Something I’d like to hear in a Sacrament Meeting opening prayer

“We know there are parents among us today who have, in their efforts to get their children to church, cajoled, begged, threatened and physically wrestled to get them into church clothes and/or outdoor clothing, violating most of the principles of good parenting and basic human morality in order to bring small children to a meeting that is not intended for them but through which they must behave unnaturally; these parents who have rushed to church but still come late to face the disapproving glances of others who will say coming on time is a matter of planning (but how do you plan for a child throwing his shoes out the third-floor window into the street below, taking a crap on the kitchen floor as we are walking out, or slipping on the ice and having a geyser of a bloody nose?), and with their own behavior fresh in their minds, to have to sit through all of the verses of ‘Love at Stinking Home;’ parents who will spend the sacrament meeting monitoring sacrament tray etiquette, breaking up fights, doing toilet trip escorts, looking for stray crayons, whisper-reading books and trying to stop someone from singing ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ while everyone else sings ‘I Believe in Christ’;

Bless these parents, that against all odds, they might feel something of the Holy Spirit today.’


  1. Amen.

  2. And before there is any controversy, all of these things really have happened to our family.

  3. That. Is. Awesome.

    Were you watching my family when our kids were young?

  4. xenologue says:


  5. The day I decided I wasn’t going to church to feel the Spirit but instead was going so my kids would get into the habit of it was the day my life got easier. Or at least less frustrating.

    (My husband was inactive when my kids were small, so I was doing it all on my own.)

  6. Amen and Amen

  7. ByTheRules says:

    When children have tested a parents faith through all trials, and see that parents will persevere in spite of all opposition conspiring against them (the parents), then will the childs faith wax strong and they will grow in light and knowlege unto faithful members of Gods Kingdom that will bring eternal joy to parents.

  8. ByTheRules says:

    Of course Gods second greatest gift-that of physical superiority of parent over child (when exercised sharply and showing forth an increase in love thereafter) is a big help.

  9. Norbert (2),
    Even the “against all odds” part? Wonderful stuff, veli.

  10. The young mother near me apologized when she had to climb over my knees to get out of the bench (she came back in from the other side). She looked frazzled when we had to negotiate the sacrament tray to avoid her toddler’s kicking feet, and she apologized again when I picked up some thrown graham crackers and handed them back.

    I hope she saw me smiling a few minutes later when I watched her cuddling her almost-ready-to-fall-asleep son, as he reached up and stroked her cheek in that innocent, trusting way that only small children have. It was the best part of my church experience today, but I’m afraid all she’ll remember is her fear that she and her baby were disturbing someone else. Moms and dads, you really aren’t. Really.

  11. Ardis, one of the High Priests in my ward who was passing the sacrament today picked up a two-ish-year-old who had escaped from her sister, carried her for a few rows while passing the sacrament (smiling and playing with her quietly while he waited for the tray to make its way down the row) and then gave her back to her family when he got to that row.

    That picture will stay with me for a LONG time, and, since we were in the cultural hall seating, most of the members of my ward completely missed it.

  12. Latter-day Guy says:

    This is wonderful. Amen.

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    Going to church is sure a lot easier as an empty nester. The little kids are entertainment that make the meetings fun.

  14. here here. We may or may not sometijes mutter under our breath that there is beauty all around when there is no one home.

    Ardis, I really appreciated your comment. I really hope our children aren’t bothering other people and distracting them from their deep spiritual contemplation as they flip up side down in their seats, bargain for a better writing implement and maneuver for pole position.

  15. living in zion says:

    Man, it was like you were doing a play-by-play of our family in Sacrament meeting.
    The icing on the cake for us was the Sunday our 8 yr. old son wouldn’t stop bugging his sisters and after warning him repeatedly, my husband and I realized we had to follow through with our threats. We stood up from our front pew seats and with him between us, maneuvered to the aisle for the long march out of the chapel. This was the point our son went Dead Fish on us and we grabbed his arms and drug him up the aisle, his feet dragging on the carpet. As we wrangled the double chapel doors open the dead fish boy caught his foot against the door with a heavy BAM.
    The rest of the day my husband and I repeatedly had to reassure people that No – We Did Not Slam His Head Into The Door As We Left The Chapel.
    What kind of people did our fellow church goers think we were? We only do bad parenting in the privacy our own home.

  16. Susan M, been there, done that, exactly. But we keep going because we want them to eventually know what we know.
    Ardis P, that’s the way most of us Empty Nesters feel. Thank you for stating it so well.

  17. Children are the BEST part of Sacrament Meeting for those of us who don’t have them.

  18. Tami Brose says:

    We had to take our daughter out of Sacrament meeting once a long time ago. I don’t remember what for now. All the way out she kept shouting, “Don’t beat me! Don’t beat me!” Half the congregation had a very hard time not laughing and the other half wanted to call child welfare right then and there. We all survived and no, we did not beat her. Unfortunately, she has Down Syndrome and is also autistic so she will not have children of her own in this life and will not have the pleasure of taking a yelling child down the very long aisle and out the door.

  19. Thank you, Norbert. I’ve had a couple of hard Sundays managing my family and found this very comforting.

  20. Best prayer ever.

    Ray, that is a sweet image of the high priest carrying the toddler while administering the sacrament. It made my day in a secondhand kind of way. :)

  21. We have a new baby, our first. Last Sunday I had the ‘pleasure’ of taking a crying child out of sacrament meeting for the first time. Thanks for the reassurance that it’s really not that bothersome to others and that we’re not the only ones and that this doesn’t make us bad parents. I mean, I know all that stuff, but it’s still nice to hear.

  22. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I vote for 2hour church. Shorten 2/3rd hours to half hours. ;-)

  23. Neal Kramer says:

    The opening hymn, led beautifully by my sister at least 40 years ago from the living room stairs (I have nine younger brothers and sisters): There is beauty all around, when there’s no one home . . . .

    Our empty nest experiences nothing more than a grandpa who sometimes needs to shave twice to get it right.

  24. I would LOVE nursery during 1st hour. I remember when I was in the student ward I loved the silence.

  25. Barefoot Mike says:

    Today my wife stayed home with our 2-year old boy who is sick, and I took the older two boys (ages 8 and 6) to church. Not only did I have to leave them by themselves while I helped pass the sacrament (we live in a small, inner-city ward), where they fought and made lots of noise, I was also speaking. During the middle of my talk, my 6-year old, sitting about three rows from the front, screamed out at me in frustration that he couldn’t peel his fruit roll-up from the paper. I debated whether or not to stop my talk and go help him, or even to tell him over the pulpit to be quiet, but somehow I just kept going and he calmed down eventually. Fortunately, no one seemed to care or look down on me.

  26. AMEN.

  27. I honestly am crying joyful tears reading this and all the comments. Thank you!

    I have six (5 boys), and one of my toddlers is a runner. He loves to run through the overflow in the gym during the meeting. He also prefers to be buck naked. Even at church. Next time I’m standing in the hall, nursing my baby under a blanket that won’t quite stay on and juggling three small children who refuse–loudly–to go to class/primary/nursery, I’m going to think of this and maybe laugh instead of cry.

  28. My husband and I are expecting our first child and some of our friends in the ward who are parents of small children love to joke about their own kids: “Has it made you realise yet that you may have made a mistake?” Personally, though I know I’ll be frustrated and embarrassed in the moment, I’m looking forward to finding out for myself what it means to be a good parent when I have three misbehaving children rolling on the floor, hitting each other, and trying to take extra “snackrament” out of the tray. ;)

  29. Bless you, Norbert and all the other 505-ers out there. My older brother observed that one reason parents have little ones in church is so they’ll learn to appreciate sacrament meeting when the kids are gone. I’m still waiting…. ;-)

    Ardis and Ray, what lovely images you shared. Thanks for those, too.

  30. My youngest will graduate from high school in a few weeks and then we will be empty nesters. Don’t despair, generally it gets worse. Small children, small problems. Big children, big problems. My children were far from angelic and what is described above sounds pretty typical. Both were permanently kicked out of primary and my daughter made a member of the Bishopric so mad that he slapped her in the face. Suddenly it ends and they are off on their own. Some of the things they do make you so proud of them as a parent and every child will disappoint you in many ways.

    It doesn’t help but do realize these times when your family is young will be the best days of your life. I look at all the young couples in our ward struggling with their children with envy. I would trade places with any of them in a minute.

    What does a “mature” adult have to look forward to? Failing health including everything from constipation to cancer? Faded, distorted memories. Boredom and uselessness. The golden years are laced with lead. Enjoy it while it lasts because it won’t last very long.

  31. I love you Norbert. Thank you.

  32. As an empty Nester with no grandchildren I’ve enjoyed the comments, and relived the memories with a smile. Along with all my aches and pains I’ve enjoyed making quilts for those who could use a little love, taking care of kids while Mom takes one out and generally serving people in the ward. Meldrum, plan ahead, develop your talents for serving others. Being old’s not so bad.

  33. Fletcher says:


    I wish I would have read this yesterday. I could have used it. I will add a big AMEN as well.

  34. Beautiful. We have 4 small ones and my wife and I have reached the point where we simply accept that there will be good Sundays and bad as far as behavior goes. It helped to hear Elder Ballard talk about the chaos he experienced in trying to entertain his 6 children during sacrament meeting.

    I think I’ll offer that prayer when it’s my turn.

  35. What a great post! Thank you.

  36. Bless you Norbert, bless you!
    :: muttering under breath “damn kids make it so hard to get anything out of church” ::

  37. Benjamin says:

    My wife suggests that this should be a closing prayer, since none of the parents in need of hearing this would hear it as an opening prayer.

  38. One time my wife was out of town over stake conference weekend and I foolishly thought it would be a good idea to take my kids alone. Of course we were in the back in gym with hard chairs and noisy floors. My three kids, including one toddler, seemed to be just incredibly noisy and crazy that morning and I was totally frazzled.

    After it was over I got up and apologized to all the people around me and started to leave. The woman sitting right behind us, with just one teenage son with her, us gave me a note as we left. When I got home I read this note that said how impressed she was with my kids and how well-behaved they were and that she was glad we made it that morning. I just wanted cry because it was so nice and so obvious that I was showing too much frustration over my kids. Now that my kids are getting a little older I try to put younger parents at ease where I can, sort of continuing the pay it forward approach.

  39. Re Jacob S

    One time my wife was out of town over stake conference weekend and I foolishly thought it would be a good idea to take my kids alone.

    Oh man, I’ve done this before…with three kids too ages 5, 3, and 2. ABSOLUTELY INSANE!!

  40. We are empty nesters now, and so we enjoy watching the parents struggle with their kids, and smile.

    But while our 5th child was in his terrible two stage that lasted till he was four, we had to designate one of his older siblings to keep their eyes open during the prayers, as he would drop off the bench when no one was looking, duck under to the row behind us, and take off out of the chapel and on more than one occasion, made it all the way home (these events took place when we still lived in Utah, and our home was only a block and a half from the church). He later served a mission, got his accounting degree, and he and his wife just delivered us our fifth grandchild, their first. They tend to grow up just fine.

  41. StillConfused says:

    I love the song choice. We need some more rap and hip hop up in the (Lord’s) house! When we were kids, we would just sing “pampers” over and over again. Great times!

    “Come Come Ye Saints, No Toilet Paper Fear” (seriously, why were pioneers afraid of toilet paper??)

  42. Bit of a long walk, but very funny nonetheless.

  43. Meldrum – you are so wrong. My 3 children are all grown, married, and living far away from me. I loved having children, wished I had more, and struggled through many sacrament meetings.

    I wouldn’t trade my life at 57 for anything. Every single day I realize I have too many blessings to count. And, one of the blessing I count, is not having small children at church. I love being alone with my husband. I love it when my children are home.

    To every time there is a season. This is a different season in my life, but no less wonderful. Attitude is everything.

  44. I like to make side bets with other parents about whose brood will be more disruptive during sacrament. To make it kosher, I’ll add to the tithing envelope any winnings if their kids are ever more disruptive than ours.

  45. Thank you for making me laugh until I cried. I couldn’t even finish reading it out loud to my husband.
    Good to keep things in perspective. And to hear that other people are going crazy while you’re going crazy, too.

  46. @ Wendy and JustMe: Thank you! As a mother of four young boys, I often have older friends tell me to enjoy it because time flies. I try to cherish this time, but it is also so depressing to think that it only gets worse from here–which is what some people intimate. Thanks for the hope that life will keep changing, but that it can keep being great too.
    @ Norbert: awesome!

  47. Wendilynn says:

    I’m the oldest of seven and we behaved because we knew that mom would make a bigger stink if we did and you just didn’t cross mom. :P

    I loved this post. I’ve had many a sunday where my kids sat in the foyer with their arms folded because they loved to yell and catch teh echo in the chapel to my 17 yr old daughter who refuses to even wear a dress to church these days. But I”ve also had those days when they get as much out fo it as I do.

    And Tiff… respect your kids and give them lots of hugs. Its amazing how much teenagers respond to random affection. They may complain, but they love it. And the teen years can be fun years too. My kids are a blast to hang with.

  48. Jessica Fluckiger says:

    This was such a fun read. We all certainly have those Sundays that make us wonder what we are thinking, but isn’t it all worth it? When my 15 year-old, on the way home from early morning seminary, told me about something she learned that day, and looking over I discovered she was crying because she was realizing it was true, it was suddenly all worth it. The Brethren are right when they say it is our job to obey, and the kids will remember that we obeyed, even if they don’t remember the prayers or FHE lessons. The Spirit will teach them even if they are rolling on the floor. And thank heavens the Lord has a sense of humor or we would all be sunk.

  49. I would love to hear that prayer spoken from the pulpit in our ward. However, as the mother of two (3 and 18 months), we would likely still be in transit and would miss the prayer.

  50. I’m disappointed with those with disapproving glances. Bless Sister Ardis and her loving nature. I love to watch those beautiful children and know that they are most precious to God.

  51. Jacob…three young children and stake conference. That’s a serious fear factor, hurculean, olympic level event there.

    The thing with this wonderful prayer is…opening prayer would be missed, closing prayer would be missed. but parents are praying…that no one notices or that they have an Ardis attitude

  52. Jacob, the best Stake Conference post about having young children is from Matsby @ My Religious Blog:

  53. Matsby is the best, that’s hilarious.

  54. Now THAT’s a prayer from the heart. So funny and so true!

  55. This is SO true and would be a great prayer. I can see parents everywhere rising to their feet and shouting AMEN! after that prayer.

  56. “Meldrum – you are so wrong. My 3 children are all grown, married, and living far away from me. I loved having children, wished I had more, and struggled through many sacrament meetings.

    I wouldn’t trade my life at 57 for anything. Every single day I realize I have too many blessings to count. And, one of the blessing I count, is not having small children at church. I love being alone with my husband. I love it when my children are home.

    To every time there is a season. This is a different season in my life, but no less wonderful. Attitude is everything.”

    Justme…did you miss the parts where she alluded to cancer and ill health? Perhaps that is why she is having a hard time “growing old”, and perhaps why you are still having fun? It may not be just “her attitude” that is coloring her world as it is.

  57. Our church just changed from 8am to 3pm. (We had the 3pm slot last year, too.) I am dreading 3pm. I had to pull up this post and read it through again… it gives me hope. :)

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