Two BYU-Idaho voices invite others to be prayerful


During Tuesday’s devotional, both Mari Ann Birch, an employment specialist, and Kenneth Ato Brown, a BYU-Idaho student, spoke on “being prayerful.”

Speaking first, Ato Brown focused his message on how prayer can be a light to our eternal path. He shared how his own life experiences have been influenced or changed through prayer and attention to the direction received.

“I testify that the Lord is leading us to true happiness,” Ato Brown said. “We just need to know and trust that He has a plan for us, and we can do so by constantly communicating with Him.”

Caroline Gallegos, a senior studying communication, said she enjoyed Ato Brown’s “real and open” message.

“I thought it was very genuine and real and I really appreciate the honesty that was given — just the down to earth presence or depth that he illustrated,” Gallegos said.

After Ato Brown finished, Birch added her own message and testimony on how the Lord answers prayers. Using personal experiences, Birch showed how prayers can be answered quickly or take a long time — even 15 years in one example — and how sometimes these prayers can help cope with heart-wrenching and devastating experiences.

Trish Gannaway, the Guest Hosting & Institutional Events coordinator, said the messages had her “weeping the whole time.”

“(I liked the) two different perspectives on prayer that are different but still the same because prayer works differently for different people,” Gannaway said. “With Kenneth’s experience, prayer is kind of in the background — and in the foreground — but with Mari Ann, there was specific experiences that she shared.”

This devotional is one of the first where a student has been asked to prepare and share a talk as well as a university faculty or staff member.

“I really like that she had a student share with her,” said Rosalie Hill, a senior studying exercise physiology. “I mean, I’ve seen (Ato Brown) walking around in the office because I also work in the Kimball building, so it was kind of fun to see one of my peers up there sharing with (Birch), and it’s definitely something new. It’s kind of cool that they’re getting students to come up and share.”

Amy LaBaugh, student life vice president, also enjoyed having two speakers.

“I think that both of them were willing to share such personal answers to prayer, and I felt like that gave all of us more confidence or faith in whatever struggling with or wanting to ask,” LaBaugh said. “I loved how we had two different perspectives. One that was kind of dealing with really important decisions that a lot of college students are making, and then we kind of had an extreme example that we’ll all walk through.”

As the devotional came to a close, Birch re-extended a challenge given by Sheri Dew in her 2016 BYU-I Devotional address. This challenge was to “first, ask the Lord to teach you what it feels and sounds like for you when He is speaking to you via the Holy Ghost, and then watch how He tutors you. And, second, if you’ve never asked the Lord how he feels about you that is a great question to ask.”

To read or watch Birch’s devotional address, visit here.

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