Gospel Principles, Lesson 8
Taught by Ellen King
A reviewPrayer is…a sincere heartfelt talk with our Heavenly Father.
Elder Richard G Scott in a talk titled The Supernal Gift of Prayer, given in April Conference 2007 said:
We pray to our Heavenly Father in the sacred name of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Prayer is most effective when we strive to be clean and obedient, with worthy motives, and are willing to do what He asks. Humble, trusting prayer brings direction and peace.
Don’t worry about your clumsily expressed feelings. Just talk to your compassionate, understanding Father. You are His precious child whom He loves perfectly and wants to help. As you pray, recognize that Father in Heaven is near and He is listening.We pray to God the Father and no one else.
3 Nephi 18:19-20 - Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name; 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.We pray in the name of Jesus Christ because he is our mediator and advocate with the Father.
1 Tim. 2: 5 - For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.Why do we pray?
- Commanded since Adam and Eve
- To draw closer to God
- That our thoughts, words, actions may be righteous
- For strength to live the gospel, to stay on path
- To overcome temptations
- To confess sins, seek forgiveness
- For guidance
- For others - families, friends, neighbors, crops, animals, daily work
- Protection from enemies
- To express our love to Him
- To thank Him, praise
Cookie CuttersDo you feel like your prayers aren’t drawing you closer to God? Are you still giving simple Primary-like prayers? It’s easy to let our prayers become cookie cutter prayers..the same every time and predictable.
How can we improve our prayers? What do you do to add more power to our prayers?
Here are a few ideas that work for me, even though I don’t do these all the time:
- Kneeling: a physical act of humbling myself, putting myself in a position of complete vulnerability, a metaphor for submitting my will to Him.
- Speaking aloud: Formulating the words and hearing them with my own ears is strengthening and also teaches me about what to pray for.
- Making a list of specific names and needs: This is powerful.
- Praying whenever and however we need to...sparrow prayers (Matt 10 - even a sparrow shall not fall to the ground without your Father) ...at church, at home, while walking, while working, fixing dinner. This is part of the “always remember Him” covenant we make.
- Fasting: Every time I feel I hunger pain I’m reminded to pray about my purpose.
- NOTICE the answers and give thanks: Shirley has taught me to praise God more. When she feels a blessing in her life she says “God is good.” Let’s you and I say that more when we feel and see the tender mercies in our lives.
- Let thy will be my will. When my whining and selfishness get in the way I lose my way.
A key to improved prayer is to learn to ask the right questions. Consider changing from asking for the things you want to honestly seeking what He wants for you. Then as you learn His will, pray that you will be led to have the strength to fulfill it.How are prayers answered?
The manual says: (p. 37) Our sincere prayers are always answered. Sometimes the answer may be no, because what we have asked for would not be best for us. Sometimes the answer is yes, and we have a warm, comfortable feeling about what we should do (see D&C 9:8–9). Sometimes the answer is “wait a while.” Our prayers are always answered at a time and in a way that the Lord knows will help us the most.
But it’s more complicated than that, isn’t it?!
I guarantee that some reading this today are thinking why does she pray for x...a job, a house, a baby and gets it and I don’t? Why is her child, mother, husband healed and mine not? Why does she pray when she’s lonely and her neighbor, visiting teacher, or friend call or show up and mine doesn’t? Why does she find her keys, her wallet, her child in danger and I don’t/didn’t?
I think the point here is that just as we are individuals, answers to prayers are very individual. How we speak to God and how he speaks to us may not be the same as for others.
Elder Scott says…
Often when we pray for help with a significant matter, Heavenly Father will give us gentle promptings that require us to think, exercise faith, work, at times struggle, then act. It is a step-by-step process that enables us to discern inspired answers.Heavenly Father teaches us general principles and adapts his tutoring to our own individual hearts and circumstances.
I have discovered that what sometimes seems an impenetrable barrier to communication is a giant step to be taken in trust. Seldom will you receive a complete response all at once. It will come a piece at a time, in packets, so that you will grow in capacity.
As each piece is followed in faith, you will be led to other portions until you have the whole answer. That pattern requires you to exercise faith in our Father’s capacity to respond. While sometimes it’s very hard, it results in significant personal growth.
It’s important figure it out for ourselves, with the help of patterns that emerge from other’s experiences.
When I feel that prayer is not working for me, I remember that these are some of the answers I get. If you are struggling with a particular issue right now, one of these may apply. Think about your prayers lately.
It’s not time.
It’s not good for you.
They have their agency.
You haven’t studied it out.
You need to grow, to learn more.
You are not asking for the right thing.
You don’t see the big picture and I do.
I’ve already told you the answer.
I tell you often in small ways you don’t recognize.
You need to repent of a sin.
You are too distracted to see.
There is too much noise in your life.
Your heart, sincerity, or faith is missing.
You have yet to surrender your will to me.
You hear me but you don’t do as I direct.
Your pride gets in the way.
You don’t come to me often enough.
You need to fast first.
You need to put off the selfish natural woman.
You’re not specific enough.
My grace is sufficient.
Relax, all things will work together for your good.
Now please, don’t misunderstand. He’s not saying I can’t hear you or you’re not good enough. He’s saying I love you, I know you. I want you to grow. I’m in charge here. Trust me, repent and come unto me and it will be enough. Don’t give up.
Listen to these words from Elder Scott. Listen for the reassurances.
Should you ever feel distanced from our Father, it could be for many reasons. Whatever the cause, as you continue to plead for help, He will guide you to do that which will restore your confidence that He is near….Did you catch it...
Often when we pray for help with a significant matter, Heavenly Father will give us gentle promptings that require us to think, exercise faith, work, at times struggle, then act. It is a step-by-step process that enables us to discern inspired answers….
He will always hear your prayers and will invariably answer them. However, His answers will seldom come while you are on your knees praying, even when you may plead for an immediate response. Rather, He will prompt you in quiet moments when the Spirit can most effectively touch your mind and heart. Hence, you should find periods of quiet time to recognize when you are being instructed and strengthened. His pattern causes you to grow.
He will guide you.
He is near.
He always hears your prayers.
He will prompt you in quiet moments.
This scripture in Psalms 46:10 is often the answer to my prayers:
“Be still and know that I am God.”
Instruction from your Relief Society presidency
Our focus is on love, unity, and friendship. The first Sunday of every month is a time for instruction regarding our sacred duties as members of the Relief Society. So in thinking about prayer we'd like to ask:
- Pray for greater love and unity in our ward. Seek for what you can do personally and in your calling.
- Regarding Visiting Teaching and prayer
- Pray every day for your sisters, by name, in your individual prayers and when appropriate in your family prayers. Let your, and your family’s, faith add power to your prayers. Listen for inspiration to come regarding a sister.
- Pray together as a partnership, before visiting, for each sister individually and the specific needs she may have.
- Bring the Spirit into her home by teaching the gospel and giving the message, don’t just show up and chat.
- Ask to pray before leaving, if it feels right. It is not required. But do it as often as you can.
- Let her choose who prays.
- Pray specifically for the needs you heard while there, bless her home with love and unity.
- As a sister visited, ask your visiting teachers to fast and pray with you for specific needs. You may put your name in the temple and have faithful strangers pray for you, but you may also ask two friends to pray for you.
Remember thisWe learn to pray by praying. One can devote countless hours to examining the experiences of others, but nothing penetrates the human heart as does a personal, fervent prayer and its heaven-sent response.
~President Thomas S. Monson, Oct. 2004
Alma 37: 37 - 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.
Additional reading, well-worth the time: BYU Devotional regarding prayer, by Cynthia Compton. She explores two ideas about conversing with God: experimenting with the requests we make and using our prayers to consecrate.