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Prayer

10

I was raised in the Presbyterian faith and my background was ingrained in that culture. I grew up with a very negative perception of the LDS church and was taught that they were a non-christian cult. I had never met a Mormon in my life so I had no reason to doubt this.

My life changed significantly when I moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple University. Temple was a big, diverse, public school full of a lot of different ideas. I tried to retain my faith and attended a variety of Protestant churches during my first three years of college. However, I felt like God wasn’t answering my prayers. There was silence when I prayed. I enjoyed the social and ritual aspects of church but I truly felt alone spiritually. When you desperately want to feel a connection to God and you feel nothing at all it can get discouraging. This silence continued and was a cause of great frustration for me. I distinctly remember many times where I would cry out to God asking why he didn’t seem to be there. I started to wonder whether God cared about me and eventually begin to doubt that he existed at all. What started as mere frustration with God eventually turned into a full-blown faith crisis.

While in college, I read a lot of literature that painted the church in a negative light. Eventually I felt like getting the other side of the story so I began reading Mormon.org. During the summer between my junior and senior years of college I decided to visit an LDS church. I had no intention or interest in changing religions. I just wanted to see what a service was like. I didn’t really understand the doctrines being taught during church that day but I felt a sense of peace and calm.  While the members were very friendly, I was more impressed with how close of a relationship they seemed to have with God and how confident they were that their prayers were being answered. This made me more curious about Mormon beliefs.

I met with the missionaries later that week for my first lesson. They taught me about the restoration. How God was actually our Eternal Father. That he has a body like us. That we are literally are his children. That we lived with him as eternal spirits before we came to earth. That he knows us personally, deeply and individually and is heavily invested in our lives. All of these truths blew my mind.

The next day I decided to try to pray, something that had become incredibly frustrating for me over the years. By now my prayers were little more than thinly-veiled angry rants directed at God. This time however, I decided to direct my prayers towards a God that was literally my loving heavenly father, not the metaphorical idea of a father I grew up with, not the distant God I was currently experiencing but a literal heavenly father that deeply cared for me because I was his child.

This prayer was one of the most spiritual experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I prayed to heavenly father for the first time and felt the most peaceful feeling, it was just completely relaxed and calm. During that prayer I tried to be honest with Heavenly Father about my feelings, I told him I was really struggling and I was looking for truth, and I wanted to be close to him. I followed the instructions of the missionaries and asked him to confirm to me that what they were teaching was true, I received a clear positive impression that my heavenly father was there, that he loved and cared about me. I also felt the impression that what the missionaries was saying was true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet through whom God had restored the church. That the restoration was proof that he never gave up on his children.

I’ll never forget the night after that prayer. I felt what I now know to the spirit incredibly strongly. My heart felt like it was a completely at rest and I felt like my burdens had been lifted. Earlier in the year I experienced a very violating home invasion that had completely taken away my ability to sleep peacefully. I often had found myself waking up in the middle of the night full of fear. However, the night after that first honest prayer was different. I felt completely at peace and slept soundly.

After this experience I kept meeting with Elders and was baptized a few months later. I continued to grow in my faith, little by little, piece by piece. The two years since my baptism have had many difficulties that I am now very grateful for. They helped me learn how to lead with faith rather than doubt, how Heavenly Father uses trials to make us stronger, and how the church is divinely organized with a support system to aid those who need help. I recently received my own endowment and the ability to attend the temple has brought me a greater awareness of my true relationship with my Heavenly Father. The gospel is one of the few things in my life that has brought me true lasting peace and joy.

THANKS, Daniel!

18

Brace yourselves: I have a sort of “super-power.” I suppose that a few of you share the same amazing ability. Imagine for a moment that we are riding together in a car, and you are flipping channels on the radio. Up pops some impossibly old song from the 70’s or 80’s that neither of us have heard for 30 years.

I know every word.  Every. Single. Word.

It’s true. I have a remarkable ability to remember the lyrics and music of songs from decades past. This is made more ridiculous because there is a really good chance that I won’t remember your name next week, or what I was supposed to get at the grocery store. I don’t claim to have a good memory, but when it comes to music, I am amazing. (The 80’s channel on XM as my witness.) An additional benefit of this super-power is that I can drive everyone in the car with me crazy.

About 12 years ago, I thought that maybe I should try and find some way to benefit from my super-power. It was about this same time that I was called to be bishop. Good timing. Here is what I decided to attempt:

I learned all of the words to all of the hymns that might be used during the sacrament services in the ward. Even the extra verses that are dragged out when the priests are slow.

It turned out to be a wonderful decision – so wonderful, that I expanded it and tried to memorize as many hymns as I could.

For the five years I sat up on the stand, I rarely looked at a hymnbook. Instead, I would use that time to look around the chapel. I would watch the priests as they prepared the bread. I would give the skunk eye to deacons if they got chatty. I would look around at the members of the congregation and seek inspiration.

As I pondered the Savior and the covenants associated with the sacrament, the Spirit would guide me. Many times my gaze would be drawn to someone in the ward who the Spirit wanted me to notice. Sometimes even a darkened countenance was visible. It was a time when I was very receptive to guidance and inspiration, and the Spirit would tell me who to reach out to. The Lord knows me well enough to grab me in those brief moments when I’m actually paying attention.

All this while singing a hymn that was embedded in my brain, and my heart – because I wasn’t looking down at the hymnbook.

That mantle has long since passed on to others, but my habit of singing without the hymnbook continues. The difference is that now I spend those few minutes singing from heart, while lost in thought. Sometimes I watch the priests as they break the bread, sometimes I just stare off into space and think about the Savior, and the words I’m singing. Often it is a time of personal inspiration. It has become my “normal.”

In our hymnal, the First Presidency published a preface that touched on this idea. The highlighted two reasons why memorizing hymns can be a blessing:

“Hymns can also help us withstand the temptations of the adversary. We encourage you to memorize your favorite hymns and study the scriptures that relate to them. Then, if unworthy thoughts enter your mind, sing a hymn to yourself, crowding out the evil with the good.”

“Brothers and sisters, let us use the hymns to invite the Spirit of the Lord into our congregations, our homes, and our personal lives. Let us memorize and ponder them, recite and sing them, and partake of their spiritual nourishment. Know that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto our Father in Heaven, ‘and it shall be answered with a blessing upon your heads.'”  (link)

There is a non-sacrament application as well. When I was a new deacon, Elder Boyd K. Packer taught how using music could help fend off attacks from the “imps of unclean thinking.”

“If you can control your thoughts, you can overcome habits, even degrading personal habits. If you can learn to master them you will have a happy life.

This is what I would teach you. Choose from among the sacred music of the Church a favorite hymn, one with words that are uplifting and music that is reverent, one that makes you feel something akin to inspiration. Remember President Lee’s counsel; perhaps “I Am A Child of God” would do. Go over it in your mind carefully. Memorize it. Even though you have had no musical training, you can think through a hymn.

Now, use this hymn as the place for your thoughts to go. Make it your emergency channel. Whenever you find these shady actors have slipped from the sidelines of your thinking onto the stage of your mind, put on this record, as it were.

As the music begins and as the words form in your thoughts, the unworthy ones will slip shamefully away. It will change the whole mood on the stage of your mind. Because it is uplifting and clean, the baser thoughts will disappear. For while virtue, by choice, will not associate with filth, evil cannot tolerate the presence of light.” (link)

Having a mental iPod full of hymns at the ready can be a mighty weapon to fend off attacks, bad moods, anger and all sorts of other cankering feelings. I recommend it highly.

There are also some logistical advantages to having some hymns memorized. FHE is much easier if everyone doesn’t need to go find a hymnbook.  Priesthood opening exercises might actually begin with something besides “Called to Serve.”

Finally, having the ability to memorize music and lyrics seems like a gift that is less-wasted if I use it to store up prayers to the Lord.

Here’s some links, if you are interested:

The Nourishing Power of Hymns.” Elder Jay E. Jensen. April, 2007.

“Worship through Music.” Elder Dallin H. Oaks, October, 1994. (In it, he calls out the saints in North America for being cruddy hymn singers.)

Here is the entire Hymnbook with music and lyrics. They can be played on the website or downloaded.

19

shaking fist

Have you ever felt abandoned by God? Not everyone has, but in recent days, I have had the opportunity to visit with some people close to me who have, or do. I found the conversations both sad and hopeful at the same time. One reason I am happy to talk about the subject is because – brace yourselves – I have felt abandoned by God. Even beyond feeling abandoned, I have been angry at Him as well. I don’t recommend it, but it can happen.

The most personal and specific example in my life was a stretch of time earlier in our marriage when my EC and I had four young kids in the home, ranging from two to eleven years old. During an eighteen month period we had a non-stop run of heartbreak and challenge. I say this knowing full well that to some of you, our challenges will look difficult, yet to others, they will look like a walk in the park. Everyone faces their own challenges, and they can be wildly different. Our challenges were kicking my butt.

To start off the stretch, we lost a baby to miscarriage. A few months later, my father-in-law passed away from a painful illness. Three months later, my mother died unexpectedly. Shortly afterwards, my father suffered a massive stroke that rendered him invalid. Finally, a few month later, my EC suffered a life-changing leg injury that left her confined to a hospital bed for three months, unable to walk for six.

It was during this last event that I remember how I felt. My wife was stuck sleeping on her back in an extra room in  a rented hospital bed, fuzzy from pain medications. The kids were upstairs asleep when I decided to go outside for a walk. I was so tired. Tired from playing nurse, tired of trying to keep a business afloat, and tired of taking care of a houseful of kids. I was still mourning my mom and dad, and just trying to keep my own head above water.

I vividly remember standing in our driveway that night and bursting into tears. Not tears of sadness, or exhaustion, but tears of anger. I was angry at God for abandoning us. I was angry that he allowed all of these life-crisis to pile up on us without even time to mourn or breath before the next gut-punch came. I felt cheated that our reward for doing our best to live righteously was to be repeatedly pummeled by tragedy. I felt alone and cheated.

It was an unfamiliar feeling to me.

As I tell this, I’m sure that many of you are nodding your heads and saying, “Been there, done that.” I also know that many of you are taken aback because you have never grappled with those kind of feelings. I do guarantee that someone you know and love has walked this path.

One of them is the prophet Joseph Smith. When he was suffering in Liberty Jail, his frustration and feelings of abandonment bubbled up, as recorded in scripture. He pled:

O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries? (D&C 121:1-2)

He went on to offer God a list of suggestions of how He could better do His job, but mostly his plea was full of questions. Where are you? Why aren’t you helping? Way aren’t you listening?

The greatest example of feeling abandoned in the scriptures is from the Savior’s own lips. As he hung on the cross, suffering more than any man ever would, or could, he called out to God.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matt 27:46)

Apparently it happens to the best of us.

The danger in harboring feelings of abandonment or anger towards God is not in that moment, but what it can lead to if unchecked. Something has to stop the slide before we find ourselves hurtling into the abyss of atheism or agnosticism. (Think of Tom Cruise sliding off that skyscraper in Shanghai.)

It would be both trite and naive to suggest that we just “snap out of it.” These challenges are real and can run deep. What I can suggest are some ways that we can stop the slide and climb back into a healthier relationship with God.

– Find something to grab onto to stop the slide.

Might I suggest this thought: Anger towards God is a personal testimony that you believe He is real and that He lives. You wouldn’t be angry if you didn’t believe in Him, right? Grab onto that basic, pure testimony that He does live, and begin to work your way back. As frightening as it is to think God has abandoned us, it is more frightening to think that He doesn’t exist. He does.

– Find a sense of proportion.

Nobody, and I mean nobody wants to be told that things could be worse, and I would suggest that you never, ever do that to someone who is suffering. Yet that is exactly how God responded to Joseph Smith when he called out to Him from Liberty Jail.

“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.

Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.

Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job”. (D&C 121:7-10)

It was a gently rebuke, looking at the bright side – but then the Lord came back again, gave him a dose of proportion and dressed him down:

“And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. (D&C 122:7)

The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” (D&C 122:8)

– Find a sense of eternal perspective.

The Plan of Happiness does not always mean “Instant Happiness.” it is a plan for playing the long-game. Studying that plan, and what God desires for us, helps us weather the inevitable storms life brings. The immediacy of our current struggles sometimes overwhelms the reality that this life is indeed a “blip” on the eternities. While that perspective does not reduce the pain, it can make it a little more tolerable. It helps to know that God is aware, and that he loves us – even when we can’t tell.

President Boyd K. Packer taught, “Do not suppose that God willfully causes that which, for His own purposes, he permits. When you know the plan and the purpose of it all, even these things will manifest a loving Father in Heaven” (link)

– Find some blessings.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Sure, it’s a little cheesy, but the concept is sound. When we focus on gratitude, we become humble. Humility helps us in the next step:

– Find some grace.

President James E Faust: In the many trials of life, when we feel abandoned and when sorrow, sin, disappointment, failure, and weakness make us less than we should ever be, there can come the healing salve of the unreserved love in the grace of God. It is a love that forgives and forgets, a love that lifts and blesses. (link)

As the Lord pointed out to Joseph Smith, “the Son of Man hath descended below them all,” placing the Savior in the remarkable position of having total empathy, understanding and compassion. Turn to Him. By seeking healing through the atonement of Jesus Christ we can mend our strained relationship with God.

I testify that the Savior invites all of us to come and partake of His Atonement. As we exercise our faith in Him, He will lift us up and carry us through all of our trials and, ultimately, save us in the celestial kingdom. (Elder Evan A. Scmutz)

– Find common ground through prayer.

Standing in the driveway that night, I had a one-sided conversation with God, and it wasn’t pretty. But at least I was having a one-sided conversation with God. Fiddler on the Roof is one of my favorite plays/films. The lead character Tevye, walks through his life in a constant running dialogue with God. It is not only funny, but exemplary. I’ll admit standing in a driveway – full of tears and rage – is not the best way to converse with God, it is at least an honest attempt, and the best I could muster at the time. The next step would be to dial it back, and search for a two-way communication that involves much less complaining, and much more listening and searching for understanding.

Elder Bednar added this counsel: “Discerning and accepting the will of God in our lives are fundamental elements of asking in faith in meaningful prayer. However, simply saying the words “Thy will be done” is not enough. Each of us needs God’s help in surrendering our will to Him.

“Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other.” Humble, earnest, and persistent prayer enables us to recognize and align ourselves with the will of our Heavenly Father. And in this the Savior provided the perfect example as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. … And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly” (Luke 22:42, 44).

Ultimately, when we are angry at God, or feel abandoned by Him, we are focusing on the idea that we know better – that things should run according to our plan. Until we let go of this false sense of control and actually submit our will to His, we will be at odds with God. It is a lifetime challenge, and tougher to embrace when we are mired in struggle.

To those who are suffering, I feel for you and hope you can stop the slide and climb out. To those of you who have never experienced the feelings of abandonment and frustration with God, I am happy for you, and hope you never do.

God does live, and He does love us – even though sometimes we can’t see it.

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13

Lion and Cub

I didn’t post anything last Sunday, and for those of you who know me, that is weird. So last night I sat down and started writing about being plain old tired. I’ll have to finish that one later because I stumbled across one of those scriptures that just jumped out at me. Here it is:

The Place: Kirtland, Ohio

The Year: 1833

The Circumstances: Some of the brethren in leadership were impatient that the Prophet Joseph had not joined them in Zion  and had been petitioning the Lord to make it happen.

The Source: Revelation to Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants 90:32-33

“And behold, verily I say unto you, that ye shall write this commandment, and say unto your brethren in Zion, in love greeting, that I have called you also to preside over Zion in mine own due time.

Therefore, let them cease wearying me concerning this matter.”

The MMM translation: “Be nice, but remind those guys that I’m in charge, and I’ll send you to Zion when I feel like it. Also, tell them I’m tired of them bugging me about it.”

Wait. What? God was tired of being bothered about an issue? “Let them cease wearying me concerning the matter.” Sure sounds like he was tired of it to me.

It is obvious that Jehovah got tired of the Israelites now and again, because he would curse them and smite them. But you don’t hear a lot nowadays about God rolling his eyes (in a spiritual sense) when we repeatedly pester him about certain things.

So, I decided to dig deeper in my understanding of D&C 90:33.

I found nothing.

In the entire LDS.org archives, no one has ever used this scripture in a talk, and article or as a reference. So I went to the cool “Citation Index” app. It came up empty. Last place to look? I pulled out my trusty hard-copy scriptures and looked it up to check the footnotes. There were none.

Why do I care if this scripture has been essentially invisible all this time? Because I think it has become incredibly timely.

I do not recall a time in my life where so many are so caught up in their own agendas regarding the Church. Gay marriage, women holding the priesthood and other causes are constantly in the public eye. Often part of the “strategy” to foster change in the Church and Gospel is to encourage like-minded supporters to constantly pray that God will change his mind, or change the prophet’s mind – as if he will finally throw up his hands and say “Okay, okay, you win!”

To be fair, we do have an instance where that exact thing happened: Look at how it went for Brother Joseph when he kept pestering the Lord about Martin Harris borrowing the 116 pages  – even after the Lord had tried to shut it down. Twice. After the third request, the Lord essentially said, “Whatever. Do what you want to do.” The result? The manuscript was lost, and the gift of translation was taken from Joseph for a time. It was a dark day. (link)

I can’t help but wonder how many times prayers come up to God, and he gets weary of the requests. Especially when he has already made it abundantly clear how he feels about an issue. I can’t imagine that God would get weary of the brethren’s requests about Joseph Smith and not get weary about people asking him to give women the priesthood, or me asking that tithing be reduced to 5%.

A long time ago, the Elder Packer gave a talk in which he made this observation as quoted by Elder Dallin Oaks:

“Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve has likened the fulness of the gospel to a piano keyboard. He has told us that a person could be “attracted by a single key,” such as a doctrine he or she wants to hear “played over and over again. Some members of the Church who should know better pick out a hobby key or two and tap them incessantly, to the irritation of those around them. They can dull their own spiritual sensitivities. They lose track that there is a fulness of the gospel … (which they reject) in preference to a favorite note. This becomes exaggerated and distorted, leading them away into apostasy” (link)

Just like we can become irritated by those incessantly pounding on their “hobby key,” it would appear that the Lord feels the same way, and it is spiritually dangerous.

I imagine it isn’t just the high-profile issues that weary the Lord. I suppose I do it, too. How often have I said a prayer and asked the Lord to bless that my meal will be good for my body and then plow into a half rack of ribs, and a loaded baked potato? The answer: Not often enough  😉

I don’t know if God ever feels like slapping his forehead with his palm, but if he does, I am sure that I have been the cause on many occasions.

Heavenly Father knows us, and loves us. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect – he knows it is not possible. That is precisely why he established the Atonement for us. He has made it clear that he wants us to pray to him, to sincerely ask of him. Besides, we are counseled to let the Spirit guide what we ask for. Brigham Young prayed,  “We ask for the aid of thy holy spirit to teach us how to pray, what we should ask for, and how to ask that we may receive.”

Nephi made a similar point, “Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss. (2 Nephi 4:35) Apparently there are right things and wrong things to ask for, and it isn’t supposed to be our choice as to which is which.

At some point, when God has given us his opinion and command, whether through ancient scripture, modern prophets, or personal revelation, we have a responsibility to stop asking the same questions that have already been answered.

To use prayer as a tool to advance a personal belief or agenda that is not sanctioned by God or the Spirit is antithetical at best, apostate at worst.

Jacob, the Book of Mormon prophet said it well:

“Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.” (Jacob 4:10)

As any parent knows, a child can be pretty determined when they want something. From a young age we are conditioned to pester until we get someone to cave in to our demands. And as any parent knows, the “Can I? Can I? Can I? Can I?” kid can get pretty exhausting.

I don’t want to show up in heaven and have God look at me and sigh, “Oh…it’s him.”

I’d rather just have a hug.

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42

sacrament blessing
Ours is not a “Hallelujah! Praise Jesus!” kind of church. We tend to be a little less vocally dynamic in our method of worship. Lately, I have had the desire to incorporate this kind of energy into our congregations. More specifically, I want to stand up after someone gives a talk and shout…

“Brothers and Sisters, Can I Get an “Amen?”

But I won’t. I will say “Amen” respectfully, and clearly. And I might even parrot “Ah-men” should someone pronounce it that way.

What I won’t do is what I hear a lot lately:

Speaker: “Amen”

Congregation: “mumble”

Yes, it is rude, and I feel for the person who receives that sort of reaction after sharing what may have been very personal feelings. I think we are calloused to the courage we expect of each other in baring our souls when we stand and share, only to be thanked with a wimpy “amen” that carries all of two pews. If that.

The basic idea behind the word “Amen” at the end of a talk or prayer is to publicly demonstrate that we are in agreement with what has been said. For example, a speaker gives a talk on whatever subject he/she has been assigned. At the end, he/she says “Amen.” In return, we say “Amen” to let them know we were listening, and to show that we are in agreement. Easy – right?

This isn’t a Mormon thing. The idea and word “Amen” harkens back to Latin and Greek. The dictionary meaning of the word is “So be it.”

Encyclopedia of Mormonism goes a bit further:

Among Latter-day Saints the saying of an audible “amen” is the seal and witness of all forms of worship and of priesthood ordinances. The Hebrew word, meaning “truly,” is transliterated into Greek in the New Testament, and thence to the English Bible. It is found many times in the Book of Mormon. The Hebrew infinitive conveys the notions “to confirm, support, uphold, be faithful, firm.” In antiquity the expression carried the weight of an oath. By saying “amen” the people solemnly pledged faithfulness and assented to curses upon themselves if found guilty (Deut. 27:14-26). 

It is about more than manners. If you attended your meetings today, as I’m sure you did, think back to the sacrament prayer that was recited. It is a very precise prayer. In fact, if the priesthood holder gets it wrong, he has to do it again. It has to be just so. Why? Because the sacrament is a sacred ordinance, and the person reciting the prayer is doing it as proxy for all of us that are planning on partaking of the sacrament.

At the end of the sacrament prayer we hear, “that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

That is the ordinance. Now we have a choice: Do we choose to say “amen” and ratify that ordinance and participate in the sacrament? Or do we say nothing, fail to ratify the ordinance for us, take the bread and water without renewing our covenants?

Saying “Amen” is our consent – our verbal expression of commitment to the renewing of our covenants. It is not merely a formality, or a habit, or a tradition. It is us, engaging in the ordinance. What kind of commitment does a mumble carry? (Remember – to say “Amen” carries the weight of an oath.)

Does it start at our kitchen table? Do we mumble an amen when we bless the food? Or in the morning, after family prayer, do we have enough oomph to say “amen” loudly enough for our family to know we are there, and engaged?

There are probably a lot of reasons for not saying amen audibly – distraction, disinterest, shyness – but reverence is not one of them. Saying amen at the right time is the one opportunity for everyone in the building to be talking at the same time and still be reverent. (Those who don’t join are actually the irreverent.)

Next week at church, and during the week, listen to how you respond to the word “Amen.” Do you notice it? Do you mumble back? Do you respond with your own “Amen” worthy or on oath or praise?

I figure that I can start tonight, at dinner, and help myself, and my family try to reverse the slide that is leading towards the death of amen.

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