The divine invitation to pray unto the Father in the name of Christ is the single most mentioned commandment in all recorded scripture and is the most basic form of personal worship. Yet many of us struggle in our attempts to make personal prayer meaningful and revelatory.
To pray is to speak with God, the Eternal Father of our spirits—not at Him but with Him. He loves each of us unconditionally and is full of mercy and perfect understanding. He knows everything about us. He knows what we need, even when we can only see what we want. He has infinite power and capacity to sustain and guide us. He is always willing to forgive us and to help us in all things, both temporal and spiritual.
We can speak with Him vocally or by forming thoughts and expressions in our minds and hearts. Personal prayers should be solemn, sacred expressions of praise and gratitude; heartfelt petitions for specific needs and desires; humble, contrite confessions and requests for cleansing forgiveness; pleadings for comfort, direction, and revelation. These expressions often cause us to pour out our very souls to our loving Heavenly Father.
Prayer is often a brief communication, but it can be an open and continuous dialog all throughout the day and night. 'Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you' (Alma 34:27).
Prayer is not a negotiation process. It is an alignment process. We don't move God to our point of view. Prayer is less about changing our circumstances and more about changing us. It is about seeking His will and asking for His help to do what we need to do. When we align our will with Heavenly Father's will, answers and spiritual power will flow more freely. Following this pattern allows us to pray with faith.
Prayer is an essential and enabling spiritual link between God and man. Without prayer, there is no possible return to the Father. Without prayer, repentance, forgiveness, and the cleansing power of the Atonement are unattainable. Without prayer, sufficient faith to understand and keep the commandments is impossible. Without prayer, the necessary spiritual power to avoid temptation and overcome trials and adversity would be unavailable. With the power of personal prayer, all things are possible. That is the divine pattern.
Prayers enable personal revelation and spiritual gifts through the Holy Ghost. It is the spiritual channel made available to all of God's children giving us constant access to our Eternal Father, His Beloved Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Understanding our divine identity and the true nature of God are indispensable to powerful personal prayer. Personal prayer is indispensable to understanding God and our divine identity. I will forever be grateful for Joseph Smith. Without the revealed knowledge and understanding of the nature of God from the First Vision, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants, I never could have learned the power of personal prayer. Without prayer, I never could have received a testimony of the Restored Gospel, the Book of Mormon, and the Prophet Joseph Smith. Nor would I understand my own divine identity.
Often our personal prayers take place first thing in the morning before we are fully awake and alert or late at night when we are too tired to pray effectively. Our physical, mental, and emotional fatigue can prevent us from meaningful prayer. Speaking at God is not the same as speaking with Him.
Meaningful prayer requires effort. May I suggest finding a time and place where you can carefully ponder your life and your needs. Reflect on your divine identity and relationship to God. Strive to visualize Heavenly Father as you prepare to speak with Him. Think of the Savior in whose name you will be praying. Doing so will help you focus and prepare to pray with a humble and grateful heart.
Personal prayer is meant to be a revelatory process. We need to be able to receive answers and knowledge through our prayers. One reason we may not feel we are getting answers is because we are not asking appropriate questions. Revelation generally comes in response to a question. The process of revelation requires us to search the scriptures, ponder them, and apply them to our lives. As we do so, the Holy Ghost helps us form inspired questions.
Prayer is a channel for addressing questions to Heavenly Father. Through the Holy Ghost, our minds are enlightened with knowledge, understanding, and promptings. These feelings and impressions are also confirmed in our hearts. Often answers come in the form of peace or a settling feeling of comfort and clarity. When we need to be warned, the Holy Ghost will leave us feeling unsettled, uncomfortable, unsure, and unclear. This is also an answer and is often referred to as a stupor of thought.
Prayer is essential to the process of revelation. Inspired questions bring greater focus, purpose, and meaning to our prayers. If you want to receive more personal revelation through your prayers, you may want to think about what questions you are asking.
God is our loving Heavenly Father. I have come to know through countless experiences that He does in fact 'hear and answer every child's prayer.' I have learned that there is great power in personal prayer. I have learned to accept answers that are contrary to what I want, trusting that Heavenly Father knows what I need. Through prayer, I have received forgiveness and comfort, direction and revelation.
I plead with you to pray always and to be believing. As you continue to learn and understand the divine principle of personal prayer as the Savior taught it, prayer will become a source of great spiritual power and revelation in your life.