Prayer is very important to Mormons. It is a way of staying in close contact with our Heavenly Father, of communicating with Him our feelings, joys, sorrows, and needs. In return, it is also the means God uses to communicate with us.
Because Mormons believe in a very personal God who is literally our Father, we love Him and want to stay in touch with Him even though we’re currently living a great distance away. We also know how much He wants to stay in touch with us, and communicate to us whatever we need to make wise choices during our time on earth and to bring us comfort and a realization of His love for us.
Mormons pray often. Their days begin with a personal prayer, a couple prayer if married, and then a family prayer if there are others in the household. They repeat this process in the evening. During the day, Mormons pray before each meal. They also pray at any time they have special needs-leaving the home, starting a new job, struggling with school or making decisions, for instance. Mormons often pray continually throughout their day, maintaining an ongoing conversation with God as they work to live the gospel out in the world.
Mormons also pray often in their meetings. Before church meetings and activities, there is always an opening prayer, and then a closing prayer at the end of the meeting. During the primary worship service, called Sacrament Meeting, Mormons also have a special prayer to bless the sacrament, which is similar to communion in many churches.
Mormon prayers only occasionally have set words to say, and these are in special situations, such as the blessing of the sacrament. Personal prayers, and the prayers offered to open and close meetings, are given from the heart of the person chosen to pray. As a lay church, any member in good standing might be asked to give the prayer in a meeting, including the women. They open the prayer by addressing God by name, often saying, “Dear Heavenly Father” or “Our beloved Father in Heaven.” They then offer thanks for blessings they’ve received from God, being specific in their list. This is followed, if desired, by a request for those things the person praying or the group being prayed for needs from God, always asking that God’s will, not their own, be done. They then talk to God about anything they choose, opening a personal communication with Him. Finally, they close the prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, and say Amen.
Members are encouraged to turn to God as the source of all truth. Prior to joining the church, investigators-those learning about the church-are told they must pray to God to learn if the church is true and if He wants them to join. While members of the church can share their testimonies, in the end, only God can give us an answer we can’t dispute. He is the source of all truth and can be trusted to tell us what is true. Investigators are told to find their own testimonies.
Those who trust God know He can do anything. In James 1:5 of the King James Bible, we are taught that if we lack wisdom, we can ask God and He will tell us what we need to know. Mormons trust God and know that if He wants us to ask Him, He will also be able to answer us in such a way we are able to recognize His voice as His. We can trust Him to make His voice known to us.
After studying the gospel and beginning to read the Book of Mormon, a person can pray and tell God what he thinks about all this so far. Then he can wait quietly on his knees for an answer. Sometimes it takes time to receive the answer. Sometimes it’s because we need more practice praying for small things. Other times, God simply wants us to learn “line upon line,” understanding small things first. When the answer comes, the response that we have chosen well comes as a peaceful, warm, loving feeling in our hearts. This clearly comes from God because Satan can never bring joy, love, or peace.
We must approach this request for wisdom with complete faith and with a commitment to follow through on what God tells us. We have to be willing to act on whatever God tells us if we’re going to take His time and expect an answer.
God loves us and always communicates with us when we come to Him. He always answers our prayers. He may answer yes, no, or not yet, but we can trust Him to do for us whatever is best for us.