Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Daily Prayer

Reader's digest recently did an online worldwide poll on prayer. According to the poll, 55% of people in the United States say they pray daily. Another 35% say they pray sometimes. 9% say they never pray. At the extremes, Malaysia had 76% who prayed daily, and the Czech Republic had 65% who never pray.

As polls go, this isn't a very scientifically accurate one, but it is interesting to see how much it varies country to country. I was also surprised that a majority of people in the United States say they pray daily.

I am a part of that majority. I pray multiple times a day, privately, with my family, and together with my wife. My purpose in praying is to communicate with my Father in Heaven. To express gratitude for the many blessings I've received, to ask for His protection and guidance, and to share my hopes, frustrations and concerns. I must admit that the sincerity and "quality" of my prayers can vary quite a bit. There are times when I don't say anything very meaningful and times when I struggle to stay awake while I pray. But there are also time when my prayers have been very meaningful and very helpful.

Because of some special circumstances, I prayed before I began dating my wife. I prayed again before I asked her to marry me. I wanted confirmation from my Heavenly Father whether I had made a good decision or not. Since I received that confirmation, it has made it very easy to stay committed to our marriage and to have a strong desire to nurture it. Today is our 20th anniversary. I'm very glad for the help I received through prayer to make that big decision and have the 20 happy years that we have had.

I have had many other experiences with prayer and have felt Heavenly Father's love and concern for me, my family, and many other people. He really does exist, and miraculously, he cares about us and listens to us. He wants to help us and see us be successful. Of course, being a perfect Father he still allows us to have challenges, to make mistakes, and to learn and grow. I'm thankful for a Father in Heaven, and the chance to communicate with him whenever I'd like through prayer.

2 Nephi 32:9

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gratitude, Peace, and Hope

Many people around the world are worried about the economy, jobs, investments, housing, credit, and war. In the United states many are also worried about massive spending for economic stimulus and bailouts, and new government programs that might lead to higher taxes, losses of productivity, and worse health care.

These are serious issues, but we have it great compared to most time periods in the history of the world, and even to many people in the world today (I recently read They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky which is a very stark contrast to my life.) Even if things change for the worse, we'll probably still be in relatively good shape.

In addition, regardless of our personal circumstances or our national prosperity, I believe we can have peace and hope in our personal, daily lives. Jesus Christ said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt 11:28-30). Likewise, Paul taught, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:6-7)

To me these scriptures aren't promising some magical peace that comes by declaring myself to be religious. They are explaining the logical consequence of looking for eternal truths, basing my life and values on those truths, doing my best to live by those truths, and making changes with the help of the Savior when I fall short.

I am very grateful for the peace I feel in my life right now and hope I can live close to God and continue to feel peace in times to come.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Intro to this Blog

I've decided I'd like to share experiences and feelings about religion in my daily life. In many ways it impacts everything I do. In fact, my goal is to center my life on God. But I'm not a religious fanatic or a monk. I live a "normal" life with a job and a family.

Some people say "religion is a crutch," I guess they are implying religion is for people who are too weak to make it through life on their own two feet. To me, religion is more like a guidebook or an instruction manual. I believe God loves us and is trying to help us find happiness and joy in this life and in an eternal life after we die. I'm grateful to have religious principles and guidance from a loving Father in Heaven to help me face the challenges and opportunities of life.