RS/MP Lesson 9: “Open Your Soul to the Lord in Prayer” (George Albert Smith Manual)
Posted by Robert C. on May 11, 2012
Pres. Smith says, after God saved him from his harrowing, near-death experience, “my heart was filled with gratitude and humility that the Lord had . . . spared my life” (p. 95). What strikes me most about this lesson is the link between prayer, gratitude, and humility.
On p. 99, we read:
Do not put away from you the power of God. Retain in your homes the influences of prayer and of thanksgiving, and let gratitude flow to him who is the author of our beings and the giver of all good.
Perhaps these topics of gratitude and humility are on my mind because I’m struggling to know how to help cultivate these values in my children. And, in this struggle, I have come to see their value more profoundly.
Social critics often say we live in an entitlement society, and I think this makes gratitude and humility values that require more attention, lest they be forgotten.
If we pray correctly, we will be filled with gratitude and humility. So, some questions:
* What does these dispositions look like? What does the absence of humility and gratitude look like?
* How do these values, and their absence, feel? How often do we feel their absence and presence? Why? How can be encourage the presence of these values, and guard against their absence?
* What obstacles do we face in trying to cultivate these feelings of humility and gratitude? How are these challenges related to challenges we face in offering sincere prayer?
* How does family prayer affect the feelings of gratitude and humility in our family? Are these feelings individual feelings or communal/collective feelings? How does the experience of these feelings of gratitude and humility differ from being experienced individually versus as a family?
Now, consider the next paragraph on p. 99:
Let our homes be the abiding place of prayer and thanksgiving and gratitude. . . . Let us pray for the great men and women of the world who need the Lord but do not understand his interest in them. Pray for . . . our governors, our mayors of cities, the men who have influence in politics in our various communities, that they may do the things that will be better for all of us and make us happier, and please our Heavenly Father. That is our privilege. I say to you that the power of prayer is something that cannot be measured.
All the signs suggest we’re headed toward a pretty contentious political election this fall. This could be a very divisive time in our country. Prayer, and the gratitude and humility it brings, are likely to be an esp. desirable salve during this time. Pres. Smith suggests that we should be praying for our leaders, and he doesn’t qualify this by saying we should only pray for those we like, or we should pray for leaders to act in the way we think is best. Rather, prayer for our leaders is something that will bring unity—as the next section of the lesson makes clear (though it’s there applied to families rather than communities or society, though I think the principle is applicable).
I also think the last line of the paragraph above is quite interesting: “the power of prayer is something that cannot be measured.” Why is prayer immeasurable? What does this mean?
When we pray, we open ourselves. We seek God’s will. If we follow the Lord’s prayer, and His example, we will submit our will to God’s will. This is humility par excellence, to be submissive. This is why we kneel, to symbolically humble ourselves and show our willingness to submit to whatever God would have us learn and do.
That said, I do think there are times when it is healthy to . . . , well, complain. “Lament” is the scriptural term for this, and I think there’s good scriptural evidence that this kind of prayer is encouraged by the Lord, as it is often a catalyst to a deeper kind of humility, and a drawing closer to God (what scriptural or personal examples can you think of?). Too often we aren’t really sincere in our prayers, and we keep our complaints bottled up, as though we could hide these negative feelings from God, and perhaps ourselves. And yet these negative feelings just fester if we don’t address them. Even Christ complained that he didn’t want to drink the bitter cup He was being offered. And what did he say, at last, in response? We are quick to point to the final “nevertheless,” but I don’t think that word can be reached unless an honest expression(/confession) of our complaints is given.
Well, those are some of my thoughts in response to the lesson. What thoughts can you share?