Five fundamental virtues in effective prayer

The first and most fundamental virtue in effective prayer is faith. A belief in God brings peace to the soul. An assurance that God is our Father, into whose presence we can go for comfort and guidance, is a never-failing source of comfort.

Another essential virtue is reverence. This virtue is exemplified in the model prayer given by the Savior in the words “Hallowed be thy name.” [Matthew 6:9.] This principle should be exemplified in classrooms, and particularly in our houses of worship.

The third essential element is sincerity. Prayer is the yearning of the spirit. Sincere praying implies that when we ask for any virtue or blessing we should work for the blessing and cultivate the virtue.

The next essential virtue is loyalty. Why pray for the Kingdom of God to come unless you have in your heart a desire and a willingness to aid in its establishment? Praying for His will to be done and then not trying to live it, gives you a negative answer at once. You would not grant something to a child who showed that attitude towards a request he is making of you. If we pray for the success of some cause or enterprise, manifestly we are in sympathy with it. It is the height of disloyalty to pray for God’s will to be done, and then fail to conform our lives to that will.

A final essential virtue is humility. … The principle of humility and prayer leads one to feel a need of divine guidance. Self-reliance is a virtue, but with it should go a consciousness of the need of superior help—a consciousness that as you walk firmly in the pathway of duty, there is a possibility of your making a misstep; and with that consciousness is a prayer, a pleading that God will inspire you to avoid that false step.

David O. McKay, in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, (2003), 70–79


Thoughts on overcoming pornography, increasing in spiritual strength

This is a draft post. These are thoughts I am collecting and adding to. It is not finished. 

Some of the Steps Necessary Overcoming Personal Weaknesses and Addictions, Including Pornography

1. Determine you will become worthy. Assert your agency and renounce the destroyer. Strip yourself of all uncleanness (Mormon 9:28). Bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Your determination to become worthy occurs in the mind and heart. It comes from  careful pondering of the scriptures. It increases as you learn about the nature of Christ and strive to be like Him, avoiding “all ungodliness and every world lust” and keeping all of the commandments (Matthew 16:24 JST). You must develop a a conscious determination to deny yourself of all that is ungodly, lustful, or unworthy.  You must act without any hypocrisy or deception in your life, replacing dishonest and lustful thoughts and inappropriate actions and behaviors with sincerity and real intent as the motivating forces for all you think and do. You must bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). (Read Matthew 16:24 (including the JST verse), Mormon 9:28, Alma 39:8, 2 Nephi 31:13, and D&C 121:37.)

As Elder Packer wrote, you must “assert [your] agency” and “renounce the destroyer” (“The Standard of Truth Has Been Erected,” October 2003 General Conference). Moses chapter 1 is a great example of how to do this (see above).

This assertion of agency, this determination to overcome, is expressed well in the following statement of Elder Robert D. Hales:

If, through our unrighteous choices, we have lost our footing on that path, we must remember the agency we were given, agency we may choose to exercise again. I speak especially to those overcome by the thick darkness of addiction. If you have fallen into destructive, addictive behaviors, you may feel that you are spiritually in a black hole. As with the real black holes in space, it may seem all but impossible for light to penetrate to where you are. How do you escape? I testify the only way is through the very agency you exercised so valiantly in your premortal life, the agency that the adversary cannot take away without your yielding it to him.

How do you reclaim that agency? How do you begin again to exercise it in the right way? You choose to act in faith and obedience. May I suggest a few basic choices that you can begin to make now—this very day.

Choose to accept—truly accept—that you are a child of God, that He loves you, and that He has the power to help you.

Choose to put everything—literally everything—on the altar before Him. Believing that you are His child, decide that your life belongs to Him and that you will use your agency to do His will. You may do this multiple times in your life, but never, never give up.

Choose to put yourself in a position to have experiences with the Spirit of God through prayer, in scripture study, at Church meetings, in your home, and through wholesome interactions with others. When you feel the influence of the Spirit, you are beginning to be cleansed and strengthened. The light is being turned on, and where that light shines, the darkness of evil cannot remain.

Choose to obey and keep your covenants, beginning with your baptismal covenant. Renew these covenants weekly by worthily partaking of the sacrament.

Choose to prepare to worthily attend the temple, make and renew sacred covenants, and receive all of the saving ordinances and blessings of the gospel. Finally, and most importantly, choose to believe in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Accept the Savior’s forgiveness, and then forgive yourself. Because of His sacrifice for you, He has the power to “remember [your sins] no more.” You must do likewise. After you are on the path and are “free to choose” again, choose to reject feelings of shame for sins you have already repented of, refuse to be discouraged about the past, and rejoice in hope for the future. Remember, it is Satan who desires that we be “miserable like unto himself.” Let your desires be stronger than his. Be happy and confident about your life and about the opportunities and blessings that await you here and throughout eternity.

Finally, remember our agency is not only for us. We have the responsibility to use it in behalf of others, to lift and strengthen others in their trials and tribulations. Some of our brothers and sisters have lost the full use of their agency through unrighteous choices. Without exposing ourselves to temptation, we can and should invite others to receive the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through friendship and love, we may lead them along the path of obedience and encourage them to use their agency to make the right choices once again. Robert D. Hales, “To Act for Ourselves: The Gift and Blessings of Agency,” Ensign, May 2006, 4–8

Your determination to repent must be expressed in your commitment.

Commitment is an essential part of repentance. It is the act of obligating oneself to a course of action and then diligently following through on that decision. When people are genuinely committed, they have real intent, meaning that they fully intend to do what they have committed to do. They make an unwavering and earnest decision to change. They become devoted to Christ and dedicate themselves to His gospel. Keeping their commitment is how they “truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins” (D&C 20:37). When you ask for commitments as part of your teaching, you are inviting the investigator to repent. – Preach My Gospel, p. 195

Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke of the need for discipline:

In some cases, temptation may have the added force of potential or actual addiction. I am grateful that for an increasing number of people the Church can provide therapeutic help of various kinds to aid them in avoiding or coping with addictions. Even so, while therapy can support a person’s will, it cannot substitute for it. Always and ever, there must be an exercise of discipline—moral discipline founded on faith in God the Father and the Son and what They can achieve with us through the atoning grace of Jesus Christ. In Peter’s words, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Peter 2:9).  – D. Todd Christofferson, “Moral Discipline,” October 2009 General Conference

Elder Richard G. Scott has said, “If you are ensnarled in pornography, make a total commitment to overcome it now. Find a quiet place; pray urgently for help and support. Be patient and obedient. Don’t give up” (“To Acquire Spiritual Guidance,” October 2009 General Conference).

President Thomas S. Monson said,

The battle for our souls is no less important that the battle fought by David. The enemy is no less formidable, the help of Almighty God no farther away. What will our action be? Like David of old, ‘our cause is just.’ We have been placed upon earth not to fail or fall victim to temptation’s snare, but rather to succeed. Our giant, our Goliath, must be conquered.  (Thomas S. Monson, “Meeting Your Goliath,” New Era, June 2008, 5)

As in all things, Christ has set the standard: “I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart” (3 Nephi 12:29). In order to break a habit of viewing pornography, this commandment must be kept.

2. Watch and pray always. The next step toward worthiness is to become completely honest with your Heavenly Father in prayer, and to express a sincere willingness to give away all that is ungodly and unworthy in your life. As Elder Packer has noted,  “There is something very liberating when an individual determines of his or her own free will to be obedient to our Father and our God and expresses that willingness to Him in prayer” (Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” October 2010).

In confessing your sins before the Lord you open a door to His mercy and begin the process of transforming dishonest acts of the past into an open, honest and completely transparent relationship with our Father and God. President Kimball taught that we must hold nothing back from God, since He know our true condition:

Prayer must certainly be a confession of your sins to Heavenly Father and a petition to Heavenly Father to help you avoid that which is unworthy. It must also be a petition for an increase in the virtues and characteristics that replace unworthy thoughts and behaviors, lift you from sin, and help you increase in light and truth. Praying for greater faith, hope, patience, humility, discipline, steadiness, integrity and chastity will enhance your prayers and build your spiritual strength.

Prayers for an increase of such virtues must be accompanied by scripture study that seeks to understand them. This understanding will occur through pondering the scriptures related to these virtues and ……

Elder David A. Bednar has taught that our morning prayers can help us create the day ahead of us, just as the earth was created spiritually before it was created physically:

We learn from these verses that the spiritual creation preceded the temporal creation. In a similar way, meaningful morning prayer is an important element in the spiritual creation of each day—and precedes the temporal creation or the actual execution of the day. Just as the temporal creation was linked to and a continuation of the spiritual creation, so meaningful morning and evening prayers are linked to and are a continuation of each other.

Consider this example. There may be things in our character, in our behavior, or concerning our spiritual growth about which we need to counsel with Heavenly Father in morning prayer. After expressing appropriate thanks for blessings received, we plead for understanding, direction, and help to do the things we cannot do in our own strength alone. For example, as we pray, we might:

• Reflect on those occasions when we have spoken harshly or inappropriately to those we love the most.
• Recognize that we know better than this, but we do not always act in accordance with what we know.
• Express remorse for our weaknesses and for not putting off the natural man more earnestly.
• Determine to pattern our life after the Savior more completely.
• Plead for greater strength to do and to become better.

Such a prayer is a key part of the spiritual preparation for our day.

David A Bednar, “Pray Always,”  October 2008 General Conference

In your prayers you must plead for protection from the power of the adversary. This pattern was given by the Savior in the Lord’s Prayer: “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (3 Nephi 13:12). In his famous sermon about prayer Amulek taught, “Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies. Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness” (Alma 34:22-23).

During His visit to the Nephites the Savior counseled, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him” (3 Nephi 18:15). Amulek echoed this counsel when he taught, “be watchful unto prayer continually, that ye may not be led away by the temptations of the devil, that he may not overpower you, that ye may not become his subjects at the last day; for behold, he rewardeth you no good thing” (Alma 34:39).

It is clear that we should pray always. But what should we “watch” for? King Benjamin’s sermons answers this question well:

if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not. (Mosiah 4:30)

Prayer becomes perhaps the most effective tool you have against the power of the tempter. Through it, you can “ask with a firmness unshaken that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God” (Mormon 9:28).

3. “Give diligent heed to the words of eternal life. The Lord has given us a commandment (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:43-45) “to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life. For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God. For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light. . . .” Why is this important? “Light and truth forsake that evil one” (D&C 93:37). In explaining to his brothers the meaning of Lehi’s dream, Nephi told them that the rod of iron “was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction” (1 Nephi 15:24).

Helaman 3:29-30 teaches us that “whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked. . . .”

Clearly, the scriptures bring us spiritual power. President Kimball said, “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 135.)

Assignment: read, ponder and write about all of the scriptures in the Topical Guide under the heading Temptation.

4. Parents or good friends who will hold you accountable.

5. Fasting.

6. Increase righteousness in your life in order to crowd out that which is bad, so that “the good shall overcome the bad, and the bad be hewn down and cast into the fire” (Jacob 5:66).

7. Have hope! The Savior has overcome the world, and  opened the door for us to do the same. He will never forsake us. As President Monson has taught,

Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us.

My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.

This faith of which President Monson speaks is the faith mentioned by Paul, and restated in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 27, verse 17:

Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

Joseph Smith was counseled, “you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble” (Doctrine and Covenants 3:8).

Christ has promised us He will not leave us comfortless (John 14:18). He will not allow us to tempted above that which we can bear, and “will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Elder Boyd K. Packer has stated that “Angels will coach you, and priesthood leaders will guide you through those difficult times. In the words of Elder Holland, “I promise you that the light of His everlasting gospel can and will again shine brightly where you feared life had gone hopelessly, helplessly dark.”

It will take our best efforts to overcome our weaknesses. I like Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s statement: “Real disciples absorb the fiery darts of the adversary by holding aloft the quenching shield of faith with one hand, while holding to the iron rod with the other (see  Eph. 6:16;  1 Ne. 15:24;  D&C 27:17). There should be no mistaking; it will take both hands!” (“Overcome … Even As I Also Overcame,” April 1997 General Conference).
8. Develop a personal rallying cry. (Add Pres. Eyring’s comments)
9. Utilize technological interventions: Open DNS, K9, etc.
Elder Holland recently said,
Tragically, the same computer and Internet service that allows me to do my family history and prepare those names for temple work could, without filters and controls, allow my children or grandchildren access to a global cesspool of perceptions that could blast a crater in their brains forever. (2010 April General Conference, Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul, Sat. Afternoon Session – Jeffrey R. Holland)
Filter and controls are not only wise, they are necessary.
10. Recognize that no weakness can be overcome without the grace provided us through the Atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. See Ether 12:27.
Read Moses 1 and consider these insights:

Lessons from Moses 1

  1. Like Moses, experience God’s glory. Come to know His majesty as your Eternal Father. Trust Him as the source of all truth. Seek to be influenced by His righteous power. Draw close to Him and come to know of His love and light, which are endless.
  2. Learn your true identity as a son or daughter of God. With this knowledge, seek to develop a meaningful and personal relationship with Him and to be taught of His works and words.”You are literally a spirit [son or] daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. That surpassing truth should be fixed deep in your soul and be fundamental to every decision you make. . . . There could never be a greater authentication of your dignity, your worth, your privileges, and your promise. Your Father in Heaven knows your name and knows your circumstance. He hears your prayers. He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations. And He knows what you can become through faith in Him. Because of this divine heritage you, along with all of your spiritual sisters and brothers, have full equality in His sight and are empowered through obedience to become a rightful heir in His eternal kingdom, an “[heir] ofGod, and joint-[heir] with Christ.” Seek to comprehend the significance of these doctrines” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “To Young Women,” October 2005 General Conference).
  3. Trust that God has a work for you to do while you are here upon the earth. There is purpose in your life. Understanding that work will require you to come to better know God and His Son, Jesus Christ and to have them reveal to you the work you are to do during your earthly journey.
  4. Understanding the true nature of God and your own identity and purpose, learn to judge with certainty between darkness and light using the power of the Holy Ghost.
  5. When Satan comes tempting you, saying, “Worship me,” tell him, “Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not.”
  6. Like Moses, overcoming your enemies will require you to a) choose to worship the God of glory, and not the adversary, the god of darkness, and b) to pray continually, calling upon God for strength.
  7. Satan will depart from you as you increase in faith, call upon God unceasingly, and consciously determine that you, like Moses, will worship “this one God only,” which is “the God of glory” (Moses 1:20).

The work the Lord had for Moses to do was lead His children out of the bondage. Trapped in Egypt, they were slaves to Pharaoh, and could not progress without their freedom. Moses became the Lord’s agent, performing mighty miracles in His name and causing Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free.

Freeing those in bondage is the work of all priesthood holders and all members of the Church. We are to lead others to Christ, who has already purchased their freedom through the power of His redeeming sacrifice on their behalf. And the first person that must be freed is ourself. Each of us must come to Him and experience His redemption before we can lead others to believe they should do the same. Moses’ experience overcoming Satan and choosing to worship the God of glory is an example of the choice we must make to receive for ourselves and leader others to salvation and eternal life.

Improving our Prayers: no more ordering groceries

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin gave a wonderful BYU Devotional ten years ago titled “Improving our Prayers,” in which he gave  suggestions about moving away from trite or vain phrases in prayer to a more powerful and enlivening communication with our Heavenly Father. In it he quoted President Gordon B. Hinckley, who said, “The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the telephone and ordering groceries—we place our order and hang up. We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another.” [Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (1997), 469.].

Elder David A. Bednar taught that “all of us can improve the consistency and efficacy of our personal and family prayers,” and that one way to do this is to “ask in faith” (David A. Bednar, “Ask in Faith,” April 2008 General Conference).

The principles in both of these talks deserve greater attention in our lives.

Praying to the Lord for as long as the occasion requires

Some things are best prayed about in private, where time and confidentiality are not considerations. Prayer in solitude is rich and profitable. Praying alone helps us to shed shame or pretense, any lingering deceit; it helps us open our hearts and be totally honest and honorable in expressing all of our hopes and attitudes.

I have long been impressed about the need for privacy in our personal prayers. The Savior at times found it necessary to slip away into the mountains or desert to pray. Similarly, the Apostle Paul turned to the desert and solitude after his great call. Enos found himself in solitary places to commune with God. Joseph Smith found his privacy in the grove with only birds and trees and God to listen to his prayer. Observe some keys in his story: “So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. … It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.” (Joseph Smith—History 1:14; italics added.)

We, too, ought to find, where possible, a room, a corner, a closet, a place where we can “retire” to “pray vocally” in secret. We recall the many times the Lord instructs us to pray vocally: “And again, I command thee that thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private.” (D&C 19:28.)

If in these special moments of prayer we hold back from the Lord, it may mean that some blessings may be withheld from us. After all, we pray as petitioners before an all-wise Heavenly Father, so why should we ever think to hold back feelings or thoughts which bear upon our needs and our blessings?

In our prayers, there must be no glossing over, no hypocrisy, since there can here be no deception. The Lord knows our true condition. Do we tell the Lord how good we are, or how weak? We stand naked before him. Do we offer our supplications in modesty, sincerity, and with a “broken heart and a contrite spirit,” or like the Pharisee who prided himself on how well he adhered to the law of Moses? [See Ether 4:15Luke 18:11–12.] Do we offer a few trite words and worn-out phrases, or do we talk intimately to the Lord for as long as the occasion requires? Do we pray occasionally when we should be praying regularly, often, constantly?

Prayer is such a privilege—not only to speak to our Father in Heaven, but also to receive love and inspiration from him. At the end of our prayers, we need to do some intense listening—even for several minutes. We have prayed for counsel and help. Now we must “be still, and know that [he is] God.” (Ps. 46:10.)

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball. Chapter 5: Prayer, the Passport to Spiritual Power

Having our wants too high

Let me mention one other common source of great inner noise, often found even among faithful, obedient people. It is what Elder Eyring on another occasion described as “having your wants too high.” When we desperately desire something, it creates a great rush of emotion within us. And high emotion can mask or cover spiritual promptings. Even if the thing we desire is a good thing–such as wanting help for a critically ill family member–our “wants” may be so high that we become unwilling or unable to hear the Lord’s will in the matter.

In summary then, if the voice of the Lord is still and small and it whispers, should it surprise us that his counsel is “Be still and know that I am God” (D&C 101:16; emphasis added). Only as we are still can we learn to hear the still small voice.

Gerald N. Lund, The Voice of the Lord, BYU Devotional, 1997

Giving “diligent heed” with hearts that are open

Alma, chapter 12, verses 9-11 make it clear that our knowledge and understanding of God’s word and His mysteries will be commensurate with the “heed and diligence” we give to Him and His word:

And therefore, he that will harden his heart,

the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word;

and he that will not harden his heart,

to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

And they that will harden their hearts,

to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

In the 84th section of the Doctrine and Covenants,verses 43-44, the Lord gives us “a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed (there are Alma’s words – heed and diligence) to the words of eternal life. For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” Alma’s statement above makes it clear that diligent heed to God’s word is what allows us to understand His mysteries, and that that understanding is dependent upon an open and a humble heart.

In 1 Nephi 16:28 we learn that the Liahona “. . . did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them.”

When the Savior visited the Nephites, he prayed with them. The scriptures record that His words were so great they could neither be written or spoken by man. But the hearts of the people “were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed (3 Nephi 19:33). Knowing the mysteries of God will likely be the same for each of us. We will know more than we can tell.

As the apostle Paul wrote, the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolisness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote:

“Even the gospel glimpses are difficult to convey. Brigham Young said, ‘I cannot talk all my feelings, I cannot tell you what I feel and what I see in the Spirit.’ This inability to articulate concerns not only the grand and sacred things but also the simple joys of faith: ‘I cannot say the smallest part which I feel’ (Alma 26:16). Thus it is not only that our eyes and ears have not yet experienced what lies ahead; even if they had, the tongue could not fully express our feelings in the face of such sublime and reassuring things! President Brigham Young’s words remind us of Jacob’s: ‘If I could take away the veil, and let you see how things really are, you would then know just as well as I know, and I know them just as well as any man on the face of the earth need to.’” (That Ye May Believe, p. 200)

Elder Bednar said this about the mysteries of God:

As we ask in faith, we can receive revelation upon revelation and knowledge upon knowledge and come to know the mysteries and peaceable things – that bring joy and eternal life (see D&C 42:61). The mysteries are those matters that can only be known and understood by the power of the Holy Ghost (see Harold B. Lee, Ye Are the Light of the World [1974], 211). David A. Bednar, “Pray Always,” October General Conference, 2008.

Elder Scott on answers to prayers

Richard G. Scott  Some truths regarding how prayers are answered may help you.

Often when we pray for help with a significant matter, Heavenly Father will give us gentle promptings that require us to think, exercise faith, work, at times struggle, then act. It is a step-by-step process that enables us to discern inspired answers.

I have discovered that what sometimes seems an impenetrable barrier to communication is a giant step to be taken in trust. Seldom will you receive a complete response all at once. It will come a piece at a time, in packets, so that you will grow in capacity. As each piece is followed in faith, you will be led to other portions until you have the whole answer. That pattern requires you to exercise faith in our Father’s capacity to respond. While sometimes it’s very hard, it results in significant personal growth.

He will always hear your prayers and will invariably answer them. However, His answers will seldom come while you are on your knees praying, even when you may plead for an immediate response. Rather, He will prompt you in quiet moments when the Spirit can most effectively touch your mind and heart. Hence, you should find periods of quiet time to recognize when you are being instructed and strengthened. His pattern causes you to grow.

Richard G. Scott, “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,” April 2007 General Conference

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God is your Father; pray to Him

[God] is your Father; pray to him. If your life is in disarray and you feel uncomfortable and unworthy to pray because you are not clean, don’t worry. He already knows about all of that. He is waiting for you to kneel in humility and take the first few steps. Pray for strength. Pray for others to be led to support you and guide you and lift you. Pray that the love of the Savior will pour into your heart. Pray that the miracle of the Atonement will bring forgiveness because you are willing to change. I know that those prayers will be answered, for God loves you. His Son gave his life for you. I know they will help you.”
Elder Richard G. Scott, Ensign, Nov. 1988, 77

Some of the brethren come to me and say, “Brother Brigham, is it my duty to pray when I have not one particle of the spirit of prayer in me?” True, at times, men are perplexed and full of care and trouble, their ploughs and other implements are out of order, their animals have strayed and a thousand things perplex them; yet our judgment teaches us that it is our duty to pray, whether we are particularly in the spirit of praying or not. My doctrine is, it is your duty to pray; and when the time for prayer comes, John should say, “This is the place and this is the time to pray; knees bend down upon the floor, and do so at once.” But John said, “I do not want to pray; I do not feel like it.” Knees get down, I say; and down bend the knees, and he begins to think and reflect. Can you say anything? Can you not say, God have mercy on me a sinner? Yes, he can do this, if he can rise up and curse his neighbor for some ill deeds. Now, John, open your mouth and say, Lord, have mercy upon me. “But I do not feel the spirit of prayer.” That does not excuse you, for you know what your duty is.
Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 45.

Learn to pray. Pray often. Pray in your mind, in your heart. Pray on your knees. Prayer is your personal key to heaven. The lock is on your side of the veil. And I have learned to conclude all my prayers with “Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10; see also Luke 11:2; 3 Nephi 13:10).
Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Prayer and Promptings,” Ensign, November 2009

A great story about an answer to prayer

Here is a terrific story about a 17 year old young man who received a very powerful answer to his prayer. It comes from a BYU devotional given by E J Caffarro on June 24, 2008.

I would like to share with you a personal experience I had with prayer when I was in my youth. The setting was my junior year in high school. I was making plans with my friends to attend the junior prom. We already had in mind what we were going to do before and during the prom, but we had not finalized plans for after the prom. It was common, growing up on the East Coast, to drive down to the New Jersey shore and spend the night on the beach as an after-the-prom activity. We had the location mapped out and the cars and drivers prepared to make the trip. As the date approached I thought it would be a good idea to run these plans by my mother. I explained to her what we had planned to do after the prom. She could see that I was filled with enthusiasm but said with no hesitation, “I don’t think it is a good idea that you go.”

I said, “What? I have waited 17 years for this event to take place in my life. I am going to the New Jersey shore.”

She replied, “I don’t think it is a good idea, but can you do me a favor and pray about it?” Continue reading