Answers From the Heart

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Stake Fireside Given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii

September 12, 2004
President & Sister Eric B. Shumway
President of Brigham Young University-Hawaii

President Eric B. Shumway

Aloha. I'm so pleased to be with you tonight. It is an honor for me that you should come.

I am delighted that Sister Shumway is with us tonight. Of all women of my acquaintance, she stands out as the supreme example of virtue, love, fun, romance, and spirituality.

Recently, our little grandson, Kenner, came into our kitchen where Sister Shumway and I were fixing dinner. In our maneuvering about the kitchen, I leaned over and kissed Carolyn on the cheek. Kenner began to laugh and said, "Grandpa, I didn't think old people kissed anymore." I told him if we had a penny for every kiss in our marriage, we would be rich, really rich.

A few years ago, I organized a devotional talk around questions that have often been asked me by students and others. I should like to use the same format tonight. These are personal, serious questions. My answers will be personal, and serious even a bit confessional. But the answers come from my heart.

Perhaps, there is some risk in this personal approach. Some people may take exception or wish they didn't know these things about President Shumway. But I offer these answers humbly, with the hope that many of you may be lifted and encouraged by the lessons I have learned and the experiences I have had.

The first question is frequently asked in one form or another in interviews. "Can you point to one specific episode in your early life that you might call a defining moment, a moment that forged an important character trait or gave you some special insight?"

This is a good question. There are a number of such episodes in my life, but I will describe only one that occurred when I was 14 or 15 years old. It was an event that burned into my soul the importance of controlling the "natural man" in all of us. It was an experience in which I learned that a single impulsive action or "letting it all hang out" could easily have devastating, even eternal consequences.

I was standing in front of our home in St. John's Arizona talking with two friends, when my 10 year old little brother, Nick, threw a rock that struck me in the back of the head. Enraged, I took after him, breathing out threats as I ran. But Nick eluded me, jumped into one of Dad's old cars, locked the doors and rolled up the windows.

Blood began to trickle down my neck. "You had better open the door," I yelled, "or you are going to get it."

Far from being terrified, Nick began to taunt me through the window with that exaggerated mockery of "You can't get me, eh, eh, eh." We children would sometimes practice that on one another. Perhaps Nick felt he was entitled to a little fun he had seen his older siblings have.

Conquered and frustrated, I could not abide Nick's teasing and laughter. In a burst of anger I doubled up my fist and punched the glass with a force that shattered it into a spray of shards. There was no shatter proof glass in those days.

As I withdrew my fist I pulled my arm across the jagged, razor sharp shards still clinging to the window frame. The result was a deep gash that severed all the blood vessels in my arm.

The sight of so much blood and ragged flesh was profoundly sobering to me. Indeed, despite the pain and shock, I had clarity of mind and instant regret. I saw immediately the cause and effect of my stupid behavior.

Apparently, a piece of glass caused a slight wound on Nick's forehead. He began to scream bloody murder. I walked over and leaned on one of the several elm trees that lined the irrigation ditch by our house. The blood flow eased a bit as I tried to apply pressure on my upper arm.

Hearing Nick's scream, Mom came flying out of the house to find him more frightened than hurt. When she saw my condition, she did not try to conceal her panic. She put me in the back seat of our family Studebaker and took off for the hospital in Springville, 30 miles away. She made it in less than 24 minutes.

Those 24 minutes in a speeding car and the two hours on the operating table gave me ample time to reflect on the enormity of what happened. It was my first full recognition of what self-defeating behavior entails, when in a moment of passion one can damage body and soul forever. Never mind that Nick could have been blinded by shattering glass, or that Mom could have rolled the car in her mad dash to the hospital. I learned my lesson. It was imprinted indelibly on my consciousness. It's ever with me.

So now, whenever I feel a numbing sensation in my forearm, or whenever a child stares at the still very visible scar and asks, "What happened to you? Does it hurt? Ooh that's ugly," I am reminded again that calm self control is one of the great virtues in this world.

Solomon said, "In all thy getting, get understanding." I would also add, "In all thy getting, get control." Get control of every passion that Satan would love to control us by anger, ambition, popularity and especially sexual desire. These things can wound the soul and scar the mind. Control thyself.

The other day I listened with sorrow to this story of a young woman, now married happily, who told her father that in her years of dating Mormon boys, including returned missionaries, and only two of them did not try to force themselves on to her sexually. "I got so sick of it, so sick of pushing them away," she said. "I lost my respect for them."

I sincerely hope that no man here is in that category. Many girls, fearing they will not get dates or feeling humiliated in thinking that they are not attractive to boys, somehow feel obliged to "return a favor" by allowing unchecked sexual advances. Likewise, there are young women who dress and act as if they want to be seduced. This kind of behavior, whether it is impulsive, premeditated, or just plain stupid, is highly destructive to the individual and will affect their eventual marriages and their children. Make sure that you are not the tempter. I have known men who consider it a mark of their manhood to be able to "score" sexually with a girl. This is a twisted, cynical, and satanic attitude that pervades our society. President David O. McKay, founder of this campus described the most noble manhood in terms of sexual control and deep respect for womanhood.

Remember that the sexual chemistry with which we are all endowed is God given, God ordained, and God blessed within the bounds he has set, namely within a legal and lawful marriage. This power will unite, create life, and express profound love in ways that no other expression can accomplish. If, however, it is let loose outside of the bounds of marriage as mere excitement or entertainment it can, as we have seen even on this campus, create chaos, bitterness, disillusionment, and endless broken hearts, sorrows that only profound repentance can appease. And certainly full repentance, especially with the help of your Church leaders, can and does bring about the fullness of forgiveness and the return of a peaceful conscience.

In response to so many false declarations of love in order to get sexual favors, Carol Lynn Pearson wrote the words to this song "If It's Love"

If you want me, then want me
To be everything that I can be.
If you love me, then love me for real.
If you want me, then want me
To be happy when tomorrow comes.
If you love, then care how I feel.
If it's love, lift me to a higher ground.
If it's love, leave me better than you found me.
If it's love, show it in the sunlight,
Never hide it in the dark,
If it's love,
If it's love.

Question #2, What are your greatest regrets as you look back on your early life? Or what do you wish you could change?

I don't have any regrets as a result of any deep sin. But I have made my mistakes which were stupid and juvenile, though not malicious. Most of my regrets are in wishing I could have done more and better. I wish I would have taken more interest in older people. I missed opportunities to be helpful. I was too busy with my own young life. In many ways I was too competitive, too busy trying to win. I was more eager for praise than doing solid performance, based on consistent hard work and sacrifice.

Again, like many of you, I was a good kid, an okay kid, but was often blind to the possibilities for service and goodness around me. I wish I had been more aware of people who were suffering, who were alone or ostracized, lonely people in the community, widows, the poor, the ridiculed.

Our society so often narrows our living to a culture of play, the entertainment and self-indulgence. The Gospel should open our hearts to people, especially early in our lives. Live to serve.

Question #3, What are you most grateful for as you contemplate your growing up?

This question requires many answers. First I am grateful for a father who adored my mother. He showed it in a hundred ways. We children knew that we would bring down on our heads father's wrath if we ever spoke disrespectfully to our mother. In this present so-called liberated generation, most men do not grow up knowing how to treat a woman. I watched from an early age how a father should behave in a home and how a man should love his wife.

Mom was a public person. She was a Merrilee Webb kind of woman, immensely talented in teaching children how to sing, putting on productions, operettas, concerts. One evening I came home late from school to find my father still in his service station uniform doing the supper dishes. Mom was out at a practice somewhere. I complained to dad and said, "Daddy, why don't you make Mom do her own dishes. That's her job." Those were not sarcastic words. I had a genuine appreciation of how long and hard my father worked. I felt pity for him. Somehow it seemed unmanly that he should do housework too. He looked at me and said, "Listen, Sonny, I know how to do dishes, but I can't teach children how to sing. Let your mother bless the community with her talent and you come and help me with these dishes."

 grateful for a mother who taught me the facts of life, to respect womanhood, and drilled it into me that virtue and chastity were as important in a man as in a woman. Mom was a preacher and I got a sermon every night when I got home from a date. She would be waiting for me, the whole house would be dark except for the little bedroom lamp in the master bedroom that I could see from the road. I would always go in and sit on the bed and she'd ask me about the activity, how it went and always how I behaved.

 also very grateful for the girls in our little community that I dated but never married. They were good young women, noble girls whose virtue and honor helped shape my attitude toward women in general.

 grateful for the young men with whom Sister Shumway associated with growing up. She was part of a neighborhood group which included mostly young men who loved and protected her as a sister. I remember going on my first dates with Carolyn and being introduced to her "friend boys". I could sense that they were looking me over to see if I was worthy of their little "friend girl" with whom over the years they had enjoyed picnics, hayrides, river trips, ward parties, school concerts, etc. These boys cherished her as a sister. I feel each one would have protected her with his life if it had ever been necessary.

 so grateful for a wife who at 12 years of age, during a fireside on virtue and cleanliness, promised Heavenly Father that she would keep herself for her husband who, though she didn't know him, was then a budding deacon himself in a little town 600 miles away. I am most grateful that my older sister met Carolyn. One summer they worked together in Yellowstone Park. Recognizing the beauty and the nobility of this 16 year old girl, my sister persuaded her to write me a little pen pal letter. I am most grateful I had the sense to answer that letter. Seven years after that first letter and hundreds of other letters and a mission for both of us, we finally married in the Salt Lake Temple June 3, 1963.

Question #4, President Shumway, not that you are perfect but how have you resisted temptation in your personal life? What has been your strongest point of resistance against temptation and sin?

Someone has said that we should never be defined by our temptations but by our actions to resist those temptations. Clearly for me the strongest point of resistance has been my personal covenants with God that I have made on my knees, in the waters of baptism, during each sacrament service, receiving the priesthood, and the promises that I have made before God, angels, and witnesses in the Holy Temple. This sense of covenant has defined for me who I am and what my whole purpose in life is to be. Covenants are the steel in my conscience, the engine that slams the door of my mind against temptations.

The older I get, the more I realize that the covenants we make in the Church provide not only a meeting point with our Heavenly Father where we make promises to him and he makes promises to us, but they are our lifeline in a sea of moral pollution. Frankly, without these covenants I, and I believe the rest of us, would be left desolate, victims of our own passions and lusts. We would be like the proverbial chip on a turbulent ocean without direction, without hope.

Besides my covenants, I consider Sister Shumway, the wife of my youth, to be the greatest source of resistance against temptation. Her faith and trust in me and her love for me are immense bastions of strength. The thought of disappointing her, much more the thought of betraying her, is too horrible for me to think about even for a moment.

We are taught in the Church that the best way to get rid of an evil thought either creeping or bursting on to the stage of our mind is to immediately invite a pure thought on to the same stage. Evil flees from good as darkness flees from light. I learned early in our marriage that the best way to resist the image of evil is to invite immediately the sweet countenance of my wife into my mind and later when children came along I would call them to mind along with their mother. There they were, smiling at me in my mind, as if to say: "Daddy, we trust you. We know you will never do anything or think anything that would hurt us or embarrass us."

As President David O. McKay pleaded with the youth of Zion, "Be true to your future spouse and your children. You may be unaware of them, but they are alive somewhere and perhaps looking in on you. Young men, you who are not married yet let the beautiful image of your future wife come into your mind. It's likely you have not met here yet, but there she is, looking at you, as if to say, wait for me, be true to me, be true to our children."

You young women, who are not married yet, open the door of your imagination and let your future husband and children come into your mind. There they are looking at you as if to say, "Wait for us, be true to us." Brothers and sisters, this is not a trick of the imagination. They are real. They are somewhere. Let them be a powerful source of strength against temptation, especially sexual temptation.

The total love and trust of children has been an amazing sustaining power against temptation in my life. I remember vividly years ago when our oldest son Jeffrey sat on my lap during a stake conference in which President Kimball addressed the congregation. During President Kimball's address, I leaned down and whispered in Jeffrey's ear, "Jeff, you are listening to a true prophet of God. Not only that but he is a very good man."

Jeff looked up at me with his earnest little face and said, "Daddy, do you think he's better than you are?"

I was stunned by his words and tears came into my eyes. Immediately I made a promise to Heavenly Father that I would never betray this little boy's trust. Certainly I was not equal with the prophet, but in the eyes of my son he saw me having the same stature. Most children see their parents longingly with those same eyes. To betray a child who has that kind of faith is to commit deep sin. It is little wonder that Christ himself said, "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he would drown in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6)

This is a most sobering scripture, especially when we consider how many children in our society are constantly being betrayed by parents and even brothers and sisters. Those who hurt or mentally and physically and sexually abuse children will feel the effects of Christ's warning. But those who also betray through bad example or sinful conduct or fake kinds of indoctrination or worse, no teaching at all, will also be a part of the curse.

Certainly we cannot minimize the great protecting power of prayer as we journey in the wilderness of this mortal existence. "Watch and pray", we are told, "lest ye enter into temptation." ( ) Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings and he will direct they paths.

When you consider how often Jesus prayed to Heavenly Father spending days and weeks in the wilderness, fasting and praying, when we see him praying among the Nephites and teaching them how to pray, we realize that through prayer we can be rescued from temptation. But remember that the counter part of prayer is the study of scriptures.

It is so important for us to realize, also, how Christ's example of resisting temptation reflects his knowledge of the scripture. You remember when he is tempted in the wilderness by Satan after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. With each temptation he responds with a scripture. When the tempter comes to him he says, "If thou be the son of God, command that these stones be made bread." That is, use your Godly powers to produce a miracle to satisfy a physical appetite.

"But Christ answers and says, "It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4)

When the tempter takes him up on a pinnacle of the temple, he tempts him to prove his divinity by casting himself down and then having himself rescued by angels, Jesus simply says, "It is written again, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." (Matthew 4:7)

And finally Satan takes him into a high mountain and shows him all the riches of the world and says "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me."

Jesus answers with a scripture, "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (Matthew 4:10)

That is why brothers and sisters we are invited, forewarned, even commanded to read the scriptures constantly, daily, for it is scriptures that make our prayers effective in our behalf. The voice of God is in the scriptures where you will find answers to your prayers. If Christ could resist temptation because of his knowledge of the scriptures, how much more would we be benefited by reading the holy word of God.

For example, scriptural phrases in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon can be powerful voices in our minds, like "Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly." (Doctrine and Covenants 121) Or "I the Lord delight in the chastity of women," (Jacob 5) or "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord." (Doctrine and Covenants) And there are other powerful scriptures that you know, articles of faith, even lines out of the temple ceremony that if you call them to mind in the face of temptation, I promise you they will become a voice in your heart, a still small voice, that will have the effect of "thunder" to jar you out of the trance of temptation.

And finally in regard to this question, "What has been your strongest point of resistance against temptation?" let me say that every one of us, and I say every one of us, must develop within ourselves a habit of resistance against the evil that assaults our eyes and ears regularly. We must develop a reflexive habit of averting our eyes, standing up and walking away, changing the channel, walking out of a movie, or as one person said to me, "I simply visualize a steel door in my mind slamming shut against the invasion of evil thoughts."

Question # 6, what have been some of your most powerful spiritual moments in which you have sensed unmistakably Heavenly Father's intervention in your life?

This question has to do with things that may be too numerous, too sacred or too personal to mention. But I will point briefly to four or five instances of being profoundly affected and tutored by Heavenly Father. I have felt the presence of heavenly beings in the temple. I have felt his love wash over my body as I have prayed. As a young bishop in Hauula 2nd ward I had to replace my 2nd counselor and prayed earnestly to have the right person revealed to me. Brother Bill Blaisdell came vividly to my mind, so I called him. The night before Brother Blaisdell was to be sustained, I saw him in a dream. In the dream we shook hands and embraced each other. His smile was warm, his handshake firm. This little mini vision seemed to affirm that my choice was right. However, when I woke from the dream I wondered why Bill was featured at all this way since I had already decided on him to become my counselor. You can imagine how grateful I was for the additional divine assurance when another man in the ward stepped forward and challenged my choice of Brother Bill Blaisdell. He claimed it was revealed to him that he should be called as 2nd counselor, and that I had made a mistake. How grateful I was to counter his claim, not only with a lesson on how revelation works within stewardship, but also with the additional reassurance of the dream.

Watching and participating in the full and authentic repentance of an individual has to be one of the great spiritual moments in any of our lives; to see how the power of the atonement in the life of a repentant human being and the love of Christ can penetrate sins deepest gloom and hopelessness. That is still amazing to me. To witness the cleansing process of the atonement is to see first hand the miraculous plan of redemption that a loving, merciful Father in Heaven established in the beginning. The atonement of Christ gives hope to every one. Without it we would all be lost.

Another intervention and profound tutorial in my life I have spoken of before from this pulpit. As a stake president, I was counseling an older lady from the community who by her oppositional and combative personality had successfully irritated and alienated nearly every one in our community, bishops, police officers, and neighbors. As she was unloading her complaints on me, I too started to feel irritation and began to formulate in my mind a sharp rebuke for her negative attitude and complaining spirit. At which moment, words came forcibly to my mind, as if spoken from Heaven: "This is my beloved daughter, listen to her." Can you imagine how swiftly I was brought to attention and began to listen with true empathy?

I rejoice in this tutorial moment, because it clearly affirmed what so many of us forget, namely, that Heavenly Father loves all his children, even those, perhaps especially those, who may annoy us, we who are so comfortable in our own self righteousness.

The final question: What specific things do you wish for and pray for most for the students at BYU-Hawaii?

Of course my first response to this question is that Sister Shumway and I pray every day that each of you feels deeply the blessings and opportunities you have in being here at BYU-Hawaii. We pray that you will overcome your own adolescence by study and hard work and service in the wards and in the stakes. We pray earnestly that every student here will feel that he and she are an integral part of the prophecies and expectations of living prophets from David O. McKay and Joseph F. Smith down to the present prophet and apostles of the Church. We want you to feel your destiny and feel that what you can learn here and absorb here in this aloha environment will be a lifetime gift to you and your posterity. And that through you hundreds and thousands on this planet will be influenced for good toward the establishment of peace, even the establishment of Zion, throughout the world.

But perhaps my greatest wish and prayer for each of you specifically now is that you will set your spiritual sights on the temple. For us to have the temple close by is such an incredible blessing to all of us. Bishops and stake presidents, and quorum and Relief Society leaders should plan activities and projects that will bring our young people to the temple.

I was appalled the other day in a conversation with a young man when he said he had not been back to the temple since his mission. You young men and women who are endowed whether you have served missions or not, you keep your lives worthy and your schedules free so that you can return again and again to the temple. You Bishops and Stake Presidents, quorum leaders, aggressively help focus your people on the temple. Signs of tragedy can be seen in the lives of endowed men and women who do not go back again and again to the temple. You young men in this audience, you who have promised before God, and angels and witnesses in the temple that you will be clean and virtuous and committed, when you plan your week or your weekend, include the temple. We all know you need a break from study. Take a break to the temple, not just to parties and dances and movies and Waikiki.

I promise you all in the name of the Lord, that if you focus your lives on worthiness and regular attendance at the temple, everything else in your life will come together in ways that will bring happiness that you cannot even conceive.

A sweet young lady came to her bishop and said she had a new boyfriend, a return missionary but he doesn't wear his temple garments, should she be worried. Yes she should worry, and be cautious. But the same is true of a young man or woman who is endowed, who does wear the temple garment but who seldom, if ever, goes to the temple.

The temple garment is a sacred symbol of all our covenants we make in the temple. It is a shield and protection against temptation when worn worthily. It is also a standard of modesty for men and women. It is an appeal to the individual to return again and again to the temple for constant nourishment to the soul.

We go to the temple to pray. We go to make covenants for ourselves and for those for whom we officiate, covenants of chastity and consecration. We go to the temple to escape from the pressure and the distraction of a world filled with competing evils and temptations. We go to the temple to be taught by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ themselves through the power of their spirit which dwells there. We go to the temple to relearn and be reminded of the great plan of redemption, the purposes of this world, and who we are individually in relationship to Heavenly Father. We go to the temple to re-enact the journey of redemption that leads us to the celestial kingdom. If your sights are on the temple and the covenants that we make there with Heavenly Father and Christ, then everything else falls into place. Standards, the Honor Code, relationships with others, schoolwork, integrity on the job, all of these things fall into perfect place.

I bear you my witness that these things are true. Christ and his atonement are real. The environment around us that is basically created and maintained by the media, hype and fashion, entertainment and indulgence in the materialism of wealth and power, all of these are illusions that cannot sustain your soul, but will turn to dust and disappointment. It is the temple and all of the spiritual qualities there, that are eternal and fulfilling in sustaining us that we should cherish the most.

Now brothers and sisters, I have offered answers from my heart to just a few questions. Why do these things matter? They matter because of who we are and what Heavenly Father expects us to be and to do. We belong to his Church, the greatest force for good on earth, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, governed by Christ through a living prophet and the priesthood of God, after the Holy order of the son of God. We have sacred scriptures to guide us. We have wonderful opportunities to serve his children. That's why you are here, to prepare, to absorb, to flourish and to go forth as a light unto the world. There is a greater expectation of your faithfulness, requirements to attend religion classes, to attend Church and to fulfill your responsibilities within the kingdom of God. No one should resent that requirement. In deed they should rejoice in it because that requirement is at the heart of the mission of BYU-Hawaii. May God bless us all to be faithful and true, to all move more closely, as it were, into the embrace of our Heavenly Father and his beloved Son, even Jesus Christ, Amen


Sister Shumway

Thank you, Brothers Tyrell and Belnap for setting the stage for this fireside. Thank you for not only your years of practicing but also your commitment to performing sacred music in a sacred style..

It is both humbling, and very rewarding to look out and see the faces of you whom we love and for whom we pray every day. President Shumway and I also pray to be worthy campus parents -- as we know that President and Sister Pierce do as stake parents, along with all your other faithful leaders.

We commend you all for coming tonight, for the Lord pours out special blessings when His children meet together in His name, such as these firesides and campus devotionals. If we are earnest, we will never leave these gatherings with an empty cup as we rejoice together in the restoration of the True Church through the prophet, Joseph Smith.

We know that the Lord has reserved many of his most valiant spirits for these latter days - that's you. We know that Satan has also unleashed his strongest forces to try to be a match for you, God's valiant.

In the Aug. 7th Church News, Elder Eyring made a very encouraging declaration about you and the other young people in the Church. Instead of expressing fear that you will give in to the evils around you - evils greater than ever in history -- Elder Eyring declared, "The Lord has given another signal, clear and powerful, ... that we can expect more, not less of the youth of the church."

This made President Shumway's & my heart leap for joy as we hope it does yours.

However, in an earlier speech, Elder Eyring indicated that whatever has worked in times past for the youth of the Church is not going to be enough in our present day when Satan is even more clever and deceitful than ever before and wants us to be the same. I hope this is as sobering a thought to you as it is for us, your leaders; we think about it every day. We also want to raise our own bar so that we can be worthy leaders to you.

Tonight, may I touch on two of the ways I think Elder Eyring was hoping that you youth would raise your bar. First, "Time spent with the Lord every day. President Howard W. Hunter counseled the saints to spend at least one hour a day prayerfully studying the scriptures. He said that less time is better than no time, but that an hour is ideal. He & all the modern prophets have promised that by doing so, all areas of our lives will be blessed.

We realize how tricky this is for a student's full schedule, but the promise is nevertheless sure, and in the future, you will probably never have more time than you do now. As a side note, it is interesting that some of us spend more time doing physical fitness each day than we do spiritual fitness, which is of eternal consequence.

It brings President Shumway and myself great joy to visit our children and their families and find them having daily scripture study together as we did with them growing up. A few months ago our daughter, Heather, backed their van into a parked police car. She was pregnant with her 4th child, and her husband, Morgan, was under great pressure that week finishing his master's degree.

When Morgan came home that evening, Heather burst into uncontrollable sobbing as she related the trauma. Instantly, their rolly polly two-year old toddled over to the shelf, picked up a Book of Mormon and took it straight to his mother's lap, earnestly looking up at her face. Isn't it wonderful that even a baby can sense the power of the Book of Mormon to help solve problems in our lives.

In Doctrine and Covenants 88:63, the Lord says, "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

This leads to my last "raising of the bar" topic - "How we pray." In 2 Nephi 25:26 we read, "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

We speak, rejoice, preach, and prophecy of Christ, but may I share my tender thoughts on how we should speak the name of Christ and of His Father when we pray?

"Behold, I am Alpha and Omega, even Jesus Christ. Wherefore, let all men beware how they take my name in their lips," says the Lord, Himself in D&C 63:61.

Many of us, when we are praying-- in family prayer, the blessing on the food, or in a meeting , become nervous & self conscious and therefore, want to end the prayer quickly. Some of us are even moving away from the microphone or from our knees as we are saying, (say it fast) "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen," as  sure I did in my younger days. Though none of us intends to be irreverent by rushing over the names of Heavenly Father and Jesus, might this resemble taking the Lord's name in vain?

We may also be tempted to talk fast during the prayer-as though we are trying to cram everything in in the shortest time possible. Or we may forget to pause before and after saying those most sacred and beloved names, "Heavenly Father" and "in the name of Jesus Christ."

We need to remember that praying in front of a group is not a performance, but a real conversation with Heavenly Father. The prayer-giver is talking to Heavenly Father in behalf of the group. In fact, the reason we are taught to bow our heads and close our eyes as little children is so that we can shut out the world and really talk to the Lord as though we were in His presence.

Jesus taught us how to regard His Father's name in Matthew 6:9, "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." (pause)

And with what reverence do you think Christ prayed when He, with the Nephites, knelt down on the ground four different times and prayed aloud to His Father? Try to hear His voice in your mind next time you turn to chapters 17-19 of Third Nephi.

While considering these ideas, this same reverence applies to giving talks in church and bearing our testimonies, as we close them in Christ's holy name. It is also extremely crucial that none of us ever be critical of others" prayers, but always give full support as we listen to them pray.

When I step up to the microphone or kneel to pray, I find it helpful to even pause before beginning, to allow a spirit of true reverence and worship to enter not only my heart as the prayer giver, but the hearts of everyone in the room. Then we begin, "Our Father in Heaven, "we thank thee...and so on". After we have reverently spoken our prayer, we pause again to show the same respect to the Savior, as I hope to do now as I close my remarks.

"In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."