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General Conference LIVE!

Much like my annual vacation at BYU’s Education Week each August, the semi-annual General Conferences always give me more than enough ideas about what needs fixing in my life (as if I didn’t have enough already). But, as nanacarol posted today, that excitement and drive to improve can wear off as quickly as it came. By next week I’m likely to be back at my old habits, having all but forgotten the things the Spirit confirmed today.

One of the speeches I give is on self-improvement and goal setting. In fact, I’m giving that speech at a women’s retreat in Idaho next Saturday. I know how to set manageable goals, but somehow I don’t often apply those principles to the conference counsel.

This year it will be different! (Famous last words ?)

I found a bit of advice I think I can start on right away. Elder Bednar suggested that on occasion we give prayers that are strictly of thanks and praise.

For over a decade now, I have sincerely tried to acknowledge God’s hand in every good thing in my life. My children have become fairly accustomed to stopping many times throughout the day to give thanks when a “tender mercy,” large or small, comes our way. But other than those short tributes, I have only very rarely given a “thanks only” prayer for one of my “big two” morning or night prayers.

As I thought about it, it actually frightened me. “But Heavenly Father, I need so much! How can I not tell you? Will you forget? Will you let something bad happen if I don’t remind you to keep it away from us? How can I not pray for protection for my children? my husband?”

How can I leave it all up to you?

So, this week, in my personal prayers I’m going to try to give thanks and praise and ask for nothing. And I’ll try not to load up family prayers and blessings on the food with all the requests I’m leaving out.

I’ll let you know how it goes. And please feel free to post here anything you’re working on and the progress made. We can be accountable to each other.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • davidson October 6, 2008, 10:38 am

    Alison, I LOVE YOU! (Hope that doesn’t embarrass you too much.) Your post brought tears to my eyes, and I thank God for a friend like you.
    I will try so hard to be like you. I love the fact that your children are accustomed to your pausing occasionally to give thanks for tender mercies.
    I love that fact that you want to be obedient to counsel and want to find specific ways to incorporate it. I’m with you. This week I will pray only prayers of thanksgiving. Thank you for the light on the path. :twosome:

  • Alison Moore Smith October 6, 2008, 11:55 am

    Wow, davidson, thank you. I appreciate your kind words, but sure hope I didn’t misrepresent myself. Trust me, I only learned to be thankful for the good stuff the hard way…by seeing the results of NOT doing it. I’m stupid that way.

  • Michelle D October 6, 2008, 3:56 pm

    Alison and Serena, you are both great examples! I, too, could benefit from gratitude-only prayers. The things that hit me hardest were the finding/maintaining hope and joy of the journey talks. (And there were a lot of them!) Internalizing the Conf messages on a personal level is the best way to make meaningful changes in our lives, to create a lasting impact.

  • spitfire October 6, 2008, 8:54 pm

    Alison, you’re on! I know it is somewhat inappropriate to “challenge” one another in an area like this, but I will try my hardest this week to do the same. We have been with my husband’s son/d-n-law in Dallas (they are not members), so I have not had the opportunity to watch conference (it was taped @ home!)…so I will be doing a marathon session when I get home. I will listen to Elder Bednar’s talk asap! But in the mean time, I’m going to offer only prayers of gratitute…..let’s see how it goes!

    PS: I did get to go to the Dallas temple with my hubby…very nice & peaceful….I’m so accustomed to the “hub-bub”of the DC temple, I did not realize how much I have missed the “quietness” of the temple…..

  • Alison Moore Smith October 6, 2008, 9:12 pm

    Thanks, Michelle.

    Posted By: spitfireI know it is somewhat inappropriate to “challenge” one another in an area like this, but I will try my hardest this week to do the same.

    :shamed: Oh, did it read like a challenge? I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it that way at all!

    I was really just trying to leave an open thread for others who were trying to apply ANY counsel we got at conference. So, if anyone heard a talk and thought, “Wow, I need to work on that!” they can drop by and get ideas and/or support in applying it.

    FWIW, I’ve stuck with it, but it’s tough! Sam is in Washington DC and has a big, important speech that effects our business greatly. And I keep thinking, “Can’t I just slip that in once? Maybe I’ll ‘remind’ the kids about it so THEY can pray for him?”

    I should have waited for a week with NO pressing obligations or situations. As if.

  • jennycherie October 7, 2008, 3:22 am

    Okay – our FHE last night was about Elder Wirthlin’s talk. I need to re-watch his talk again, but my plan is to make an effort to LAUGH when I want to get angry!:jumping:

  • nanacarol October 7, 2008, 8:40 am

    I too will practice only gratitude. I have done it before and I have such a testimony on how it works. My husband and I have been so blessed in the past months. On Jul 23rd he had full rotator cuff surgery and has been on disability. It has been such a blessing. We have grown so much as a couple and have enjoyed each other soooooooo much. We are hating the thoughts of him going back to work!!!! We have loved being together. We have finallyl learned how to talk and accept those little imperfections that make us get a little upset with each other. I learned how much he did for me before surgery. And how I missed his help. I really have been blessed with my eternal best friend and so glad I have learned to finally appreicate him more!

  • Alison Moore Smith October 7, 2008, 12:58 pm

    I learned something last night. As I was praying I had some things on my mind, as I mentioned earlier, that I really felt I needed help on. But I was determined to stick to my “only thanks” mode this week.

    Suddenly I realized that you can pray FOR almost anything, FROM the gratitude perspective. Rather than ask for what you don’t have, you can look hard for what you DO have. At first, it felt like cheating, but as I reflected on that, I think maybe it’s really just a way to SEE the blessings and mercies even in stresses and challenges.

  • spitfire October 7, 2008, 1:32 pm

    Alison~

    No honey….you did not write it like a challenge….I was putting the “challenge” out there…more to keep me on track with offering prayers of gratitude! And I’m grateful for YOU! I, too, am trying & just flew home to VA from TX, I wanted to pray for a safe flight but said ok, how do I phrase this? So I expressed my gratitude for the technology that allows us to travel much easier than the pioneers as well as the pilot’s expertise & training (sneaky!)…..but I’m trying!

    S.

  • Oregonian October 7, 2008, 2:02 pm

    someone later mentioned specifically that we could ask for help in prayer. i wonder if he was countering bednar.

  • Alison Moore Smith October 7, 2008, 2:04 pm

    Posted By: spitfireSo I expressed my gratitude for the technology that allows us to travel much easier than the pioneers as well as the pilot’s expertise & training (sneaky!)…..but I’m trying!

    You are a kindred spirit, sister!

    Actually, Oregonian, I heard that, too! Who was it? I almost got the impression that he was throwing in, “But it’s still OK to ask for things you need.” 🙂

  • Michelle D October 7, 2008, 9:50 pm

    Suddenly I realized that you can pray FOR almost anything, FROM the gratitude perspective. Rather than ask for what you don’t have, you can look hard for what you DO have. At first, it felt like cheating, but as I reflected on that, I think maybe it’s really just a way to SEE the blessings and mercies even in stresses and challenges.

    Thanks, Alison, I needed to read that tonight.

  • davidson October 7, 2008, 11:01 pm

    I think it’s instructive that it was mentioned that General Authorities occasionally say a prayer of gratitude only; it ‘s not a constant thing. I think it’s a good approach to take once in a while, and for the very reasons Spitfire and Alison mentioned; it helps us to concentrate on the blessings already given. What a sweet experience this has been. As I pray in gratitude, suddenly it doesn’t matter that I can’t ask anything this week. I feel reassured and confident that He knows my every need, and He is willing to grant those desires that would be good for me, spoken or not–maybe even moreso this week, because I’m finally willing to just be grateful and trust the rest to Him. But I know He has commanded us through ancient and modern prophets to ASK; it’s an important part of the equation. Maybe after a week of being solely grateful, we will be better, wiser, more appreciative askers.

    I almost hesitate to say this. It was such a sweet surprise that it brought tears to my eyes. This morning after I said my prayer of thanksgiving, I waited in the silence for any answer He wanted to send me. This morning I felt, “I am thankful for YOU.” Would a God be thankful for me? I have wondered all day. But it seems to be in keeping with His nature. I know how grateful I am for my children. It never occurred to me before that God would be grateful for me. As I am sure He is for all of you. New idea for me.

  • Alison Moore Smith October 8, 2008, 12:50 pm

    Thank you, Michelle. Nice davidson.

    Oh, yes, I will not do this forever! But it’s a good weeklong experience for me.

  • nanacarol October 8, 2008, 5:38 pm

    Wow, what a new idea–God cares for me and he will let me know if I am still long enough to hear it!!!! Loved it Davidson. I am the kind of person who get done what needs to get done and get on with business. Staying still long enough to listen is a part of prayer I need to work on!!! thanks for the reminder!

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