by Liz Adair
My son Clay is studying in Cairo this year and was asked to speak in church this Friday on a conference talk that impressed him. Friday is Islam's holy day and is the day the branch has meetings. He sent us a copy of his talk as a way of keeping in touch, and I'd like to share a part of it here.
Clay chose Elder Bednauer's talk on prayer and spoke about prayer in his own life. He started out with a couple of stories, but I'll just include one.
During my senior year, I landed a spot on the varsity football team. I was rather tall, thicker than most, somewhat uncoordinated, but I understood the basics of American football and had trained well through the summer. This combination and the fact that the coach didn’t have anyone else gave me the shot to play on the offensive line, a post that requires the least amount of thinking and decision making.
I am sad to say now that during my teenage years I didn’t pray much. I had had few experiences with personal prayer and lacked my own foundation. There were many times where I operated under the assumption that, because of my foolish behavior, prayer would yield few benefits, that I wasn’t in a position to be blessed.
It was a practice of several members of the team to gather in the pad room before games to hold hands together and offer a prayer. I was always invited, being a known Christian, but would always politely decline. One game day, for what reason I can’t remember, I overcame my resistant feelings and accepted. We all held hands, and each team member there took turns offering words of prayer. There weren’t many “Thees” or “Thous” but the prayers were sincere. Safety was always among the things petitioned for, also that both teams would play well. I remember asking in that prayer that we might be able to perform to the best of our abilities and that we might enjoy the game.
It’s funny to me now, but it wasn’t until years later, after I had returned from my mission and was driving down the freeway one day reminiscing, that I came to the realization that that game was amazing; it was the very best of my (brief) football career. I personally was on the whole game. I hustled hard, and had steam all four quarters. I stuck on my blocks and read my guys with skill and accuracy and reacted with lightning feet. And in addition to all of that, I was high on life and high on the game.
I remember sprinting down the field after a breakaway, waiting for my teammate with the ball to cut back in my direction, so that I could make a block for him and clear up a lane. I spotted a player from the other team heading from a similar direction on an intercept course, hoping to make a tackle when the cutback occurred. I turned in my steps, making eye contact with the man. He knew what I was up to. He also knew that he had the better angle. Try as I did to get my body under me before we made contact, it wasn’t meant to be and I ended up sailing through the air before skidding on my facemask across the turf. It was in this mid-flight moment that I realized the joy that I was experiencing and exclaimed to myself, “I love this!” Overcome with the experience, when were back on the line before the next whistle I found my man on the other team and called out, “Hey 72, nice hit!” The teammate at my side muttered to himself something to the effect of, “Stupid Mormon!”
I always smile when I remember that game and that experience. There I was feeling not comfortable to pray because of some stupid little thing, and there Heavenly Father was exclaiming to himself, “Finally, a chance to pour out blessings on Clay. Here’s a chance for him to feel my love.” I may not have known it, but by training through the summer and going to practices I had exercised faith, and by standing in that circle and voicing a prayer I had exercised faith. By excercising that small faith, I had opened a window through which the lord was able to bless me and teach me with experience.
The Card Trick
Clay went on to explain the nuts and bolts of how he improves his prayers and acts in faith:
For daily prayers I have employed a system at times that has helped me to be more focused and active with my personal prayers. I will take a 3x5 card and divide it into two columns: one “thanks” and one “communications”. I call it that because “requests” sounds a little demanding. I use the card as both a brain storm to figure out what things I want or need to pray about, and also as a reminder while I am praying. On the other side of the card I usually write down the things I need to do the next day. I then carry the card with me the next day as a reminder of the temporal and spiritual goals I have; things I need to get done and things I have asked for help with. Doing this has helped me to be more mindful of my prayers, exercise more faith, and to have more meaningful prayers. I also like doing this because at the end of the day after I review the old card and make a new one, I put the used card in a stack. It has been interesting and insightful to review the old cards months after they were written to see what things I had been asking for and how things went.
I thought Clay's card trick was so great that I asked share it, and he gave me permission to post it on my blog.