Sunday, July 23, 2017

Connecting With God Through Prayer

By Nicky Smith

Consider your prayers. How often do you pray? How often is it a dialogue between God and you?

A few years ago when I was praying to know what God wanted me to improve, He said: "Your prayers!" I have always prayed. I've always tried to avoid the trite phrases and the vain repetitions. But, when God told me to change how I prayed, I knew I needed to improve them, but I didn't know how. Over the past few years the Lord has helped me understand how He wants me to pray so that I can establish a better, stronger connection with Him. And, I know as I persevere in seeking Him, He will continue to help me improve. 

Alma 34 teaches us quite a bit about prayer. Amulek begins his teaching on prayer saying that our faith leads us to repent [faith means living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God to you and the result is that God will tell us how and of what to repent]. This repentance will then lead us to beg God for forgiveness of our sins. 
17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;
18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save. (Alma 34)
The remaining verses describe three types of prayer.

[1] Pray while busy at home and at work.
19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.
20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.
21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.
23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.
24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase. (Alma 34)

During the day we are usually pretty wrapped up in what we do, whether it be a job, housework, school, or taking care of children. I have five children whom I homeschool. We have lots of animals I am required to take care of, and a household to manage. I am always very busy and I also always have lots of noise around me. I have found that as I am wrapped up in my daily chores and duties, it is easy to forget the Lord and focus on the here-and-now. 

However, Amulek is saying that we need to pray while we are performing our work. These prayers, however, are not long and drawn out. Rather, they are usually quick and involve asking God for help in order to succeed in our daily activities.

I have come to learn that the Lord wants me to ask for help throughout the day as I accomplish my tasks. (e.g. How do I help my two year old learn to stay in bed at nap-time? How do I teach my five year old not to lie? How do I stop the chickens pecking the turkeys?) How often do you stop to offer a prayer up to the Lord and ask for help in the things you are doing? How often do you ask for direction in choices or problem-solving? Recently I realized that I don't involve the Lord enough in my daily decisions. Frequently I have to make decisions regarding homeschooling or I have to solve issues that arise with the children or the animals we have. But, I was using my best judgment or reading up online instead of taking it to the Lord to ask for His guidance. 

These prayers also involve asking the Lord what He wants us to do with our time. In other words, we ask Him what He wants us to do in any given moment. I have found it hard to get into a habit of doing this, but I am trying to do it. Frequently, the Lord will give me instructions on things He wants me to do right then. 

In addition, I have been shown that these prayers include asking the Lord how He wants me to respond to others. I have found that as I ask God how I should respond to my husband, children, and others, I can understand better how I can act in more Christlike ways. When I have an angry two year old throwing a temper or interact with someone else who is grumpy with me, as I turn to the Lord and ask Him how He wants me to respond, I am often shown how to show love to them. 

It has been hard for me to learn to converse with the Lord throughout the day. I am not where I am meant to be yet, but I am working on it. The Lord has shown me that without learning this necessary skill of conversing with Him throughout the day, I cannot overcome all my sins. I cannot become pure. I cannot become filled with charity. 

[2] Pray in your secret places
26 But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness. (Alma 34)
These prayers are far more involved than the first type of prayer. They are done in private, where it is just us kneeling before God. In these prayers we discuss everything with the Lord. 

Remembering to say this kind of prayer has never been hard for me. But, it has taken years to improve these prayers. Several months ago I started getting up at 5am in order to offer this kind of prayer. I also say them before I go to bed at night. Otherwise, I can't be sure I will not be interrupted by one of my children. In these prayers I explain what I am currently struggling with and I beg for more truth and experiences so that I can progress in these areas. I pray for all those I know are struggling or need help from Him. I express gratitude for the many blessings I have been given. I then just talk about everything that is going on in my life. 

Once I am done praying I continue kneeling, but I clear my mind of everything and I wait on the Lord to speak to me. Learning to hear His voice through revelation takes much time and practice, but as we persist, the Lord will speak to us. At first, as I did this, nothing would happen. It was tempting to quit, but after a few weeks I began to receive revelation from Him. Sometimes I am taught something I did not know before. Sometimes I am told of a sin I was not aware of which I need to repent of. Other times I am shown the current state of my faith. I have had many beautiful experiences as I have waited on the Lord for answers to my prayers. 

[3] Constantly commune with God in your heart 
27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you. (Alma 34)
In every other moment of our day we ought to be communing with the Lord. This involves continuously asking God to help us and others. It involves asking to be filled with God's love for others. 

In the end, with each of these types of prayer, prayer is not meant to be a monologue; rather, a dialogue. Having a constant dialogue with the Lord all day long will enable us to make decisions that align with His will. It will enable us to do and say and think the things He desires of us. If we are not hearing God speak back to us, we have work to do to improve our prayers. Even if we are receiving answers, there are ways we can improve our prayers to have greater experiences with Him. 

I have come to learn that prayer is the key to accessing the gift of charity. I am not there yet, but I can see how as I constantly pray for others and ask the Lord for help in how to respond to and deal with others, I will begin to become more charitable in all my words, thoughts, and actions. Eventually then the Lord can grant me that gift. In fact, Amulek alluded to this very thing in his discussion on prayer. 
28 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith.
29 Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men. (Alma 34)
Having a constant connection with God is the most important thing in spiritual progression. Learning how to pray and learning how to receive revelation are two skills that will enable us to have that constant connection with Him. As a result of this we will experience a greater abundance of the fruit of the spirit, including love, joy, and peace. 


  1. Thank you! Also want to say that I REALLY appreciate the simple straight forward way you are communicating this information. I need to work on all of these things you have suggested.

  2. This was beautiful and filled with truth! Thankyou! I will strive to do this more.

  3. Thank you for this post, you helped answer some of my own questions about how to pray during the activities of the day vs when we have ability to pour out our souls in private. God bless you!!


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