Over the last few months I have been scouting local hiking trails for places to be alone. Why? There is something about raising your voice in prayer that makes it more powerful, or at least that has been my experience. I thought I had found two such locations but each time I returned to them, they seemed desecrated – beer bottles strewn about, signs of a party, things such as that.
So I kept searching. One of the first place I went was Mt. Pinos on the Kern County line. Sadly, it was covered in snow the first time I was there. I made a promise to come back. Thursday I did so. After performing a marriage for a friend and partaking of the sacrament, I began the hike up to the top. Just before I got there, the spirit whispered, “Turn off here, go left, I will direct you.”
I was not disappointed. After less than five minutes I encountered a beautiful fallen log, with an area encircled by the log as if it were set aside for privacy. I needn’t have worried. It was 4:00 in the afternoon and I had only seen two couples on the trail. They were going down as I was going up. I knew the Lord had directed me to this place. I had been praying about it for several months.
A Quiet, Peaceful Circle
I sat in the enclosure with my back to the tree and began to pray. I will filled with joy and desired to express it. I prayed for about a half hour. I am not sure I asked for much other than to bless my friends and family. I had much to tell the Lord. Doing so in “voz alta” seemed to give my words that extra power and direction I had been searching for. My heart was overfilled with gratitude.
It’s Sunday as I write this so I have had time to ponder what happened. No, I saw no light, was not visited by any beings from the unseen world, and did not hear any voices speaking out loud. However, and of this I am certain, the veil was thin. I was surrounded by those who loved me. I felt their love. I knew they were there. Was it all in my mind? I suppose you could say that.
So what? Did that make it any less real? Not to me. The feeling of “thinness” of the veil stayed with me all the rest of that day and into the next. I expressed it in family prayer that night. Carol looked at me a little funny. There were words I did not normally used – expressions of purpose and meaning that were strong, powerful and heart-felt. They came from this feeling of thinness.
The Elements of Prayer
How can I explain it so you will understand? I’m not sure I can. I was filled with peace, joy and a sense of connection to those unseen beings all about me. It was as if they too had been waiting a long time to “make the connection” and impart something unto me I cannot describe. A think a gift would be the best word – a spiritual gift, one filled with longevity and one that would grow.
I felt the Lord was pleased. In fact, I know he was. While I did not hear audible voices, there were voices in my mind, familiar voices I had heard before, especially that of the Lord. He let me know I was on the right path. He expressed satisfaction as I thought about some of the sacrifices I had made lately. He made it clear He was aware of them and appreciated them.
Open to my mind’s eye was a vision of what the future held. This is not unusual. I have had such visions before. They are always dependent on my behavior, my actions and how hard I worked to cause them to come to pass. They were familiar, as if I had seen them before, some place or time in the distant past, others in the more recent past, meaning sometime earlier my mortal life.
The Effort is Worth it
Why am I sharing this? Am I trying to impress? I hope not. My desire is to communicate the idea the Lord answers prayer, especially if we make the effort to place ourselves in a spiritual state of peace and focused relaxation. I don’t know why, but my nightly prayers simply don’t come close to this kind of communication. Perhaps it’s because I’m still so wrapped up in the day’s work.
I prayed about whether I should share this. It was clear the Lord desired I at least document even if only as a part of my personal journal. In this case, the impression came that the idea of making the extra effort to be alone in the woods or on top of a mountain would be helpful to someone. I want to make it clear the Lord answers us according to our efforts to reach him in such a manner.
Was it worth it to climb a mountain for an hour or more? You can drive most of the way up. Yes, Absolutely. I used to find quiet spots on the mesa in St. George earlier in my life when visiting my in-laws. This was the same sort of prayer then – filled with a close bond that seemed to be obtainable in no other way. It is in these sort of prayers that the veil is thin and impressions clear.
Prayer Brings Confidence
My heart was filled with joy as I descended the mountain. Nothing had changed as far as my work and work expectations. In fact, I had to go back to work that night to take care of some things on the network that could only be done after everyone was gone for the day. I don’t think anything was changed as far as my relationship with my wife, it being a little strained right now.
What did change was a sense I was on the right path. No, it was more of a confirmation of such. I KNEW I was on the right path. My efforts and reading, studying and sharing both on my blog and in private emails was pleasing to the Lord and He let me know it. I came down with a greater sense of encouragement, a greater desire to make a difference, to contribute, to strengthen others.
As a note of closing, I want to express thanks to Keith for sharing certain things on his blog. For the first time in nearly two years, I was able to perform a priesthood ordinance outside my own home. At one point I was touched. I had clearly seen myself performing this ordinance when I had prayed for permission to do so previously. It was acceptable to the Lord. His voice is unmistakable.