In 2 Nephi 26:15 it states "and the prayers of the faithful shall be heard..." This talk on prayer details the technical details on what the prayers of the faithful consist of and how such prayers are made.
Proper prayer has three parts. They are preparation, initiation and closure. That is, first it is proper to prepare for prayer, then there is the prayer itself, and finally, action follows.
Preparing for prayer has three parts. The first is rectifying yourself. The second is rectifying your surroundings and the final part is placing your rectified self and surroundings in harmony with God.
A. To rectify yourself is to repair, restore, amend, remedy or correct those things which are wrong with your soul.
It has two parts. The first is to forgive all others. The second is to be worthy of forgiveness yourself by doing what should be done and making up or restoring what should not have been done.
To forgive others is perhaps the hardest and the most important. In 1 John 3:15 we are warned that he that hatest his brother does not have the Spirit with him, nor (at 17) the love of God. Further we are to act, "Forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." (Colossians 3: 13)
Finally, as we are to pray for our enemies (3 Nephi 12:44) and not as hypocrites (3 Nephi 13:45), we must forgive them first.
To quote Christ "if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15).
Thus we should "let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Ephesians 4:26).
Combining the need to forgive others and to be worthy of forgiveness are the words of Christ from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5:
44. But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you;
45. That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, . . .
46. . . . in me are all fulfilled.
47. Old things are done away, and all things have become new.
48. Therefore, I would that ye should be perfect, even as I or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
Thus, if when you kneel down to pray, you remember that "your brother hath aught against you" you should seek to rectify that problem.
So, the first part of preparing for prayer is to rectify yourself by forgiving others and by being worthy of forgiveness in that you do what should be done, curing sins of omission and make up for sins of what should not have been done, curing your sins of commission.
B. To rectify surroundings is to fix, restore, order or adjust your surroundings so that they are clean, private and quiet.
Christ emphasized that prayer should often be private. "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:6).
Cleanliness is celebrated in Psalms (Psalms 24:4; 18:20) and Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Quiet or peaceful surroundings provide a cleanliness for the ears and a removal of distractions.
As Isaiah said, "take heed and be quiet." (Isaiah 7:4) for "in quiet shall be your strength" (Isaiah 30:15).
Thus, rectifying our surroundings means making our surroundings as clean, private, and quiet as we can.
C. Creating harmony between your properly prepared self and God takes thought, planning, mediation and reading the scriptures.
The third part of preparing for prayer is the "meditation" part of the "meditation and prayer" so often advised by the brethren and counseled in the scriptures.
Meditation is used to place you in harmony with God. It works by organizing your thoughts, focusing your plans and desires, reflecting or meditating, and using the study of the scripture to attune your heart.
Sometimes it is merely a matter of catching your breath before you begin to pray. Other times, meditation can be a substantial struggle to get your heart in the right place before you begin your prayers.
It begins by organizing your thoughts and feelings. As Amulek states "humble yourselves, and continue in prayer ..." (Alma 34:19).
Next, one may use the tools God has given us to aid in this endeavor. Joshua 1:8 speaks of the scriptures or book of the law and that we should "meditate therein."
Moroni gives similar counsel in relation to prayer. "ye should remember how merciful the Lord hath been ... and ponder it in your hearts" (Moroni 10:3).
It is only after we have pondered and meditated that Moroni counsels us to pray.
It is after repenting, forgiving others and then taking thought, planning, mediation and reading the scriptures we are ready to begin praying.
III. Initiate Prayer
Once we have prepared we are ready to begin our prayers with a proper attitude which includes attitude of humility and gratitude.
A. Prayers are begun by addressing God as our Heavenly Father or our Father in Heaven. Then, having addressed our Father in Heaven we begin to thank Him for our blessings.
B. Thanking God for our blessings helps to focus our minds and hearts on the proper attitude and it renews and refreshes our gratitude and humility while it strengthen our faith.
In this regard, remember that in preparing for prayer Moroni counseled us to ponder the mercy of God -- a subject that should prepare us to be grateful and remind us to be humble.
As Paul says, be worried about nothing, "but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God." (Philippians 4:6). That is, all prayers should be made in gratitude and thankfulness.
To be effective, all prayers must also embrace humility. "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers." D&C 112:10.
Finally, having been humble and grateful, our faith should increase as we remember all the things that God has already done for us. Remembering past spiritual blessing and contacts is a powerful tool to strengthen our faith (see D&C 6:22-24).
C. Now that your minds and hearts are prepared, it is time to act in faith, praying to God over all things.
God has commanded us to pray over everything in which we are concerned. (See Alma 34). Our children, our families, our friends, our enemies, everything.
Our lives are to be discussed with God, that we might communicate with Him and know his will.
The above steps help one to be in the Spirit. "He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; therefore it is done even as he asketh." D&C 46:30.
What makes the difference between prayers is praying in accord with the will of God.
Christ has promised us that:
7. Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you:
(e.g. Matthew 9:29; Matthew 21:21)
8. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
9. Or what man is there of you whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
The dividing line is that we do not always know what is good and what is not. We can know, and can have a surety of our prayers being answered by seeking the Spirit of God and praying in that Spirit.
That is the focus of what it means and takes to pray in faith. This is important, for Christ has said "And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." (Matthew 21:22) This led James to conclude that "the effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).
A. True prayer closes in the Name of Jesus Christ. This closes the prayer, recalls our baptism and the sacraments, and is a commitment to remember Christ, seek His will and move forward, acting in faith.
B. It is important to close in the Name of Christ. The gospel of Mark refers to the fact that if we act in the name of Christ, we shall not lose our reward. see Mark 9:39ff.
The bottom line is that Christ's promise is "whatsoever ye ask in my name, that will I do" (John 14:13)
C. True prayer should be followed by first, a remembrance of our baptism and the sacrament and second, putting the love of Christ into action in our lives.
1. The remembrance of the covenants of baptism and the sacrament usually means repentance.
In his sermon on prayer, Amulek, in Alma 34, urges those who would pray properly to "come forth and bring fruit unto repentance." Then, at verse 31 "Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent...." (Alma 34:30-31).
True prayer must be followed by repentance.
2. In addition, ceasing to harden our hearts means putting the love of Christ into action in our lives not only by repentance, but also through charity.
"And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done these things, if ye 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 -- I say unto you, if you do not any of these things, behold your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith." Alma 34:28.
Mormon agrees, for it is he who told both the church and his son "if ye have not charity, ye are nothing..." (Moroni 7:46) and, speaking of others "he must needs have charity, for if have not charity he is nothing;" and if not "his faith and hope is vain" (Moroni 7:44/44).
Since without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), we have been commanded to pray in faith, nothing wavering (James 1:6).
We can pray in faith in three steps.
First we prepare by rectifying ourselves, our surroundings and by putting ourselves in harmony with the Spirit of God.
Second, we focus on the parts of prayer, approaching God as our Father in an attitude of humility and gratefulness in order to seek His will as to the blessings he has for our lives.
Third, we close in the name of Christ and go forward to act in faith on that name, carrying the love of Christ in our hearts and expressing it through repentance and charity.
With these three steps in mind, we can pray in faith, nothing wavering.
Thus we may "37.Counsel with the Lord in all [our] doings, and he will direct [us] 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 37:37.
May your prayers be blessed and may you be lifted up at the last day, is my prayer, in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
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