Many of you may remember the main character and father, Tevye, in the movie, “Fiddler on the Roof.” Tevye and his wife had five daughters. During the course of the film, the oldest daughter falls in love and marries.
The second daughter also falls in love with a young man who is later arrested for political activism and is sent to a prison camp in Siberia. It is a poignant and emotional scene, as we watch Tevye and this second daughter embrace at the train station as she is about to board a train to join her husband-to-be in this very distant land. Tevye and his wife will soon leave to live in America.
Both father and daughter realize that they are not likely to ever see each other again in this mortal life. Communication of any kind does not seem a possibility.
This scene from “Fiddler on the Roof” has touched me for many years. I thought of it again recently when I walked by my visiting daughter’s bedroom and paused to watch as she video-chatted with her husband who had not seen their ten-day-old baby in 24 hours. The contrast between the two experiences was amazing to me as I contemplated the miracle of today’s technology, which allows us to be only moments away from an audio-visual communication experience with loved ones who are located almost anywhere in the world.
Last year, I had the privilege of being part of a Mormon Channel episode with former Sunday School general president, Brother Russell T. Osguthorpe, and his wife, Loly. They shared with listeners some different ways in which they stay in touch with their children and grandchildren, many of whom are scattered across the United States. Sister Osguthorpe, an accomplished pianist, teaches piano lessons through technology to several grandchildren on a weekly basis from across the country. On occasion, Brother and Sister Osguthorpe enjoy a Sunday meal with several of their children and their families via video Internet connection!
President Spencer W. Kimball prophesied in 1974: “The Lord will lay in our hand inventions which we can scarcely conceive whereby we will be able to bring the gospel to the peoples of the world. ... I have faith that the Lord will open doors when we have done everything in our power. I believe that the Lord is anxious to put into our hands inventions of which we laymen have hardly had a glimpse. ... We shall use the inventions ... to awaken interest and acquaint people of the world with the truths [of the gospel of Jesus Christ].”
We have made giant strides in discovering ways to communicate more effectively through electronic devices with loved ones, friends, teachers and business associates. In this day of increasing communication with each other, a very important question to ask might be, “How is our communication with our Father in Heaven? Has our communication with Him improved? Do we speak with Him more often, or less? How effective is our communication?”
We often spend untold hours communicating with other people at an almost daily increasing rate. Are we not humbled to realize that our Father in Heaven has always offered us, from the time of Adam and Eve, the power to communicate with Him through prayer? Are we not in awe that the Creator of the universe, the God of heaven and earth, encourages us to pray to Him at any time, in any place and for any amount of time? We do not have to wait in line nor pay a monthly fee. We don’t have to plug in a charger or be concerned with time zones. We have been given an unlimited amount of “anytime minutes.”
Do we not marvel as we recognize that when we pray, our Father in Heaven is able to give us His full attention — without any other distractions? He see us, listens, empathizes and pours out His love and His Spirit upon us. We can communicate with our Father whether we are able to kneel before Him or can speak to Him only through our hearts and minds. We can be assured that He is listening and can answer us through impressions from the Holy Ghost.
Amulek, in the Book of Mormon, has given us instruction regarding prayer, “Yea ... begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name ... Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save. Yea ... pray unto him both morning, mid-day and evening ... Yea, and when you do not cry unto The Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you” (Alma 34:17, 18, 21, 27).
As each of us uses the incredible gift of communicating through technology with others, made available to us through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, may we express our gratitude to our Heavenly Father, as we use it wisely. Much more important, may we dedicate ourselves to communicating more often, with Him, through heartfelt and sincere prayer — the form of communication that our Father in Heaven has so lovingly given to His children.