I am 53 years old and still prayer is one of the things that puzzles me. From the time I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ( I was almost 18) to the present day, I have struggled with prayer.
I grew up in the Lutheran Church. I don’t remember praying a lot other than bowing my head as the pastor prayed on Sundays. I wouldn’t say that my family was very religious but I did like to go to church and went often with my aunt and drove myself as soon as I had my driver’s license at 16. I was a member of the choir and I did think about God a lot.
My dad, although he rarely went to church with me, is very religious in my view. He has read the bible many times and is familiar with its contents. When I would worry or when I was afraid he would tell me to stop worrying. Gd always looks out for the Shearers. And when I would think about it I would believe that because even though we had many hard times we were all still together and generally happy.
Once I was baptized at 17 this new church expected me to pray on my own each day more than once a day. And also they would ask me to say prayers at the beginnings and endings of church meetings. I was never comfortable. What should I say? What should I pray for? Doesn;t God already know the things I need or am lacking?
The answer to that question is yes. But, remember when you had little kids? Maybe you still do. You know how they are grunting and pointing and you ask them to tell you what they want or you ask them to say please? You already know but there is something to the exercise of getting them to say it out loud. It helps them to grow their language skills and their thoughtfulness of others and just plain politeness. In this same way I have come to think that it is important for us to say things out loud to Heavenly Father. It helps us to grow and might even clarify in our minds exactly what we need or if the thing we are asking for is actually the right thing.
In the Bible Dictionary there is an entry that talks about prayer and I have read it many times over the last 10 or 15 years. This is the part that I think about the most:
“As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.
There are many passages in the New Testament that teach the duty of prayer (Matt. 7:7; 26:41; Luke 18:1; 21:36; Eph. 6:18; Philip. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Thes. 5:17, 25; 1 Tim. 2:1, 8). Christians are taught to pray in Christ’s name (John 14:13–14; 15:7, 16; 16:23–24). We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ—when His words abide in us (John 15:7). We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent His mind but spring out of the selfishness of man’s heart.
I particularly like this sentence – Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other.
I believe that I do want my will be be brought into correspondence with God’s because I know that He wants what is best for me and that if we work together I can become the Daughter that He wants me to be.
Tomorrow, I will begin again to improve that relationship with God. I will spend the time pouring out my soul to Him. I will pray for my sisters at church and their families. I will pray for my own family and I will talk to Him about the things that are worrying me.
The scripture study has been going well but I know that my prayers can improve. I hope you will join me in improving your relationship with God and remembering that you are His child and He wants only the best things for you.
I’ll just leave this quote here from President Gordon B Hinckley. It’s something I need to remind myself of frequently. Maybe I’ll print it out and put it in my scriptures.