Each young man will understand that through sincere, earnest prayer he can become closer to his Father in Heaven.
Materials needed: scriptures for each young man.
Make a copy of the handout “Invitation to Speak with God” for each young man.
Display picture 3, Enos Praying (also picture 305 in the Gospel Art Picture Kit ).
Some young men seldom pray privately or may never have had personal prayer. Even for those who pray daily, the quality of their prayers will vary. Some have yet to discover the blessings of praying to their Father in Heaven. Others may have received many answers to prayer. Though the experience of individual Aaronic Priesthood holders differs, the intent of this lesson is to increase their desire to pray daily to give thanks to our Heavenly Father and to receive help and blessings through prayer.
Suggested Lesson Development
Story and discussion
Read or relate the following story:
“Ron Clark … will never [forget that afternoon]. He was lying pinned beneath a two-ton cattle truck at the bottom of a desert wash. Beside him were several of his best friends—dead. Around him was the bloody disaster that resulted when the big truck crashed backwards off a cliff, bearing the precious burden of 45 people. Now 12 of those 45 were dead. Twenty more were injured. Ron himself was trapped near the front of the heavy vehicle where the greatest weight was. His jaw had been severely knocked out of joint when the truck went over, and his left leg was crushed under the truck. …
“Ron was the last one pulled from the wreckage. Soon after he was taken to the Panguitch [Utah] Hospital, his family arrived from Provo [Utah].
“‘I’m all right, Mother,’ he had said.
“This 16-year-old Explorer [Scout] showed remarkable courage. And a few days later he was called upon to show perhaps even greater valor.
“He was sent home, where he had to be fed through a straw because he could not move his badly swollen jaw. He could hardly speak. He couldn’t sing. For Ron that was very serious. All during his life he had brought a great deal of beauty and pleasure into the lives of those who had heard his incomparable voice. …
“Ahead of him now [were] Gordon’s funeral and … the joint funeral for five of his closest pals. Ron could only get around a little with the aid of crutches when the stake president, Ben E. Lewis, called on him.
“‘Ronnie,’ he had said, ‘the families want you to sing at the funeral services.’
“How could he? His jaw was too badly swollen for movement. …
“‘You can do it,’ President Lewis promised, ‘if you will pray, and if you really want to.’
“He really wanted to. The next few days were filled with prayer. He knew only the Lord could help him accomplish this incredible task.
“The morning of the funeral he couldn’t eat; the jaw was rigid, and he spoke through closed teeth. Practicing beforehand was a fiasco. With those clenched teeth he could get no resonance or carrying power. But he had given his word.
“His earnest prayers continued right up to the time he sat with his brother Bob in the choir loft of the … Provo Tabernacle.
“Then suddenly, minutes before he was to sing, an overwhelmingly peaceful feeling settled on him, and Ron turned to his brother, ‘I can move my jaw!’ he whispered. ‘It feels all right!’
“He picked up his crutches, limped over to the organ, and with a faint smile nodded to organist Byron Jensen. The young Explorer stood up tall and looked below at the flower-covered caskets bearing the bodies of five of the friends he had buddied with practically all his life. How could he sing?
“His voice rose, beautiful and pure. ‘May the good Lord bless and keep you. … ’ The unwavering notes filled the tabernacle and soared to heaven on the summer breeze. ‘Fill your dreams with sweet tomorrows. Never mind what might have been. … ’ The melody was strong until the last, but then … he couldn’t go on. He faltered, then whispered,
‘… till we meet again.’
“Tears coursed down the faces of the fifteen hundred sobbing people gathered in the tabernacle—tears shed not only for the five boys who had been taken, but tears also for the courage of a young Explorer with a puffy jaw.
“As for that jaw—immediately after the song, it locked shut again, and weeks passed before Ron could open it.
“Nobody can tell Ron that miracles don’t happen. … But miracles don’t happen all by themselves. It takes real faith, sincere prayers, and a lot of personal effort. In this case, all were supplied in abundance by a very strong young man” (Loye Wright, “With Trust in God,” Improvement Era, Aug. 1967, pp. 42–43).
How do you suppose this young man felt about the power of prayer? Why?
How has prayer helped you do something you had not thought you could do?
Have the young men share any experiences they may have had. The miracles need not be great, as is told in this story, but could be simple, everyday tasks in which they were helped because of their prayers. Be prepared to share an experience of your own if necessary to generate discussion.
Prayer Is Communication with Our Father in Heaven
When do we find it easy to pray? Why?
Have the young men give specific answers.
When do we find it difficult to pray? Why?
Have the young men give specific answers.
What is the difference between merely “saying” our prayers and praying with real intent?
Give each young man a copy of the handout “Invitation to Speak with God.” Read and discuss each of the verses on the handout. Have each young man write key words from the scriptures to the right of the scripture reference.
How can we “pray always”?
Quotation and discussion
What does it mean to have a prayer in your heart? Aren’t we taught that when we pray, we should pray out loud?
The following quotation may help you in this discussion:
“You can of course talk to the Lord without moving your lips. You can sit in a classroom and think a prayer, or walk across campus and in your mind talk to the Lord. You can pray silently while in the midst of a crowd. But from time to time, in the quiet of your own room, kneel down and speak out loud to the Lord. Talk to him as long as you would like to say things that you feel in the depths of your heart. Tell him of your frustrations, your desires to grow, your desires to be able to meet your dreams. Ask him to reveal to you what you need to do to find your destiny” (George Durrant, Someone Special, Starring YOUth [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1976], p. 63).
How have you been helped by offering prayers in your heart?
Explain that to help us in our efforts to draw nearer to him, Heavenly Father has taught us through our modern leaders how to pray. Read and discuss the following suggestions from Bishop H. Burke Peterson:
“As you feel the need to confide in the Lord or to improve the quality of your visits with him—to pray, if you please—may I suggest a process to follow: go where you can be alone, go where you can think, go where you can kneel, go where you can speak out loud to him. The bedroom, the bathroom, or the closet will do. Now, picture him in your mind’s eye. Think to whom you are speaking, control your thoughts—don’t let them wander, address him as your Father and your friend. Now tell him things you really feel to tell him—not trite phrases that have little meaning, but have a sincere, heartfelt conversation with him. Confide in him, ask him for forgiveness, plead with him, enjoy him, thank him, express your love to him, and then listen for his answers. Listening is an essential part of praying. Answers from the Lord come quietly—ever so quietly. In fact, few hear his answers audibly with their ears. We must be listening so carefully or we will never recognize them. Most answers from the Lord are felt in our heart as a warm comfortable expression, or they may come as thoughts to our mind. They come to those who are prepared and who are patient” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 13; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 19).
Challenge each young man to put a star by two of the scriptures on the invitation and to work especially hard on those aspects of prayer this week.