Learning how to Pray

I have a personal testimony of prayer. I know it works. I can quote you scriptures about it. But I haven’t always practice what I know to be true. I know – this sounds dumb.

There have been times in my life when I’ve prayed a lot. When I was a single mom, I prayed diligently – morning and night. I cried, I laughed, I pleaded: I prayed. Lately, my prayers have gotten sloppy and casual. I knew that there was a problem with this kind of prayers.

I have always been intrigued by the experience of the Brother of Jared:

“And it came to pass at the end of four years that the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.” – Ether 2:14

I wasn’t there, so I can’t tell for sure, but it is hard for me to think that the Brother of Jared had stopped praying – completely. It’s hard for me to think that the Brother of Jared hadn’t offered prayers on the food, or nightly with his family. I mean, maybe he even prayed personally.

But maybe he hadn’t really called on God’s name. Maybe he hadn’t counseled with God and supplicated him.

I don’t know…but I feel like I can relate.

It’s not like I don’t pray. I mean, I do: while I’m lying in bed, flirting with sleep; or while I’m driving, running, showering. I pray when I find it convenient. I pray with my family, and I teach them to pray…but I haven’t really prayed the way I should, and I think that the Lord could just as easily give me the chastisement he gave to the Brother of Jared.

A few weeks ago, we studied the story of Enos for Family Home Evening. It was the night before I decided to make my most recent 21-day habit of prayer. It was just the inspiration I needed:

“And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.” – Enos 1:2-4

Throughout the past (nearly) three weeks, I’m finally becoming like Enos with my prayers…

  • My soul hungers – now that I’ve been praying, really praying, morning and night, my soul hungers for those prayers. In fact, the morning and nightly prayers don’t seem to be enough. I have found myself, often, going to my closet, kneeling, and offering a short prayer for needed comfort, blessings, and help. The more I pray, the more I want to pray.
  • I kneel before my maker – I am becoming more cognizant of the real humility required in true prayer. Kneeling – paying reverence to my Heavenly Father, my maker. It is an honor for us to be able to pray. And we’re not just talking to some dude. We are communicating with Him who created us. I have always underestimated the power and need to kneel. Now that I’m kneeling for my prayers, I feel a little ashamed that I have been so casual with my relationship with Heavenly Father in the past.
  • I cried in mighty prayer and supplication – I’m working on this. My prayers aren’t always mighty, but I’m getting better. Prayer, like just about everything else, takes practice. I know that my prayers are getting better. I’m gaining faith as I pray more. The increased faith makes my prayers mightier. I know it isn’t me who is the source of might in my prayer, it is that I trust in God’s power and might.
  • All the day long I did cry unto him – I don’t spend my entire day on the floor in my closet, but I have noticed that through formally praying, day and night, my entire life has become more prayerful.

    Lately, I have been struggling with confidence. I feel very frustrated with my weight. Often, this frustration leads to extremely negative thoughts – about my very self worth. I recognize that this sounds silly, but it happens and has been for several months.

    Before the daily prayers, these thoughts would get the best of me, and I would feel so depressed that I’d kind of give up. I’d get angry with my children, I would be lazy about my duties, I would question my value as a woman. The depressing thoughts would turn into a downward spiral of sadness and negativity. Not good…

    Well, I have started praying. The negative thoughts haven’t stopped, but thanks to prayer, I feel empowered. The other day, the cycle was beginning, I was frustrated, and telling myself that I was horrible. I realized that these thoughts were lies, yet they felt so convincing. I felt prompted to pray, really pray. I set the T-Rex and Sasquatch in their high-chairs, with some food, and excused myself (as if I were to go to the bathroom). I knew I didn’t have much time, but I went into my closet, and kneeled to pray.

    The thoughts didn’t dissipate, but I felt the Lord strengthen me to know the truth. He loves me. I am His daughter. I am a good mother. I am a good and attractive wife. After praying, I knew that I could continue to work on having healthy habits and see my goal come to fruition. It would take time, but I didn’t need to give up hope.

I’m so grateful for prayer. Really. I have had a testimony in prayer for a long time, but I always kind of waited to pray for when I really needed something. I can’t believe that I’ve been going along for so long without giving fervent prayers. I have robbed myself of blessings and, more importantly, an increased relationship with my Heavenly Father and myself. I am grateful that I can repent, and that Heavenly Father is patient and merciful.

So…when you left your room this morning, Did you think to pray? How does prayer help you?

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1 Comment

  1. In Sacrament meeting today my son and I were flipping through the Gospel Art Book and we stopped on the picture of Enos. My son knows the story pretty well, but he asked me “Why did he pray all day long?” It stopped me for a second because my only thought was “Good question” and then I thought about how badly Enos wanted to commune with God, and I wondered if my prayers were cutting it.

    It’s always good to evaluate our relationship with our Father. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply

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