Sunday, January 11, 2015

George Q. Cannon on the importance of prayer

President Cannon was born on January 11, 1827 — 188 years ago today. He was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1860. He served as counselor in the First Presidency to Brigham Young beginning in 1873, and then to the next three presidents, until his death in 1901.
"To live without prayer is to live a mere animal existence. It is to leave the best part of our natures in a starving condition; for without prayer the spirit is starved, and men dwindle in their feelings, and die in their faith. If anyone is disposed to enquire into the truth of this and satisfy himself upon this point, let him visit the families of those who observe their prayers in the season thereof. The effect upon the household is very marked. Children grow up in an atmosphere of faith. A reverence for God, for truth, and for everything holy and pure is developed within them. They are more easily controlled. Their consciences are more tender. They have a higher conception of that which is right.
"If a family where prayer is neglected be visited, the children will be of a different type and disposition. What influence is there to hold them? If the parents do not honor God, what grounds have the children for honoring their parents?
"We trust that every reader... will make it a fixed rule to attend to secret and family prayers. Better go without a meal than to neglect this duty. If your stomach is empty, you will feel faint and be reminded that you must give it food. Remember that the spirit also needs food, and make it your business to attend to supplying it in the way that God has appointed. Then your spirit and your body will be developed alike, and strength will be maintained."
- George Q. Cannon, Juvenile Instructor 27:58-59, January 15, 1892; see also Gospel Truth 2:170
Jesus often used analogies comparing physical needs to spiritual.  In the "sermon on the mount" he taught, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6).  And he elaborated: "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (John 6:35).  President Cannon's teaching echoes that message: without prayer, the spirit is starved, and we should be at least as concerned with nurturing our spiritual strength as we are our physical strength.

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