Heavenly Father also expects us to communicate with Him. Prayer is His divinely appointment system for doing so (see Matthew 6:6). The world’s systems of communication have continued to evolve, but God’s system has remained the same since the Creation. In the scriptures, the Lord is clear in His instruction to “pray always” (see Luke 21:36; 2 Nephi 32:9; D&C 10:5; 75:11).
Prayer has been a very important part of my life, whether making important decisions such as who to marry or which field of study I should focus on. As a father, it has been wonderful to gather my family together and pray. It has been heart-warming to see my children ask for a blessing. That tells me they have learned the importance of prayer and are seeing its role in their own lives.
The standard works teach us much about the role and importance of prayer. Heavenly Father permitted Nephi to see Lehi’s vision. Nephi’s brothers wanted to also understand the things he had seen (see 1 Nephi 15:7). As his brothers asked him questions, Nephi responded with his own: “Have ye inquired of the Lord?” (1 Nephi 15:8). In other words: Have you prayed? He was trying to teach them a process of problem-solving. Confusion and indecision can be solved by praying to the Lord. He will assist us in finding answers and providing clarity.
On the day my wife was to deliver our first child, she was in labor from 7:00 am until 5:00 pm. At 4:30pm, the nurse who was in a room with us, without saying a word, quickly left. Within seconds she was back with the doctor. The doctor took a look at the monitor and said, “Quickly, let us go; we need to operate.” Seeing their concern, I knew something was wrong. I asked the doctor if I could have a second with my wife. Even though time was critical, he agreed.
I offered one of the shortest prayers I have ever given in my life. But it was sincere. In less than 10 minutes, which seemed like a lifetime, our daughter arrived. The colour of her skin had turned grey, but she was breathing and declared healthy. Later I learned how close we had come to losing her. I learned from this experience that God has no strict formula for prayer as long as we are sincere. He also does not care where we give the prayer, as long as we acknowledge Him. He will hear us and respond in His own time and way. I also learned that sometimes our prayers are immediately answered.
Earlier I mentioned the use of the Internet and the cell phone. At the airport or in any public transportation system, it is interesting to notice how many people are caught up on their phones or tablets. As soon as an airplane lands, most passengers turn on their phones and continue conversing from where they left off. Most want to be in touch with their loved ones. We need to remember that communicating with our Heavenly Father is even more critical.
If prayer is so important in our lives, why it is sometimes difficult to pray? The Bible Dictionary provides an answer: “. . . difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship.” What relationship? “God is our Father, and we are His children.” Once this relationship is acknowledged, “then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part.” President Thomas S. Monson taught, “Men and women of integrity, character, and purpose have ever recognized a power higher than themselves and have sought through prayer to be guided by that power. Such has it ever been. So shall it ever be.”(2)
The commandment is clear: “Pray always,” and the promise is also profound: “that you may come off conqueror” (D&C 10:5).
1. See “History of Communication,” historyworld.net.
2. Thomas S. Monson, “The Prayer of Faith,” Ensign, May 1978, 20.