Assist to Pray
I want to share a human nature secret that applies in business and on a mission – people move along to what they need and what you want by making small decisions along the way. They seldom make a big decision all at once. Therefore, reduce the decisions your clients or investigators must make to small decisions.
I offer an example from my business. Suppose a city has no public wastewater collection and treatment system. All the residents still use individual private septic tank and drain field sewage disposal systems with some incidents of surfacing sewage and system failures. So, the need is certainly there to build a public sewer system. However, that is a huge project that is usually frightening and overwhelming for a City to consider. Sunrise can help a City plan, fund, design and construct a public sewer collection and treatment system, but for the City to decide to build a public project is a big step and such a decision is seldom made at once. So to start, City leaders need to make only a very tiny decision; they need to decide to just take a look to see what might be done. We emphasize with this first tiny decision, they are not making a big decision to build a big project. We then prepare a preliminary study to determining what the project would cost, look like, and how the project would be funded and implemented. The next small decision would better be made after reviewing the results of the study. A cascading series of small decisions are a comfortable approach for people. We would lead the City along making a series of small decisions and subsequent work designed to move the project forward. Each small decision is built on the history of other small decisions as issues are resolved one by one. Eventually the last decision is to build the project which, by then, is an easy and logical decision. In the same way, missionaries can help people prepare for baptism.
In the 1950’s, the best way for a store to sell a new TV, which was a big decision at that time for most people, was to reduce it to a small decision. “Just take it home and try it out. If you are not happy with it, just bring it back.” Once the family and children watched TV at home, how many TV’s do you think were brought back?”
Most people probably view joining the church as a big, frightening and overwhelming proposition even with only a soft invitation to be baptized after the first lesson. But as you think about it, investigators are not even eligible to join our church until they have received a confirmation of the truth from the spirit and have changed their lives to live the commandments, all a series of small decisions. At first contact, we are not asking them to make the big decision to join, but just a very tiny decision to take a look by praying about it after listen to our message. This is why assisting them to pray during the first lesson is so important. It is their first tiny decision leading to a big event.
Assist to Pray puts the investigator in a position that is easier and less embarrassing to pray at the end of the lesson than to refuse and not pray. Assist to Pray is simple. Be sure to set a good example yourself by giving a short, simple opening prayer.
Teach the Doctrine of prayer:
· “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moroni 10:4)
· “…I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost…” (DC 8:2)
· “…ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” (3 Nephi 27: 29)
Carefully and simply teach how to pray as explained in PMG p. 73 and as follows:
Step 1 – Call on Heavenly Father. Say, “My Heavenly Father.”
· Free agency is one of God’s greatest gifts to his children. He usually gives blessings after you initiate contact and first ask him to bless you. He will not force you to receive or do something. God protects your free agency by giving promptings through feelings and thoughts. (PMG p. 96)
· Talk as a child would talk to his or her father – clear and direct.
· Be humble, kneel in prayer when appropriate.
· Pay attention to your feelings and thoughts – the language of the spirit. (PMG p. 39)
Step 2 – Thank God for blessings you receive. Say, “I am thankful for…”
· Ask the investigator to tell you one or two things for which he is thankful.
· Tell him what he said is perfect and could be stated in prayer that way.
· “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Eph. 5: 20)
Step 3 – Ask God for blessings you desire. Say, “Please bless me with…”
· Ask the investigator to tell you one or two things that he desires.
· Tell him what he said is perfect and could be stated in a prayer that way.
· Suggest he could also ask God to let him know the truth of our message.
· Explain he can expect an answer if he has real intend. Real intend means he is willing to follow the answer that he receives from his Father in Heaven. (PMG p.73)
· Pray continually for your welfare and the welfare of those around you. (Alma 34: 17-27)
Step 4 – End in the name of Jesus Christ. Say, “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
· “And they shall believe in me, that I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and shall pray unto the Father in my name.” (3 Nephi 20:31)
ASSIST TO PRAY PROCEDURE:
1. Assume you are teaching a young man. After teaching how to pray, Say, “You need to pray so your Heavenly Father can communicate with you. Would you say a brief closing prayer?” Ask him to do it. Do not ask him if wants to do it. (in Dutch, “Wou je het gebed uitspreken”, niet, “Wilt je…”)
This is not the place to instruct about who is in charge in the house, or who gets to assign who says the prayer. That can be done another day. Right now you have taught him the message of the restoration and how to pray. You want him to break the ice and start praying while you are present to listen. This is his crucial first tiny decision.
2. Bow your head, close your eyes and wait.
The next one to speak will give in. If he speaks, he will be praying, asking for more help or stating he is reluctant to do it. He must be the first to speak. If you speak first, you have let him off the hook.
3. Do not flinch, move or say anything, just wait for his prayer, even if the quiet is a little uncomfortable for you.
If he asks you a question, answer the question or if he states an objection then provide more instruction and encouragement as needed in the method of prayer, then again follow steps 1 through 3 above.
Think about it. He has been lovingly instructed on why and how to pray and two church representatives are obviously expecting him to do it with their heads bowed and eyes closed waiting. It is easier for him to do it than to disappoint you or embarrass himself by refusing.
After the second iteration, let the spirit guide you to give up or try a third iteration. Do not be a jerk or stubborn. After he has prayed, tell him it was well done. If he refuses to pray, encourage him to pray on his own. Then leave without making a big deal about it so the impact of his feelings from what just happened are not diluted. Assist to Pray is the small decision that starts his conversion process moving.