By Alison Satterwhite
1. Humble Yourself. We must first be transformed from within. Humbling ourselves as a little child is the first step to praying with sincerity and overcoming the tendencies of the “natural man”. Saying prayers out of habit, tradition or as a reaction to our external circumstances is different than praying with a spiritual dimension. A more mature and developed prayer is marked by the ability to recognize and respond to one’s spiritual environment. Remember, we are spiritual beings first, having a mortal experience. See Mosiah 3:19.
2. Think Before (and After) You Speak. Meditate or ponder on the things you would pray about beforehand. This shows submission to the Lord’s will and not our own. It also serves as a tool to help gain confidence in our abilities to make our own decisions before coming to Him for final approval. See D&C 9:8.
3. Pray in Private. Seek the glory of the father, not the praise of man. Praying in private demonstrates the personal nature of our relationship with God. It isn’t a relationship to boast or brag about. Private prayer reflects our most sincere reverence for Him. Prayer at its greatest allows us to delve deeply into our hearts desires without worldly concerns. See Matthew 6:6.
4. Ask for the Guidance of the Holy Spirit as You Pray. Start off your prayer by seeking direction from the Holy Spirit so that you might ask for and pray over that which is in accordance with the will of the Father. After all, it is His will that will result in the most success and happiness in our lives, not our own. If we pray in this manner, often, we will merely repeat the things the spirit is guiding us to say. See 1 Corinthians 14:15. Also Luke 11:2.
5. Pray with Purpose. Don’t pray as the “heathens” do, muttering vain repetitions. Come to the Lord with “full purpose of heart”, as though you are pleading with your mortal father for the welfare of that which is most important to you. See 3 Nephi 13:7.
6. Express Gratitude. True worship includes expressing gratitude for the many ways in which the Lord has blessed you. Practicing a mindset of gratitude enables us to see His hand in our lives and brings about additional blessings. There is nothing worse than a thankless child. See Mosiah 2: 19-21 and Thesselonians 5:18.
7. Pray Often. If we desire to have a close relationship with our Heavenly Father, we must be actively engaged in a running conversation with Him. How can we expect to feel comforted in our hour of need by someone we barely know? Also, we need the constant protection and guidance of our Father so that we can be safe and happy. It is good to remember that throughout the scriptures, we are reminded to pray often, to always remember him, and watch and pray always lest we be led into temptation. See D&C 10:5 and D&C 20:77.
9. Listen for the Answer. Perhaps the most important aspect of prayer is to listen for His answer. Often times, answers come on His terms and timeframe, and not our own. See Mosiah 23:10. Answers can come in many forms from subtle to miraculous, but are most commonly felt in the quietness of our hearts. Impressions, ideas, or thoughts are probably most common in addition to a warm sense of his comforting presence. Some prayers are answered with an audible voice or miraculous occurance. All of these serve as the personal revelation we need to move forward in confidence each day. In order to receive these answers, we must have faith, believing that He will come to us. See Mosiah 27:14.
10. Obey. Now that you have your answer, the fruits of your prayer must become visible. The true measure of righteous prayer are the acts that follow. Spiritual insight must then translate into action in our lives by going and doing the things we have been shown or it is all in vain. See Alma 34:28. Also, if we are slow to obey, he will become slow to answer our prayers. See D&C 101:7. The Lord is obligated to bless our lives when we are obedient to Him. See D&C 82:10.
“True prayer begins with a yearning in the soul of man, a reaching out for spiritual contact with God. True prayer grows in strength and efficacy as the Holy Spirit enlivens and guides the yearning soul. The ultimate of true prayer comes as a man is able to submit himself completely to the Lord God whom he has come to love; then what he prays for and how he prays are given to him by the Holy Spirit. This prayer is the obedient response of a little child who, with wonder, awe, and gratitude, worships the true and living God. Of himself, the child of God doesn’t know what to ask for. But through spiritual insight he sees the hand of his Father in all things. His bosom swells with gratitude as he glimpses the wondrous work of godliness. As he is given, he asks for those things which are good in the sight of his God and gives praise and thanks in the same manner. The theme of all is the phrase used by the Savior: “Thy will, not mine, be done.””
~Chauncey C. Riddle