Good afternoon Brothers and Sisters, I'm really excited to be here and to see all of you guys here. Like Bishop Allen said my name is Kayla Johnson and I've been called to serve in the Pennsylvania Pittsburgh mission and I leave for the MTC this Wednesday.
So two weeks ago I went up to Bishop Allen and said "Hey do you have any idea, you know, of what you would like me to talk about in church for my farewell?" And he said "You know I thought about it and, well lets talk about it now." And he said, "What's a topic that you know and that you have a testimony of, but that testimony took work to get and didn't come easy for you." And I instantly thought of prayer and I think it's so cool how you can say many different things about prayer. Just as they were speaking, and talking about it in mission prep this morning, there are so many different ways that you can answer questions just depending on your audience. So hopefully I can speak something to you guys today and you can take something away from this talk.
I instantly thought of prayer, and prayer for me, it is sometimes hard for me. It's hard for me to have relationships where I can't see a person or talk to them. So the fact that I can't see Heavenly Father everyday, is kind of hard. But then I think of prayer, and through prayer I can have that relationship with Him. It's so hard for me to pray sometimes, but when I think of my relationship with Him, it makes me want to pray more.
In the Bible Dictionary under prayer it says: "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God, (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part. Many of the so called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship." I went to went to girls camp one year and we had a guest speaker, I don't remember her name, who talked to us about our relationship with the Father. It was really cool and it stuck with me. She said, "It doesn't go Heavenly Father, Adam, Moses, Nephi, Joseph Smith, Us. It goes Heavenly Father and then us. We are his children. And I just really feel that and I believe that love that he has for us because we are His children.
So when we think about that relationship, it puts it in perspective that you would want to speak with your father. In True to the Faith under prayer it says "As you make a habit of approaching God in prayer, you will come to know Him and draw ever nearer to Him." And I feel that as I have prayed I have been able to gain that relationship with him and build upon that. So because we're His children, He loves us SO much and he wants the best for us. In Matthew 7:9-11 it says "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?" So He's our father, you know, just as parents are going to want the best for their kids, so would Heavenly Father want the best for us.
And that just makes me think of that picture where Jesus Christ is standing at a door and He has His hand stretched out like He's knocking on it, but if you look at the picture, there's not a knob on the door. That's because the knob is on the other side and we're on the other side of that door. We have that power of agency to be able to open that door and let Him in. He's there standing and waiting for us and ready for us as soon as we make that decision to open the door for Him.
So when Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mount, it speaks about it in Matthew and then Luke. In Luke 11:1, One of the disciples asks "Lord, teach us to pray" and he's saying you know you teach us that we need to pray all the time and to talk to Heavenly Father and ask Him for help, but how do we pray? So he then goes on to give an example of how to pray and that is known as the Lord's prayer
Then he continues on and says "hallowed be thy name." So when Jesus addresses His Father, He addresses Him in an attitude of worship recognizing His greatness and giving Him praise. So we need to tell Him that He is great because, In True to the Faith under Principles of Prayer it says, "When we pray, we should use language that shows love, respect, reverence and closeness. If you pray in English, for example, you should use the pronouns of the scriptures when you address God -- Thee, Thou, and Thine, rather than the more common pronouns you, your and yours. Regardless of the language, the principle remains the same: When you pray, you should use words that appropriately convey a loving, worshipful relationship with God. So as we address Him and speak with Him, we want to use language that's respectful and loving towards Him.
Jesus then continues on in verse 10 and says "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done." So we should freely acknowledge our dependence on the Lord and express our desire to do His will. In the Bible Dictionary again under prayer it says, "Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others, blessings that God is already willing to grant that are made conditional upon our asking for them." So we need to ask Him, we need to do His will and ask Him "what's your will?" Richard G. Scott said, "The key to improve prayer is to learn to ask the right questions. Consider changing from asking for the things you want, to honestly seeking what He wants for you."
Then in verse 11 he says "Give us this day our daily bread," so that's when we ask for the things we need from the Lord. When we ask for things that we need, we should do all that we can to assist in it being granted. When we pray, we pray in faith, and in the Bible Dictionary under faith it says: "Faith is a principle of action and power." So when we use faith and action, we use that to assist in our prayers being granted. Cornish, in the talk, he says, "It is contrary to the dichotomy of heaven for the Lord to do for us, that which we can do for ourselves.: So we have to meet Him halfway. Because, He for sure can grant us things that we pray for, but a lot of times we have the ability to grant those things for ourselves. So we need to meet Him halfway and do what we can to aid in getting those prayers answered.
And then in verse 12 He says, "Forgive us our debts," and in Luke it says "Forgive our sins" and if you look in the footnotes in Matthew, it also says: debts, offences, faults or sins so those can all be used interchangeably. So an essential part that is sometimes forgotten about personal prayer, is repentance. We've got to ask for that forgiveness and that repentance from the Lord.. And then He continues on and says: "As we forgive our debtors." So the Savior made a clear connection between being forgiven of our sins and forgiving others who have wronged us. So as we ask for forgiveness from the Lord, we also forgive others. And I think that forgiving others also includes ourselves. When we ask Heavenly Father to forgive us, we need to forgive us. So forgive others as well as yourselves as you ask for that forgiveness.
And then in verse 13 He goes on to say: "And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil." So we should ask for protection in those frightening times where we don't know how to face things. Ask for that protection to be delivered away from evil. In Alma 37:36-37, this is when Alma is counseling his son Helaman and says, "Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. 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, that He may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning, let thy heart by full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day." We should pray to Him for everything and as we ask for the Lord's help in everything, he'll give us guidance to do what's right.
So then he finishes verse 13 and ends His prayer by saying, "For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." So Jesus concludes His prayer by praising God again and expressing his reverence and his submission to the Father. We should all remember where we stand with Him and show our respect towards Him. Cornish ends this example of prayer by saying, "I found that one of the secrets to a joyful life is to recognize that doing things the Lord's way will make me happier than doing things my way." I found that to be true, as I pray and do the will of the Lord and the Father, I'm a lot happier.
Gordon B. Hinckley said, "the trouble with our prayers is that we give them as if we are picking up the telephone and ordering groceries. We place our order and hang up. We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we're praying about and for and speak to the Lord as one man speaks to another.:" So as we pray we need to think about how He is our father, He is a person, and He is there, so speak to Him as if speaking to another person with that respect It goes back to praying sincerely and with real intent and in Preach my Gospel, real intent is defined as "When we are committed to act upon the answer that we receive." So we pray sincerely as we would speaking to another person and then with real intent to act upon the things that we say and the answers we are given. We must never feel like we are not good enough to pray. That idea comes from the devil who teaches us not to pray. It's tragic to think that we're too simple to pray as it is for a person to think that he is too sick to go to the doctor. That's crazy right? Who's too sick to go see a doctor? That's why they are there. That's the same with Heavenly Father. He is there for us when we need Him.
Elder Richard G Scott said, "Sometimes as a child you may misbehave and feel like you cannot approach your father with a problem. That is when you need to pray. Never feel that you are too unworthy to pray. When you don't feel like praying, pray until you do feel like praying. And the great thing about prayer is that not only can you speak to Heavenly Father, but we can receive answers to our prayers as well. We can receive that guidance from Him. In 3 Nephi 18:20 it says, "And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you." In the Bible Dictionary under prayer, it says, "Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ's theme at all. They no way represent his mind and reflect the selfishness of man's heart." So when we pray, it needs to be for the Lord and His will. It can't be out of our selfish hearts. We wouldn't pray to win the lottery or for someone we hate to trip and fall. It's got to be what Heavenly Father would want. And again, bringing your will in correspondence with the Father's will.
In True to the Faith under Receiving Answers to Prayers, it says, "Answers to prayers come in many ways. They often come through the still small voice of the Holy Ghost. They may come in the circumstances of your life or through the kind acts of those around you. As you continue to draw near to your Heavenly Father through prayer, you will recognize more readily His merciful and wise answers to your pleadings. So answers come in different ways. It's really easy to define prayer and how to pray, I just told you that. But how to receive answers is different. It's not as easily definable, because it's personal, it's different for everyone. As we pray to Heavenly Father personally, he answers us personally so we're going to get those answers in personal ways. Most the time it's through thoughts and feelings and as it says, as we pray and recognize those feelings more, we'll be able to recognize His answers more.
I just want to close in saying how I have come to be at the point in my life that I am going on a mission. My whol life I've wanted to go on a mission. Both my parents served missions, so I felt like "hey I guess I'll serve a mission too, it sounds great." And then this past year, I was down at UVU going to college and there was a lot of ups and downs and I really doubted whether I should go on a mission or not. And I turned to my Heavenly Father in prayer and I said, "Is that what I should be doing? Should I go on a mission? What do you want me to do?" And I received so many promptings that this is the right thing for me to do and I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I'll have to serve the people in the Pittsburgh mission. I'm grateful to bring the happiness and peace that I have found in the gospel to those people in Pennsylvania. I do have a testimony of our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that they are there and that they love each and everyone of us. I have felt that love so much. I have a testimony of Joseph Smith, that he restored this gospel here on earth and that he was a prophet in this dispensation. I have a testimony of Thomas S. Monson, that he is our modern day prophet. I'm grateful for the opportunity that we have for modern day revelation through the prophets as well as personal revelation to our prayers and to ourselves. I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and know that it's the word of God. I know that it came from Him and I feel happy every time I read it, I love it. I love this gospel and this church and I'm grateful to be able to go on a mission and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.