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Second: Seek Heavenly Father's Help in Setting Goals

I have seven children, all girls except for one. As they were growing up, my wife and I taught them to include the following in their nightly prayers:

Help me to stay worthy to go on a mission, be married in the temple, to go to college, to raise a righteous family, to have a good marriage, to choose good friends, and to listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

These are the general goals that I know Heavenly Father wants my children to have, to go on missions, to raise righteous families, to listen to His spirit. By including these things in their nightly prayers, my children prepare their hearts and minds to receive personal inspiration on these topics.

Like my children, you can receive personal inspiration as you set your goals. With the Lord’s help you can reach your goals, but more importantly, you will have the confidence that the goals you set will be the right goals for you. We are admonished to "counsel" with the Lord.

Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good: yea when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep: and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God: and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day (Alma 37:37).

In order to receive Heavenly Father’s help, we must be worthy and willing to hear the promptings of the Spirit. How do we do that? The following are five steps to help you as you seek Heavenly Father’s help in setting goals.

Study the scriptures. The scriptures will give you both general and specific direction for which way you should go. I know that all of life’s questions can be answered through prayerful study of the scriptures. Read them daily and remember that they were written for us. Remember the Lord’s counsel to the Prophet Joseph Smith when He said: “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith (D&C 88:118).
The prophet Nephi counseled us that we should liken all scripture unto us. He said:
And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning. (1 Nephi 19:23)

Seek guidance through prayer. Prayer is one of the most underused yet most awesome powers in the universe. Heavenly Father truly loves us and wants us to be successful. However, to receive guidance from the Lord, we must be brave enough to ask, humble enough to listen, and wise enough to act on the guidance we receive. Make prayer a part of your daily routine. The Lord counseled Thomas B. Marsh and us when He said: “Be thou humble, and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers” (D&C 112:10).
We all desire and need answers to our prayers.

Read your patriarchal blessing. Your patriarchal blessing contains loving guidance from your Father in Heaven. It provides specific counsel for you that can benefit you throughout your life. On the subject of patriarchal blessings, President Ezra Taft Benson said:
Receive a patriarchal blessing. Study it carefully and regard it as personal scripture to you—for that is what it is. A patriarchal blessing is the inspired and prophetic statement for your life's mission together with blessings, cautions, and admonitions as the patriarch may be prompted to give. . . . Receive your patriarchal blessing under the influence of fasting and prayer, and then read it regularly that you may know God's will for you (Ezra Taft Benson, “To the ‘Youth of the Noble Birthright,’” Ensign, May 1986, 44–45).

What does your patriarchal blessing say you should do? What cautions does it give you? What advice does it share? Ponder these things, and write them down, perhaps in a journal or in a notebook. I am teaching at BYU because of one line in my patriarchal blessing that admonished me to “get a doctorate.” I am extremely grateful that I followed that admonition. It has made a major difference in my life.

Remember father’s and priesthood blessings. If you haven’t received a priesthood blessing in a while and you feel it would be beneficial, ask for one from your father, home teacher, or another Melchizedek Priesthood holder. I have received a father’s blessing every year since I was a child, and I still get them today.

Father’s blessings and blessings from other priesthood holders have been very important in my decision-making process throughout my life. When I went back to school in 1984, I asked my father for a blessing. In it, I was promised that if I lived close to the Spirit, I would be blessed with the ability to “work beyond my natural abilities.” Those words caused me to pause and think: Since Heavenly Father gave me my abilities; couldn’t He help me work beyond them as well? I tried to live close to the Spirit and work as hard as I possibly could, and I feel that blessing was realized.

Attend the temple. Much of the inspiration we need to receive to keep our lives on the right track can be revealed to us as we attend the temple. If you are a current temple recommend holder, don’t let your education, your job, or anything else get in the way of regular temple attendance; attending the temple is a wonderful use of your time. If you haven’t yet received your endowment, or if your temple recommend has expired, take the necessary steps to prepare for regular temple attendance.

As you study the scriptures, make prayer a part of your daily routine, read your patriarchal blessing, seek father’s and priesthood blessings, and attend the temple, Heavenly Father will guide and help you.

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