Walking the path brings joy
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As a baby is blessed in the arms of a priesthood bearer, we often hear words and phrases that describe that infant's future path: "be strong and of a good courage," "develop spiritual gifts," "when you are baptized," "on your mission," "receiving temple covenants," "enjoying parenthood," and "drawing near to Heavenly Father." We view a baby's future as an earthly journey. There is joy in walking the path together as families.
Elder Robert D. Hales asked, "If we could leave one lesson of greatest importance for our children and grandchildren, what would it be? Of all the glorious principles of the gospel, Lehi chose to teach his son about the plan of salvation — and the gift of agency" ("To Act for Ourselves; the Gift and Blessing of Agency," April 2006 general conference).
Nephi said, "Oh, how great the plan of our God" (2 Nephi 9:13).
When we, as a Primary presidency, visit Primary units around the world we love to talk to the children about this "plan of our God." It is a plan of happiness. The children eagerly share their knowledge of the pre-mortal existence. They have been taught well in their homes. They understand where they came from, why they are here and where they are going. They know the path leads back to our Heavenly Father. When we ask the children, "What will you do to make sure you stay on that path?" they respond quickly: "pray," "study the scriptures," "have family home evening," "obey the commandments" and "be kind." When asked, "What will you do to stay on the path when you grow older?" their answers are: "get baptized," "go on a mission," "get married in the temple." The children strongly agree they do not want to walk the path alone. So, when we ask "Who do you want to go with you?" they excitedly respond, "My family! My family!"
We cannot stop the world from deteriorating, but we can stop the world from invading our homes and the hearts of our children. As parents we "hold on to our children" when we do these simple things our children tell us will keep us on the path. We must not make it harder than it is. Out of love we can simply weave prayer, scriptures and gathering together into the fabric of our families. … Together is the key.
Pray together. Through the eyes of a child family prayer is like an anchor in the storm each morning and night. For a few minutes the world stops and distractions disappear as a family kneels together. Initiating family prayer demonstrates a desire to stay on the path. As each child's name is mentioned in the prayer, they feel valued individually and unified as a family. Teaching young children to pray connects them to the Father whose presence they most recently left. Listen for hints of that glorious relationship. Saying a prayer on the food before each meal teaches patience and gratitude. It is a valuable habit, and "yet" another opportunity to see the Lord's hand in our lives.
Learn from the scriptures together. As his family gathers to read the scriptures, one father asks them, "What message does the Lord have for us today?" Liken the stories in the scriptures to everyday family circumstances. Moses taught "… Teach them diligently unto thy children, ... talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way … And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates" (Deuteronomy 6:7, 9). Let them be like a bowl of fruit on the kitchen table — ready to be devoured. When we love the scriptures and look to them, our children will look to that same source for solutions in their lives. Blend the phrases you read from the scriptures into your very conversation. Children understand that holding to the iron rod is holding to the word of God and they find joy in holding on.
Gather together. Family home evening is just the beginning. It sets the pattern for family interaction and conversation. Every minute you spend with a child says to that child "you are important." Through a child's eyes doing something together as a family makes even a simple task extraordinary. Doing Saturday morning chores as a family creates memories. Simply weeding the garden, making cookies, cleaning the garage or riding in the car with the world tuned out and the family tuned in is of eternal value. When families make it a priority to come together, a simple activity can be a powerful unifying and eternal memory.
Moses said, "I give you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children …" (Moses 6:58). The Holy Ghost will continually remind our children of this beautiful plan of salvation. When we invite the Spirit into our homes through prayer, scriptures and gathering our families, we are walking together on the path back to the Father.