Prayer is universally accepted in almost all religious groups as the best way to communicate with God. Prayer has been in religious practice for centuries, dating back to creation. Why is prayer so important? Is there a prescribed way that we should pray? How do I know if I’m doing it right? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church) is a Christian faith that believes prayer is a fundamental application of faith that we can use every day to communicate with our Father in Heaven.
Imagine that you’re leaving home for the first time and that it will be years before you get to see your family again. Imagine that you won’t have access to your family, that you won’t be able to call them to say hi or to wish your sister a happy birthday. Imagine that once you say goodbye you won’t hear from them until you come back home. Wouldn’t that be hard? When we left our Heavenly Father to come to earth, we had to say goodbye for a time. Thankfully, He gave us the blessing of prayer, which is a way that we can directly communicate with Him. We don’t have to dial any numbers or address any envelopes. Wherever you are, you can pray to Him whenever you need to.
Prayer is so important because we need His help, guidance, protection, encouragement, and comfort as we navigate our way here on earth. Our lives can be scary and uncertain, and we can’t do it all on our own. Prayer exists to connect us to heaven and to show us the way to go.
Is There a Specific Way I Need to Pray?
Throughout religious history we see that prayer takes many different forms. For quite some time, Christianity as realized through the Catholic church conducted prayer through official clergyman. The paid clergy were the only means to God. Some sects of Christianity, as well as other religions, sometimes have prescribed prayers with specific wording. It must be hard to navigate all these different brands of prayer to know what is the most pure and effective way to communicate with Heavenly Father.
The most important thing to know about prayer is that you have the ability to speak to God yourself. Unlike what was preached in the early Catholic church (and other churches described in the Book of Mormon, a book of scripture unique to The Church of Jesus Christ), you don’t need a middle-man to connect with God the Father. The best way to pray is with a sincere and humble heart, a heart that is open to answers and the impressions of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer is a very personal endeavor and can take a few different forms. The Church of Jesus Christ has only a handful of prayers with set wording (the sacrament prayers, for instance, never change in their wording and format). Aside from those, prayers are said freely. You should demonstrate respect for God in your prayers. If possible, find a place to kneel; fold your arms, bow your head, and close your eyes. These outward motions are ways that we can show our respect for God and prayer. If you are in a situation where you can’t do these things, you can still pray. Whenever you need prayer, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing, you can reach out to Him, regardless of if you pray vocally or simply in your heart.
What you say in your prayers can be anything. Pour out your heart to God. Tell Him about your sorrows, troubles, and needs, and also don’t forget to tell Him about your triumphs and blessings. Just as your mother would want to know the details of your life, your Father in Heaven wants to hear those things from you as well.
A good way to start off a prayer is by addressing Heavenly Father. A simple “Dear Father in Heaven” is a respectful and intimate way to begin a prayer. Express gratitude in your prayers. Often prayers of gratitude are the most meaningful for me and can result in the clearest answers. Often when you offer your expressions of thanks first, your wants and needs become fewer. Use prayer to ask for guidance in making important decisions; plead for strength and knowledge on how to change un-Christlike attributes; seek methods you need to improve a relationship; confess your sins and ask for forgiveness. Prayer is all about communicating with God the Father, so nothing is off limits. He wants you to share everything with Him.
When you close your prayer, do so in the name of Jesus Christ. This expression seals the prayer and indicates that the Savior approves of you and your supplication to the Father.
How Do I Know If I’m Doing It Right?
When you approach God in prayer with a humble attitude, you will feel the peace of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead and is there to facilitate the communication between you and Heavenly Father. In James 1:5 we read that “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” The Holy Ghost will communicate the answers that God has for you. You may not receive the answers you seek right away. If you persist in your prayers and continue to cultivate an honest heart, you will feel closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and come to a knowledge of Their love and power.
God loves you and will reach out to you however He can. He can reach you most effectively through prayer, so prayer is a tool we all need to use, practice, and refine. As we do so we will feel of His love and comfort, because He cares deeply for our happiness and well-being.