Ha ha! When I wrote that title, I was totally thinking of the old MC Hammer song, “I need to pray…(praaaay)… Pray…(praaaay)…I need to pray just to make it today.”
That was pointless, I know, but it’s true. I need to pray.
Lately, as far as my spirituality is concerned, I think that I’m suffering the most in prayer. It is hard for me to close my eyes without falling asleep. Often, even when my eyes are open I’m falling asleep. Life with a two-year-old and an infant is kicking my butt. Excuses, excuses. There are many areas in my life suffering from the huge changes I’ve experienced, but the part I’m most upset by is how much my prayers have suffered.
And the worst part is: I know that prayers are SO important.
1. When we pray, we show humility and gratitude toward God. As simple as prayer is, the act itself is humbling. If we are praying sincerely, we acknowledge our position to God. We bow to Him. We fold our arms. We reverence Him. Praying helps to keep so many things in perspective – especially if we are really praying as Nephi taught – “But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul,” (2 Nephi 32:9) Can you imagine, praying always, before performing any thing without being filled with humility or gratitude. Not only that, why don’t I pray more, knowing that when I pray, the Lord will consecrate my performance for the welfare of my soul?
Of course, it is understood that prayer isn’t a lazy prayer. Here, Nephi is talking about a true prayer – with full purpose of heart. Sometimes, I say half-hearted prayers. I’m not sure that they qualify me for any kind of welfare from God.
Anyways…this post isn’t about how to pray, that would be a good discussion later. Instead, I want to think about point number 2.
2. There are blessings that I need which will be given to me, but only if I ask.
So…come along with me for a second…
In Luke 11, the disciples ask the Savior how to pray. He teaches them – with the Lord’s prayer. Most of us are familiar with it.
After he finishes with the prayer, he relates the following:
“5And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” – Luke 11:5-13
So, first Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray. Then he teaches them an important principle about prayer.
In the parable, if the friend hadn’t bothered his neighbor for bread, the neighbor wouldn’t have troubled himself in the middle of the night to help his friend out. In fact, his neighbor wouldn’t have even known of the need. Not only that, but the friend is persistent, causing the neighbor to concede – even though it is inconvenient for him.
After relating the parable, Christ says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” This is the key. If the friend did not take the time to ask, he wouldn’t have gotten the bread.
How often do I put off asking? All the time! Prayer is where we ask God. Not only that, sometimes asking once isn’t really enough. Sometimes, we need to be like the “friend” – we need to be importunate.
I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately. A few weeks ago, I realized that the Lord knows and understands my conditions. He knows I have little children. He knows I have a lot of responsibilities. He knows my callings, my desires, my stresses. Yet, nothing is changing in my life. There are still many demands. And this is because he knows that he can bless me, as he did Nephi, to fulfill the things that he has commanded me to do.
That realization brought me consolation, but weeks have passed, and I’m still feeling a little bit like a failure. I feel like I still haven’t received the blessings I need to accomplish what the Lord expects of me.
And now I see where I’m messing up. Yes, the Lord does have blessings that He’d like to give me – so I can fulfill the duties that he requires, but I need to ask.
I love what the Bible Dictionary teaches about prayer:
“The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. ” –Bible Dictionary: Prayer
So often I forget that God is already willing to grant me blessings, but my receiving them is conditional on my asking for them. DUH! Pray already!!!
And I totally understand this – I have children. There are times when my kids want something, say a drink of water. They may come to me, and say, “Mom, I’m thirsty.” I know what they mean. They want me to get them a drink. And I’d be happy to give them a drink, but I want them to learn to ask. As they’ve gotten older, I usually respond, “Okay.” or “I’m sorry.” My response is met with a little exasperation. I continue, aloof, until they get the picture and ask, “Mom, can you get me a drink of water?” Usually, I answer “Oh..you want a drink?…Sure!”
Of course, this scenario plays out between me and Heavenly Father so often. Perhaps, under my breath and in my prayers, I mutter “Life is so hard with a two-year-old an an infant.” And the feeling I get is, “Okay.” Or, “I’m sorry.” That is good to an extent – it is nice to know that God is sympathetic and willing to comfort me. However, what I really want is some kind of solution – which I won’t receive until I ask for it.
The awesomest part of all is knowing that the Lord is ready to bless us with exactly what we really need. As Christ taught, “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?” When we go to the Lord, humbly, diligently, and persistently, then we will blessed, and we will be blessed accordingly. He knows what we need, and He’s ready to bless us, we just need to ask.
Are there times when you struggle with prayer? What do you do to overcome it?