What is prayer?
"We are all children of God. He loves us and knows our needs, and He wants us to communicate with Him through prayer. We should pray to Him and no one else. The Lord Jesus Christ commanded, “Ye must always pray unto the Father in my name” (3 Nephi 18:19). As we make a habit of approaching God in prayer, we will come to know Him and draw ever nearer to Him. Our desires will become more like His. We will be able to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that He is ready to give if we will but ask in faith.
Our Heavenly Father is always ready to hear and answer our prayers. The power of our prayers depends on us. As we strive to make prayer a part of our lives, we should remember this counsel:
Make our prayers meaningful. The prophet Mormon warned that if anyone “shall pray and not with real intent of heart … it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such” (Moroni 7:9). To make our prayers meaningful, we must pray with sincerity and “with all the energy of heart” (Moroni 7:48). We must be careful to avoid “vain repetitions” when we pray (see Matthew 6:7).
Use language that shows love, respect, reverence, and closeness. The application of this principle will vary according to different languages. If we pray in English, for example, we should use the pronouns of the scriptures when we address God—Thee, Thou, Thy, and Thine, rather than the more common pronouns you, your, and yours. Regardless of the language, the principle remains the same: When we pray, we should use words that appropriately convey a loving, worshipful relationship with God.
Always give thanks to Heavenly Father. We should “live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon [us]” (Alma 34:38). As we take time to remember our blessings, we will recognize how much our Heavenly Father has done for us. We should express our thanks to Him.
Seek Heavenly Father's guidance and strength in all we do. Alma counseled his son Helaman: “Cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. 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” (Alma 37:36-37; see also Alma 34:17-26).
Remember the needs of others as we pray. We should offer prayers “for [our] welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around [us]” (Alma 34:27). We should ask our Heavenly Father to bless and comfort those in need.
Seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost so we will know what to include in our prayers. The Holy Ghost can teach us to pray and guide us in the things we say (see Romans 8:26; 2 Nephi 32:8; 3 Nephi 19:9, 24). He can help us pray “according to the will of God” (D&C 46:30).
When we make a request through prayer, we must do all we can to assist in its being granted. Heavenly Father expects us to do more than merely ask Him for blessings. When we have an important decision to make, He often will require that we “study it out in [our] mind” before He will give us an answer (see D&C 9:7-8). Our prayers for guidance will be only as effective as our efforts to be receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Our prayers for our own welfare and for the welfare of others will be in vain if we “turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need” (Alma 34:28).
If we have a difficult task before us, Heavenly Father is pleased when we get on our knees and ask for help and then get on our feet and go to work. He will help us in all our righteous pursuits, but He seldom will do something for us that we can do ourselves."
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