Formerly "Neil Stone Updates"

Saturday, January 2, 2010


A few weeks ago I was asked to speak in Church the Sunday before Christmas. I thought I'd share an edited version of my talk here:

What is your favorite thing about Christmas time? Is it the music? The food? The parties? How about the lights and the decorations? Do you cherish the chance to gather with loved ones and share traditions? Maybe you reenact the Savior's birth in a pageant with scripture narration. I’ll bet you love the way so many get caught up in the Christmas spirit—helping others out, giving and sharing. But probably, if you asked any child what his or her favorite part of Christmas is, I think they'd say, quite honestly, “the presents!”

No question, presents are fun! And we choose our gifts so carefully, don’t we? We take into consideration what the receivers want (or what we think they would want) and what we can afford. Even if we had unlimited resources and money wasn’t an issue, in buying gifts for our children, wouldn’t we still consider what we wanted them to have—what was good for them? Surely everything a child, or anyone, asks for isn’t always in their best interest.

Let’s step away from the idea of Christmas gifts for a minute. What do we want our children to have? What is really most important for them? Here are a few things you might be thinking of: the basics like food and shelter, an education, good health, good influences. How about a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, faith in the Lord, compassion for others and the gift of Christ-like charity?

If we want these things for our families (and for ourselves) we can ask for them. I guess it’s not unlike sitting on Santa’s knee and whispering to him the wish of our hearts. We can kneel before a very real Father in Heaven and present him with our “wish list” and we can be assured that he will listen. But will he grant us what we ask? Our Heavenly Father, like any loving parent, wants to pour out blessings upon us. He has wonderful things in store for each of us individually. But we need to trust Him to give us what is best for us, and that is what we should be asking him for.

But how are we supposed to know just what is in our, or our loved ones’ best interests? What should we be praying for exactly? In the book of 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon we have a beautiful description of Jesus Christ’s visit to the Nephites. After he chose twelve apostles to lead his church he prayed for them. They prayed as well. In chapter 19, verse 24 we read,

“And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire.”

They were filled with desire such that they knew what the Lord wanted them to have—they knew what they were to pray for.

In Romans 8:26 in the New Testament we’re told,

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.”

In other words, with the help of the Holy Ghost, our needs will be made known, even though our words may be inadequate. And from modern-day revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants 46:30: “He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God…”

Our Bible dictionary can help us to understand the true nature of prayer. It says,

“Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them.”

Almost a year ago our family (and so many of you) flooded the heavens with our pleadings to Heavenly Father on behalf of our son Neil. As he lay in a coma, struggling between death and an uncertain life, we asked for a miracle. But honestly, I found I couldn’t say to our Father, “just fix it--make it all go away.” This was certainly what I wanted, what I ached for. But my actual prayers sounded different. I felt compelled to tell my Father in Heaven that I didn’t want Neil to suffer, that I wanted him back just as he was, but that I trusted Him to do what was best for Neil…for all of us…whatever that was. As difficult as it was, I knew that I had to say, “not my will, but thine be done.” I felt the Spirit guiding my thoughts, my words, my prayers. I was moved to ask for ministering angels to attend him. Through the immense pain, I felt comfort and peace in knowing that God was in charge—that a loving heavenly parent would give us the gift that we really needed.

As Neil struggles now to regain skills and abilities, and works to find his path and direction in life, I’ve seen his faith grow. As he continues to heal, I’ve seen a strength and determination in him that I don’t think was there before. His positive attitude and outlook has touched many lives. Our family has grown closer. We have felt the love and support of so many, many friends, strangers, family, and loved ones. We have all been changed for the better because of this experience. Would I ever have asked for Neil’s accident to happen? Certainly not knowingly, but when I prayed in faith for my son to know God and to understand the power of Christ’s atonement--His ultimate gift to us, maybe that is just what I did. I do not think that God caused the accident, but I’ve seen his hand in all the good that has transpired since. That has been a sweet and precious gift.

Our prayers are being answered daily—yours and mine. If we can be in tune with the Holy Spirit, I believe that each of us will find that our “wish list” is exactly what the Lord has in mind to grant us. And we’ll be getting just what we want for Christmas this year.


Polly said...

Thanks for sharing that, Lori. I wish I could have been there to hear the entire talk. Happy New Year to you all.

HMStammler said...

I just came back to work from our holiday break and checked the blog first thing. Thank you for sharing your "talk." It puts many things in life into perspective! May God continue to guide you in your prayers and may your walk with him become stronger everyday!


Meredith said...

This is beautiful Aunt Lori - I don't know how I missed this post! Thank you for sharing your beautiful testimony - this is truly a great gift!