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Why do I need to pray on my own when I already pray with my family?
Imagine that you’re struggling with a personal problem. Would you feel comfortable sharing your struggle with a group, or would you prefer to confide in one person in private?
President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) taught: “Some things are best prayed about in private, when we don’t have to be concerned about time or the confidentiality of our prayers. Prayer in solitude is priceless and profitable. Praying alone helps us to shed shame or pretense, any lingering deceit; it helps us open our hearts and be totally honest and honorable in expressing all of our hopes and attitudes.” 1 That which we are not comfortable praying for in our family prayers may be—and often should be—addressed in private prayer.
Our personal prayers allow us to be the most candid with our loving Heavenly Father and discuss the deepest fears and desires of our hearts. It was when Joseph Smith prayed privately that he received the revelation that began the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Speaking to our Heavenly Father on a one-on-one basis allows us to be more receptive to promptings of the Spirit intended for our benefit.
However, family prayer is also extremely valuable—it allows us to draw nearer to our Father in Heaven and to have spiritual experiences with our family. As President Kimball taught, “The Church urges that there be family prayer every night and every morning.” 2
Spencer W. Kimball, “Pray Always,” Ensign, Oct. 1981, 4.
Spencer W. Kimball, “Prayer,” New Era, Mar. 1978, 15.
My family watches movies with mature ratings. Spending time with them is important, so how do I explain why I don’t watch those movies?
Choosing the right with your family can be just as hard as with your friends—sometimes even harder. It’s good that you’re not willing to compromise your values. Although it may not feel like it now, putting God first in your life will bless your family and allow you to be an example to them. But they are still your family, and it is important to spend time with them. You could suggest other movies you know are uplifting or activities such as games or hikes.
It’s important to let your family know your standards in a sincere, humble way. Talk honestly with them about why you choose not to watch certain types of movies. Pray that you will have the strength to communicate this to them and that there will be a spirit of understanding. Hopefully, your family can respect you for this, and you will help keep the Spirit in your heart while keeping bad media out.
My brother is having a hard time finding out if the Church is true. How can I help him?
Be supportive of him; he needs to feel love—not pressure—from his family. Consider asking him what his concerns and doubts are. Let him finish telling you all of his concerns before you respond. Perhaps his concerns are social or personal, rather than faith-based. You may not be able to provide all the answers he is seeking, but you can reassure him that solutions can be found.
Ask him to pray with you about his worries and encourage him to pray personally about them too. Be sensitive to the fact that it takes some people longer to receive answers than others, especially if they need to sort through things themselves. You could read with him about prayer and gaining a testimony from Alma 32, 3 Nephi 17, or Moroni 10. Also, you could encourage him to speak with your parents, with your bishop or branch president, or with other faithful members of the Church who have worked through similar concerns.
When prompted, bear your testimony to him. Let him know how you feel about the gospel.
Last but not least, remember it is the Spirit who bears witness of the truth. To gain a testimony or to realize that he already has one, your brother must learn to recognize the Holy Ghost. This may take time, and it cannot be forced. You can tell him facts all day long, but it is only through a meaningful connection with the Spirit that he will gain a testimony.
Pray for him and encourage him, support him and listen to him, but remember that he is free to choose. He will choose most wisely by following the guidance of the Spirit.
Photo illustrations by Christina Smith and John Luke © IRI