“The Prophet Prayed with Us,” Ensign, Mar. 2000, 61–62
“Please bless all the sick and afflicted”—I have often heard these words in prayer and sometimes even said them myself. At the same time I’ve wondered just who we were praying for. Who is sick? Who is afflicted? My family was fortunate enough many years ago to witness how one can sincerely apply faith and prayer for those in need when President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) offered a closing prayer at our family home evening.
After speaking to an audience of more than 12,000 seminary and institute students, teachers, and priesthood leaders in Long Beach, California, President Lee and his wife agreed to spend the rest of the weekend with my family in Laguna Beach before pressing on to other Church business in San Diego.
Our family was excited at the prospect of having President and Sister Lee as our guests for family home evening. Each member of our family was given an assignment with respect to the night’s program and activities. Our four sons and daughter accepted their assignments with heightened enthusiasm knowing who would be with us.
The program was filled with personal testimony, scripture, song, games, and popcorn. Indeed, we hoped the evening would never draw to a close because of our precious guests and the warmth, graciousness, and affection shared by all.
When it came time to offer the closing prayer, I made something of an apology to President Lee in case our family prayer might go on too long. Traditionally our family prayer allowed each member of the family to pray aloud in turn. With five children and two parents, plus President and Sister Lee, nine prayers might keep us on our knees for a time longer than usual.
As we knelt together, there was an elevated sense of spirituality. It was reflected in the carefully worded prayers offered by each. When President Lee offered his prayer, his supplication to Heavenly Father left an everlasting impression on every one of us, especially on me as a father and stake president at the time.
After expressing his thanks for all the blessings showered down from above, President Lee humbly entreated Heavenly Father to bless his family, naming them one by one. He called upon Heavenly Father to bless his faithful counselors in the First Presidency; he named them and suggested special needs they required to carry out their responsibilities. He then named the Twelve Apostles, citing each one by name and expressing hope they would be reinforced with spiritual insights and vitality commensurate with their calling. President Lee then named several leaders of nations, inviting Heavenly Father to bless each one with the ability to govern with affection for their people and with kindness and peaceful oversight.
While on our knees in family prayer, President Lee taught a masterful lesson as he prayed with specificity by naming others and citing their personal needs as he perceived them. His prayer was far more than simply “bless all the sick and afflicted.” Since that night I have tried to pray with more sincerity and forethought and have repeatedly referred to this experience with the hope of teaching what President Lee exemplified. I feel a deep sense of gratitude that I was privileged along with my family to witness that powerful prayer of concern and love for others as taught by a prophet of God.