Pray. Fast. Conquer Demons.

A man came to Jesus with his son and, kneeling, asked the Lord if He could heal him and cast out the devil in his son. The man explained that he had already brought his child to Christ’s disciples, but they were unable to help. Saddened by that fact, Jesus rebuked the devil and it departed from the child. Later, His disciples came to him and asked why they could not cast out the demon.

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:20-21)

The Savior explained to them first their lack of strong faith. Not so much a lack of quantity, but a lack of quality. A mustard seed is indeed small, but it’s the energy and life stored within it that Christ wants us to realize. Out of a mustard seed grows a large mustard plant. It’s not that we only need a small amount of faith, but our faith must be strong and able to yield great results.

Second and, at least for the sake of this blog post, most importantly, Christ tells them that “this kind” can only be dealt with by prayer and fasting. Even having strong faith alone wasn’t enough. They needed to take the extra step and do something more. This short, sweet, and simple sentence uttered by the Savior shows the huge impact that prayer and fasting can have in our lives.

We all have our demons in our lives, those sins we keep repeating or those attitudes we keep having. We all have them. We all find ourselves vexed with “demons” at one point or another. We have often tried to conquer these devils, big or small, and failed time and time again. Perhaps you’ve had the hopeless thought that you’ll never overcome those habits or addictions that plague your life and bring you down. I’ve certainly had that thought more than once. But like the devil that vexed the child, perhaps the devilish addiction or behavior that so vexes your life “goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

I know that there is great power in prayer and fasting. Jesus obviously would say so as well. Through sincere prayer and fasting, our devils can be cast out. To read about fasting, and some other of God’s commandments. Visit this link.

Keep the Commands, Receive the Answers

Many have wondered how God answers our prayers. Some say it’s a mystery. Some say God doesn’t answer prayers. Some say He doesn’t even listen. Such ideas are foolish. God is our Father. Of course He listens and wants to answer us! We just need to do our part to receive His answers. One of the simplest ways is… well… it’s so simple that some people think it’s downright crazy.

Obey God’s commandments.

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. (1 John 3:22-25)

This isn’t saying that God will only answer us if we keep His commandments. God answers prayers according to His own will and pleasure, and in whatever way will best benefit us and help us to grow. But surely, if we want God to speak to us, wouldn’t obeying His will be a good first step to achieving that?

By keeping the commandments of God, we can be sure of receiving answers to our prayers. And we can be sure of having the Holy Ghost guide us more frequently. However, we must always keep in mind that God answers prayers in His own way. The vast majority of the time, they are not answered in the way we expect or desire. This is only because, unlike God, our perspective is limited. We can’t see a couple minutes into the future, but everything is before God. Have faith in Jesus Christ, obey God’s commandments, and when you ask you shall receive.

For more information on prayer, you can read one of my previous blog posts here.

Make It Happen

We know that by small and simple things God performs miracles. These small and simple things are often us. By using the free will that God has given us, we can be instruments in His hands to carry out His plans for us. This, of course, requires action. It means we need to get ourselves out there and make something happen. A prayer said without a willingness to help that prayer be answered is a prayer said in vain. God will not simply wave a magic wand and make the world a better place. He expects us to do our part. We are His tools, and He has given us the gift of agency for a reason.

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma taught,

Yea, and 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.

And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith. (Alma 34:27-28)

If we have the means to assist others, we need to do so. If we don’t, we are nothing more than hypocrites. Jesus Christ was all about serving others. Nothing He did was for Himself. He rendered all his energy to Heavenly Father’s will, and undoubtedly was and forever will be the greatest instrument in the hands of God. If we profess to be followers of the Savior, we must do as He did.

The surest way for a prayer to come true is to do our part to make it happen. Our Father in Heaven will do the rest. We are the instruments He uses to make miracles happen.

Desperate Times

In these desperate times
This I plead
When all else fails
Remember me

Desperate Times ~ Killswitch Engage

Desperate times are all around us. Though they’ve existed since the dawn of time itself, sometimes it seems they are raging more fiercely in this day and age. Whether across the world or in our own homes, calamities are always near. So what can we do? How can we pull through these desperate times? The Savior taught us not to rely on the world, for “the world passeth away.” We cannot put our trust in the world, because the world will fail us.

But everything is in the world, right? If the world fails, what’s left? What won’t fail? In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni teaches,

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail. (Moroni 7:46)

Charity never fails. Charity is what we can rely on. But what is it? Moroni continues in verse 47,

But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

Charity is the pure love of Christ. It is His love for us. It is the perfect love that we are all trying to achieve. It is the love that brings peace to war. It is the love that turns enemies into friends. It is the love that made a perfect Man suffer and die for the sins of mankind. So how can we obtain this love?

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. (verse 48)

We must pray to our Father in Heaven, with all the energy of heart. We must sincerely seek after this love if we hope to be filled with it. Only through charity are we able to endure the trials of life. When desperate times come, turn to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

I testify that charity never faileth. It endures all things. And when all else fails, remember Jesus Christ and pray for charity.

Pray always and not faint.

Some people think that prayer is one way communication. That it’s simply throwing our wishes into the sky and hoping that an unknown being will notice one of them and maybe grant it. But prayer is much more than just talking to God. Prayer is conversation with Him, our Father in Heaven.

Just like our fathers on this earth want to hear from us when we leave home, our Heavenly Father wants us to communicate with him. Just think if you never called up your parents, or even e-mailed them or sent them a text. God wants us to talk to Him. He wants us to tell Him how we’re doing, what we’re grateful for, what we need, what our concerns are, etc.

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi counsels on prayer in 2 Nephi 32:8,

And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.

Satan doesn’t want us to pray. He knows that if we pray we’ll be able to feel strengthened, enlightened, and comforted by the Holy Ghost. The notion that praying is pointless, that it doesn’t work, that God doesn’t listen or answer, or that we’re not worthy or good enough to pray is from Satan. They are all lies.

God does listen. He does care. He does answer our prayers. And no matter what we’ve done, we are always worthy, always good enough, to pray.

Nephi continues in verse 9,

But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

We must always pray to our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ. If we do so, our performances (work, school, family, friends, etc.) will work out for our benefit. From countless experiences, I know this to be true.

My testimony of prayer is simple. It works. Until I was about a senior in high school, I didn’t feel like God was answering me when I knelt at my bed each night. I never ceased praying, but my faith that they were actually doing anything was almost non-existent. Eventually though, I found my life changing, and I found myself becoming more desperate in my pleas to God. I found my prayers being answered in small yet profound ways. Slowly, my faith began to build. I began looking each day for ways that my prayers were being answered. I was surprised at how many of my small and often self-centered desires were actually being fulfilled. I could see that my Heavenly Father was truly looking out for me.

If you don’t feel as though God is answering your prayers, keep an open mind. Understand that He works on His own time, but He is merciful and loving. Understand that He works in small and simple ways. Count your blessings and look around  you. Like me, you might be surprised to discover just how many of your prayers are being answered.

We are the children of God.

Romans 8:16

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

It is a blessing for me to know that I am a child of God. Understanding this divine relationship with our Creator is key to receiving His strength and being comforted by His love. God is indeed our literal Father. Just as we have parents on the Earth, He is the Father of our Spirits. He loves and cares for us just as a nurturing parent watches over a child.

When we pray, we are not sending out hopes and wishes to some indifferent being that may or may not talk back. When we pray, we are talking one on one with our Father. He listens and He cares, and I know that He answers our prayers and wants to bless us.

Matthew 7: 7-11

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

We are imperfect beings, often prone to selfishness and envy, yet we know how to give good gifts. Our Father in Heaven is perfect in every way. His love for us is perfect. If we can give good gifts, surely He will bless us in ways we can’t even imagine. I know this to be true. I know that our Heavenly Father loves each of us more than we can even think to comprehend. Having this understanding has been a great comfort and a great strength to me throughout my life. I know that when I kneel down to pray, my Father in Heaven is listening with the intentions and concerns of a loving parent.

If you are feeling distanced from God, remember that He is your Father and wants nothing more than to pour down blessings upon you. We simply need to show our faith and love for Him, submitting ourselves humbly to Him as a child. I can promise anyone who is reading this that they can know of God’s love for them through sincere, faithful prayer. He is our Father. Tell Him you love Him. You will be blessed with strength and peace.