We Know that Thou Art Holy – Ether 3:2-5

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.
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.
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.
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.
(Ether 3:2-4)

As Moroni relates the story of the brother of Jared and the sixteen stones, he quotes the brother of Jared’s prayer. This prayer is impressive because of its boldness, but also because of the reverence with which he approaches God. As many times as the brother of Jared had spoken with God and received answers, he had not lost sight of Whom he was addressing. He understood that he was speaking to the Creator of the universe, an all-powerful Being who has far greater understanding and perspective than we possibly can have as mortal beings. I love his opening statement: “We know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee…nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee.” His boldness in prayer comes not from an unrealistic self-confidence but from his trust in God.

In a recent Face to Face event, President Henry B. Eyring and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland were asked what we can do to have better “conversations with God.” President Eyring’s response really struck me:

Be modest in your expectations. God is close, and He loves you, and He’d love to have a conversation, but remember: He is God…. I always worry when someone’s speaking to Him in too familiar a way…. God is real; He’s on a throne, and when I approach Him in prayer, I’m approaching a throne. And the way you do that is different than if you just say, “I’d like a chat; I want a conversation.” It’s approaching a throne, for me at least, when I’m doing it right (“Face to Face with President Eyring and Elder Holland,” March 4, 2017, 38:07-38:25, 46:18-46:44)

In light of that counsel, isn’t it interesting to note that the Lord’s prayer, which Jesus Christ gave as an example of how we should pray, begins and ends with an expression of reverence to God? At the beginning, after addressing the Father, He says, “Hallowed be thy name,” and He ends the prayer by saying, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever, Amen” (Matthew 6:9-13). Compared with those words, some of my prayers seem kind of casual and even self-centered.

Today, I will pray to God with the reverence described by President Eyring and demonstrated by the brother of Jared. I will remember that I’m approaching the throne of God. Although I may plead for blessings, I will remember that I do so at His invitation, and I will also remember to honor Him and to praise Him as I pray.

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