One of the great stories in the Book of Mormon is when Aaron, one of the sons of Mosiah, is teaching the king of all the Lamanites, Lamoni's father.
Aaron has taught many of the principles of the gospel, and the king has responded with a sincere desire to know of the truthfulness of these things for himself; he asks Aaron, "What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken?" (Alma 22:15.) Aaron responds, "If thou . . . will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest." (Alma 22:16.)Aaron realized that faith is one of those ingredients in a formula that changes lives and leads a person to Christ. The scriptures teach us that desire + knowledge (scriptures) + prayer + obedience
faith. This type of faith, in turn, leads us to repentance and a change of heart. (Hel. 15:7.)
During this past year, our stake has been diligently working to make family and individual prayer and scripture study a more regular part of our day. There have been many examples that could be shared by individuals who have taken the challenge to read and pray, each of whom has grown in faith. Let me share one story.
One family came to me concerned because there was a constant feeling of negativeness in their home. Their day seemed to be a routine of going through life's motions; they were stagnant in a world that was rushing by them. The children and parents seemed to have more negative comments and bickering between them than words of love and thoughts that would build and uplift. There was a lack of joy and happiness in the home.
We discussed several things that could be done, but the main challenge that was extended to them revolved around reading the scriptures and praying on a daily basis in the home.
It was not easy for them to change old habits and to have children happily involved in sitting together to read. Twice each day the family would kneel in family and individual prayers and talk openly to a loving Heavenly Father about each other. How special an experience to let the children hear their father pray that one son would be able to cope with the pressures of some peers at school; to hear the mother pray that a daughter would be able to make wise decisions concerning a specific friend; or to hear a child pray that parents would express appreciation for the amount of good that happened in the home.
After only a short amount of time, the entire family began to be more in tune with promptings that would come from the Holy Spirit. They began to have more empathy for others' feelings, and thoughts would come to them as to what could be done to bring a spirit of love and peace into the home.
As the family and I discussed this situation, the question was asked, "How can something as simple as prayer and scripture study make such a difference in a home?"
The only answer is that our Father in Heaven is waiting at the door to bless us if we will but ask. When we go to Him in prayer, opening up with true desire and sincerity, then we are prepared to be taught by the Spirit. This brings about greater faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and gives each of us hope for things to come.
Aaron taught that the Lamanite king could change his entire way of life. To do so, he began by prayer and knowledge that would lead to faith, then to repentance, then to a change of heart.
I would imagine that most of us desire greater faith, because the joy we each seek will only be found through the gospel of Jesus Christ. This faith and this joy begin with our efforts to spend some sweet, special time in meaningful prayer to a loving Father who desires to bless us all.