Our Ward Mission Plan has four parts: Love the Lord, Be a Friend, Invite Weekly, and Pray Daily. These four things will help draw closer to our Father in Heaven and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Matt 22:37-38 reads, Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt alove the Lord thy God with all thy bheart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy cmind. This is the first and great acommandment.
The first scripture that comes to mind in how we can show our love for Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ is ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15)
1 John 5:3 confirms this – For this is the alove of God, that we bkeep his commandments: and his commandments are not cgrievous.
Finally, 3rd ne 12:20 Therefore acome unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my bcommandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven
By keeping God’s commandments willingly and joyfully, we become more like a Saint and less like a natural man.
Mosiah 3:19 – 19 For the anatural bman is an cenemy to God, and has been from the dfall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he eyields to the enticings of the Holy fSpirit, and gputteth off the hnatural man and becometh a isaint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a jchild, ksubmissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
The most wonderful way to show our love for our Heavenly Father is to come unto Christ. John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. God gave us his son so that we may all return to live with him someday. We will never be able to repay that love, but the best we can do is to take Christ’s name upon us and to take full advantage of the atonement. The next three scriptures better describe this process.
Omni 1:26 26 And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should acome unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and boffer your whole souls as an coffering unto him, and continue in dfasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.
Moroni 10:32 32 Yea, acome unto Christ, and be bperfected in him, and cdeny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and dlove God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be eperfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
2nd Nephi 31:20 20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a asteadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of bhope, and a clove of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and dendure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eeternal life.
There is no greater blessing than eternal life. Throughout our whole lives we must continue to develop our great love for God and his Son.
Joseph B. Wirthlin said,
As our love for the Lord deepens, our minds and hearts become purified. We experience a “mighty change in … our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”
Love is the greatest of all the commandments—all others hang upon it. It is our focus as followers of the living Christ. It is the one trait that, if developed, will most improve our lives.
The first and great commandment is to love the Lord, and, as Matthew 22: 39 says,
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt alove thy neighbour as thyself.” Christ is the greatest example of a friend. In John 15: 9-15, he says, As the Father hath aloved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye akeep my commandments, ye shall abide in my blove; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your ajoy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye alove one another, as I have bloved you. Greater alove hath no man than this, that a man lay down his blife for his cfriends. Ye are my afriends, if ye do whatsoever I bcommand you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you afriends; for all things that I have bheard of my Father I have made cknown unto you. In these scriptures, Christ tells us that our joy will be full when we love one another. Christ laid down his life for us, his friends. As his friends, we keep the commandments. We know of the great joy we may have being friends with Christ, but loving our fellow man also brings great happiness. In 1 john 4:7 , we are promised: Beloved, let us alove one another: for blove is of God; and every one that loveth is cborn of God, and knoweth God. By loving others, we better know God.
When I think of characteristics of a good friend, I think of someone who loves me no matter what. Prov 17:17 reads, A afriend loveth at all times.”I think of someone who encourages me to be better, but still accepts me for who I am. A friend is trusting, and trustworthy, one who I may share my pains and joys with. A friend will listen, but also communicate his feelings. A friend serves those that he cares about, and lets others serve him. Mosiah 2:17 says And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn awisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the bservice of your cfellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. When you see a friend such as this, you cannot help but smile and rejoice in his presence. These characteristics seem to best fit close friends, but we can emulate some of these same characteristics with strangers, acquaintances, and even those who hate us, to make them feel happy and welcome. L. Tom Perry offers six ways in which we can be better friends to all:
- Be sincere.
- Learn people’s names and other important things about them. Be a good listener.
- Be unselfish.
- Show brotherly love and concern for them. Give them helpful service.
- Graciously let them be of service to you when they offer.
- Smile and be positive.
I found a beautiful quote from M. Russell Ballard that will help us to truly desire to love all:
Brothers and sisters, I believe that if we could truly understand the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we would realize how precious is one son or daughter of God. I believe our Heavenly Father’s everlasting purpose for His children is generally achieved by the small and simple things we do for one another. At the heart of the English word atonement is the word one. If all mankind understood this, there would never be anyone with whom we would not be concerned, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or social or economic standing. We would strive to emulate the Savior and would never be unkind, indifferent, disrespectful, or insensitive to others.
If we emulate the Savior in this regard, we will develop not just friendships, but charity which is the pure love of Christ. Moroni 7:45-47 reads:
And acharity suffereth long, and is bkind, and cenvieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily dprovoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail— But acharity is the pure blove of Christ, and it endureth cforever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
In that last scripture, Moroni says that those who have charity rejoiceth in the truth. Those who rejoice in the truth should rejoice to share it with others. Another step in our ward mission plan is to invite weekly.
One scripture that kept coming into my head all week is Romans 1:16: “For I am not aashamed of the bgospel of Christ: for it is the cpower of God unto dsalvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” My whole life I have been reserved about sharing my beliefs. Up until recently I have been afraid to tell people what religion I am, because I didn’t want to have to defend myself and my religion. I remember to this day in my 10th grade history class we were talking about Christian religions. Mormonism came up, and a boy in the front row grumbled: “Mormons aren’t Christians. They wrote their own book.” I wanted so badly to say something, but I was too afraid of this person judging me or hating me. Another boy in the class said that he had always wanted to know what Mormons believe. That would have been an excellent missionary opportunity, but once again, I was too scared. Lately I have thought about missionary work this way: If I tell others about my religion then I can help them understand what Mormons really believe. I can help wipe out misconceptions and most importantly, I can share my testimony of the gospel with others. I love Moroni 8:16, which says, perfect love casteth out all fear.” This is the gospel of Christ. I cannot be selfish and keep it to myself. I have an obligation to share it with my friends and with all people that wish to hear it. I know that my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, of the Book of Mormon, of the prophets has grown so much lately as I have shared my beliefs. I care so much about this Church, so I should feel joy in sharing it. We must reach out to others and invite them to share in our joy. Do not be afraid to invite people to church. The worst they can say is no, and if they say yes, they will be welcomed with open arms and a seed will be planted. If you do not feel ready to invite someone to church weekly, start with monthly. Sometimes it is easiest to start by inviting a friend to an activity, but please do not be afraid to share what makes you happy and complete.
In the book, Preach my Gospel, we read: Members who share the gospel experience joy and have the spirit of the Lord more abundantly. As we share the gospel, we appreciate how precious and meaningful it is to us, and we feel a greater love for God and others…Members should pray for those who are not members of the Church. They should pray for missionary opportunities-to serve those who are not of our faith and share what they believe. The Lord promises to help members know what to say and do as they share the gospel.
- Russel Ballard said-
This is God’s work. He wants us to participate with Him and His Beloved Son in bringing the gospel into the lives of all of His children. The Lord has promised us that our joy will be great if we bring just one soul unto Him (see D&C 18:15–16). Let us exercise greater faith and work together, members and missionaries, to bring many more souls unto Him. Let every family in the Church include as part of their daily family prayers a plea with the Lord to go before your family members and help them to find someone prepared to receive the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
I love this quote by President Hinckley: “Brothers and sisters, all of you out in the wards and stakes and in the districts and branches, I invite you to become a vast army with enthusiasm for this work and a great overarching desire to assist the missionaries in the tremendous responsibility they have to carry the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.”
To become this vast army, we must stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places, as written I Mosiah 18:9. This means for us to be good examples, emulating Christlike qualities and living the gospel.
Jeffrey R. Holland invites us to pray daily for missionary experiences. He says, “ Pray that under the divine management of such things, the missionary opportunity you want is already being prepared in the heart of someone who longs for and looks for what you have. “There are many yet on the earth … who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.” Pray that they will find you! And then be alert, because there are multitudes in your world who feel a famine in their lives, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord.
This great insight leads me to the final step of our ward mission plan, which is pray daily. I have such a strong testimony of prayer. I know that Heavenly Father loves me, that I am his child, and that he answers my prayers. My prayers do not always get answered immediately, and not always in the way that I wish, but I know that Heavenly Father knows my needs and he will help me in my trials. I know that he will bless me if I am faithful. Prayer gives me comfort, and it brings the spirit more strongly in my life to help me make wise decisions. We must pray in faith with real intent. We may ask to be a better friend, to better emulate our Savior, to have forgiveness of our sins, or to gain the courage to talk to a friend about the Church.
James E. Faust speaks to us of what prayer actually is:
First, prayer is a humble acknowledgment that God is our Father and that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Second, it is a sincere confession of sin and transgression and a request for forgiveness. Third, it is recognition that we need help beyond our own ability. Fourth, it is an opportunity to express thanksgiving and gratitude to our Creator. It is important that we frequently say: “We thank Thee … , “ “We acknowledge before Thee … ,” “We are grateful unto Thee …” Fifth, it is a privilege to ask Deity for specific blessings.
We may pray while on our knees, at the dinner table, or silently in our hearts. We may pray any time and anywhere. There is no limit to our communication with the Father. Nephi tells us the necessity of prayer. 2nd ne 32:8-9 reads, And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the aSpirit which teacheth a man to bpray ye would know that ye must cpray; for the devil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray. But behold, I say unto you that ye must apray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall bpray unto the Father in the cname of Christ, that he will dconsecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the ewelfare of thy soul.
There are many reasons to pray. One instance would be when we need manifestations of truth. Joseph Smith read in James 1: 5-6 when he was searching for which church to join: aIf any of you lack bwisdom, let him ask of God, that cgiveth to all men liberally, and dupbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him aask in bfaith, nothing cwavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
We may also pray for strength. Matt 26:41 41 says, aWatch and bpray, that ye enter not into ctemptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
These next verses speak of asking for blessings, as well as forgiveness of sin. Mark 11: 24, 25 reads Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye apray, bbelieve that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
And when ye stand apraying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may bforgive you your trespasses.
My favorite scripture about prayer is Moroni 7: 48 – 48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, apray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true bfollowers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall cbe like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be dpurified even as he is pure. Amen.
We pray to be filled with Heavenly Father’s love, that we may be like him, and be called his children, being purified. What wonderful blessings we may receive from daily, heartfelt, prayer.
One other quote I would like to read about prayer is from Douglas L. Callister: We should be on our knees every morning and night pleading with the Lord that we never lose our faith, our testimony, or our virtue. There only has to be one witness, but it must be yourself.
One thing I would add about prayer is to always remember that it is “not my will, but thine be done.” In the most poignant prayer ever uttered, Christ said these words to his Father.