Nephi is recorded as saying “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days” What did Nephi mean that he was born of goodly parents? Does it mean that his parents played an active role in the child’s upbringing and taught gospel principles? Of course it does.
The home and family have vital roles in the developing and cultivating of personal testimony and faith. It is in the family that children first become aware of many of the gospel principles. It is the parents that teach faith, repentance, hope, charity. The family is the basic unit of society, each family is a little different, but regardless of who constitutes your family it is in that unit that they are able to share love. Love for each other and love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. When the gospel is not only taught in the home but also lived children learn and grow. Just like the best meals are cooked at home, the best gospel instruction should be in the home.
The proclamation to the family states that “The family is ordained of God. Husbands have a solemn responsibility to love and care for eachother and there children. “Children are a heratige of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3) Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for there physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law abiding citizens.” For it is here that faith truly begins. But before you can influence others you have to have habits and qualities for yourself. What are these habits and qualities?
Do you say daily prayer? Prayers before each meal? Do you say meals with your spouce and family? “Let every family in this Church have prayer together. Now, it is important to have individual prayer, but it is a wonderful thing to have family prayer. Pray to your Father in Heaven in faith. Pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You can do nothing better for your children than to have them taking their turn in the family prayer, expressing gratitude for their blessings. If they do that while they are young, they will grow with a spirit of thanksgiving in their hearts” I remember babysitting my nieces one evening, before my sister left they all knelt in prayer and my niece then was not even 3 saying a prayer. The habits of prayer are learned as children. That prayer was so simple and so filled with love that the effect has not left me even after the words have been forgotten long ago. Many people even if they saying prayers they are saying the same prayer day after day. One thing that makes a huge difference in prayers is personalizing them, make it as if you are having a personal conversation with the Lord. Tell him about your day, or the things you need counsel on. When it comes to prayer I think there is no better example then that of the children, for they truly say what is in there hearts. They ask for blessings that they need, and they express love for Heavenly Father and there families. I believe over time we either become comfortable in routine phrases that they are used over and over, or that we are so worried about using the prayer words; thou, thine, thee, ect. Were these are good things to have they should not over rule your prayer. Let it be heartfelt, and inspired. As you do this the spirit will begin to guide you as what to say.
2. Study scriptures together;
When asked about study scriptures as a family President Hinkley said “We would be better people. There would be little or no infidelity among us. Divorce would be almost entirely disappear. So much of heartache and heartbreak would be avoided. There would be greater measure of appreciation and of mutual respect among us. And I am confident the Lord would smile with greater favor upon us.” Why if the scriptures are so important is it so hard to consistently read them? It’s because Satan knows the influence of the scriptures. I have realized that days were Kyle and I read together the spirit is more prevalent. I love being able to read together, sharing those sacred texts. “The brass plates were a record of Lehi’s fathers, including their language, genealogy, and more importantly, the gospel taught by God’s holy prophets. As Lehi searched the plates, he learned what all of us learn by studying the scriptures: Who we are? What can we become? Prophecies for us and our posterity, commandments, laws, ordinances, and covenants we must live by to obtain eternal life.”(Robert D. Hales) Prayer by itself when we ask questions or want guidance is meaningless if we are not doing our part and reading the scriptures. Elder Robert D Hales explained that when we want to talk to God we pray but if we expect God to talk to us then we must read the scriptures. It is through the scriptures that the counsel and teachings of God are able to influence our own lives.
3.Temple and church attendance;
I remember driving in the car with my nieces one afternoon passing the Nauvoo temple, all the sudden I hear “Temple mommy, its Jesus’ house” I nearly was brought to tears. My niece knew why the temple was so sacred, it was Jesus’ house. President Monson said “as we tuch the temple, the temple will touch us.” Are we allowing the spirit that we feel each time we go to the temple or come to church are we allowing that to reach beyond the walls of the building? Do we talk to one another about things we learned? I remember growing up each Sunday night as we sat around the table for dinner right after dinner my father would ask each of us in turn “what did you learn about today?”
Have those gospel discussions each and every time you go to church or attend the temple. If you are unable to go to the temple for what ever reason spend some time on temple grounds. Take your scriptures, and a book to write down your thoughts, and think of the Savior. We are so blessed to live in a time were there are so many temples, so many opportunities to be in the Lord’s house. Use them!
Everything begins and ends with your attitude. If you are reading or praying because you have too, you are not going to get anything out of it. You get out of it what you put into it. Have a positive out look and the spirit will bless you.
5. Be consistent;
Have a routine, and stick to it. Just like when you exercise you have a routine, do the same with prayer and scripture study. Set a time each day that you set aside for these activities. Turn off the tv, take a break and make your home a heaven on earth. “Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.
Today if you could ask our adult sons what they remember about family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening, I believe I know how they would answer. They likely would not identify a particular prayer or a specific instance of scripture study or an especially meaningful family home evening lesson as the defining moment in their spiritual development. What they would say they remember is that as a family we were consistent.Sister Bednar and I thought helping our sons understand the content of a particular lesson or a specific scripture was the ultimate outcome. But such a result does not occur each time we study or pray or learn together. The consistency of our intent and work was perhaps the greatest lesson—a lesson we did not fully appreciate at the time.” Don’t give up and do you best but stay consistent!