Study Series: Why Pray?

“If there lives a man who has never really prayed, that man is being apart from the order of the divine in human nature, a stranger in the family of God’s children.” -James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ p. 238

Prayer has been on my mind a lot lately. Why pray if Heavenly Father is going to do whatever He wants anyway? What is the purpose? Why we do we have to ask for everything? It’s an interesting concept. Obviously, I don’t understand a tenth of it, but from what I do understand, it is extremely important. I will attempt at focusing my thoughts here.

Think of God solely as our father right now, and I’m going to compare Him to what we understand now on this earth. If a dad has his brain on correctly, he wants to give his children everything. He wants them to have the world, and he would do absolutely anything for them to get there. But say that father has a child that’s fallen off the face of the earth, and he won’t listen to anything he tries to teach him. That father can’t accomplish anything to that child, unless the child actually wants it. That father really wants to give him peace, happiness and joy. But unless the child comes to his father and asks, that’s the last thing he will get.

We are here on earth so we can learn how to be Fathers and Mothers. There is a law that God has to follow, that we will have to follow once we get there, that forces nothing to go to His child unless we specifically ask for it. Let’s be honest–Heavenly Father can do anything. He can make me eat chocolate and not get fat. Is He going to do that, even if I ask? Of course not. I have to use my brain and go by His rules as well. But, of the things He can give me, by me…is infinite. Our Father’s got an ocean full of blessings that He really, really wants to give me. He’s dying at the fact that sometimes I just don’t ask for them, because He’s waiting to put them into my pile. Why don’t I just ASK?!

For example: a super small, but simple way that prayer works. I was hoping that this was a blessing that the Lord really wanted to go into my pile…or maybe it was just to let me know that He was there. Ha! Anyway, this morning, I got up at the usual time to workout to my new kickboxing DVD. I put it in, and it didn’t work. At all. It kept saying it was a bad disc…going on for about ten minutes. (These are precious ten minutes in the morning!) I almost gave up. But then I thought I’d just ask Him to help me out, because I really really wanted to do kickboxing–plus it would have been ten dollars wasted. I tried one more time, asked Him if this was a blessing in my pile, and WAHLAH! It worked! Now, my muscles are sore. That is the definition of a miracle. It took other powers beyond my own to get that thing working…no matter how small or insignificant may seem.

Don’t think you can ask only for major life decisions. Heavenly Father is wanting to help you out in any way possible…He would give anything for you to think of Him all day. However, before and after asking, comes the hard part…the part that most people don’t understand. We have to actually do something. Why would a father give his child something and have them sit on the couch to hope and pray they appreciate it? No matter how much the father tries, they wouldn’t fully understand it, unless the child uses what his father gave him. Which comes to the first question I asked, “Why pray if Heavenly Father is going to do whatever He wants anyway?” Well, let’s think about it. Does Heavenly Father really want everything going on in the world? Absolutely not. What’s going on in my neighbor’s life could be the opposite of what God really wants to be going on. We have to align our will with God’s. We need to want what He wants for us. How hard is that? Intensely. How much more peaceful am I (and God) when it actually happens? Extremely. He knows a heck of a lot more than you and I do, so let’s just do what He wants us to do.

Which brings me to my last thought. It’s exactly what I just said: the only purpose of prayer is to align our will with God’s will. We can ask for things that we think we need, but He will give us the things we truly need to help us rise to a higher plane of work and thought. One choice leads me to a new choice which leads to another choice, which I couldn’t have been on if I haven’t made the first one to begin with. That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what God needs us to do to make everything less painful. It’s like waking up in the middle of surgery before the doctor is done…yep, that’s gonna hurt.

I hope this all made sense, because it did to me. I hope that something will trigger something else in your brain to make you think of a new way to realize the concept of prayer. Make it a personal study while you’re at it. Look up ‘Prayer’ in the Bible Dictionary, read 1 Nephi 18:3, Ether 12:6, Jeremiah 28:12-13, Psalms 37:4-5, and Alma 5: 45-46. I’ll leave with one last quote from Joseph Smith that perfectly sums everything up…

“Be plain and simple and ask for what you want, just like you would to go a neighbor and say, I want to borrow your horse…remember that without asking we can receive nothing.” -Joseph Smith