First off, I don’t want anyone to think that I have all the answers or that I think that I know everything there is to know about prayer or that I am an expert at it. The reason I do my religious posts is to learn, and to re-commit myself to the basic principles that I blog about.
And right now, I feel like I need to work on prayer, so this post is for me more than anyone else. But I hope that it helps someone as well as helping myself.
First I want to discuss the importance of prayer. If the Lord knows everything, knows me personally, and knows my thoughts and what I will do in any situation, when why do I need to pray? This is a question that I have had many times. But I think the answer lies in the scriptures and LDS Church history.
Let me give you an example of why people need to pray.
The LDS church is based on the restoration of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe that the fullness of the gospel has been reveled and will continue to be reveled to modern day prophets. We also believe that all this started because of a humble prayer offered by a 14 year old boy that was to be the first prophet of the modern day. It was a prayer that started it all. [Read Joseph Smith History for full story]
The Lord knows what we want and need, but we have to ask him for it in order for us to receive it. Every major event in Church history has been given because of a prayer. Because of someone asking the Lord with real intent. The restoration of the gospel, the restoration of the Priesthood, the restoration of Temple Ordinances. All were reveled because of a servant of the Lord praying asking for direction. There are also a lot of references in the Bible and the Book of Mormon where problems were solved, and people were saved because of a prayer to the Lord. The Atonement was also accomplished when the Lord prayed to his Father for the sins of his brothers and sisters. Everything goes back to prayer.
15 And when he had said these words, he himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him.
16 And after this manner do they bear record: The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father;
17 And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.
18 And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying unto the Father, he arose; but so great was the joy of the multitude that they were overcome.
19 And it came to pass that Jesus spake unto them, and bade them arise.
20 And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full.
21 And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
22 And when he had done this he wept again;
23 And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.
24 And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them.
25 And the multitude did see and hear and bear record; and they know that their record is true for they all of them did see and hear, every man for himself; and they were in number about two thousand and five hundred souls; and they did consist of
men, women, and children. [Source: 3 Nephi 17:15-25]
Jesus, after being resurrected falls to his knees and prays to His Father. What better example do we have then from Jesus himself.
Jesus in 3 Nephi 18:14-20 later goes on to say:
14 Therefore blessed are ye if ye shall keep my commandments, which the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you.
15 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him.
16 And as I have prayed among you even so shall ye pray in my church, among my people who do repent and are baptized in my name. Behold I am the light; I have set an example for you.
17 And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto his Disciples, he turned again unto the multitude and said unto them:
18 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.
19 Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;
20 And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.
In these trying and perilous times, it is essential that we pray always. Personally to the Lord, as a Family, and as a Church.
At least every morning and every night, we should find a place that is free from distractions and kneel in humility and commune with our Heavenly Father. Although sometimes we may need to pray silently, we should make an extra effort at times to pray vocally (see D&C 19:28; 20:51). [Source: lds.org]
In addition to commanding us to pray in private, the Savior has exhorted us to pray with our families. He said, “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed” (3 Nephi 18:21). [Source: lds.org]
At times we may be asked to offer a public prayer, perhaps in a Church meeting or class. When we receive this opportunity, we should remember that we are communicating with Heavenly Father, not giving a public sermon. We should not worry about what others may think of what we say. Instead, we should offer a simple, heartfelt prayer. [Source: lds.org]
Order of Prayer
There are a lot of examples of how to pray. The number one thing we need to remember is to go to the Lord with and intent to receive and answer and the faith that he will give us an answer.
Here are some guidelines for prayer [Source: lds.org]:
- Make our prayers meaningful.
- Use language that shows love, respect, reverence, and closeness
- Always give thanks to Heavenly Father.
- Seek Heavenly Father’s guidance and strength in all we do.
- Remember the needs of others as we pray.
- When we make a request through prayer, we must do all we can to assist in its being granted.
In “Lesson 34: Prayer, Precious and Powerful,” The Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual, 171 we are given the 4 steps to prayer.
Reverently address Father in Heaven.
State your thankfulness.
Ask for what you need.
- Close in the name of Jesus Christ.
Receiving Answers to Prayer
The Savior taught, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7–8). To the Nephites He said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you” (3 Nephi 18:20).
Heavenly Father hears our prayers. He may not always answer as we expect, but He does answer—in His own time and according to His will. Because He knows what is best for us, He may sometimes answer no, even when our petitions are sincere.
Answers to prayer come in many ways. They often come through the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost (see “Revelation“). They may come in the circumstances of our lives or through the kind acts of those around us. As we continue to draw near to our Heavenly Father through prayer, we will recognize more readily His merciful and wise answers to our pleadings. We will find that He is our “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). [Source: lds.org]
There are a lot of resources on prayer that can be found on lds.org.