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Elder Yamashita’s 5 suggestions for wrestling in prayer before God

‘Such wrestling is a struggle to find and express one’s real desires and receive inspiration of the Holy Ghost,’ Elder Yamashita teaches

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Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, General Authority Seventy, greets BYU–Idaho students following a campus devotional held on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Michael Lewis, BYU–Idaho


Elder Yamashita’s 5 suggestions for wrestling in prayer before God

‘Such wrestling is a struggle to find and express one’s real desires and receive inspiration of the Holy Ghost,’ Elder Yamashita teaches

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Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, General Authority Seventy, greets BYU–Idaho students following a campus devotional held on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Michael Lewis, BYU–Idaho

While a studying as university sophomore, Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita was struggling to figure out his future career, and considering dropping out of one university to enroll in another.

One day, he received inspiration to pray like Enos did. He set a date that he would do just that. “To prepare for that date, I fasted. I also came up with questions that I would ask Heavenly Father and wrote down thoughts of what I wanted to do and what I wanted to become,” Elder Yamashita said.

Though he felt good as he prayed, he had a difficult time getting answers to his questions. Like Enos, he knelt in mighty prayer, his soul hungering for the Spirit’s response.

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Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, General Authority Seventy, speaks during a BYU–Idaho devotional on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Michael Lewis, BYU–Idaho

“I received specific answers and advice. For me, every time I prayed, I felt Heavenly Father’s love so strongly that it prompted me to think about my future deeply. I started praying in the morning, meditated repeatedly, prayed again, and my thoughts of my future gradually solidified. And my heart became increasingly calm and peaceful.”

He received two promptings. The first was to speak to a professor and receive their counsel. The other was that he would be a university professor.

Speaking in “a perfect broken English,” Elder Yamashita, General Authority Seventy, spoke to BYU–Idaho students in a devotional on Tuesday, Nov. 8, about wrestling — not the sport — before God in prayer.

“Such wrestling is a struggle to find and express one’s real desires and receive inspiration of the Holy Ghost,” Elder Yamashita said.

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Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, General Authority Seventy, speaks during a BYU–Idaho devotional on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Hana Edossa, BYU–Idaho

He shared five suggestions to wrestle before God in prayer.

1. Ponder deeply

“Take time to ponder,” Elder Yamashita said. “As you must make an important decision, before you pray, you should ponder carefully and gather your thoughts and ask God. If you ponder deeply and meditate, you are more likely to receive revelation.”

Elder Yamashita then invited his wife, Sister Tazuko Yamashita, to share her experience with pondering deeply to find answers to her questions and prayers.

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Sister Tazuko Yamashita speaks during a BYU–Idaho devotional on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Hana Edossa, BYU–Idaho

Sister Yamashita’s answer to prayer

When she was a college student, Sister Yamashita began to seek truth in her life, asking questions such as, “Why I am here. Where did I come from? Where am I going after I die?”

She soon met with missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was baptized. Not long after while she was studying the gospel one night, the Holy Ghost spoke to her, the words echoing in the deepest part of her soul: “Go on a mission. Go on a mission. Go on a mission.”

After two years of dutifully saving the money to serve a mission, Sister Yamashita became concerned that at 24 years old, she might be too old to find someone to marry if she followed through with this prompting.

While pondering deeply about whether to serve a mission or get married, “the Holy Spirit spoke strongly and clearly to me again,” she said. “He said, ‘Don’t worry about your future. Peace be unto your soul.’”

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Sister Tazuko Yamashita speaks with a BYU–Idaho student following a campus devotional held on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Hana Edossa, BYU–Idaho

Filled with a spirit of peace and love, Sister Yamashita committed again to go on a mission. She was soon called to serve in the Japan Tokyo North Mission.

During her service as a missionary, she met a nice young man named Kazuhiko Yamashita, and had many opportunities to hear his testimony. “Each time I was filled with the Spirit so much. It caused me to think of my future. I wished that I could marry someone like him,” she said.

A month after returning home, she was prompted to send a letter to this young man, which she obeyed. She express mailed a letter of thanks to him. In return, she received an express letter from him saying, “Your letter ignited a fuse in my heart. I’m thinking about marriage. Please go on a date with me.”

Three months later, they were married. “Heavenly Father granted my desire regarding my marriage which I had been worried about before my mission.”

Sister Yamashita told the students, “As you live the gospel and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost immediately when they come, you might also feel the comforting message saying, ‘Don’t worry about your future. Peace be unto your soul.’”

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BYU–Idaho students take notes during Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita’s devotional address on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Michael Lewis, BYU–Idaho

2. Pray with sincerity

Elder Yamashita taught that one must pray with sincerity and all the energy of the heart, be careful to avoid vain repetitions, and give serious thought to one’s attitude and words used.

He said: “We love Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. We know they love us and listen to our prayers. Be honest and say how you feel to our Heavenly Father. If you pray with all your heart to the God you love, instead of praying mechanically and formally, Heavenly Father will help you to feel His love to know that He hears your prayers.”

3. Use proper language that shows love, respect, reverence and closeness

Elder Yamashita said that English speakers, when addressing God, should use the pronouns used in the scriptures: Thee, Thou, Thy and Thine.

“Regardless of the language, the principle remains the same. When you pray, you should use words that appropriately convey a loving, worshipful relationship with God,” he said.

“Praying in a friendly manner to Father in Heaven is not bad, but do not be too casual.”

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Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, General Authority Seventy, greets a BYU–Idaho student following a campus devotional held on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Hana Edossa, BYU–Idaho

4. Always give thanks to Heavenly Father

“You should live in thanksgiving daily for the many mercies and blessings which he bestoweth upon you. As you take time to remember your blessings, you will recognize how much your Heavenly Father has done for you. Express your thanks to Him.”

5. Seek Heavenly Father’s guidance and strength

Elder Yamashita quoted Alma 37:36-37: “Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

“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.”

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With a slide showing five suggestions for wrestling before God in prayer displayed on a screen for the audience, Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, General Authority Seventy, speaks during a BYU–Idaho devotional on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Michael Lewis, BYU–Idaho

Wrestling before the Lord will bring many benefits, Elder Yamashita said. “Your testimony will be strengthened. Your trust in the Lord will be increased. You will get closer to the Lord.”

In closing, he testified that “our Heavenly Father does live indeed, and that He loves us. He knows each of us. He knows our desires. He listens to our prayers because He loves His children.

“I testify that we are our Father in Heaven’s children, that he loves us and that He sent His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, so that we can again return to His presence.”

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