Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A House of Order: "Establishing a House of Prayer and Faith."

Blessing the Food
 Since I've fallen off the bandwagon a few times in this series, I thought it would be good to give my readers a reminder about the "A House of Order" series I've been working on, based on the LDS scripture below:

"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, 
a house of glory, 
a house of order, a house of God;" 

Here are the previous articles in this series:

    What does the Lord mean when he says we need to "establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith"? This is an idea I've pondered and worked on since my first baby was born. When I think about establishing such a house, one of our inspiring LDS hymns always comes to my mind. It's called, "More Holiness Give Me".
    More holiness give me,
    More strivings within,
    More patience in suff’ring,
    More sorrow for sin,
    More faith in my Savior,
    More sense of his care,
    More joy in his service,
    More purpose in prayer.
    More gratitude give me,
    More trust in the Lord,
    More pride in his glory,
    More hope in his word,
    More tears for his sorrows,
    More pain at his grief,
    More meekness in trial,
    More praise for relief.
    More purity give me,
    More strength to o’ercome,
    More freedom from earth-stains,
    More longing for home.
    More fit for the kingdom,
    More used would I be,
    More blessed and holy—
    More, Savior, like thee.
    (Text and music: Philip Paul Bliss, 1838–1876)
    My personal goal is to make my home a spiritual haven from the noises and irreverence so easily found out in the world. I want our home to be different, to be a place where the Lord's Holy Spirit can easily be felt and nurtured. We are very selective about what we allow in our home, but I often need to revisit what kinds of things I am bringing into my home to create a more spiritual, holy atmosphere. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so I sometimes find that despite all my efforts to keep negative influences OUT, I am not being as careful as I should be to fill the void with the most important things we need in our home.

    Establishing a House 
    "Establishing a House" means more to me than simply moving in and unpacking our things. It's even more than two people getting married and inviting children to join their families. It's about creating a culture for our family. What are the books we value?-- not just in word, but in deed. What kind of music do we find worthwhile? How do we entertain ourselves? How do we spend the precious hours given to us each day? How do we treat those closest to us, as well as those outside our family circles? Do our children know we think learning is important simply based on what we say, or on how we act? 

    We establish our homes every day from the moment we wake, to the time we retire to bed. And our children, big and small, are always watching us.
    Deuteronomy 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
    That is quite a sobering thought that I know I need to stop thinking about, and begin changing through action!

    A House of Prayer 
    The scriptures have this advice about prayer:
    Alma 37:37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
    1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
    How often do we pray in our homes? Giving thanks for our food and blessing the meals served are simple acts that show the Lord our gratitude. This is a wonderful example to set for our children! Morning and evening family prayers are also important habits to establish, but they also bring our families together in inviting the Lord's presence to surround us. What a beautiful experience for our children to be a part of twice every day!

    Teaching our children to commune one-on-one with God every day, is a sacred privilege that the Lord has given to us, as parents. This is a skill that will bless our children for their entire lives, and it is so important for us to take the time to train them in this communication! I have had many tender and sweet experiences teaching little ones to pray, and then in listening to the prayers of my children. This is one of those "essentials" that we cannot afford for our children to learn elsewhere, even at church. It is a sacred stewardship that the Lord himself has placed upon parents.

    A House of Fasting
    Members of the LDS church are given the opportunity, with the other members of the church around the world, to fast for two meals once a month on every first Sunday of the month. We then take the money we would have spent buying food for those two meals, and give it to our bishop (the leader of each congregation) who then donates it to the poor. These are called "Fast Offerings." 

    On these "Fast Sundays", as they are called, the pulpit is open for any in the congregation to share their testimony of the Gospel-- in other words, they tell all those attending what they believe and know to be true. The Spirit in these meetings are made all the more touching and powerful due to the fact that most of the people in the audience have been fasting as a means of growing closer to God.

    When our children see us fasting, we are actively demonstrating our faith to them. Again, their little eyes are always watching, their little ears are always listening. Do we fast out of love and devotion? Or do we fast because that's what everyone else is doing? Do we enter into our fasting with a heart of gratitude and worship? Or do we grumble about being hungry? How we fast has a huge impact on our children and their faith.

    A House of Faith
    Are our homes "Houses of Faith"? The words we say, the choices we make, the respect we show one another, the time we spend in prayer, scripture study, and temple attendance, the consideration we show our spouses, and the way we speak of others inside and outside of our family circles are an indication of how much we love the Lord. 

    I pray that we remember that every day, in every way, we have the opportunity to "Establish a House" that brings our children closer to Christ.

    "More Holiness Give Me," indeed.

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