I recently read a book called Prayer, which is a collection of talks or essays from different people about prayer. I have also been listening to talks online about the subject the past few weeks. Then I was asked to give the spiritual thought on prayer next Sunday in Relief Society. I am happy that I get a chance to share with the ladies a few things I’ve read and been thinking about. It’s hard to narrow it down since it’s such a broad subject and spiritual thoughts are short. I think I have started to finalize my thoughts though.
Like many people, I learned to pray when I was little. I can’t even remember ever not knowing how to pray I was so little. My parents taught me at home and we said prayers at home and at church so I had lots of practice. I thought I understood what praying was. Over the years I have learned that praying is so much more than just thanking my Heavenly Father and then handing Him my list of wants and needs.
I love the LDS Bible Dictionary entry for prayer, specifically this part:
“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.”
I could spend so much time talking about each part of this, but I am going to talk about the first sentence. Our job in prayer is to find out Heavenly Father’s will and to be willing to change our own weak, human will to mirror His perfect will. That doesn’t come easily or quickly, but how often do we kneel with that purpose, willing to put the necessary effort and time into prayer? And how can we come to know His will?
“One might ask, ‘Why is it necessary that the Holy Ghost prompt us even in our prayers?’ One reason is that only with the help of the Holy Ghost can we be lifted outside the narrow little theater of our own experience, outside our selfish concerns, and outside the confines of our tiny conceptual cells. It was Jacob who reminded us, and in such beautiful language, that the Spirit (which teaches us to pray) also ‘speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be.’ (Jacob 4:13) The Spirit ‘searcheth…the deep things of God’(1 Corinthians 2:10), and superficial prayer will not produce such probings…
“We tend to pour out petitions without letting inspiration pour in. God can truly prompt us in our prayers to ask for that which is right, to not ask amiss. God can educate our desires.” Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “What Should We Pray For?”
So we should pray, asking what to pray for. We should ask that the Holy Ghost inspire us and help us to know what is right for us even BEFORE we ask for it. Then we need to ask for humility and the ability to accept our Heavenly Father’s will. Prayer isn’t as easy as I thought it was when I was little, but the work also brings greater joy and communion with my Heavenly Father.