Recently, M. Russell Ballard, a high ranking official in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, invited people to pray. While this invitation to pray may seem normal from a religious leader, M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the referred to church, gave a more specific invitation. He said, “I plead with you this evening to pray for this country, for our leaders, for our people and for the families that live in this great nation.”
Everyone Can Pray
Before dismissing it as an invitation that only applies to religious people, try examining it first. Starting with the actionable part of the invitation, to pray. According to Google prayer means “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” So first, prayer is a solemn request for help. The word solemn means and implies seriousness and sincerity. The invitation to pray is to bring a serious and sincere request of help to God. If you believe in God, then you understand that when praying, you do not toss off words like water off a duck. Real prayer requires thought. It requires action. It requires an understanding of what you include in your prayer.
If you do not believe in God or choose not to pray, just take out the religious part of prayer and it still applies. As a serious and sincere request for help, you would need to understand why that help is needed. By taking time for solemn contemplation of the subject, you begin to fulfill the invitation.
Secondly, Google says prayer is “an earnest hope or wish.” Similar to the first definition of prayer, this describes a sincere and intense conviction. It is hard to have a sincere conviction of something if you do not understand it. In order to fully gain that conviction you have to learn, and once you have learned, you can pray more sincerely.
Specifics For Prayer
President Ballard gave four specific items to pray for: this country, the United States, our leaders, our people, our families. First, he mentioned our country. What do you know about our country? Do you know how our country came to be and why? What about the laws that govern the country and the Constitution? How much do you really know? Could you say with conviction that our country is great and prove it? If you disagree, can you present actual evidence as to what is wrong and how to fix it? Do you know the full history of this country or just pieces? Knowing about the subject brings a power and sincerity to your prayer.
Next, he said our leaders. The leaders of this country have great power. Power that we as the people have given them. Their job is to protect and support us. Are they? Are we supporting those that have our best hope in mind, or just voting for a familiar name? What about past leaders, do you know them? Do you know what they stood for and why they became leaders? What hopes and dreams did our country’s past leaders have for us? What do today’s leaders hope and dream for us? Are they someone we can really support? Do they really have our desires and freedoms in mind, or do they just talk pretty?
As you pray for the leaders of our country, keep in mind the people in your prayers. If you struggle to learn about our leaders or despair of them, try praying they might have the wisdom to make the right decisions. Everyone can use a little extra wisdom.
Third, President Ballard said to pray for our people. It is interesting that he said our people. We, all of us, are the people of this country. He wants us to pray not just for ourselves but for our friends, our neighbors, strangers, our people. While you cannot get to know everyone in the country, you can step out of the house and get to know the people around you. They are our people and realizing we are all in this country trying to have joyful lives may help you sincerely pray for them, even if you do not know them.
Last, President Ballard mentions our families. Take a second and look at your family, physically or in your mind. Look at your spouse or significant other, your children, your parents, your siblings, your cousins, your aunts, your uncles and so many more. We all have families, some we are born with, some we choose and gather along the way, but they are all family. Remind yourself of the things you love about each of them. Remind yourself of their struggles, for we all have struggles. Then take the time to pray for them and all families.
Follow the Invitation to Pray
President M. Russell Ballard’s invitation “to pray for this country, for our leaders, for our people and for the families that live in this great nation.” is extended to all those who wish to follow it. For those that do not believe in God, you can still pray by learning and thinking seriously and sincerely about these four items. You can gain a conviction and help this nation. For those that do believe in God, pray to God. Learn and think seriously and sincerely about these four items, then take it in prayer to God. Gain your own conviction and knowledge as you ask in solemnity. If all who see this invitation, take it, then this country can continue to be a respected leader of nations.
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