Children will best learn blessings of prayer from parents' example

Parents should teach their children to pray, said Elder Henry B. Eyring Sunday afternoon.

Elder Henry B. Eyring
Elder Henry B. Eyring

"The child learns both from what the parents do and from what they say," said Elder Eyring, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. "The child who sees a mother or a father pass through the trials of life with fervent prayer to God and then hears a sincere testimony that God answered in kindness will remember what they saw and heard. When their trials come, they will be prepared."

Speaking during the closing session of 170th Semiannual General Conference, Elder Eyring called prayer a matter of the heart.

"I had been taught far more than the rules of prayer," he said of the example set by his parents before he ventured from home. "I had learned from my parents and from the Savior's teachings that we must address our Heavenly Father in the reverent language of prayer."

Elder Eyring, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, told parents to never profane their Heavenly Father's name. "Can you imagine how the prayers of a child are harmed by hearing a parent profane the name of God?" he asked. "There will be terrible consequences for such an offense to the little ones."

From his parents Elder Eyring said he learned that during prayer one should give thanks for blessings and ask for forgiveness. One should ask for what one needs and pray for others to be blessed. By surrendering one's will to God, one can be warned of danger and shown what was done to displease God.

A picture of the Savior by his mother's bed, Elder Eyring said, indicated she knew and loved the Savior.

"I had learned from her that we do not close in the name of a stranger when we approach our Father in prayer," he said. "I knew from what I had seen of her life that her heart was drawn to the Savior from years of determined and consistent effort to serve Him and to please Him."

Elder Eyring said parents should have one goal when teaching children to pray: "for them to want God to write upon their hearts and be willing then to go and do what God asked of them. It is possible for our children to have faith enough, from what they see us do and what we teach, that they can feel at least part of what the Savior felt as He prayed to have the strength to make His infinite sacrifice for us."

Elder Eyring said his prayers have been answered.

"Those answers were most clear when what I wanted was silenced by an overpowering need to know what God wanted," he said. "It is then that the answer from a loving Heavenly Father can be spoken to the mind by the still, small voice and can be written on the heart."

He then offered advice to parents of children now grown old and convinced they don't need God. "There is one need even the hardened and proud person cannot believe they can meet for themselves," he said. "They cannot lift the weight of sin from their own shoulders. And even the most hardened may at times feel the prick of conscience and thus the need for forgiveness from God."

Prayers are answered to those whose hearts are softened by that overwhelming feeling of the need for cleansing, he said.

"When we teach those we love that we are spirit children temporarily away from a loving Heavenly Father, we open the door of prayer to them," Elder Eyring said. "We lived in His presence before we came here to be tested. We knew His face and He knew ours."

Elder Eyring promised members that no joy will exceed what they will feel if their child, like Enos, prays in their hour of need and receives an answer.

He said he draws his example of prayer from his parents. "They prayed when times were hard and when they were good," Elder Eyring concluded. "And they reported in matter-of-fact ways how kind God was, how powerful and how close."

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