Sometimes I can’t even listen to the news. The state of the world is so horrible, and it is getting worse. I cry over the turmoil in the Middle East and Europe, I ache over the disregard for life at its earliest stages, I suffer over the confusing signals our children are receiving about life and the family, and I feel helpless to do anything about it. Have you ever felt this way—powerless to stop a world marching towards imminent destruction?
I’ve found a way to overcome this desperation. While I, as one individual, may not have power or influence to change world policy, I, and everyone else in my situation, have access to a power greater than that of all the world leaders combined. This time of year brings me to my knees as I claim the power of faith in priesthood authority—General Conference is here again.
We listen to a prophet’s voice
General Conference, for those of us who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a glorious time. We get to hear the words of modern day prophets who are special witnesses of Jesus Christ—words that are meant for all of us in this dispensation of time. While I love to read the words of the prophets of old in the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon as well as other scriptures which I study, listening to modern-day prophets brings me closer to the Savior with a reverence and authority like no other form of study.
Those of the Catholic faith and even those who are not, were able to feel the spirit when Pope Francis visited the United States this past month. For Latter-day Saints, it is similar. We do not have a pope, but we recognize the line of priesthood authority from the formation of Christ’s church with the head apostle, Peter, as the first prophet of Christ’s dispensation. We also believe that line of authority has been restored in these latter days through the prophet, Joseph Smith, and has thus given us a modern day prophet to guide and direct the people of the world. His name is Thomas S. Monson.
When dark skies hang over us—have no fear
For the last twenty-six years I have listened to the words of the prophets, apostles, and other authorities. and I have felt comfort and reassurance over the situations in my life—whether it be personal or on a global scale. I can say, without a doubt, that I have lived through numerous apocalyptic predictions, (as we all have), and I have never been drawn into believing any of them. Any time I had heard talk of “tent cities” or “calls to evacuate”, I had said to myself, “What have the General Authorities said lately in regards to the end of the world?”
I’d review the last several General Conference addresses and would note how none of them discussed such events, and I’d rest assured knowing I had nothing to fear. So, when dark times and trials seem to hang over the world, and it appears as if disaster is imminent, the first course of action I take is to heed what the prophet has to say and have no fear.
Modern-day counsel that can make a difference today
Still, it is so disturbing to see the sufferings of the world and have no control or influence to stop it. The impatience in all our heart riles up and the desire to make a difference burns strong in all of us. The frustration of feeling worthless to help even one person in agony is overwhelming. Again, I turn to the words of our modern-day prophets and apostles for answers.
Henry B. Eying, First Counselor to the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave inspired counsel during the April 2014 General Conference on exactly what we can do to help the desperate situations of the world. He taught how we can make a difference if we believe there is a power greater than our own—a power that, when combined with other believers, can have a lasting effect for good on the suffering people all over the world. We can exercise faith in fasting, prayer, and tithe offerings.
Fasting and Prayer
We take for granted the impact of prayer. Prayer is a real power, channeling the supremacy of heaven. We have witnessed man-made powers in machinery and technology, and we have experienced the forces of nature. It is not impossible to believe that there is an even higher authority in existence—one from God in heaven that can work righteous acts here on earth. I have witnessed this in my daily life, from the simplest whispering of assurance during lonely times of sorrow to great miracles of spiritual manifestations too sacred to reveal.
God is real and has the power to make miracles happen. If this is so for individuals, then why not for others around the world? I testify that it is. He is making miracles happen for everyone. Our heartfelt prayers for the people in crisis all over the globe indeed make a difference to those who are suffering. They act as a blanket of protection to those in need—absorbing the ill winds of adversity to make their burdens more light.
A tithe, or one tenth of your increase given to the church to help those in need, is another meaningful way to make a difference. When an honest tithe is given and the money is used for the poor and needy, it is as if the Lord himself is reaching His loving hand down to those who need it most. It is not merely a physical donation; it is a spiritual manifestation of the Lord’s blessings on earth.
The Law of the Fast changes hearts
It is clear to see how a fast offering can change the lives of those in need. But it is more miraculous to consider that the law of the fast can have as great a change on the one who is fasting as well. Fasting with a purpose, including a heartfelt prayer as well as secession of two meals and a generous offering, can strengthen the one fasting as much as the one receiving from the fast—this is how miraculous God’s power is.
President Henry B. Eyring said in regards to the law of the fast,
“The brief time we fast every month and the small amount we offer for the poor may give us only a small part of the change in our natures to have no more desire to do evil. But there is a great promise, even as we do all that we reasonably can to pray, to fast, and to donate for those in need:
“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.
“Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.” Isaiah 58:8-9.
What a wonderful promise in a time when the world seems to be out of control and we may feel we can do nothing to stop it. We can follow the law of the fast. In so doing, we not only help the recipient with much needed welfare, but we strengthen them spiritually. In turn, the prayers we send to those in need strengthen us.
They give us the desire to do no more evil in our own lives, and doesn’t that also contribute to the betterment of this world? Imagine the possibilities of following the law of the fast on a global scale. Faith on that level will change the world—one fast offering at a time.
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 NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.