February 15th Increase in Learning Reading Group

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(This is the text transcript from the Reading Group Discussion about Increase in Learning Chapter 3: Prayerful Inquiry. This discussion was held on Seek on February 15, 2012.)

Emily Watts
Welcome to Week 5 of our Increase in Learning virtual reading group! Today we're going to go deep into a most important topic--prayer.

Beth Kirby
Yay! I have had a hard time waiting for this week's discussion to come.

Emily Watts
I love how Elder Bednar introduces the topic, with Laman and Lemuel's complaints that they can't understand their father's prophecies. Well, did you pray about it?

Emily Watts
I found myself wondering how often in my life I ought to be replacing whining with praying.

Krisy Bennett Shaughnessy
That is such a great point Emily! It really hit me that as bad as we always think of Laman and Lemuel, the amount of whining I do isn't too good either. And if I turned that into praying... that would be so good!

Beth Kirby
I just really want to say that of all of the chapters, this one has had the most impact; it has been the most life-altering part of the book for me. ♥

Emily Watts
Beth: That speaks to the power of prayer, doesn't it?

Beth Kirby
Absolutely! This chapter finally gave me the answer I've been seeking for nearly year through prayer.

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
I have wondered if Lamen and Lemuel had a feeling of entitlement--that it should somehow come easier to them it for some reason--

Emily Watts
‎@Tracy, or maybe they just ASKED, but didn't INQUIRE, the way Elder Bednar describes the process, and so didn't feel like they got an answer.

Beth Kirby
I'm willing to bet that you are right Emily.

Krisy Bennett Shaughnessy
What a great point Tracy and Emily!

Emily Watts
The work of prayer: "Sincere desire, diligent preparation, and faithful confidence in and commitment to act upon the expected instruction . . ." I'm willing to bet Laman and Lemuel didn't get anywere close to that.

Emily Watts
So, what do you do to "diligently prepare" to pray?

Emily Watts
I love Nephi's example: He made the bow and arrow, got the sling and stones (backup plan), and THEN asked. He demonstrated his intent to act by getting everything read to do so.

Tina Standage Bushman
Shut my door. :)

Emily Watts
Tina: LOL! But a closed door in my house is sometimes a kid magnet.

Beth Kirby
‎*LIKE* Emily!

Beth Kirby
Well, reading or rather studying the scriptures helps. Fasting helps for something I am really needing help with....

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
I struggle with that...I really want my heart to be right, my mind to be focused, find a quiet place without interruptions...but even after that sometimes I find my mind wondering and it is hard to not let things get me off the mark!

Emily Watts
‎@Tracy, I hear you. I sometimes find myself "postponing" praying at all because I can't find the ideal circumstances. Such a mistake!

Tina Standage Bushman
So true. But I do find that I can't just say a prayer on my way to the bus stop and expect an answer. I need to prepare my mind to receive if I'm going to ask.

Beth Kirby
Absolutely Tina! I think that is where many lag when praying - preparing their mind.

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
It is!... and sometimes my most productive prayers are in the car! I can yell, cry, and truly pour out my prayer vocally.

Beth Kirby
Also, if you are praying while going to the bus stop (or driving to work or getting ready for work, etc.), are you really in a position to be able to "hear" any answers you may be given to that prayer?

Tina Standage Bushman
I think I'm just as guilty at closing a prayer and getting up without allowing time for an answer to come. Especially at bedtime.

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
I do prayer in the morning and at night but those are not my most heartfelt prayers are during the day...I am not quit awake in the morning and at night when it all quiets down, I am SO stinkin' tired...

Krisy Bennett Shaughnessy
I've found that sometimes it helps to say a quick prayer asking for help to focus and prepare my thoughts. Then take a few minutes to gather my thoughts and then pray again! Good thing He is available to us as much as we need Him!

Natalie Watts Gardner
‎*like* Krisy

Beth Kirby
Krisy, that is similar to what I do. I may start the prayer, petition for the Holy Spirit to be with me as a pray, and then wait patiently and let my mind and heart settle before going to the actual prayer.

Beth Kirby
I do feel a little benefit if I've prayed while driving to work, but not anywhere near the same benefit had I trully engaged in praying that morning.

Emily Watts
Elder Bednar's example of Joseph Smith is also meaningful to me. "Consider the action-oriented questions Joseph had formulated in his mind and felt in his heart--and which he took into the grove."

Beth Kirby
So I suppose, it is better, Emily, but we really don't reap the full benefit we could and should...

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
I recall a great talk by Sherri Dew about learning the language of the spirit and find that this realization has been huge in recognizing the answers that come!

Tina Standage Bushman
For me, maybe it falls in the "prayer in my heart" catagory? It happens when I think of something and just want to say a prayer right then. But if I'm seeking revelation, that should take a long more work.

Emily Watts
‎@Tina, that makes a lot of sense. Sometimes you DO just want to pray right then!

Beth Kirby
Yes Emily! (And I am employing that very counsel in preparation for a couple of upcoming events and already feeling much better prepared to act when I get the expected spiritual guidance.)

Tina Standage Bushman
I liked how Elder Bednar talked of being anxiously engaged in prayer.

Beth Kirby
Me too Tina - anxiously engaged in prayer...

Natalie Watts Gardner
sometimes I have a hard time praying because I feel like I am setting myself up for failure

Natalie Watts Gardner
‎"Here is what I need to get done today, and here is how I need Thy help" and then if I don't get done what I feel I should have gotten done I don't want to account to God at the end of the day...

Emily Watts
‎@Natalie: failure at being able to accomplish what you're praying about? Or failure in receiving an answer?

Natalie Watts Gardner
Both.

Natalie Watts Gardner
What if I don't get the answer I need and so I go with my own knowledge and it's wrong...

Natalie Watts Gardner
Then I lose faith in the process of prayer...

Emily Watts
‎@ Natalie, my list of "what I need to get done today" is always longer than I can achieve. So I pray for Him to help me know which of the things on the list are the most important. If I can do those, I feel like less of a failure.

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
I have found that in the past several years as things in my life have kinda been like walking through a tsunami...my every waking moment ins a prayer.

Tina Standage Bushman
‎@ Natalie, I think that's where faith comes in. Faith that it's all according to the Lord's timing. And faith that maybe the Lord thinks I can handle this decision on my own.

Natalie Watts Gardner
I don't know why, but sometimes when I pray I feel like I have just put a big "bulls eye" on my back for Satan to make the day hard, and sometimes I feel like I'd rather "fly under the radar"...

Beth Kirby
Which is precisely what Satan wants you to do Natalie...

Krisy Bennett Shaughnessy
So true Beth! Satan does want us to do just that!

Alan Wayman
I liked how he phrased it in the book with Ask, Seek, and Knock. It seems to me that you start with a question, you do some legwork and then you ask heaven. Nephi in his example he asked a question, did some work and then asked for more help. I think this pattern could happen in a few minutes or months.

Krisy Bennett Shaughnessy
Alan, I completely agree with you! I think far too often we think prayer is a one-step thing. But there's several parts to the process!

Natalie Watts Gardner
‎@ Tina, that's really true. And I think that's where the "prayer constantly in my heart" comes in.

Natalie Watts Gardner
‎@ Tracy, what was that talk by Sherrie Dew?

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
I think it was "God Wants a Powerful People"

Natalie Watts Gardner
‎@ Beth, I know - "the adversary teacheth a man NOT to pray" - I know it's true but somethimes I still struggle with it.

Natalie Watts Gardner
‎@ Emily - Yes, and I think that's really hard. That takes more than just asking but WORK and Faithful INQUIRING.

Beth Kirby
We all do, I'm sure. Natalie. I know it's a huge thing for me despite the great answer this chapter's counsel helped me to find. Even now it's still very hard for me.

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
Natalie: I think that we all go through that...it ebbs and flows in our lives and as we practice the better we become at praying and hearing.

Tina Standage Bushman
I've felt that bulls eye too. Once our ward decided to read the scriptures every singe day one summer. I realized it was so much harder than it used to be and also realized it was Satan trying to stop me. Since then, I actively fight that by taking those temptations and turning them in to promptings for myself, reminders that I need to do it.

Emily Watts
This brings up Elder Bednar's "Imperative 1," that prayer requires and is an expression of faith in Christ. We have to have faith that Christ is stronger than Satan.

Emily Watts
‎"Faith in Christ leads to righteous action, which increases our spiritual capacity and power." Can you think of anything Satan would rather squash?

Beth Kirby
I like that Elder Bednar also talks about commitment to act on expected instruction as part of the entire process.

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
Great perspective Tina! I am adopting that one! But truly I now that daily reading and increased Temple attendance has made it easier to prayer and to hear the promptings.

Beth Kirby
‎*LIKE* Tracy!

Natalie Watts Gardner
I read a scripture that said something like "pray unto the Lord that thy performance may be consecrated for thy gain..." do you think if we DON'T pray then our work ISN'T going to be consecrated for our gain - or those drops aren't going to be added to our lamp?

Tina Standage Bushman
I'd like to think the Lord already knows what's in my heart, that my wording or exact question shouldn't matter. But maybe it does. It probably wouldn't hurt anything to ask what to ask though. Good idea.

Emily Watts
‎@Natalie, I think we always get blessings from acting. But maybe prayer helps us see them more clearly and acknowledge the Lord's hand in them.

Natalie Watts Gardner
like* tracy

Beth Kirby
Tina, He does know what we want, but he still wants us to ask. But I don't think 'exact wording' matters. Just asking in the best way we can is what He wants.

Krisy Bennett Shaughnessy
I feel the same way as you Tina. I think He does know our hearts. I think the wording matters only in the fact that it takes us actually saying the words - a lot of times that takes being humble and asking for help.

Emily Watts
Beth and Tina, do you think the "asking" is for us, rather than for Him?

Natalie Watts Gardner
‎"consecrated for thy gain" is another phrase that keeps catching my mind and that I'll have to chew on for a while...

Emily Watts
The very act of asking helps us to see more clearly what we want, what we need, and what we need to do about it.

Krisy Bennett Shaughnessy
And I think it helps us draw closer to Him, Emily. When we open our hearts up, I believe it better helps us develop the relationship we have.

Beth Kirby
I do Emily. It's for us. It's part of acting in faith, I believe.

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
‎@Natalie: I have found that "consecrated for our gain" is a multi- layered principle. In my life I have found that as i try to keep the commandments and do my best even those mistakes that I make and repent of become blessings in my life, that help me to see more clearly and feel more deeply.

Natalie Watts Gardner
I think it's also a mile marker to show where we are spiritually.

Krisy Bennett Shaughnessy
I like that mental picture of it being a mile marker, Natalie!

Emily Watts
Becoming agents who act--AGAIN!

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
The Lord does know our hearts already, but look at the interaction with the angel and Nephi, when Nephi wanted to see the dream that his father had had. Nephi ask the angel what the Tree meant and then the angel---already knowing the answer continued to ask Nephi question after question---as Nephi struggled and worked through this process he eventually knew the answer to the original question. The Lord know what we need and want but if He just simple gives it without our asking or working for it--we won't value, treasure or appreciate it.

Beth Kirby
Yes, Emily. It does help us see what we want more clearly and thus helps us better with the the rest of the Ask, Seek, Knock process.

Natalie Watts Gardner
‎*like Tracy

Tina Standage Bushman
I really like that too Tracy.

Emily Watts
Let's talk about Ask, Seek, Knock for a minute. Is there a difference between the three?

Natalie Watts Gardner
‎@ Emily - yes.

Beth Kirby
There was always a fuzzy line between the 3 for me, Emily but Elder Bednar does help clear it up.

Yvette Burton
Faith often requires action. We show our faith by our actions. That is where asking comes in.

Emily Watts
Yvette, asking really is the first act of faith, isn't it?

Beth Kirby
Yes. I think asking is the first act of faith.

Stu Jensen
Knocking implies you're waiting for an answer. How patient are we?

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
Asking is when we recognize that we need something, either a blessing, information or knowledge...

Emily Watts
Stu--not usually patient enough, in my case!

Emily Watts
When I got into "messing with" the possible differences between ask, seek, and knock, it led me to the notion of a journey. I begin by asking for direction and strength. Then I seek the specific destination, using maps (scriptures), impressions, and guidance as it comes. Then, when I get there, I knock on the door!

Beth Kirby
This all seems to return to one thing Elder Bednar is fond of saying - we are agents empowered to act not objects to be acted upon. Everything in this book seems to go back, in some form, to that concept.

Tina Standage Bushman
Asking seems easy, conversation-like. Seeking means to actively looks for ourselves. Knocking seems more like going to the Lord who knows the answer and waiting for him to open the door.

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
Seeking is a verb, so if you know that there is something "there" to look for, to search for and thus something to find--right? That in itself puts faith in to action.

Tina Standage Bushman
Great analogy, Emily!

Emily Watts
Tracy--good point. You don't just seek without having something specific that you're looking for.

Natalie Watts Gardner
It's like Pres. Hinckley said, Get on your knees and ask and then get on your feet and get to work (seek)

Beth Kirby
‎*LIKE* Natalie.

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
This forum defiantly needs a "like" button!

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
Knocking to me means that you feel that you have arrived in a different place than seeking--you are now ready to take the next step in knocking so the door will be opened to the answer--pretty much what Emily said 3 posts ago---I don't type that fast! (ha!)

Natalie Watts Gardner
Yeah I think "knocking" denotes the end of the personal journey on the particular subject and we're ready to put our life in alignment with God's on that thing.

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
Maybe not the "end" but at least a spot in the road where we can get the next bit of information so we can move to the next level.

Krisy Bennett Shaughnessy
I like that Tracy. Because it's always continuing level by level! :)

Beth Kirby
After the trial of our faith, Emily.

Emily Watts
Does it sometimes seem like everything about mortality falls in that category?

Beth Kirby
He wants us to show Him how serious we are about the question or requested blessing - He may already know, but He wants us to use our agency to show that we are serious.

Beth Kirby
Seems to be, Emily.

Stu Jensen
Emily, I think answers do not always come quickly because we have to allow the Lord time to work his work, putting things in place before an answer can come.

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
I loved Elder Bednar's analogy in conference about the answers coming little by little as the sun rises...I loved that.

Beth Kirby
That is one of my all time favorite conference talks, Tracy. That analogy was perfect, in my oppinion.

Emily Watts
‎*Like* Tracy! Maybe He also wants to give us a chance to come up with more action plans on our own. Ask-act-ask-act-ask-act.

Tina Standage Bushman
I know it makes more more grateful when an answer is long in coming.

Beth Kirby
That's true Tina. We usually are more grateful for things we've worked for rather than those that were just given to us.

Natalie Watts Gardner
‎@ beth yes and we're better at being held accountable for them too

Krisy Bennett Shaughnessy
I agree Tina. We had a lesson in Relief Society on "timing" a few weeks back and it was really powerful!

Tina Standage Bushman
It also gives me time to think of it in different ways and with different perspective. I allows me to be an agent unto myself.

Beth Kirby
Agreed Tina.

Emily Watts
There certainly are a lot of scriptures about "waiting on the Lord," many of which Elder Bednar points out. That's a hard one for me.

Beth Kirby
There is a reason they say patience is a virtue, Emily. *smile*

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
Yes, Tina, and sometimes we are truly not ready for that which we are asking for at that moment in our lives...we must trust His timing in giving the answers. I have received answers to things that I REALLY wanted but the answer didn't come until years down the road--when I could truly understand, having lived a bit longer and experienced more life---then I was more ready to "get" the answer.

Emily Watts
But look at the promises associated with that waiting: "my God will hear me." "They shall mount up with wings as eagles." "he shall strengthen thine heart."

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
Emily-true--remembering those promises means everything...we must trust the timing of it all.

Beth Kirby
I think as we are able to get worldly answers more quickly with the advance of technology, waiting on the Lord becomes harder and harder.

Tina Standage Bushman
Amen, Beth.

Beth Kirby
I sometimes find that answers come when I am thinking or pondering about something else that I want to take before the Lord and not asking the question being answered at all - and I may not have even asked it in a while...

Stu Jensen
Yes, waiting is difficult, but once the miracle comes, once we get an answer, can we always acknowledge where it came from?

Beth Kirby
I think Neal A. Maxwell said something like faith is trusting His timing as well.

Natalie Watts Gardner
‎"Faith in the Lord means Faith in his timing" -Neal A Maxwell

Tina Standage Bushman
When that happens to me, it's almost always when I'm reading the scriptures or listening in Church.

Emily Watts
Stu--I know; sometimes when an answer has come so slowly, when it finally comes I almost find myself thinking, "Never mind, Heavenly Father, I figured it out myself." Dumb, huh?

Beth Kirby
Yes. That's happened to me to, Tina.
Yes Natalie, that's the quote I was thinking of.

Natalie Watts Gardner
Sometimes it's easier to see that principle happen in other people's lives.

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
Me too--I find that when I am just plodding along and be as faithful as I can the answers will come sometimes at the most unexpected times and sometimes through people who don't even know they are answering my prayers!

Beth Kirby
Absolutely true, Tracy. And we've probably been answers to other people's prayers without knowing it.

Beth Kirby
Not dumb, Emily. Human. :)

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
Ha! Beth that made me laugh!--It is true!

Tina Standage Bushman
The concept I'm struggling a little bit with is being submissive, patient, wait-ful while still being anxiously engaged.

Natalie Watts Gardner
I think we get so caught up in the little things of each day it's easy to miss answers or at least not recognize them as being answers - whereas when I watch another family struggling with answers and issues and then God blesses them I think "SEE! HE DOES ANSWER PRAYER!" well duh...

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
‎*LIKE* Beth...I have heard some people tell me years down the road that I answered their prayers--and honestly I sometimes have a had time even remembering the time they are talking about! It is humbling!

Beth Kirby
Same here, Tracy.

Emily Watts
So how do we find the line between "submitting" and "persisting in asking"?

Natalie Watts Gardner
At the end of the chapter he talked about the importance of being SUBMISSIVE - how do we become perfectly submissive without becoming passive?

Emily Watts
‎@Natalie: for me, submitting to God's will usually means taking some kind of action.

Beth Kirby
Oddly, I find that in learning that I answered someone else's prayer, I get an answer to a prayer.

Natalie Watts Gardner
‎@ Emily - I think that comes from the Holy Ghost. I know a family who were persistant in asking that their child be made well and it didn't happen but they reached a point where they were able to submit to the Lord's will and their child passed away.

Beth Kirby
That's a good point Emily. On the surface "passive" and "submissive" seem like synonyms, but in spiritual matters they aren't very much alike at all.

Emily Watts
As with the Atonement, the ultimate act of submission but the most active, work-filled action to have ever been taken on the earth.

Krisy Bennett Shaughnessy
That's such a good point Beth! Because I have always struggled with the concept of being submissive meaning that I almost become bland and do nothing. But I love that in spiritual matters, that's what passive is. Not submissive!

Natalie Watts Gardner
Yes that's true. That totally makes sense now.

Beth Kirby
Natalie there are so many stories like that throughout church articles, talks, lessons, etc.

Tina Standage Bushman
Pray as if everything depends on the Lord and act as if everything depends on you. Who said that?

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
Right Beth. One indicates faith and trust where passive is more "giving up"

Emily Watts
Tina: President Hinckley, for one. Probably others as well.

Natalie Watts Gardner
submitting to God's will means DOING his will OVER yours - not having him act upon you (which he wouldn't do anyway because that destroys agency)

Beth Kirby
The Savior was by no means passive as He submitted to the Father's will. I keep trying to look to the Savior and follow His example of submission, but it really is hard.

Natalie Watts Gardner
‎"as a child doth submit to his parents" so how do we get our kids to be better at doing what we tell them...;)

Beth Kirby
LOL Natalie!

Emily Watts
Natalie--I've heard President Packer say that surrendering our agency to the Lord's will is the only thing we can truly give Him that isn't already His.

Beth Kirby
Wow! I have to take that quote down and put it somewhere that I can see it often. Thanks Emily!

Natalie Watts Gardner
so submitting is the act of GIVING him our will.

Beth Kirby
I think you just hit the nail on the head, Natalie!

Natalie Watts Gardner
Learned a lot today - thank you all!

Emily Watts
I think it's interesting that understanding prayer on a deeper level is the first step toward becoming better at praying. The more we know about the process, the better equipped we are to "live up to our privileges" (Joseph Smith) in praying directly to our Heavenly Father.

Emily Watts
Oh. My. Goodness! Where does the hour go? Any parting thoughts?

Beth Kirby
So true Emily! I have seen that unfold in so many lives - not just my own.

Beth Kirby
All I can say is this chapter has opened up so much for me and giving me so much. It's been strongly felt in my life.

Emily Watts
I'm glad we have the Related Readings next week so we can spend some more time on the topic of prayer. It is so exciting to be learning this way! Thanks, all.

Beth Kirby
‎(Or I should say, following Elder Bednar's counsel in this chapter has..)

Beth Kirby
Yes! I can't wait Emily. :)

Tracy Mecham Huntsman
Awesome!

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