Elder Juan A. Uceda: ‘The Lord Jesus Christ Teaches Us to Pray’

Elder Juan A. Uceda, General Authority Seventy, shared a dramatic personal experience to teach the value of sincere and faithful prayer.

While serving a mission in Cusco, Peru, in 1977, young Elder Uceda and several fellow missionaries visited the famous Machu Picchu ruins. After visiting the ruins, some of the missionaries wanted to walk a treacherous trail to visit the Inka Bridge. A strong spiritual prompting warned Elder Uceda that he and the others should not traverse the trail, but he gave in to peer pressure and continued.

Soon the lofty trail narrowed. At one point, Elder Uceda found a missionary standing with his back against the rock. The missionary said he had received an impression to remain in that spot.

“I felt the urgency to catch up to those ahead of us, so he helped me to pass him, and I was able to get a little further down the trail,” he said. “I noticed that the ground was full of greenery. I planted my right foot on the ground realizing, as I fell, that there was no ground underneath the greenery. I desperately grabbed onto some branches that were underneath the trail. For a moment I could see down, some 2,000 feet below.”

Elder Uceda knew he could not hold to the branches for long. He opened his mouth and uttered a brief, desperate prayer: “Father, help me!”

Just as he was about to fall, he felt a firm hand take his arm and pull him up to safety. The hand belonged to the missionary who had felt prompted to stay behind.

“But in reality, our Father in Heaven saved me,” he said. “He listened to my voice.”

That harrowing experience taught Elder Uceda “that I should always pray with a sincere heart, with real intent, exercising faith in Christ.”

Jesus, he added, offers key examples of sincere prayer in both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon.

“At the very moment we say ‘Father in Heaven,’ He hears our prayers and is sensitive to us and our needs. And so His eyes and His ears are now connected to you. He reads our minds and He feels our hearts.”

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