Each of us has moments in our lives when we need God to help us overcome or solve the problems we face. In fact, we need God’s help daily. How do we tap into that help? We ask for God’s help through prayer.
Your Relationship to God
Our relationship to God should be the first thing to remember when we begin to pray. We are His children. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the Mormon Church) believe that each human being, male and female, “is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.”1 When we remember that, prayer then can be “natural and instinctive.”2
What Is Prayer?
Prayer is the way and means, given us by our Creator, whereby we can counsel and communicate with him. It is one of the chief cornerstones of pure and perfect worship.
In prayer we speak to the Lord, and he speaks to us. It is our privilege to have our voices heard in the courts above and to hear the answering voice of the Lord conveyed by the power of his Spirit.3
Prayer is a great gift to us to use while we live life on the earth. Through prayer, we can draw closer to God and receive comfort when we need it. “Sharing our thoughts, feelings, and desires with God through sincere and heartfelt prayer should become to each of us as important and natural as breathing and eating.”4
God Commands (Encourages) Us to Pray
Many scriptures tell us that God wants us to turn to Him for help. He commands us to pray and tells us He will answer.
- · “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7)
- · “Pray always” (Luke 21:36)
- · “By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6)
- · “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- · “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” (3 Nephi 18:15)
- · “Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:38)
Prayer Takes Effort
Effective, fruitful prayer requires work and takes time. Several examples of devoted prayer are shared in the Book of Mormon.
Enos describes his prayer to receive forgiveness as a “wrestle.” He writes:
“My soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.” (Enos 1:4)
Later he uses the words “struggling in the spirit” and “prayed and labored” to describe his effort to receive the answer he sought (Enos 1:10, 12).
When Nephi was praying on his tower in his garden, he is described as “pouring out his soul unto God” (Helaman 7:11), speaking openly and honestly with God about the things that troubled him.
Moroni tells us to “Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart” (Moroni 7:48). When we want something intensely, we are willing to work hard for it.
God Answers Prayers
As a 14-year-old boy, the Prophet Joseph Smith (first prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ in modern times), read in James 1:5: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” With confidence that God would answer his prayer, he walked to a grove of trees near his home to kneel and ask God which church he should join. God answered his prayer in a remarkable way.
God answers all prayers in His own time and according to His will.5 If we receive answers quickly or if we are required to wait for answer, we can have faith that answers will come because God loves each of us and wants to help us.
Patterns of Prayer
Jesus Christ taught us how to pray during His earthly ministry. In the Lord’s Prayer, recorded in Matthew 6 and Luke 11 (and 3 Nephi 13), he taught us to begin our prayer by respectfully addressing our Father in Heaven (“Our Father which art in heaven”), and then ask Him for help with our physical and spiritual needs. The Lord’s Prayer closes acknowledging God’s power and glory, and ends with “amen.”
Jesus taught us much through his other prayers. His intercessory prayers remind us of His love for us and may also encourage us to remember others and pray for them and their needs.
Especially stirring is Jesus Christ’s prayer to God when He travels to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. When the stone is removed from the grave, Jesus “lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me” (John 11:41). Part of our prayers should always include expressions of gratitude to Heavenly Father for listening to us and for answering our prayers to Him.
Jesus also taught that “ye must always pray unto the Father in my name,” which is generally included in our prayers immediately before we say amen (3 Nephi 18:19). Mormons close their prayers in words similar to these: “…in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” The Savior is our mediator with the Father.
We can pray anytime, anywhere. We can pray silently or out loud. We can pray for a short time or a long time. We can pray standing, sitting, walking, or lying down.
The general pattern is simply: address Heavenly Father, thank Him for His help, express needs and ask for His guidance, close in the name of His Son Jesus Christ. Remember to listen, feel, and watch for His answers.
- The Family: A Proclamation
- Bible Dictionary in the Latter-daySaint edition of the King James Version of the Bible, s.v. “prayer.”
- Bruce R. McConkie, “Patterns of Prayer,” Ensign, May 1984.
- Dean M. Davies, “A Sure Foundation,” Ensign, May 2013, 10.