I spent much of my youth being afraid. I was afraid of my mom being away. I was afraid of failing. I was afraid of being away from home. I was afraid of trying new things. I would cry all the way to the ski resort when the family went skiing. And I was terrified of swimming pools and the deep end.
Despite this, I was blessed with a mother who would not allow me to wallow in my worry and fears and purposely signed me up for new things that scared me to death. What a nasty woman! I owe her a lot.
One summer we were spending six weeks in Provo to attend Brigham Young University. I loved Provo. And I loved BYU. For a Detroit girl, it was heavenly. My mother signed me up for a crafts class which I loved. She signed me up for a reading class I adored. And she signed me up for swimming lessons. Did I mention that she was mean?
I went the first day. And within five minutes flat was a hysterical mess. My older sister, who was beginning BYU that year, had brought me and I’m sure was taken aback with my meltdown. But I shall never forget what she did. She took my hand and led me, weeping and wailing, back to the locker room. Mercifully, it was empty.
She sat me down on a bench and hugged me while I sobbed out my terror. Then she looked me in the eye. “Merrilee,” she said, “We are going to pray and ask Heavenly Father to help you. You know your Heavenly Father loves you, right?” I nodded my blubbering head. “He is powerful and He can help you do this.”
With that we knelt in that locker room and my sister began to pray. It was a simple but powerful prayer. I listened as my sister exerted her faith and literally called down the powers of Heaven on behalf of her little sister who was scared. I could feel her faith. I knew that Heavenly Father was listening and would answer her prayer. And then I felt it—like a warm cloak descended upon me and I knew, I knew, that all would be well. We stood and I hugged my sister with gratitude and bravely walked out to face the pool.
That prayer by my sister opened a door for me. From then on, when I was beset with fears both real and imagined, I turned to the Lord. And I knew, I knew, that He heard and would answer my prayer. It taught me the true power of prayer. She taught me how to use my faith to literally call down the powers of Heaven.
Strange things happen when you conquer your fears with the help of the Lord. In high school I decided to really confront this fear once and for all. I signed up for the Stevenson High Synchronized Swim Team. And as I swam to the bottom of that deep, deep pool, I thanked the Lord. He had blessed me with courage far exceeding my own.
That prayer started a lifetime of deep prayers for me. I know He hears me and I know He hears you. Jesus taught, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13)
God loves to hear from his kids. And He loves to bless us in ways that will help us grow. Just ask.