Today our lesson was taught by Sister Terri Johanson. She taught from the talk Elder David Bednar gave in October conference. It is titled Pray Always. Here is a link.
Elder Bednar defined prayer as "communication to Heavenly Father from His sons and daughters on earth. Revelation is communication from Heavenly Father to His children on earth."
Elder Bednar discussed three principles that can help our prayers become more meaningful.
1. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we counsel with the Lord in all our doings (See Alma 37:37.)
He taught, "Just as the temporal creation was linked to and a continuation of the spiritual creation, so meaningful morning and evening prayers are linked to and are a continuation of each other.
Consider this example. There may be things in our character, in our behavior, or concerning our spiritual growth about which we need to counsel with Heavenly Father in morning prayer. After expressing appropriate thanks for blessings received, we plead for understanding, direction, and help to do the things we cannot do in our own strength alone. For example, as we pray, we might:
- Reflect on those occasions when we have spoken harshly or inappropriately to those we love the most.
- Recognize that we know better than this, but we do not always act in accordance with what we know.
- Express remorse for our weaknesses and for not putting off the natural man more earnestly.
- Determine to pattern our life after the Savior more completely.
- Plead for greater strength to do and to become better.
Such a prayer is a key part of the spiritual preparation for our day.
During the course of the day, we keep a prayer in our heart for continued assistance and guidance—even as Alma suggested: “Let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord” (Alma 37:36).
We notice during this particular day that there are occasions where normally we would have a tendency to speak harshly, and we do not; or we might be inclined to anger, but we are not. We discern heavenly help and strength and humbly recognize answers to our prayer. Even in that moment of recognition, we offer a silent prayer of gratitude.
At the end of our day, we kneel again and report back to our Father. We review the events of the day and express heartfelt thanks for the blessings and the help we received. We repent and, with the assistance of the Spirit of the Lord, identify ways we can do and become better tomorrow. Thus our evening prayer builds upon and is a continuation of our morning prayer. And our evening prayer also is a preparation for meaningful morning prayer.
Morning and evening prayers—and all of the prayers in between—are not unrelated, discrete events; rather, they are linked together each day and across days, weeks, months, and even years. This is in part how we fulfill the scriptural admonition to “pray always” (Luke 21:36; 3 Nephi 18:15, 18; D&C 31:12). Such meaningful prayers are instrumental in obtaining the highest blessings God holds in store for His faithful children"2. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we express heartfelt gratitude.
He taught, "The most meaningful and spiritual prayers I have experienced contained many expressions of thanks and few, if any, requests. As I am blessed now to pray with apostles and prophets, I find among these modern-day leaders of the Savior’s Church the same characteristic that describes Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon: these are men whose hearts swell with thanksgiving to God for the many privileges and blessings which He bestows upon His people (see Alma 48:12). Also, they do not multiply many words, for it is given unto them what they should pray, and they are filled with desire (see 3 Nephi 19:24). The prayers of prophets are childlike in their simplicity and powerful because of their sincerity."
3. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we pray for others with real intent and a sincere heart.
Sister Johansen pointed out this beautiful quote from Elder Bednar,
"During the Savior’s ministry on the American continent, He directed the people to ponder His teachings and to pray for understanding. He healed the sick, and He prayed for the people using language that could not be written (see 3 Nephi 17:1–16). The impact of His prayer was profound: “No one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father” (3 Nephi 17:17). Imagine what it might have been like to hear the Savior of the world praying for us.
Do our spouses, children, and other family members likewise feel the power of our prayers offered unto the Father for their specific needs and desires? Do those we serve hear us pray for them with faith and sincerity? If those we love and serve have not heard and felt the influence of our earnest prayers in their behalf, then the time to repent is now. As we emulate the example of the Savior, our prayers truly will become more meaningful."We also discussed how united we have become as a ward and a sisterhood since we have chosen to pray together for particular members of our ward. There is great power in united prayer, sisters and we have seen it in action.
Sister Johansen challenged us to make sure that our family members and those we serve hear us pray for them.
We love you sisters. We pray for you, and we know that you pray for each other. Let us all strive to have our prayers be more meaningful by exercising the steps outlined by Elder Bednar.
Your RS Presidency