2 O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.
3 Behold, O Lord, thou hast smitten us because of our iniquity, and hast driven us forth, and for these many years we have been in the wilderness; nevertheless, thou hast been merciful unto us. O Lord, look upon me in pity, and turn away thine anger from this thy people, and suffer not that they shall go forth across this raging deep in darkness; but behold these things which I have molten out of the rock.
4 And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.
5 Behold, O Lord thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men.
Every time I read this prayer, I am impressed with the reverence and humility of the brother of Jared. As he acknowledges, we pray because God commanded us to pray, not because we think we deserve the blessings we are asking for. When we pray, we are addressing the Creator of the universe. We may plead with great intensity, but we are in no position to demand anything: “The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them” (“Prayer
,” Bible Dictionary).
Because prayer is such a frequent activity in our lives, there is some danger of approaching God with insufficient reverence. We can become, in the words of Spencer W. Kimball “casual in [our] relationships with divinity” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, Chapter 6: “Discovering the Scriptures for Ourselves“). If we take for granted the privilege of praying, we may begin to address our Heavenly Father as we would a trusted friend or even as a helper.
But here’s the irony: without proper reverence, we may also lack sufficient faith. The brother of Jared was circumspect in approaching God for the same reason he was bold in his petition: because he knew that God was omnipotent. If we can remember that we are speaking to a Being who has all power and all wisdom, we will be at the same time more submissive and more confident.
Today, I will pray more reverently. I will strive to speak with God as the brother of Jared did, with a full recognition of His supremacy and with a willingness to follow Him in humility and in faith.