Thursday, February 21, 2013

Challenger Feb. 1989 and 2013

Elder and Sister DeCoursey, 
Dad wrote this up for this month.  It is a long one.  But I think the things you read here will be of value.  Dad found these to be of great help and value so many years ago on his mission. 
Love you,
The Challenger

New Zealand Auckland Mission – February 1989

President Herschel Pedersen

The Prayer of Faith

The Hebrews had been in bondage for 400 years and many believed the prophecies that there would be a deliverer.  In order to prevent the fulfillment of the prophecies the Egyptians commanded the midwives to kill every male child.  Amram and Jochabel were deeply saddened because she was heavy with child.  They besought the Lord God Almighty in mighty prayer with this reasoning: Surely God would have compassion upon those who had not transgressed the laws of His worship and surely He would afford them deliverance from the destruction of their enemies and thereby preserve the lives of their children by His power.

Accordingly their prayer was answered and the Lord stood by Amram during the night and told him He had not forgotten their piety towards Him and that He would reward them as He had their forefathers who had demonstrated similar piety and reverence.  Amram was promised that his son, Moses, would be famous as long as the world should last, along with many other things.

When the baby Moses was about three months old it became increasingly difficult for the parents to conceal the child.  They feared for their lives, knowing that if their male child was discovered not only would he be killed, but the whole family as well.  Their own safety grew more precarious daily, and in prayer they decided that they should put their trust in the Lord.  Amram’s reasoning was that all the things that God had promised in the vision and in His instructions should be taken care of by God.  God had made the promise, so let Him fulfill it.  As a consequence they placed Moses in the ark of reeds and set him upon the river in the trust of God (Antiquities page 76).

Moses reached the time as a prophet where he had led the children of Israel to the shores of the Red Sea.  The Egyptian army was in the rear, the sea was in front of them, and there were mountains on either side.  The masses became terrified, turned on Moses and were about to kill him and return to captivity, blaming him for their plight.  We find the exact words of Moses’ prayer of faith, as recorded by Josepheus:

     “Thou art not ignorant, Oh Lord that it is beyond human strength     and human contrivance to avoid the difficulties we are now under;   but it must be thy work altogether to produce deliverance to this       army, which has left Egypt at thy appointment.  We despair of any        other assistance or contrivance, and have recourse only to that           hope we have in thee; and if there be any method that can promise    us an escape by thy providence, we look up to thee for it.  And   let it come quickly, and manifest thy power to us; and do raise           up this people unto good courage and hope of deliverance, who are         deeply sunk into a desolate state of mind.  We are in a helpless     place, but still it is a place that thou possessest; still the    sea is thine, the mountains also that enclose us are thine; so         that these mountains will open themselves if thou commandest   them, and the sea also, if thou commandest it, will become dry        land.  Nay, we might escape by a flight through the air, if thou         shouldest determine we should have that way of salvation.”

After the prayer Moses turned and smote the sea with the rod, and the waters parted.

When considering the prayer of faith offered by Moses we find that it was the people who despaired, not Moses.  His words exuded confidence and he suggested several ways that the Lord could deliver them, all of which would be unacceptable to human reasoning.  We find that there was a degree of urgency as Moses asked that whatever God did, it must be done quickly.  His prayer voiced the fact that they were destitute of any human logic to bring about their deliverance and that he (Moses) had explicit faith in God as did his father, Amram when he cast him adrift on the river.  These are all ingredients of a prayer of faith.  Probably the greatest reason Moses placed before God as his claim that the prayer be answered was the fact that they had come to those precarious circumstances by the appointment of God and had been obedient and God would take the responsibility for the consequences and therefore deliver them.

As we consider the life we experience as a missionary we can find every part of the prayer of Moses in our circumstances.

     1. We arrived here because of our having answered a call from the                                                                         Lord, and we are here at his appointment.

     2. God will reward all those who are diligent and have not      transgressed their devotion and service to Him.

     3. We recognize our own weakness and inability to do some things     in life and are humble enough to accept any help God may choose    to send.

     4. We are at liberty to present our suggestions to Him and even      recognize that there are many ways God can perform that may fit      our present ability to understand or to reason.

     5. We must have complete trust and confidence in the method God      chooses to answer the prayer and accept that decision as binding.

     6. We must then act in faith and perform according to that      decision.

Joshua became the prophet and leader of Israel after the death of Moses and had conquered the city of Jerico.  His next encounter was to conquer the city of Ai, however, his army met with great disaster and failed.  When Joshua saw the great afflictions and forebodings of heaven which had come upon the people as a result of their failure he exercised great boldness and freedom in mighty prayer unto God.  These are the words of his prayer, as recorded in the Antiquities of the Jews, page 144:

     “We are not thus far out of any rashness of our own, as though we    thought ourselves able to subdue this land with our own weapons,        but at the instigation of Moses thy servant for this purpose,   because thou hast promised us, by many signs that thou wouldst make our army always superior in war to our enemies, and    accordingly some success has already attended upon us agreeably      to thy promises; but because we have now unexpectedly been      foiled, and have lost some men out of our army, we are grieved at      it, as fearing what thou hast promised us, and what Moses     foretold us, cannot be depended of by us; and our future      expectation troubles us the more, because we have met with such a      disaster in this our first attempt. But do thou, O Lord, free us     from these suspicions, for thou art able to find a cure for these    disorders, by giving us victory, which will both take away the     grief we are in at present, and prevent our distrust as to what is to come.”

In applying the prayer of faith to our work, we establish a goal of five baptisms monthly and five reactivations monthly [Or whatever your mission has established as mission goals or what you and your companion have established as your goals, the point is to set goals, make a plan to accomplish them and then go to work].  We plan our days and weeks, including an alternative plan if the first fails.  We then present our plan to the Lord along with the goal.  We do our part by being obedient, prepared, prayerful and by occasional fasting.  We then work diligently to perform and accomplish the goals.

About the 10th of the month we analyze our situation and present the case to the Lord.  Then we work hard, expecting an answer and the needed help to reach the goals.  Now if we are not current on the goals and it looks like we may be losing we should experience a feeling of anxiety; that is; we become greatly concerned about not accomplishing the things we set out to do.  This concern can then be compared with the plight that Moses found himself in when trapped against the sea.  We now pray with more fervor and present the case before God with more faith and intensity.

About the 20th of the month we again analyze our goals.  If we are not accomplishing them now, we evaluate our performance.  We assure ourselves that we are worthy, that we have worked hard, and that we have prepared by study and faith.  Our anxiety should then increase and become a much heavier burden and our desire to reach the goal should be a preoccupation.

There are many examples given in the scriptures about the anxiety various prophets experienced before they received the direction and accomplishment they sought (1 Nephi 1:16; 1 Nephi 6:3; Jacob 1:5; Alma 13:27).  In his writing James E. Talmage made this statement: “There is always a feeling of anxiety akin to that of troubled expectancy.”  This great concern we experience is not one of failure but of caring, loving the work of God and becoming one with God in purpose, having our minds on the things of God.  We are then in a position to reason with God.  Present your righteous case before Him.  Explain your worthiness and ask what you can do to become more worthy to develop the prayer of faith to accomplish your goals, both in the mission field and in life.

It is imperative that we develop our spiritual powers and faith before we finish our missions or else we will not be able to have sufficient faith to call down the powers of heaven when more serious problems arise in our lives.  Sooner or later into every life come experiences which bring great anxiety, trauma, fear, and terror.  Often the night of struggle and danger is far advanced before succor appears, and then too often it is mistaken not as help but as another burden to be dealt with.  We find that as our anxiousness for the accomplishment of those goals in the mission field increases and we give heed to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we increase in faith, confidence and skill and we begin to accomplish all of those goals we established, and it becomes the foundation for all of our prayers to be answered.

When you as missionaries become as concerned and anxious about reaching your goals and baptizing people as you do about letters from home, your money late or trying to get a meal from the members, you will baptize five a month [Or whatever your goal is].

May God bless all of you as you develop the prayer of faith equal to that of Moses.  We commend you and love you and exhort you to greater effort and accomplishment.


Herschel N. Pedersen, President.

Elder D 2.21.13 "Jane Craig became a member"

Mom,                                 2.21.13
It's been kind of a long week. I'm solely in Beavercreek now without Elder Daw or Elder Hogan (sad face). But I am still in a tri with an elder training one of the first 18 year old elder's in the mission!!!!! Elder Poulsen is training Elder Decker. It is really fun.

Also there are sisters in the ward as well so Beavercreek has 5 missionaries serving there. It really isn't that big but we are making it work.

I've been super stressed this past week. The work is starting to fit together now so there's an upside to that. This Saturday I am baptizing Kate W.......'s (my first baptism) kids, Jane and Andrew. "I'm dunking both of them." I will have 5 baptisms already. I'm shooting for more than 21 before I'm all done. But it's not about the numbers. I should be online on Monday so we will be able to chat back and forth.

I wanted to send you this video.  Haa! It's so funny. I have this video for you from our last district activity. Our District Leader was doing an activity on being prepared with the Book of Mormon. I am racing Elder Hogan who's wearing regular running shoes while I'm in flippers. Well it seems I can't attach it to this email so you will see it when I send it home.

Jane Cr... did become a member of the church. I was so excited I was jumping for joy. She was so golden. I forgot my camera so I didn't have any pictures from the baptism. I can get them from the other missionaries. I would love to tell you more about them but I must be going.

But do please send me more on Lectures on Faith chapter 4.  Loved chapter 3.
I love you,
Elder DeCoursey