“In a Holy Place,” Liahona, Apr. 2022.
We were new in the Dunwoody Ward when we first met Billy. As sacrament meeting started, I noticed him sitting at the sacrament table.
After the ward partook of the bread, Billy began the sacrament prayer on the water, but he stuttered and struggled for each word. The often-normal distractions and sounds of small children died down. Everyone seemed to pause, waiting on Billy.
The words of the usually fluid and brief sacrament prayer came out slowly, each word drawn out and painstakingly pronounced. At first, I felt embarrassed for the young man. My heart filled with compassion for him.
Then everything changed.
As he finished the first phrase of the prayer—a prayer that I had heard a thousand times—a new feeling came over the room. An intense quiet settled over us, and we knew we were in a holy place. Billy was not just reading the words of the prayer but was sincerely praying to his Heavenly Father, who was answering with an overwhelming outpouring of the Spirit.
The feeling of God’s love for this young man was palpable, and we felt privileged to be part of this uniquely spiritual ordinance.
Billy continued and eventually completed the prayer. I didn’t want him to finish because I wanted that sacred feeling to continue. But the intense gift of the Spirit continued as the sacrament was passed to the congregation. It was a true renewal of covenants to repent, be better, and serve the Lord more completely.
At the end of the meeting I walked up to the sacrament table to thank the young man. I saw that he had Down syndrome. He stuttered, “You’re welcome,” with a great big smile.
Years later in a different ward, I still remember Billy. Sacrament meetings are more meaningful as I strive, like Billy, to reach out to Heavenly Father with simple, fervent faith and prayer.
The author lives in Florida, USA.