Appeal to Heaven…
I like to collect flags of all kinds. My favorite banner of course has always been Old Glory. My father and mother taught me to be patriotic and it has always stuck with me. From my earliest days I remember placing my hand over my heart and pledging my allegiance. Seeing those white stars on the blue field, with red and white stripes, fluttering in the wind, has always stirred my heart to feelings of great joy for having been born in such a place where I can worship God without the threat of persecution from government. I so much loved flying the colors that as a young teenager I erected without permission a flag pole from irrigation pipes high above my boyhood home on a hillside so all from the valley below could see her wave. I have always posted flags in my home and office, and in front of our home a flag pole stands where the Stars and Stripes can always fly.
I will often fly an additional banner below the United States flag. One of our family traditions has been to fly the flag of the nation or state where one of our sons or daughters are at the time performing missionary service. The flag I fly most often just below Old Glory is a call to prayer. It is the Pine Tree flag, my second favorite, which features a pine tree with the motto “An Appeal to Heaven.” It is thought to be originally used by a squadron of General George Washington’s cruiser ships during his service as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. For me it signals that in all things we must seek our Father in Heaven, His wisdom, justice, mercy and judgment, to ultimately watch over us and determine what is best in our lives. We call upon and trust in Him.
“It matters not whether you or I feel like praying, when the time comes to pray, pray. If we do not feel like it, we should pray till we do.”
President Brigham Young
The scriptures teach that we should call in the name of the Lord for the Comforter, which shall teach all things that are expedient for us to know. The Lord said, “Praying always that they faint not; and inasmuch as they do this, I will be with them even unto the end” (Doctrine and Covenants 75:10-11). We need to pray to God in our best times and in our worst times, when we are rested and when we are exhausted, when we have forgiveness in our hearts and when our hearts are filled with anger. Every hour, every temperament, every mood and every condition requires that we pray, whether in gratitude or pleading hope for aid or forgiveness. We are always in need of appealing to heaven.
Some quotes accredited to the Prophet Brigham Young are applicable to our need for prayer. “When I am angry, the first thing I do is pray.” It is good for us to pray in our anger so that we can quash any feelings that would lead us away from the Savior. “If I did not feel like praying . . . I should say, ‘Brigham, get down here on your knees, bow your body down before the throne of Him who rules in the heavens, and stay there until you can feel to supplicate at that throne of grace erected for sinners.’” Of the need to pray he also said, “It matters not whether you or I feel like praying, when the time comes to pray, pray. If we do not feel like it, we should pray till we do.”
“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
President George Washington
The first President of the United States of America, George Washington, recorded counsel his dear mother Mary offered admonishing him to regular prayer before departing home for a life of public service. “Remember that God is our only one trust. To Him, I commend you … My son, neglect not the duty of secret prayer.” Later in a declaration of thanksgiving, he who had knelt for God’s assistance at Valley Forge and all along his path, stated, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor” (President George Washington — October 3, 1789).
President Abraham Lincoln also was a believer in prayer as recognition that he and his contemporaries did not have all the answers, or was ever able to judge in anyway with the same wisdom that God would give. “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” Our 16th president held fast to the knowledge that while the Lord would not always side with men in their efforts or desires, that we should ever seek to side with Him. “I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.”
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
President Abraham Lincoln
Moments spent humbly seeking heaven sent wisdom on our knees will accomplish more than hours standing with rigid backs and stiff necks refusing to bow in the face of adversity and anger thinking that we have all the answers needed. Presidents Washington and Lincoln, as Brigham Young, knew from whence true wisdom comes, it is from quiet moments in humble prayer, seeking His Spirit, appealing to heaven, in our hours of need as well as thanksgiving.
When we seek out God and place ourselves on His side by prayer and obedience, we can count on that confirming and comforting Spirit to bring peace in the face of war and wisdom in torrents of ignorance and confusion. May we bring ourselves to our knees in all the moods of life and appeal to heaven always, in our days of loneliness and trial as of joy and thanksgiving. Let us in gratitude and in seeking aid move to and from our knees in all that we do. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.