Spiritual preparedness is an interesting concept. Does one sit down and make a list like for the 72-hour Emergency kit we’re all supposed to have. Flashlight – check. Sleeping bag – check. Water – check. First aid supplies – check. It actually might be somewhat similar – Elder Henry B. Eyring says,
“However much faith to obey God we now have, we will need to strengthen it continually and keep it refreshed constantly. We can do that by deciding now to be more quick to obey and more determined to endure. Learning to start early and to be steady are the keys to spiritual preparation. Procrastination and inconsistency are its mortal enemies. Let me suggest to you four settings in which to practice quick and steady obedience. One is the command to feast upon the word of God. A second is to pray always. A third is the commandment to be a full-tithe payer. And the fourth is to escape from sin and its terrible effects. Each takes faith to start and then to persevere. And all can strengthen your capacity to know and obey the Lord’s commands.” (“Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 38)
Let’s discuss these four suggestions which I find to be very practical and beneficial in building faith and spiritual preparedness;
First: Feast upon the word of God • There is such beauty in the word of God. As a writer, when I read the scriptures or the words of modern prophets and apostles, my spirit literally sings when recognizing truth and beauty of the written word with which that truth is taught. I used to have a list of questions about a mile long (okay, maybe not quite a mile) for the Savior. I kept them in my head for the day I would meet Him and had every intention of sitting down with Him and going over them one by one. As I have studied the gospel, I mean really feasted on the words of God, that list has dwindled to simply two questions. I am certain, as I continue to study I will find the answers to those questions as well. For God has revealed all to His prophets and everything we need to know to accomplish our task is well within our grasp. Yes, indeed. I can see how feasting upon the word of God has prepared me spiritually.
Second: Pray always • Pray in happiness, pray in unrelenting pain, pray in overwhelming joy, but always pray. I was told by a very inspired stake president once that there is no other comparison to prayer in the history of the world. When we get on our knees, and we turn to the heavens, we speak straight to Heavenly Father. No mid-level managers, vice-presidents, executive vice-presidents or personal assistants stand in our way. It is simply us and Heavenly Father. We, the children of God have a direct line to the supreme God of the universe. Wow, what a wonderful thing to know. When praying often, your Father in Heaven knows that you are serious about doing what you’ve been sent here to do. As a result of prayer we receive inspiration, information, promptings, guidance and warnings. With prayer we are never truly alone. There is always someone to talk to — always.
Third: Be a full-tithe payer • In the Old Testament, Malachi 3:10 we find: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” What a beautiful promise. The Lord has blessed us with everything we have. In asking for one tenth back, he promises to “open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall be room enough to receive it.” There is nothing else in this world like it. The law of tithing is a law of obedience and understanding. Tithing helps pay for temples, church and seminary buildings, and more. But all that aside, the promises of tithing are immense and should not be lightly dismissed. In obeying the commandments of God we find great joy, peace, protection and abilities.
Fourth: Escape from sin and its terrible effects • Sin is terrible in its exactness in demanding retribution. It may dress itself up in an enticing and pleasing manner, but beneath the surface is a poison so deep it enslaves your spirit. For instance: Alcohol produces addiction which destroys lives, families, and bodies; Drugs enslave quickly and brutally. There is a momentary high quickly followed by an excruciating crash. This addiction also destroys lives, families, and bodies; Premarital sex and adultery provides one with a plethora of sexually transmitted diseases, unwed mothers, abandoned and abused children, and absolute destruction of self-worth whose effects are not felt immediately but are wide-reaching. I could go on and on, listing every sin and its effects, but I doubt there is a need. Anything which brings a darkness to your soul is of Satan. Anything that brings an everlasting light to your soul is of Jesus Christ. This euphoria Satan tries to duplicate with these sins is that of the sweet and pure companionship of the Holy Ghost. With the Holy Ghost there are no addictions, destructions or devastations, only peace, happiness and a closeness to God.
Elder Eyring’s listing of these four things is very helpful in aiding us in our goal to master ourselves and reach toward the heavens. Spiritual preparedness is critical if we hope to be of service to our God in the days, weeks, months and years to come. There is hope and salvation in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland says:
“Everything in the gospel teaches us that we can change if we need to, that we can be helped if we truly want it, that we can be made whole, whatever the problems of the past.” (“He Hath Filled the Hungry with Good Things” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 66)