How aware are we of our focus in life? A study done in 1998 by researchers from Harvard and Kent State University tested people around the Harvard campus with a goal of determining how aware they were of their immediate environment.
To test awareness, an actor approached a random person on campus asking for directions. During the conversation, two men carrying a large wooden door walked between the actor and the pedestrian. Their view of each other was completely blocked.
While this occurred, the actor was replaced by another actor with a different height, build, haircut, outfit and voice. The study showed that half of the unknowing participants didn’t even notice the exchange. They were completely unaware of what was going on around them.
One of the most powerful tools that Satan has is distraction. A strategic leader knows that getting the opposing force focused on what isn’t important allows the enemy to attack with surprise and achieve victory.
In the October 1985 general conference, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “Each of us has a personal lens through which we view the world. Our lens gives its special tint to all we see. It can suppress some features and emphasize others. It can also reveal things otherwise invisible. Through the lens of spirituality, we can know ‘the things of God’ by ‘the Spirit of God’ (1 Cor. 2:11). As the apostle Paul taught, such things are ‘foolishness’ to the ‘natural man.’ He cannot see them ‘because they are spiritually discerned’ ” (1 Cor. 2:14).
The ancient prophet Moroni was allowed by the gift of God to see our day in detail. He saw our “doing” and how spiritually minded we are. He said, “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.
“And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.
“For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted” (Mormon 8:35-37).
Where are you personally on the road to spiritual awareness? A few questions might help make a determination: What do you spend your free time thinking about? When the important labors of the day are done, what do you spend your time doing? Outside of the necessities of life, what do you spend your money on? Do your actions show that you are more concerned about building your own kingdom or the kingdom of God?
“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:16-20)
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
So how does one become more spiritually aware? How do we refocus our lives to center on the things of the spirit rather than the things of the world?
“I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away,” said President Spencer W. Kimball. “If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, , p. 135).
In a talk titled “Pray Always” from the October 2008 general conference, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “Petitioning Heavenly Father for the blessings we desire in our personal lives is good and proper. However, praying earnestly for others, both those whom we love and those who despitefully use us, is also an important element of meaningful prayer.
“Just as expressing gratitude more often in our prayers enlarges the conduit for revelation, so praying for others with all of the energy of our souls increases our capacity to hear and to heed the voice of the Lord.”
Elder Shayne M. Bowen of the Seventy said, “What if there were principles you could teach your loved ones that, if applied, would allow them to overcome personal weaknesses and draw closer to God? As we properly understand and live the law of the fast, these desired blessings can be ours” (“Fasting with power,” April 2009 general conference).
Wise men and women have taught us that prayer, scripture study and fasting will increase spirituality. Do we believe them? Do we believe them enough to act? It’s simple: a greater focus on spiritual matters will increase spiritual awareness. This spirituality will lead to willing, loving service to others. In return, we will experience true and lasting happiness.
The Savior taught His disciples, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:25).
In reference to this scripture President Thomas S. Monson said, “I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish — and in effect save their lives” (“What Have I Done for Someone Today?” Nov. 2009 Ensign).