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Saturday, May 18, 2013

04. The Daily Return and Report

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the fourth examining the phrase "forsake his sins".

D&C 93:1 is the Lord's divine formula for us to behold his face while in mortality.  The first criteria -- forsaking your sins -- can be accomplished as we understand the true meaning of repentance and do what's necessary.

The Daily Discipleship Discussion

Joseph Smith declared:
"Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not … pleasing in the sight of God." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 148)
Also, this:
"Repentance is not an incidental or casual thing: wise King Benjamin spoke to his people of 'retaining a remission of your sins from day to day.' (Mosiah 4:26) I have long been impressed with the “day to day” aspect of being spiritually clean. It seems that, like many commonplace things in life, repentance and forgiveness need to occur in a regular pattern of daily orderliness.

An essential aspect of true repentance is daily prayer. And it must be meaningful as well as regular. No man genuinely repents if he nonchalantly asks his Father to overlook his shortcomings just before he heads out the door to work. The right way to repent of sins is by going before our Maker in secret prayer, identifying the specific transgression, confessing it, forsaking it, and continuing in the Lord’s Spirit. As the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph: “I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer.”
(D&C 84:61.)" (Franklin S. Gonzalez, "Repentance: A Daily Pattern", Ensign, August, 1980)

Returning and Reporting

When I was on my mission -- and I don't know where I learned it, I just did -- I learned the importance of one particular phrase: "Return and Report".

In my nightly prayers, I went to Father and said, "Here's what I did today. Here's what I was proudest of. Here's where I think I botched things up".

What was interesting was when I'd wait to 'sense' feedback.  It was so beautiful.  I'd sense enthusiastic words and phrases at my accomplishments and gentle and tender understanding at my failures.  Note I did not say condemnation nor judgment.  I sensed the response, "What are some of the things WE can work on to turn this into a success?"

This mirrors a statement Elder Henry B. Eyring once said:
"One of the questions we must ask of our Heavenly Father in private prayer is this: 'What have I done today, or not done, which displeases Thee?  If I can only know, I will repent with all my heart without delay.'  That humble prayer will be answered." (Henry B. Eyring, “Do Not Delay,” Ensign, Nov. 1999)
After discussing options with Heavenly Father, I would notice my heart would change.  I would want to do better.  I would then recommit myself to do better when that situation arises again, and ask Father to bring to my recollection that I am re-encountering a scenario which I had failed earlier, giving me both the insight and strength I needed to emerge the victor over a situation I had previously failed in.

I believe this situation mirrors that of something Elder Bednar spoke of in General Conference.  He said:
"Consider this example: There may be things in our character, in our behavior, or concerning our spiritual growth about which we need to counsel with Heavenly Father in morning prayer. After expressing appropriate thanks for blessings received, we plead for understanding, direction, and help to do the things we cannot do in our own strength alone. For example, as we pray, we might:
  • Reflect on those occasions when we have spoken harshly or inappropriately to those we love the most.
  • Recognize that we know better than this, but we do not always act in accordance with what we know.
  • Express remorse for our weaknesses and for not putting off the natural man more earnestly.
  • Determine to pattern our life after the Savior more completely.
  • Plead for greater strength to do and to become better.
Such a prayer is a key part of the spiritual preparation for our day." (Elder David R. Bednar, "Pray Always," October 2008 General Conference).
In my case, this evening “return and report" concept is nothing new. Pres. N. Eldon Tanner once stated:
"I can never begin to express my gratitude to my parents for teaching me this important principle. My father really knew how to talk to the Lord, and made him seem so real and near to us. He would pray in the morning: "Let thy blessings attend us as we go about our duties, that we may do what is right and return tonight to report to thee." (N. Eldon Tanner, "Importance and Efficacy of Prayer," Ensign, Aug. 1971, 2)

"This always gave us greater strength to meet and overcome temptations for we knew that we would be reporting to the Lord at night. I am going to report to the Lord tonight, I used to think. And this thought helped me to live a better life during the day." (N. Eldon Tanner, "Friend to Friend: Reporting to Father," Friend, June 1973, p. 8)
During these Return and Report sessions,
"We can monitor our own progress and discern the gains we make and the patterns in which we are vulnerable to temptation. I am indebted to a wise old friend (both in years and in association) of another faith who taught me to take an active interest in learning about the patterns in my life and how temptations occurred. He struggled a long time with some of his temptations and finally decided to take a proactive interest. He tried to anticipate where in his life he might encounter that "old trickster devil" again. He became a good scout. He watched the terrain of his life and could tell where it looked like his own form of quicksand might be. He rerouted and gave up trying to see how close he could get to that quicksand without getting caught." (Marie Cornwall and Susan Howe, eds., Women of Wisdom and Knowledge: Talks Selected from the BYU Women's Conferences, p.114)
As we do this, we not only draw closer to the Lord, but we also find ourselves becoming more empowered to forsake and overcome sin. As President Ezra Taft Benson stated,
"We find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord" (President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Oct. 1989, p. 5)
-- thus fulfilling the promise made in Ether 12:27:
"… if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.… my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

"As you kneel in humility before our Father daily, tell him openly of your progress, and also of your fears and doubts. As you draw near to Him, He draws near to us. He gives us peace and encouragement. He heals our souls." (Bruce D. Porter, "Searching Inward," Ensign, Nov. 1971, 65; emphasis mine)
What Alma said in Alma 37:37 is true:
“Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, . . . and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”
It is my testimony that we can accomplish this in our daily lives, if we seek it with all our hearts.  As we read in Deuteronomy 4:30-31:
“But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

“When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; … He will not forsake thee.” (Deut. 4:30–31.)
All of us -- every one of us -- are prodigal sons and daughters.  As we "shube" and "metaneoeo", we return to our Heavenly Father.  In return, He will draw closer to us -- most likely, with open arms.

I challenge you with all the passion and energy of my soul to put my analysis of repentance to the test. See if Heavenly Father will encourage you and motivate you.  See if He will not tell you that you -- not He -- punishes you for your sins, and that He longs for you to work with Him in ensuring your progress to beholding his face in mortality.


  1. Very nice series, "Perfect". I have learned to trust your posts - and that is saying something, as there are many out there who rely upon contention to distinguish themselves.

  2. Starting at part 4 is much too hard, but going back and starting at the beginning of your series makes it much easier to accept. Something like "line upon line, precept on precept".

    I have mostly skimmed over these posts, not yet studying them in detail, but the thought comes to my mind that we need to ask the God to teach us and give us true Christlike charity as Mormon teaches (as quoted by Moroni) in Moroni 7:48. My own experience is that as soon as I think I have this courtesy, charity, thoughtfulness, etc. of myself I get prideful and then I fall from it.


    1. Yes, start at the beginning. I have the same problem with pride. We need to be fully converted to avoid this as the people were in Mosiah chapters 1-5.

  3. I really needed this today. I read all your posts as you post them, but for some reason, my life got hectic this weekend and I didn't read this one until today, 3 days after you posted it. The timing was perfect. After "blowing it" with a challenging teenager yesterday, I experienced all the things you described in this post as I lost the companionship of the spirit due to my repeated flaw of getting sucked into contention with her. You gave some great suggestions that corresponded with my own personal revelations and acted as a "second witness" as to what I need to do to truly repent of my error. Thanks so much. Keep up the inspired words.

    1. As parents we have all " blown it" with our teenage kids . It is not easy. I have an older daughter living with us who is challenging, but my wife named her Charity for good reasons.WE need to pray for it.

  4. In the temple they return and report numerous times. If they do than we most definetly need to as mortals. I will make a better effort at it.