#LightTheWorld Day 24: “Ye Must Watch and Pray Always”
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit Arizona, you know that seeing the Superstition Mountains east of the Phoenix valley is a spiritual experience. Growing up there, however, it was easy to take the view for granted, until one particularly stunning day just after a rainstorm, where the rays of sunlight broke through the deep blues and grays of the clouds, illuminating the incomparable beauty of the Sonoran Desert. In the spotlight of those sun rays were those stunning mountains.
As my eyes took in the sheer beauty of the scene, I noted just how common it was as well. I saw a version of this vista every single day. And yet, on that day it was as if I were seeing it for the first time. You might say I had my own Road to Emmaus moment, accept I was in a car on the Freeway driving 67 miles per hour toward Apache Junction. As my heart swelled within me, the thought entered my mind, “is this not the feeling of the spirit?”
Give A Little Credit
I did not expect the experience to take over my senses as it did, and I was perplexed that while seeming grand and revelatory, it also felt so simple and slight. I realized that perhaps I’d been dismissing what that feeling of the spirit is for much of my life, awaiting some grander or more obvious version of the oft-mentioned “still, small voice” when God had been communicating it to me for ages.
Today’s Light the World theme comes from the Book of Mormon, but is also present in the New Testament, with the admonition “Ye must watch and pray always.” The Savior uttered these remarks twice in reasonably quick succession, reminding those present to be, well, present.
At first blush, this little verse can feel a little ominous. Maybe a little bit like a demand, even. But perhaps it’s similar to how I felt in my car that day gazing east to the ruddy hues and craggy boulders named for the feeling they often evoke.
Had someone else been in my car, with the exuberance that comes in the presence of the majesty of nature, I would have surely declared “You MUST watch the way the sun dances on those peaks.” There is an excitement, in other words, a ferver, in that moment. Because when we watch, with eyes open to the glory of God, it becomes so encompassing that we feel compelled to take it in. And in those moments of reflection, what else are we to do but express a prayer of gratitude for the view?
God’s Own Creation
Watching and praying always allows us to see and experience what we otherwise would surely miss: the evidence of God’s wonder, creation and the beautiful companionship of the holy spirit that can feel so familiar it’s often easy to dismiss.
Beyond a spiritual appreciation of nature, praying always can allow us to be more mindful when it comes to our most noble pursuit, that of service to others. The suggestions on Mormon.org regarding today’s theme include God’s blessings and give thanks, for example.
I submit that one of the more meaningful ways to “recognize” the Lord’s blessings must—there’s that word, again—go further than declaring to Him our gratitude, but showing it with how we reach out and minister to others.
Our hands and feet are the Lord’s when we are employed in the holy work of service to our fellow men. As we begin our endeavor to serve God’s children we start with seeking spiritual guidance and heavenly help.
For attending those in our families, our neighborhood or across oceans and continents, the first lesson is that there is too much to do. The need is too great for mere mortals to undertake alone. But as the scriptures teach, with God, all things are possible. So we go forth, in prayer. Praying that we may be of service to others, then watching, always, for the glory of God in the endeavor. Just as seemingly predictable vista of mountains can suddenly become something wonderful and revelatory, so too can our everyday experiences grow into something more if we watch and pray.