Back to Gospel Basics: Family Prayer and Family Scripture Study

by L. Tom Perry

“Until recently, part of my assignment has included the country of Peru, an area of the world that is experiencing great turmoil. Inflation and internal strife have been robbing from the Peruvian people almost any hope of stability in their lives….
“The Area Presidency recognized the need to fortify the members of the Church in this country, and after much prayer and fasting, decided to emphasize just two basic teachings of the gospel. They prepared a letter to be delivered to each family unit in Peru. The theme was ‘Being Converted to the Lord,’ in which they stressed family prayer and family scripture study….

“The blessings that have come to the Peruvian Saints from practicing these two basic gospel principles, daily prayer and scripture study, have been most remarkable. It soon became evident that faith and testimony were increasing among members of the Church there. There has been a significant increase in sacrament meeting attendance, which has resulted in a greater sense of community and increased interest among the Saints in loving and caring for each other. Though travel to the temple has become increasingly difficult and dangerous, surprisingly, temple attendance is up significantly.

“The number of full-time missionaries immediately began to increase. Now the five missions in Peru fill their missionary needs with native Peruvians. The full-time missionaries are arriving in the field better prepared to serve, which of course has resulted in increased convert baptisms.

“A renewed emphasis on two basic gospel practices — daily prayer and scripture study — created a dramatic change and offered increased spirituality and works among the Saints there.

“The success of the Peruvian Saints should teach all of us the importance of adhering to the basics of a gospel-centered life. Let us consider again the blessings promised us if we faithfully practice daily family prayer and daily family scripture study.

“Prayer is the primary means of communication between God and man…. When we pray to the Lord, we should remember whom we are addressing and be prepared to give Him our undivided attention as we humbly supplicate Him. President John Taylor counseled us this way:

Do you have prayers in your family? And when you do, do you go through the operation like the [grinding] of a piece of machinery, or do you bow in meekness and with a sincere desire to seek the blessing of God upon you and your household? That is the way that we ought to do, and cultivate a spirit of devotion and trust in God, dedicating ourselves to him, and seeking his blessings (in Journal of Discourses, 21:118).

“As parents it is clearly our duty to teach our children to pray. Regular family prayers establish patterns that literally bless future generations….
“It is so satisfying to know that God is mindful of us and ready to respond when we place our trust in Him. There is no place for fear among men and women who place their trust in the Almighty, who do not hesitate to humble themselves in seeking divine guidance through prayer. Though difficulties may arise and reverses may come, in our prayers we can find reassurance as the Lord speaks peace to our souls.”
(L. Tom Perry, “Back to Gospel Basics,” Ensign, May 1993, p. 90-91)