Do you remember learning about fire prevention in elementary school? By the time the assembly was over, “Fireman Dan” had us memorize a catchy phrase that would come in handy if we caught on fire. “Stop, drop, and roll,” was more than fun to say, it was fun to practice. Luckily I never had to experience a real fire in my home. But spiritual fires are raging—ones that are consuming more than houses, ones that devastate more than neighborhoods. The world is on fire. We need to stop, drop—and pray.

The World is on Fire

fire-175966_640The world today is on fire. It may be something you only see in the news, but it hits home for me. We’ve always known in the last days there would be wars and rumors of wars, but things are getting out of hand similar to a fire gone out of control. The Middle East is on fire in ways that have not been this severe in ages. ISIS is toppling nation after nation, from Iraq to Syria, and Islamic-backed extremists are now taking over Yemen. Christians in these nations are being slaughtered by the thousands, and the news media does very little to report it. But my family background has roots in Egypt. My father is a Coptic Christian, which is the name used for the Egyptian Orthodox faith. I have relatives in Egypt, about twenty, who are all Coptic Christians. When ISIS beheaded those twenty-one Coptic Christians on the shore of Libya, it hit me personally right in the gut—those could have been my family members.

Many people don’t know the roots of Christianity in Egypt. The Apostle Mark from the New Testament, took the gospel of Jesus Christ to Egypt. Egypt was a Christian nation up until the seventh century when it was invaded by Arab Muslims. The Coptic people were given a choice—convert to Islam, or pay a heavy tax for the rest of your life, or die. This has been how the Copts have had to live in Egypt for centuries, and they still live under this law today.

Yes, the world is on fire. Religious liberty is under attack. Sometimes I feel helpless to do anything about it. Evil surrounds us. We battle it overseas and here at home, taking a stand whenever and however we can. But it doesn’t seem to be enough. If there was another, more powerful option available, would you consider taking it?

Stop, Drop, and Pray

file0001135121734Stop, Drop, and Pray. This is a variation on Fireman Dan’s advice. It’s a phrase I teach children in church. Stop what you’re doing, drop to your knees, and connect to Heavenly Father through prayer. The idea is to communicate with our Father in Heaven within seconds of feeling a prompting in your heart. Don’t wait to “say your prayers”. When your heart feels tender over news you’ve just heard, when a swelling comes to your heart and mind, when you feel the need to reach out and do something but you feel helpless and so far away from the turmoil across the sea—stop, drop, and pray.

When you see Christians under attack in our own country, being forced to go against their deeply held religious convictions on the sanctity of life and the divine nature of marriage – stop, drop, and pray.

When you hear of injustice wrought upon innocent women and children who have been abducted from their homes and sold into slavery – stop, drop, and pray.

When Christians, moderate Muslims, and members of the LGBT community are being singled out and slaughtered in Kenya and other parts of Africa and the Middle East – stop, drop, and pray.

When we pray, we evoke the authority of God on earth to do His will, right here, right now. The prompting we receive to pray is no coincidence. It is a message from the Holy Spirit telling us to make that connection. I don’t understand how it works, but it’s almost like an electrical current. All we need to do is plug in to the power source and the light comes on, chasing away danger, fears, and uncertainty. When your gut sinks over the latest news report, don’t just feel badly about it—stop, drop, and pray.

Always Follow the Promptings of the Holy Ghost

candlesMy local church leader (called a Bishop) loves to encourage the congregation to “follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost”.  He talks about being in a position in your spiritual life to receive the promptings that may say things like “call your elderly mother” or “take another route home,” and then to act upon them. The more you act upon them, the more you will receive them—it’s a side benefit from your willingness to follow the spirit. And the more you act on the little things, the more trusted you will be to receive revelation on the bigger things. Heavenly Father is like a teacher that way, in that He gives you what you are ready for.

The stop, drop, and pray rule is a good place to start when it comes to making a difference. You may not think so, but it’s because you don’t often see the long term benefit. Prayer can give comfort to those in need and take away the pain from those for whom you are praying. We can’t pray away problems that are meant to be learning experiences—we may have to endure the heartache of knowing that people around the world will still suffer mercilessly at the hands of extremist terror groups and ruthless dictators. But we can stop, drop, and pray to help the victims feel the spirit, feel comfort, and know that their suffering was not in vain.

“In order for us and our families to withstand the pressures of the world, we must be filled with light and gospel truth.” Cheryl A. Esplin

When we stop, drop, and pray, something else happens—our spiritual strength grows stronger.  When we are filled with the spirit of God, our testimonies of Him are unshaken. Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, Second Counselor in the General Primary Presidency gave a wonderful talk in the General Women’s Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this past March. She compared the strength of our spirit to an empty can of soda vs. and unopened can.aluminum-87986_640 The unopened can was full of soda and the opening was sealed. If you try to crush a can like this, it will not give way to the pressure. It’s incredibly strong. But once the can is open, and especially when it is empty, the can is easily crushed. So too are we, spiritually, when we are void of the spirit of the Lord. We are like that empty can, easy to crush against the pressures of the world. Our hull is compromised and we are no match for the pressure. But if we are filled with the spirit of the Lord, and if we are sealed to that spirit—meaning, if we are committed to it, dedicated to it, and if we do our best to keep out the temptations of the world, we can withstand the pressure and be strong for the Lord, to do His will, even if it is only to stop, drop, and pray.

The world truly is on fire, and the fire is coming closer to our shores, but we need not fear. The fire will not harm us if we stop, drop, and pray, whenever we feel the prompting of the Holy Ghost telling us to get in tune with God.

About Nanette ONeal
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.

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