Thursday, May 23, 2019

President David O. McKay on the personal nature of prayer

President David O. McKay (1873-1970) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1906.  He served as a counselor in the First Presidency to Heber J. Grant and George Albert Smith beginning in 1945, then then as the president of the Church from 1951 to his death in 1970 at age 96.
"I have cherished from childhood the truth that God is a personal being, and is, indeed, our Father whom we can approach in prayer and receive answers thereto. I cherish as one of the dearest experiences of life the knowledge that God hears the prayer of faith. It is true that the answers to our prayers may not always come as direct and at the time, nor in the manner, we anticipate; but they do come, and at a time and in a manner best for the interests of him who offers the supplication.
"There have been occasions, however, when I have received direct and immediate assurance that my petition was granted. At one time, particularly, the answer came as distinctly as though my Heavenly Father stood by my side and spoke the words. These experiences are part of my very being and must remain so long as memory and intelligence last. Just as real and just as close to me seems the Savior of the world.
"I feel as I have never felt before that God is my Father. He is not just an intangible power, a moral force in the world, but a personal God with creative power, the governor of the world, the director of our souls. I would have all men, and especially the young people of the Church, feel so close to our Father in heaven that they will approach Him daily—not in public alone, but in private. If our people will have this faith, great blessings will come to them. Their souls will be filled with thanksgiving for what God has done for them; they will find themselves rich in favors bestowed. It is not imagination that we can approach God and receive light and guidance from him, and that our minds will be enlightened and our souls thrilled by his Spirit."
- David O. McKay, Conference Report, Apr. 1969, 152–53

What a wonderful thing it is to have learned and experienced, from early childhood, that God is real and that our communication with Him can bless our lives! President McKay shared his own personal faith in the power and blessing of that communication, and in the need we have to develop the faith and trust in God and in His timing as we wait for, and prepare for, responses to our needs. Those answers always come "at a time and in a manner best" for our interests.

I loved President McKay's testimony of the reality of his experiences, and the sense of divine love that permeated his very being! To truly understand, through personal knowledge, that our God is a "personal God" whom we can approach frequently and with confidence and gratitude, is a powerful aspect of our moral existence.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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