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Friday, May 9, 2014

03. Walking and Talking with God, Part 2

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the third examining the phrase "obeyeth my voice".

The prophets of old -- they who walked and talked with God -- were clearly not "pray three times a day" kinds of people.  Their hearts contemplated the things of God continually, and behaved accordingly.  They were able to fill the voids in between morning, mid-day and evening prayer with a quiet, inner communion that enabled them to walk and talk with God.  Their strategy could be summed up in three words: They "prayed without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17):

  • The prophet Samuel said "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you..." (1 Samuel 12:23).  
  • Nephi told us "that ye must pray always" (2 Ne. 32:9).
  • Alma and his fellow laborers admonished their brethren "to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things" (Mosiah 26:39).
  • Ammon encouraged others to "prayeth continually without ceasing" (Alma 26:22).
  • Jesus told the Nephites to "watch and pray always", then a few verses later, said we "must always pray unto the Father in my name" (3 Nephi 18:18-19).
  • Later, his disciples prayed "steadfastly, without ceasing" (causing Christ to "smile upon them"; 3 Nephi 19:24,30).
  • While Peter was inprisoned, the church prayed for him "without ceasing" (Acts 12:5).
  • Paul made mention of others "without ceasing" in his prayers (Romans 1:9; 2 Timothy 1:3).

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (quoted above) is an interesting verse.  When read in the original Greek, we learn that it actually means "Pray without intermission", without allowing prayerless gaps to intervene between the times of prayer. (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, http://bible.cc/1_thessalonians/5-17.htm).
"When the apostle Paul instructed the Thessalonians to 'pray without ceasing' (1 Thes. 5:17) and when Alma instructed the church members of his day to 'pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all things' (Mosiah 26:39), they were not only advising them to pray formally, but also to feel and react to the presence of God in their lives" (H. Dean Garrett, instructor, Tempe Arizona Institute, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Feb. 1978, https://www.lds.org/ensign/1978/02/i-have-a-question?lang=eng)
In my opinion, praying continually does not mean we are always (physically) on our knees or vocally calling upon God; doing so would clash with other parts of our lives which should be attended to.  Instead, it means that we are letting all our "thoughts be directed unto the Lord" (Alma 37:36) and counseling "with the Lord in all our doings" (Alma 37:37).  We live all of our hours and days so conscious of God, that we are actually (to one degree or another) keeping company with him...always.

The Blessings of Continual Prayer


To walk with God -- to be in continual communion with Him -- is to "walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1); it is to "walk worthy of the Lord...being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10); it is to "walk in the light" (1 John 1:7); it is to "walk in truth" (3 John 1:4); it is to "walk guiltless before God" (Mosiah 4:26); it is "walking in his ways and keeping his commandments" (Mosiah 23:14); it is to "walk circumspectly before God" (Helaman 15:5).  

Not surprisingly, praying continually adds virtual turbothrusters to your spirituality.  It does so in at least two ways:

1.  You have enhanced abilities to avoid sin:

  • "Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him" (3 Nephi 18:15).
  • "Pray always, lest you enter into temptation and lose your reward" (D&C 31:12)>
  • "Pray always that you enter not into temptation, that you may abide the day of his coming, whether in life or in death. Even so. Amen" (D&C 61:39)
2.  You can qualify to know the mysteries of God:
"In Jewish tradition, Enoch's walking with God was taken to mean initiation into the mysteries of the universe, and the secrets of the past and future" (Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Doctrine and Covenants Encyclopedia, p.624). 
This is confirmed by Ammon:
"Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing —- unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance" (Alma 26:22)

Important Things to Remember When Trying to Walk and Talk with God

  • Remember God in all that you see, say and do:  When you travel with a friend, there’s a lot to talk about: sights you see, the experiences you have and decisions you make.  When you travel through life with God, there’s just as much to talk about.  And although you cannot physically see or touch God, He is really with you – a thinking, feeling, willing, communicating, listening person.  You literally make it a habit to talk to God about our everyday experiences.

    You probably already have some prayer triggers in your life: waking up, eating a meal or going to sleep.  My daughter and I make it a habit to say a prayer before we drive off to school and then work.  
"Others have learned to pray for every person they meet, every needful situation that comes on the news, every time they enter their place of work, every time the phone rings, every time they hear a fire siren or see an accident, or every time they pass a church." (http://www.bristolhouseltd.com/content/excerpts/Bristol-Love-to-Pray-Living-Prayerfully.pdf
In this respect, our minds never lie dormant.  Our hearts are constantly turned towards God and others. 
  • Remember our dependence on God: Thus, "the saints are always needy, they are always in want of mercies of one kind or another, and therefore should continually go to the throne of grace, and there ask for grace and mercy" (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, http://bible.cc/1_thessalonians/5-17.htm)
  • Remember others: If we are to become more like the Master, He who came "not to be ministered unto, but to minister" (Mark 10:45), we must place others' needs among our top priorities.  Amulek said, "When you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you" (Alma 34:27). Here, 
"Amulek is not describing a formal or verbalized prayer here - it would not even be verbalized in thought. He is counseling us what we should do when we 'do not cry unto the Lord': cause our hearts to continually be full of concern for ourselves and others, recognizing that God is the only one who can fully help us. That continual fulness of heart Amulek calls prayer." (H. Dean Garrett, instructor, Tempe Arizona Institute, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Feb. 1978, https://www.lds.org/ensign/1978/02/i-have-a-question?lang=eng)
The attitude of constant regard for others -- and ourselves -- in a spiritual sense is reflected in Amulek's instruction that "If ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart [not] of your substance...to those who stand in need-I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain." (Alma 34:28.)
  • Be continually grateful: "Praying without ceasing could be a condition rather than an act.  We must be aware of the Lord's constant blessings to us. Both Paul and Alma closely linked the idea of praying unceasingly with expression of gratitude to the Lord. 'Pray without ceasing,' Paul said; 'in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit.' (1 Thes. 5:17-19.)" (H. Dean Garrett, Instructor, Tempe Arizona Institute, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Feb. 1978, https://www.lds.org/ensign/1978/02/i-have-a-question?lang=eng).  When we are sensitive to our great gifts from our Father in heaven, we are likely to be far closer to the Spirit, and therefore better able to stay in communication with the Lord.  Ingratitude to the Lord quenches the Spirit and closes us off spiritually; to pray unceasingly, we must be unendingly aware of our debt to the Lord and his powerful role in our lives.

An Invitation


Tomorrow morning, say your morning prayers.  When you're done, get off your knees physically...but keep praying.

Yes, this is easier said than done.  And yes, your thoughts will stray (as stated earlier, you have aspects of your life that must be attended to).

Don't beat yourself up when you do stray from continually praying.  After all, you're taking baby steps here, and it's natural that -- like a baby -- you'll fall on your bum.  That's perfectly fine.  Just remember that wherever/whenever possible, turn your heart back to God -- by remembering Him in all you see, say and do, by remembering your dependence on Him, remembering others or simply expressing your gratitude.

Then at the end of the day, return and report to Father.  And don't be surprised if He expresses exuberant joy at your attempts to spend your day with Him.  Will He focus on the times you "fell on your bum" and forgot Him?  I doubt it.  I think He will focus on the times that you stood up, and took several steps with Him.  He'll also encourage you, motivate you, strengthen you to take more steps with Him the next day.

Also know that as you attempt these things, Satan will be there behind you, beside you and in front of you to ensure you don't succeed at this new endeavor.  We'll focus on some strategies to better commune with God continually in forthcoming posts.

Yes, you can walk and talk with God.

Yes, the development of this doctrine in your life can inevitably lead to greater, more profound interactions with God in the future...

for you are strong when God is on your side, but weak when you are out of communion.

6 comments:

  1. Great post Perfect Day! I have done this costantly for awile now. It is more muttering than anything else. I believe it is not an easy or flippant task to commune with the Lord. That is why it is available to all, but experienced by few. It is a gift where timing is essential, not by our own will, but by the Lord's. Thank you for your effort in making this the forefront of our daily quests.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post Perfect Day! I have done this costantly for awile now. It is more muttering than anything else. I believe it is not an easy or flippant task to commune with the Lord. That is why it is available to all, but experienced by few. It is a gift where timing is essential, not by our own will, but by the Lord's. Thank you for your effort in making this the forefront of our daily quests.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is awesome. Thank you for the challenge. I will attempt it.

    This post resonated with me. Thank you for articulating such beautiful aspects of communing with God. I KNOW this is true!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I was praying one morning and the thought came that I should dedicate all of my thoughts, words and actions to the Lord that day, so I did. I verbally stated such in my prayer, and did so throughout that day. All I can say is it was a very spirit-filled day indeed! I have attempted to do this every day, but sometimes the sincerity just isn't there, and then other days it is. I don't know why. This is similar to what is being discussed here as it is a continuous awareness of Him and His will in regards to what I am doing and thinking at all times, and it feels so good, too!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I was praying one morning and the thought came that I should dedicate all of my thoughts, words and actions to the Lord that day, so I did. I verbally stated such in my prayer, and did so throughout that day. All I can say is it was a very spirit-filled day indeed! I have attempted to do this every day, but sometimes the sincerity just isn't there, and then other days it is. I don't know why. This is similar to what is being discussed here as it is a continuous awareness of Him and His will in regards to what I am doing and thinking at all times, and it feels so good, too!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your posts give me such hope and I want you to know that a prayer of gratitude for the light you share on this blog is beautiful and of God. I pray the Lord will bless you for your willingness to share His light! Thank you so much!!!

    ReplyDelete