Tuesday, November 23, 2021

President Henry B. Eyring on the blessings of "returning thanks to God"

President Henry B. Eyring (1933- ) served in the Presiding Bishopric from 1985-1992, as a Seventy from 1992-1995, then was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He has served in the First Presidency since 2007.
"The scriptures, what I see around me, and my own experience tell me that this scripture has a key in it. Listen carefully to this scripture. It is one Alma teaches us:
"'And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive...' (see Alma 7:23-25).
"Being submissive, gentle, easy to be entreated, and patient are all attributes. But the actions Alma commends to us are to ask for what we need and to return thanks. Please don't think of that as a routine command to say your prayers. Oh, it is much more than that. If you pray, if you talk to God, and if you plead for the help you need, and if you thank him not only for help but for the patience and gentleness that come from not receiving all you desire right away or perhaps ever, then I promise you that you will draw closer to him. And then you will become diligent and longsuffering."
- Henry B. Eyring, "Waiting Upon the Lord," BYU Fireside, Sept 30, 1990
Click here to read the full talk

President Eyring has an ability I love: to analyze and explain scriptures, focusing attention on critical words or phrases in ways that brings out understanding and power. I love how he testifies that he has discovered special meaning in this case through at least three sources: other scriptures, his observations of the world, and his personal experience. How often am I that careful to ponder and apply what I am learning?

In analyzing Alma's wonderful counsel, President Eyring distinguishes between attributes and actions that are encouraged in the passage. The attributes include being submissive, gentle, easy to be entreated, and patient—all characteristics that merit pondering and self-evaluation. But it's the action part of the verse that President Eyring draws attention to: "to ask for what we need and to return thanks." He explains this is much more than "saying your prayers"; it's sincere conversation, pleading for help; along with the acknowledgement of, and appreciation for, blessings and tutoring experiences of life. Then further blessings flow, including the sought-after attributes mentioned earlier in the verse. What a marvelous promise!

We should be careful to focus on the actions that our scriptures and leaders point out to us. But the proper attitude will bring power to those actions.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
November 20, 2015

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