Note to the Readers: This post is written as a compliment to a previous post I have written: “A Pattern for Praying unto the Father.” In that post, I describe a personal spiritual event around the death of my wife that taught me an important lesson concerning my relationship with God and the importance of prayer. I learned that God knew us (my family and me) and He trusted me, despite my failings. Frankly, I was looking for more, but I learned that He was always there, and I had enough information to move on in Faith. Also, in that previous blog, I provided a bit more details about my actual prayer routines. It contains a simplified explanation (my thoughts, my behavior, the when, the where, and the how of my prayer patterns). These are honest insights I have learned regarding sensitive and spiritual matters. I treasure and hold them very close to my heart. They are shared here with humility and gratitude. As you read this post, I hope you will do so with the same spirit it was written and shared.
Our kind and loving Heavenly Father can and does answer our sincere, humble prayers. The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith: “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)
However, for many of us, we may not readily hear the voice of the Lord, nor recognize the workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The process of engaging in personal prayer and communicating with our Eternal Heavenly Father is a natural but learned skill that improves over time. Often, we learn this skill as a child at the knee of our Mother and/or Father. But sometimes this skill is learned later in life. Regardless, it is never too late to begin. Our Heavenly Father has asked that we pray regularly to Him.
The scriptures teach us to “trust in the Lord with all thine heart; …acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The Big Picture
God loves us, He knows us, and He desires that we pray often to Him. He hears us, and under the right conditions, He will answer our sincere prayers! In this post, I would like to explain and share insights about praying and answers to personal prayers.
With a few exceptions, it is almost always best to come prepared for our personal prayers with God. Rarely should we rush into and/or through our prayers. If circumstances permit, it is wise to set aside a regular times and a regular place for our daily prayers. Doing so will help us focus. Before we begin our prayers, we should think seriously about who it is we will be speaking to. Prepare yourself to speak to God! Try to visualize Him in your mind. Think about Him and maybe pause for a bit to contemplate. When you feel ready, begin your prayer. Speak honestly, openly, and respectfully from your heart to your Heavenly Father.
In our personal prayers to Heavenly Father, we should strive to honestly open our hearts and minds to Him. And, we should ask and seek for guidance from the Holy Ghost. Humbly talk to Heavenly Father and express your most urgent and sincere concerns and desires.
Typical Prayer Structure
Usually, we should start our prayers by addressing Heavenly Father by any one of His Holy names (e.g., Dear Heavenly Father). Be humble and sincere! He is God, and He loves you! Then, we may express …for example:
- Our love for Him,
- Thank Him for your “blessings” (and for His Love for you),
- Ask that you may be inspired and guided in your prayer and in your life by the Holy Ghost (the Holy Spirit of Truth),
- If necessary, ask for forgiveness of personal transgressions…be sincere,
- Ask that He may bless others in need (perhaps be specific),
- Ask for things we may need or want help with (difficulties or challenges),
- Pray for spiritual and temporal guidance, mercy, peace, health, patience, kindness, success, etc..
When you finish, close humbly in the Sacred Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Morning prayers are typically different from evening prayers. In the mornings, we may want to include something about our plans for the day, and beyond. In the evenings, we may want to report, or give an accounting of our day. In all our prayers, we should approach the Father with a humble heart. This is always important, but especially if we are seeking answers to our prayers.
After you conclude your prayers, do not just get up and rush away. Take some time to think, contemplate, and ponder or meditate upon what you have just done and to whom you have just been speaking to.
The Mission of the Holy Ghost
Before and during all our prayers, we should always seek to receive divine guidance from the Holy Ghost. He is the third member of the Godhead. He is a God and we should seek His influence and guidance. Unlike the Father and the Son, the Holy Ghost is a Spirit being (a Holy Spirit), currently without a physical body. As a Spirit being, He is able to function and perform His many spiritual duties. He also has many titles, each of which suggest a divine missions. The Holy Ghost is called the Comforter, the Revelator, the Testator, the Holy Spirit of Truth, the Sanctifier, and more. His primary mission is to bear true testimony of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Pure light and knowledge from the Father and the Son is revealed and confirmed to us by the Holy Ghost. He inspires, reveals, sanctifies, ratifies, and confirms all light and truth. He is the messenger of Truth and Testifies of the Father and the Son. So, it is urgent that we are spiritually in tune with the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost (aka the Holy Spirit) should be one of our best friends. Is the Holy Ghost a good friend? Yes, He is a very good Friend, and it would be wise to make Him a Best Friend!
So, why is it Important to seek guidance from the Holy Ghost?
If we desire pure knowledge and enlightenment from our God, we must seek to be worthy of the companionship and influence of the third member of the Godhead: the Holy Ghost (aka the Holy Spirit). Our Heavenly Father loves us …much more than we truly know. We are all His children, spiritually begotten of Him in our Pre-existent life. In the Holy Scriptures, we read that we are His “…work and …glory “ (Moses 1:39). He knows that in this life, we will have challenges and we will at times make mistakes. But He expects us to strive to overcome our worldly natures and weaknesses. He asks that we repent of our transgressions and “Come Unto His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ!” Yes, we are human, but He desires that we strive to follow the teachings and examples of His Only Begotten Son (in the Flesh), Jesus the Christ. Our Heavenly Father desires that if, for whatever reason, we are unworthy of the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, out of necessity He must withdraw from us. However, if we are striving to be worthy, and if we turn to our Heavenly Father in humble prayer, the answers we seek will likely come to us …and, probably by way of inspiration (revelation) from the Holy Spirit. And, if we are faithful and in tune with the Holy Spirit, we will more likely recognize the answers to our prayers when they come. Sadly, if we turn away from God and remain unworthy of the companionship of the Holy Spirit, He must necessarily withdraw, and we will be left on our own without His spiritual influence.
The Holy Ghost is our primary and best source for “light and truth.” Plus, He has a vast spiritual wireless network that is all around us and has unlimited range and bandwidth. His network is always UP and has an excellent signal. However, to access the network, we must have “the right login credentials.” Those credentials include: worthiness, spiritual preparation, humility, and a desire to know the will of God. And, of course, our personal receiver must be turned ON! Also, it would be wise for us to “Friend Him” and always stay in contact.
Can or should we realistically expect to receive influence from the Holy Ghost? Yes, if we are worthy of his influence, and/or in serious need for his help and guidance. He may inspire and strengthen us in need, but if we are unworthy, his influence will be limited and will not remain with us. When we are carnal, devilish, generally unworthy, or just not living in accordance with our personal understanding of God’s will, we restrict or block our connection with the Holy Ghost, and His influence by necessity must withdraw.
Answers to our Humble Prayers
Answers to our sincere prayers may come in various forms. They may come to our minds “as we pray.” Other times, the answers may come at an appropriate time later, but as a direct response to our prayer. These are not uncommon to the faithful. In addition, they often come as a feeling or confirmation of what is true. Answer may also come as a simple sense of “all is well,” or, “…all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God” (D&C 101:16). Often the answers we seek may come gradually over time and by faith. At times, they may even be unclear to us or hidden because of the distractions and/or the cares of a busy life. These may go unrecognized or unheard. Regardless, Heavenly Father knows who we are, and He loves us. It is so important that we remember to slow down a bit and be still enough to hear Him.
An Important Point
During those times when we receive an answer to our prayers, or felt the influence of the Holy Spirit (when we are in tune with the Holy Spirit and enlightened), how should we react? In addition to being alert and responding positively to the insight, we would also be wise to record and document each of our experiences for future reference. Treasure these memories and keep your detailed record of the event and circumstances. When additional spiritual events occur (and hopefully they will), be sure to also record them and the relevant circumstances. Then, frequently compare your notes about the events. What were you doing? What were the circumstances? Where were you? What were your thoughts? How did you feel? How were the events similar? Do you see a pattern? Overtime, and with a record of many faithful experiences, we will learn and improve our ability to hear, recognize, and understand the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is because the promptings or whisperings of the Holy Spirit will be more familiar to us and hence, more recognizable. As we do this, we will develop a greater sense of the workings of the Holy Spirit. And it will help us be more open to revelation and inspiration.
Concerning the importance and role of the Revelator (the Holy Ghost), President Russell M. Nelson has taught: “If you have not yet sought for the ministering of the Holy Ghost to help you hear what the Lord would have you hear, I invite you to do so now.” (Liahona Magazine, November 2021, pg 6)
In our desire to receive answers to our prayers, we must live a life worthy of the constant companionship and influence of the Holy Spirit (AKA the Revelator, the Comforter, and the Sanctifier). His inspiring influence is a gift, but if our life is not spiritually in order, the Holy Spirit must withdraw. (Note: Sadly, if our personal behaviors are contrary or offensive to the mind and will of God, out of necessity the Holy Spirit will withdraw from us and we will be left on our own, without His guiding influence. Our spiritual progression will likely cease until we repent and realign ourselves with Him.)
We should continue our regular and sincere daily prayers to our loving and kind Heavenly Father. Of course, we should always pray from the heart and voice those things that weigh heavily on our minds. But more than just asking the Father for what we want, let us prepare ourselves spiritually beforehand, and let us always seek to know what He wants us to become, or to be, or to do! Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us. There is much work and service available that needs to be done. And there is probably much we can do to simply prepare ourselves for what Heavenly Father has in store for us to do.
Heavenly Father has not left us alone in this world. As He has said, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) He will guide us, and He will answer our humble prayers. Spiritual guidance is available from our Heavenly Father, and we need it! He will not abandon us. Never forget: He knows better than we do what we can or should be doing. Trust Him! He loves us and He wants to provide guidance. Have faith that He will guide our thoughts, our footsteps, and our actions. If we follow His guidance, we will become the person He wants us to be!