Elder Siu Hong Pon of the Seventy
We are sons and daughters of God our Heavenly Father, who loves us and knows our needs. He wants us to communicate with Him through prayer - pray to Him and no one else. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us that “ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;”1 we will know our Heavenly Father better and draw ever nearer to Him when approaching Him in prayer becomes a habit in our lives. Our desires will become more like His.
I remember when the missionaries first taught me how to communicate with Heavenly Father, they taught me the four steps to offer a prayer. Other than the four steps, I did not have a deep understanding about prayers then. Thus, most of my prayers were as if “picking up the telephone and ordering groceries … place [my] order and hang up” 2 or “only a spasmodic cry at the time of crisis … come to think of God as a repairman or a service agency to help [me] only in [my] emergencies.“3 As I grew in the Church through further learning from scriptures and teachings of our Church leaders, I have gained better understanding in what manner I should have when communicating with God in prayer.
President Hinckley taught, “We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another.”4 President Hunter also taught that “we should remember the Most High day and night-always-not only at times when all other assistance has failed and we desperately need help.”5 The prophet Mormon also warned that if anyone “shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.”6 In order to have meaningful prayers, we must be humble and pray with sincerity and “with all the energy of heart.”7 We also learnt from our Savior that we must be careful to avoid “vain repetitions” when we pray.8
When we seek Heavenly Father's guidance and strength in all we do, we should take Alma’s counsel to his son Helaman as good counsel to ourselves. “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.”9
Heavenly Father expects us to do more than merely ask Him for blessings. He often requires us to “study it out in [our] mind” before He will give us an answer. 10 If we pray for guidance, He would expect us to be receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. If we pray for our own welfare and for the welfare of others, our prayer will yet be in vain if we “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.” 11 Heavenly Father will help us in all our righteous pursuits, but He seldom will do something for us that we can do ourselves.
President James E. Faust taught us that “many prayers are spoken while we are on our knees…but silent prayers of the heart also reach to heaven. We sing, ‘Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed.’ 12 … Jeremiah counsels us to pray with all our heart and soul.13 Enos recounted how his soul had hungered and that he had prayed all the day long. 14 Prayers vary in their intensity. Even the Savior ‘prayed more earnestly’ in His hour of agony.15 … Blessings sought through prayer sometimes require work, effort, and diligence on our part.
“For example, at times fasting is appropriate as a strong evidence of our sincerity. As Alma testified to the people of Zarahemla: ‘I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit.’16 When we fast we humble our souls,17 which brings us more in tune with God and His holy purposes.”18
Prayer is a two-way communication. As we close our prayers, we should take time to pause and listen. Such moment is necessary for Heavenly Father to counsel, guide, or comfort us while we are on our knees. His response often comes through the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit or, depending on the circumstances we are in, it may also come through kind acts of those around us.
Sometimes we may feel that we are not worthy to communicate with Heavenly Father. Alma taught us that “….For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.”19 Satan always wants to tempt or convince us that we must not pray. However, our Savior has taught us, “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.”20 We should let our “hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto [God] continually”21 no matter where we are. We can silently express gratitude to our Father and ask Him to strengthen us in our responsibilities, and help us in times of temptation or physical danger.
I testify that our communication channel with Heavenly Father is open all the time. No earthly authority can separate or stop us from having direct access to our Heavenly Father. There can never be a mechanical or electronic failure when we pray. There is no limit to the number of times or how long we can pray each day. There is no quota on the number of needs we can wish and pray for in each prayer. He is reachable at any time and from any place. The channel of communication with Heavenly Father may be blocked only when we choose not to communicate with Him or, when we have sinned that we are not able to receive whisperings of the Holy Spirit. Repentance is the way to remove all blocks in our communication channel with Heavenly Father. I testify that Heavenly Father loves us and He loves to communicate with His children, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. ■
Caption: Elder Siu Hong Pon
1 3 Nephi 18:19.
2 See Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (1997), 469.Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley
3 See Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 39.The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter
4 Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (1997), 469.Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley
5 Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 39.The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter
6 Moroni 7:9.
7 Moroni 7:48.
8 See Matthew 6:7.
9 Alma 37:36-37; see also Alma 34:17-26.
10 See Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-8.
1 See Alma 34:27-29.
12 “Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire,” Hymns, no. 145.Hymns,
13 See Jeremiah 29:13.
14 See Enos 1:4.
15 Luke 22:44.
16 Alma 5:46.
17 See Psalms 35:13.
18 James E. Faust, “The Lifeline of Prayer,” Ensign, May 2002, 60; lds.org/general-conference/2002/04/the-life-of-prayer?Ensign
19 2 Nephi 32:8.
20 Doctrine and Covenants 10:5.
21 Alma 34:27; see also 3 Nephi 20:1.