How often are your prayers answered
Answers to four questions about prayer
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles answered four questions about prayer:
- How can I make daily prayer more meaningful?
- What can I do to have the Spirit with me when I pray?
- How Often Should We Pray?
- What if we don't get an answer to our prayers when we want it or need it?
1. How can I make daily prayer more meaningful?
How can I make daily prayer more meaningful? That is a good question and it concerns us all. President Hinckley used to say that sometimes our prayers are like picking up the phone, ordering groceries, and then hanging up - we place our order and then we stop worrying about it. But if we take a few minutes to think about what we need right now, the prayer becomes more meaningful.
2 Nephi 32: 9 says: “But, behold, I tell you that you must always pray and not be weary; that you are not allowed to do anything before the Lord without first of all praying to the Father in the name of Christ, that he may consecrate your actions to you, so that your actions may be for the benefit of your soul. "
In everything we do, we should hope that Heavenly Father will bless us and dedicate us to good all that we do that day. So when we become aware of what we need and think about it, we will make prayer more meaningful.
Also, we must remember that we should not be praying for ourselves only. We know many people who also need the Lord's help in great measure. We should think of them and ask specific help for them. That's the kind of prayer Enos said. He prayed for himself first, then for the Nephites, and then for the Lamanites - yes, he even cared about his enemies. When we focus on others, we really make sense of our prayers.
Finally, when you are grateful, that is, when you thank the Lord so much for your blessings in your prayers, they will become very meaningful.
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2. What can I do to have the Spirit with me as I pray?
That is an important and crucial point. Remember the promise in Moroni 10: 4. There we are encouraged to “ask with a sincere heart, with real purpose” whether the Book of Mormon is true. And “with a sincere heart” and “real purpose” means that we want to experience and want to do the will of the Lord, yes, that in prayer we commit ourselves to knowing and doing His will. This makes the prayer very meaningful. If only we pray for what we wanting and not wanting to know what God's will is, we will not feel the same and our prayer will be filled with less meaning.
Many years ago when I was a bishop, troubled by the many problems that ward members seemed to have, I began to pray for solutions and how I could help. In response to my plea for help, I received some inspirations. At that time, the Spirit seemed to guide me in my prayers, so that both my prayers and the answers came from the Spirit. In my opinion, the most meaningful prayer we can say is one that the Spirit guides us in, both in praying and in the answers we receive from our Heavenly Father. And I believe this happens when we really want to know what the Lord's will is and we are determined to act on it as we pray.
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3. How often should we pray?
There is actually no rule for that. There is no set number of times to pray. I think during the day it is normal to pray for different things that just come up.
Elder David A. Bednar spoke about prayer in a general conference address and emphasized the need to always pray (see “Always Pray,” Liahona, November 2008, page 41). He explained that when we think about the day and what to expect during our morning prayer, we prayerfully review the day in our minds' eyes. During the evening prayer, we tell the Lord what happened during the day. We may thank Him for blessings we have received or we may repent of some things we did wrong. Plus there are all the prayers in between. The result is simply a long series of prayers. It's all part of a pattern that continues day in, day out - week after week and year after year. This is what is meant by saying that we let our hearts be drawn to God in prayer.
Another scripture comes to mind, and that is Alma 37:36, 37:
“Call on God for everything you need; yes, let everything you do be done to the Lord, and wherever you go, let it be done in the Lord; yes, let all your thoughts be on the Lord; yes, let the affections of your heart be on the Lord forever.
Consult with the Lord in everything you do and he will guide you towards good; yes, if you lie down for the night, lie down in the Lord that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when you rise in the morning, give your heart thanks to God; and if you do all of that, you will be lifted up on the last day. "
In a crisis situation, it can sometimes be a very simple prayer such as, “Please help me.” So prayer is about turning our thoughts to Heavenly Father. The prayers we say during the day can be short. We just tell God what's on our minds. The closer we get to it, the more often this happens automatically and the more we feel this closeness. It's like having a friend and strolling down the aisle with him at school. We want to turn to the friend and talk about what's going on. As we get closer to God, that relationship, that friendship, if you will, usually develops in the same way.
Remember, however, that we should look for opportunities to say long prayers and pray quietly without being interrupted. We need a time when we can and need to pray for as long as we want, a time when Heavenly Father can teach us and speak to us longer and not just always have to answer one quick prayer - that goes once in between, but it shouldn't stay that way.
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4. What if we don't get an answer to our prayers when we want or need it?
This is an interesting question. She reminded me of something Elder Richard G. Scott said in general conference: “What do you do when you are well prepared, have prayed fervently, have waited an appropriate amount of time for an answer, and still have no answer? You can show your gratitude when that happens because it is a test of his confidence. When you are living worthily, and when your decision is in accordance with the Savior's teachings and you need to act, move on with confidence. If you are receptive to the promptings of the Spirit, one thing or the other will certainly occur in due course: Either a freeze of thought will ensue, indicating a wrong decision, or you will feel the peace or the burning in your heart that confirms that Your decision was right. If you live righteously and act with trust, God will not let you go too far without warning you when you have made the wrong decision. " Liahona, May 2007, page 10.)
Sometimes when we pray we don't get the answer we think we need right away. It is a valuable experience. Of course, it all depends on living the way we should, continuing to seek God's guidance, and being open to those promptings.
We should remember that we are not telling God when to answer us or what answer to give to our prayers. I learned that when I was around 16 years old at the Cumorah Hill Festival. I was living in New Jersey at the time, and the festival was attended by a few youngsters from New Jersey and New York. I believed strongly in the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, believed both to be true, and believed that the First Vision happened as Joseph Smith described it. I thought, “This is the perfect opportunity. In the evening after the performance I go to the holy grove and get the final confirmation that I need there.
Said and done. Late one evening I went into the grove. It was a lovely summer evening. Nobody else was there - it was completely reverent and peaceful. Then I prayed. I didn't ask for anything in particular. I simply asked, “Can I have any confirmation that what I believe in is true?” What I really wanted was a testimony that what I felt about the Prophet and the Book of Mormon was right .
Nothing happened. I prayed a long time - for over an hour, for sure. Nothing. I was very disappointed. I asked myself, “What did I do wrong? Why didn't the Lord answer me? Wasn't it the perfect place and time? What else should I have done? "
I later got what I longed for, but it was home in a quiet moment while I was reading the Book of Mormon. I was filled with a testimony by the Holy Spirit and I just knew it. I knew I knew And when I looked back on the experience, I asked myself, “Why didn't God answer my prayer right away? Why later? ”I learned two important points from this experience:
First, one does not have to be in a special place to receive an answer to a prayer from the Lord. You don't have to make a pilgrimage to Palmyra or Jerusalem or anywhere else. God knows where we are. He knows us by name. He can answer us here and now, anytime.
Second, we cannot prescribe God. We don't tell him what and when to answer. It happens according to his will, his schedule and his wisdom. God loves us; he knows what is best for us and our job is to be open. Our job is to always be willing and ready to receive an answer. He knows what's best for us and when and how we need an answer from him. So all in all, we still have to live as believers.
Prayer is one of the things that gives us the tangible strength to be an example to the believer. The influence of the Lord, our meaningful prayers, His daily guidance, the strength that all of these give us, really make it possible for us to consistently be an example to the believers in everything we do.
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