WORCESTER, Mass. — President M. Russell Ballard urged members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New England on Sunday evening to “join a new movement” by inviting their neighbors, colleagues and friends on social media to pray for the United States, its leaders and its families.
“Our nation was founded on prayer, it was preserved by prayer and we need prayer again,” said the acting president of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “I plead with you this evening to pray for this country, for our leaders, for our people and for the families that live in this great nation founded by God.”
Speaking to an estimated 12,000 people gathered in the DCU Center, the senior church leader reminded the congregation that “this country was established and preserved by our founding fathers and mothers, who repeatedly acknowledged the hand of God through prayer.”
New England, he continued, was the seedbed of so very much that led to the founding of this nation.
“We must stand boldly for righteousness and truth and must defend the cause of honor, decency and personal freedom espoused by Washington, Madison, Adams, Lincoln and other leaders who acknowledged and loved God.”
The invitation to pray for the United States, its leaders and families caught the attention of many in the meeting, said Jacob Soucy of Exeter, New Hampshire. There is a 100% chance he will now include the nation in his prayers, he said.
As a result, “in our family prayers we are going to incorporate the country,” Soucy said. “Sometimes we think that our prayers are small, but we have been invited to do that.”
Barclay Tucker, of Lyndon, Vermont, said the request came to everyone — regardless of their political affiliation or whether they agree with their government leaders. Upon hearing President Ballard’s plea for prayers, he committed to “to do his best” to respond.
Accompanied by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson, President Ballard arrived in New England on Friday. The leaders participated in a devotional meeting at the site of the Joseph Smith birthplace in Sharon, Vermont; spoke to missionaries in the area; met with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and other local leaders; attended local sacrament meetings and addressed millennials living in and around Boston.
President Ballard said as he prepared to address Latter-day Saints in this area rich with American history, he realized that looking for the Lord’s hand in the early history of the United States “might help us recognize his hand in our own lives.”
“Please look for the Lord’s hand in your lives and in the lives of your family, as I do in the lives of my ancestors and family,” he said. “Expect it. Do not dismiss it. Do not relegate the experiences in your lives to coincidences.”
From the signing of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776 through the signing of the U.S. Constitution in September 1787, the “wise men” whom the Lord “raised up unto this very purpose” relied upon divine providence, said President Ballard.
“As an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I have a solemn duty to face the Lord and deliver his message,” said President Ballard. “His words often include words of encouragement and expressions of love. They also include words of warning.”
America and the nations of the Earth, as in times past, “are at another crossroad,” he said.
“Let it begin today that we take leadership and reach out in our own prayers and encourage our neighbors, our friends, our families … to pray for this country that we all love much.”
Elder Christofferson also spoke about prayer.
“If we are to have (the Lord’s) help, including in our day-to-day concerns, we need more or less constant recourse to our Heavenly Father in prayer,” Elder Christofferson said. “He can and will guide us in the small and simple things, as well as the things of greater consequence, which, though we may not realize it, are usually one and the same.”
Prayer keeps God’s children centered on their Heavenly Father and his love and expectations.
“Let your prayers typically include some quiet time, time when you are listening and feeling,” he said. “Often in those moments will come answers, promptings, understanding, gentle correction and sometimes just simply reassurance and peace.”
Jenna Mullen, of Woburn, Massachusetts, said she was touched “in her heart” by the request. “As a country we need to start praying for our country and our leaders,” she said. “Our leaders need those prayers. They have to make huge decisions that impact all of us.”