Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Back to the Basics: Prayer

At the moment I'd like to go back to the basics.  Not the basics of 'Mormonism' alone, but to the basics of all Christianity:  Prayer.  I do not know of a Christian religion that does not pray to God.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is no different.

What is prayer?  For the answer I turn to 'Guide to the Scriptures' as published by the Church of Jesus Christ.  "A reverent communication with God during which a person gives thanks and asks for blessings."

One definition of 'reverence' is "deeply respectful."  If we think of prayer as a deeply respectful communication with God during which a person gives thanks and asks for blessings, then we can see that prayer is more than simple spoken words.  Prayer can be spoken or silent.  Quoting again the guide to the scriptures we read, "A person's thoughts may also be a prayer if they are directed to God."  God knows our thoughts (see Matthew 12:25, Luke 6:8, etc.) and therefore we can pray through thoughts.  The Book of Mormon teaches, "He commanded the multitude that they should cease to pray, and also his disciples.  And he commanded them that they should not cease to pray in their hearts." (3 Nephi 20:1)

Why should we pray to God?  To answer this question I turn to the LDS Bible Dictionary.  "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part."

I love the record of St. Matthew because it shows this:
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
"For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
"Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
"Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
"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?"
- Matthew 7:7-11 -
God is the father of our spirits.  He knows what we need and how to give it to us, we simply need to ask him in faith, as St. Matthew has written.  Before this life we lived with him as his children, and if we live according to his commandments we will live with him again after this life.  (Learn more about that here.)

I like to think of it this way - Do you remember going on a vacation for the first time without your parents?  Or you can even think of it as moving out of home for the first time.  Most people in these situations want to call their parents to talk with them, share the exciting times and get guidance.  Likewise, the parents await to hear from their kids in these circumstances to share with the child in their excitement and to offer their guidance.  Prayer is no different.  We are a long way from our spiritual father and he is willing to talk to us if we are willing to talk to him.  He will share in our excitement, misery, or pain.  He will give us guidance and counsel as needed.

Want to know more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 'Mormonism,' or prayer?  You can chat with a missionary here and you can ask all of your questions.

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