

In this description of the faithful who are in Jesus Christ we can see the example of our Lord Himself.  Recall how the Holy Ghost descended upon Jesus when He was brought forth out of the waters of baptism at the time John baptized Him in the Jordon River.  In his record of this event, Luke wrote:

Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also came unto John; and being baptized of him, and praying, the heaven was opened; and the Holy Ghost descended, in bodily shape like a dove, upon him; and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased. (Luke 3:28,29)

Did you note that?  Jesus was praying when the Holy Ghost came upon Him.  As reported on in the fourth chapter of Acts, the Holy Ghost came upon our Lord’s body, His church, in a similar manner when they prayed together in the Spirit of God (as evidenced by their praying in one accord).  By following our Lord’s instructions and His example,[9] the members of the body of Christ were blessed together by being filled with the gift of the Holy Ghost unto being filled with God’s love … even “By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned.”

The words of the sacrament prayers restored in these latter days exemplify this great truth, that is, that we receive the Spirit through prayer.  In the prayer over the bread, we read that our purpose in partaking of the bread together – as a witness before God and in remembrance of Jesus – is “that they may always have his Spirit to be with them.”

O God, the eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God the eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he has given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. (Moroni 4:4)

Our purpose in partaking of the wine is similar, yet different.  We partake of the wine that we may have his Spirit to be with us.

O God, the eternal Father, we ask thee, in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son which was shed for them, that they may witness unto thee, O God, the eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. (Moroni 5:3)

Here, in each prayer, we learn of the ultimate purpose for our partaking of the Lord’s Supper:  that in the communion of the body of Christ (through partaking of the bread together) we may always have His Spirit with us, and that in the communion of the blood of Christ(by partaking of the wine together)we may have our Lord’s Spirit with us.

What does this mean exactly?  Our understanding will become complete when we consider the atonement of Christ along with the bread of heaven, or the living manna, which Jesus testified He gives for the life of the world.  First, recall how through His shed blood, Jesus Christ atoned for our sins, and that because of the atonement we are now free to come into the holiest, meaning the presence of God, and partake of Him as the living bread forever.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having such an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised; and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.  (Hebrews 10:19-25)

This is to say, the atonement has given us access to heaven.  Therefore, the wine, which represents the atoning blood of Jesus, represents the means whereby we may have access to receiving our Lord’s Spirit.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.  I am that bread of life.  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.  Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. But I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.  (John 6:47-51)

And those who eat the living bread, meaning Jesus’ flesh, shall live forever.  Therefore, those who partake of the sacrament bread, representing the bread of life, will always have His Spirit to be with them.  Equally important, through the bread God illustrates for us our need to continue feasting upon the words of Jesus Christ on into eternity.  That is why it is written that He ever lives to make intercession for us. We, therefore, must forever rely upon Him as our Savior.  Only in this way may we have eternal life.

[NOTE:  Jesus is the incarnate word of God (John 1:14).  Therefore, His words are His flesh (see John 6:63).  This is why we are admonished to feast upon the words of Christ (see II Nephi 14:4,6).]

Through the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper thus rightly observed we witness our sole reliance upon the merits of Christ as the author and finisher of our faith.

And after they had been received in baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ, and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.  (Moroni 6:4,5)

It is hard to imagine any other prayers more meaningful or more appropriate for receiving the Lord’s Spirit than the prayers offered in administering the bread and wine to the body of Christ.  Through prayerfully partaking of the bread, we remember Jesus Christ and how His body was sacrificed for us.  By prayerfully partaking of the wine together we remember how His blood which was shed for us.  In such a humbled attitude and in this setting of sincere and reverent prayer, the Lord grants His Spirit to those who repent and come unto Him, having broken hearts and contrite spirits.

Behold, this is my doctrine:  Whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church; whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore, he is not of my church. And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my Rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against him. And now, remember the words of him who is the life and light of the world, your Redeemer, your Lord, and your God. Amen.  (D&C 3:16a-18)

And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings; and ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me, at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.  (III Nephi 4:49,50)

The following verse sums up the matter very well by plainly in stating that we receive the Spirit through prayer.

Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit, and in this there is no condemnation; and ye receive the Spirit through prayer; wherefore, without this there remaineth condemnation. (D&C 63:16a)

This verse points us directly to a very important instruction given to the priesthood in which they are specifically told not to teach if they do not receive the Spirit.

And again, the elders, priests, and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in which is the fullness of the gospel; and they shall observe the covenants and church articles to do them, and these shall be their teachings, as they shall be directed by the Spirit; and the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith, and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach. (D&C 42:5a,b)

Much could be written about this instruction.  However, one very important reason stands out in terms of the subject of this post.  It has to do with why keeping this commandment is vital for the life and integrity of the church.  When a priesthood member does not receive the Spirit, he will be without charity for those he would teach.  One reason the Lord may withhold His Spirit from priesthood could be because they just assume that they will be given our Lord’s Spirit.  Such an assumption should not be made, especially when the Lord has expressly stated that we are to receive His Spirit, and thus His love, through the prayer of faith.  In other words, if a priesthood member presumes to teach without first praying in faith and thereby receiving assurance of His hope to teach by the Spirit of truth, God may very well resist them by withholding His Spirit.

[NOTE:  There are of course other reasons the Lord may withhold His Spirit, such as disobedience on the part of those to whom the priesthood member has been called to teach; see Mormon 1:17,18.  In such a case, the Lord withholding His Spirit is not a reflection on the priesthood member but on those he has been called to serve.  See also Alma 9:15,16 for a related reason.]

One consequence of teaching without the Spirit of God, and thus without charity, is summed up very well by the words of Paul:  knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies.

Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him. (I Corinthians 8:1-3)

Knowledge alone does not build up the body of Christ.  It does not even mean that a person is close to God, or that he knows the will of God.  In fact, it may mean that that man has been shut out from the presence of the Lord because he has not been sufficiently humble before Him.

Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel: and he employeth no servant there: And there is none other way, save it be by the gate, for he can not be deceived; for the Lord God is his name. And whoso knocketh, to him, will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches; yea, they are they, whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.  (II Nephi 6:81-84)

Thus we see that each of us must have charity or we are nothing, for without Jesus Christ’s love abiding within us we can do nothing.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.  (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.  (John 15:1-6)

The following verse speaks directly to this subject of someone attempting to minister without the Spirit of truth being given to them.  In such a case, neither the speaker nor hearer is edified.

Verily I say unto you, He that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the spirit of truth, or some other way? and if it be by some other way, it be not of God. And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the spirit of truth, or some other way? if it be some other way, it be not of God: therefore, why is it that ye can not understand and know that he that receiveth the word by the spirit of truth, receiveth it as it is preached by the spirit of truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understandeth one another, and both are edified and rejoice together; and that which doth not edify, is not of God, and is darkness: that which is of God is light, and he that receiveth light and continueth in God, receiveth more light, and that light groweth brighter and brighter, until the perfect day.  (D&C 50:5a-6b)

God has given us the following pattern in all things, and therefore by this pattern we may discern between those who teach and preach by the Spirit of truth and those who do not.

And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations; wherefore he that prayeth whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me, if he obey mine ordinances. He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek, and edifieth, the same is of God, if he obey mine ordinances. And again, he that trembleth under my power shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise, and wisdom, according to the revelations and truths which I have given you. And again, he that is overcome and bringeth not forth fruits, even according to this pattern, is not of me; wherefore by this pattern ye shall know the spirits in all cases, under the whole heavens.  (D&C 52:4b-5a)

Note how the Lord begins describing the pattern with the manner in which the individual prays.  Those who pray with a contrite spirit and who obey His ordinances are accepted of Him.  Those who do not reveal this pattern in their ministry are not of the Lord.  Thus we see the great need for the constraint of the Spirit referenced above, meaning the constraint of the love of Christ as spoken of by Paul.

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then are all dead; and he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (II Corinthians 5:14,15)

Remember that without charity none of us can do anything that benefits the kingdom of God or God’s children.  Worse, those who attempt to teach and preach without the constraint of the Lord’s Spirit and thus His love may become the means by which seducing spirits and doctrines of devils are introduced into the church.  Therefore, we have been admonished to pray, asking the Lord for guidance in all things:

ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally, and that which the Spirit testifies unto you, even so I would that you should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men, for some are of men, and others of devils. Wherefore, beware, lest ye are deceived, and that ye may not be deceived, seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given; for verily I say unto you, They are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do, that all may be benefited, that seeketh or that asketh of me, that asketh and not for a sign that he may consume it upon his lusts.  (D&C 46:3b-4b)

Those who pray in faith will not only receive the guidance of His Spirit, but they will also receive the Spirit of truth Himself.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

For we are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  But if we hope for that we see not, then with patience we do wait for it.  Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:24-26)

This is the promise of Jesus:

If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. (John 14:14-18)

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.  (Revelation 3:20-22)

Herein we can see the wisdom imparted in the words of Mormon:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son Jesus Christ, that ye may become the sons of God, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is, that we may have this hope, that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (Moroni 7:53)

Let us therefore pray together with all the energies of our souls that we may be filled with the pure and perfect love of Jesus.  Remember, this abiding love is God’s witness to us and to the world that we have passed from death unto life.

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.  Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.  Hereby perceive we the love of Christ, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue only; but in deed and in truth. … And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.  For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.  Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then we have confidence toward God.  And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.  And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.  And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (I John 3:14-24)

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the son of God hath the witness in himself; he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.  (I John 5:9-12)

Considering the matter from the vantage point of creation, we can now see that in the gift of His love, God has prepared the way for us to become what He intended us to be in the beginning when He created us in His own image.

And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so. … And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them. (Genesis 1:27,29)

Having been created in His image, we must not lose sight of the fact that God yet intends for us to do good works even as Jesus went about doing good.  How?  Not on or of our own accord, of course, but through the love of Jesus Christ:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:10)

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  (I John 4:9)

And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.  (Galatians 4:6)

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption; whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  (Romans 8:15-17)

Hereby perceive we the love of Christ, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue only; but in deed and in truth.  (I John 3:16-18)

May we, therefore, join those of old who received of the Spirit of the Lord through prayer and have thereby become His children by faith in Jesus Christ.

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? And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed, This is the desire of our hearts.  And now it came to pass that Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying, O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heartAnd when he had said these words, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said, Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead, as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world. (Mosiah 9:39-44)


Mosiah 3

 1      And now, it came to pass that when King Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, desiring to know of his people, if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them.

2      And they all cried with one voice, saying, Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us;

3      And also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

4      And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.

5      And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us, and has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceeding great joy;

6      And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God, to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.

7      And now, these are the words which King Benjamin desired of them; and therefore he said unto them, Ye have spoken the words that I desired; and the covenant which ye have made, is a righteous covenant.

8      And now, because of the covenant which ye have made, ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters:

9      For behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him, and have become his sons and his daughters.

10   And under this head ye are made free; and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free.

11   There is no other name given, whereby salvation cometh, therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God, that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.

12   And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this, shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ.

13  And now, it shall come to pass that whosoever shall not take upon them the name of Christ, must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God.

14   And I would that ye should remember also, that this is the name that I said I should give unto you, that never should be blotted out, except it be through transgression;

15   Therefore, take heed that ye do not transgress, that the name be not blotted out of your hearts.

16   I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you:

17   For, how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

18   And again: Doth a man take an ass which belongeth to his neighbor, and keep him?

19   I say unto you, Nay; he will not even suffer that he shall feed among his flocks, but will drive him away, and cast him out.

20   I say unto you, that even so shall it be among you, if ye know not the name by which ye are called.

21   Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him, who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.


[1] John 17:17 with Ephesians 4:15

[2] Matthew 5:46, Matthew 6:9, Matthew 9:44, Matthew 21:11, Matthew 26:38, Luke 6:28, Luke 10:2, Luke 18:1, Luke 21:36, etc. with Romans 12:12, Colossians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 1 Peter 4:7, etc.

[3] Romans 5:5; cf. I Nephi 3:64

[4] Matthew 5-7

[5] Romans 13:8-10 with I Corinthians 13:1-13 & Romans 8:1-14

[6] Mosiah 3:2-6

[7] I John 1:1-3:24

[8] See Matthew 16:30,31 with Moroni 7:52,53

[9] I Peter 2:21 with I Peter 1:15,16

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