Prayer is the open communication channel between a loving Heavenly Father and His children. Mahatma Gandhi said,
Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that prayer is essential in each person’s life to help them develop a close relationship with the Lord. As they grow closer to the Lord, they are able to live a more righteous life that is in accordance with His perfect will.
Through their righteous living, the Lord hears and answers their prayers, and speaks to them through the Holy Ghost. Mormons further understand that the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is predicated on their faithfulness and obedience. The Savior Himself taught, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7); “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3).
Men Ought to Always Pray
Latter-day Saints are a praying people. Some of the reasons that they pray are to discover God’s will, to obtain blessings, and to express gratitude. They are taught from an early age and understand that in thanking the Lord for their blessings in life, they are to thank Him for all things, both great and small.
They further understand that prayer needs to be an essential part of their daily lives. The scriptures are replete in teaching us that we should be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18). The Apostle Paul taught, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6), and he also taught that we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Jacob, a Book of Mormon prophet, taught the people, “Behold, my beloved brethren, remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice” (2 Nephi 9:52). Mormons fully understand that it is to Heavenly Father that we should pray and not anyone else. The Savior Himself taught:
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name; and whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you. Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed (3 Nephi 18:18-21).
How Do Mormons Pray?
There are four basic parts to a prayer: address God, thank Him, ask Him, and close in the name of Jesus Christ.
We open the prayer by addressing our Heavenly Father because He is the one who we are praying to. Therefore, a proper way to begin our prayers is by saying, “Father in Heaven,” “Dear Heavenly Father,” or “Heavenly Father.” We address Him as our Heavenly Father because He is the Father of our spirits, He is our Creator and the One to whom we owe everything we have, including the breath of life.
After opening the prayer, we tell our Heavenly Father what we are thankful for. We could start by saying, “I thank thee…” or “I am grateful for….” We show our gratitude to Him by telling him in our prayer what we are thankful for such as our home, family, occupation, health, the earth, and our many other blessings.
After thanking Him, we can then ask Him for help. We may ask Him to bless us with such things as the things we need to sustain life, knowledge and understanding, comfort, guidance, peace, and health.
The prayer is closed with the words, “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” The reason that we do this is because Christ is our Savior. He is our mediator between death (physical and spiritual) and eternal life. It is because of His great sacrifice and vicarious Atonement that the gulf between sinful man and a loving Heavenly Father has been bridged allowing each of us a way to return again to our Father’s presence to live with Him eternally. Christ is the One whom we are commanded to have faith in. Said He, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).
God Hears Even the Smallest Prayers
The beauty of prayer is that the length of the prayer does not matter to our Heavenly Father. A prayer does not have to be audible, but we can offer up silent prayers as well. Sometimes our prayers may be as simple as, “Dear Father help me!” At other times our prayers may be longer and more involved depending on our needs at that time. Sometimes we may not know exactly what to pray for, but we have the assurance that “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26).
Regardless if the prayer is long or short, silent or said aloud, our Heavenly hears every word, and if we are coming to Him in prayer with sincere hearts, He has promised, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).