I honestly have so many thoughts on this topic, so I’m sorry in advance if my thoughts are all over the place! I want to talk about what the Book of Mormon teaches us about being prayerful, and I’ll add in my personal testimony and experience.
Before we dive in, I want to acknowledge how incredible prayer is! It is literally our communication tool to have a conversation with God, our Heavenly Father! Yes, we are living apart from our Father in Heaven at the moment, but of course He wants to keep in close contact with us, His children! He is a Parent who loves and worries about His own children; there is no doubt that the reason why He gave us a way to keep in contact with Him is out of His love for us!
Okay, let’s look at what the Book of Mormon teaches us about what it means to be prayerful and why it is an important Christlike attribute.
In 2 Nephi 32: 8-9, it says,
“...For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the devil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray. But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint…that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.”
First of all, if the devil is trying hard to keep God’s children from praying, it must be important. Satan only attacks those things that are contrary to God’s will. In this verse, I love that the Lord asks us to pray so He can consecrate our performances for the welfare of our souls. God is perfect. He already has it all! He has literally nothing to do but to help His children succeed and feel joy. The only way he can completely do that is if we pray to Him always.
Let’s look at another one: 3 Nephi 18:18 says,
“Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.”
The Lord actually uses the words “pray always” 3 times in this chapter. I’ve always wondered about what praying always means. There was a time where I thought it meant to start my day with “Dear Heavenly Father…” and just keep one big long prayer for the whole day and end my day with “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” There was a point in my mission where this question really bothered me. I counseled with my companion and she also expressed the same concern. One day, we had the opportunity to help a sister in a ward weed her garden, and as we were weeding and talking, she told us about her experience with taking care of her bedridden mother. She said it is so hard to not be able to know exactly what her mother needs and how to help her. She said the only reason why she gets through each day with taking care of her mom, is because she talks with Heavenly Father while she is taking care of her. She tells Heavenly Father how she is feeling at the moment, she asks what she needs to do next, and she waits for answers. This is all going on in her heart while moving her hands. My companion and I looked at each other like, I cannot believe this. This sister had no idea that we were struggling with this question and that what she shared with us literally was the answer to our prayers. Praying always is always having Him in our hearts. God knows our hearts (Alma 18:32) and if our hearts are looking towards Him, it is a prayer. As we Remember Him throughout our day, it means we are praying always.
This last scripture is my favorite: Alma 37:36-37 says,
“Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day. “
I absolutely love the word “Counsel.” I see the word counsel as throwing ideas at each other, having a good and meaningful conversation, and listening to each other. As I have developed a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father through prayer, I am starting to see prayer as a two-way communication instead of a one-way communication. Heavenly Father is so patient that He will love to listen to what you have to say, but I’m sure He has some things to say as well. He is a parent; there are times when He wants to give us hints or advice, there are times when He just wants to let us know He loves us. There also may be times where He is silent because He wants to give us the opportunity to think and grow.
I could go on and on about how I feel about prayer and I have so many stories to tell, but to sum everything up, I truly know that prayer is a way that we communicate with our perfect, loving Heavenly Father. Prayer is not a phone call to put in our want/need order, but it is a way to get to know our Father and to align our will to His. He has so many things He wants to communicate to us, so listen. Directing our thoughts always to our Father will bring us true JOY.
Article written by Jessica Kakegawa
Jessica has an Utahn father and a Japanese mother. She was born in the States but moved to Japan soon after and has lived in Japan for a total of 10 years. She comes from a unique cultural background having two cultures in her home. She served her mission in Tokyo, Japan and married one of the Japanese elders she served with. She currently works at the Missionary Training Center as a Native Japanese Teacher and also goes to Utah Valley University to study Mathematics Education. She has a great passion for missionary work and loves teaching people of the joy that the gospel brings. She has a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and could talk about it all day. She has a strong sense of optimism that comes through her knowledge and testimony of who God is, and her relationship with the Savior.