Have you ever heard a parent say to a sobbing child, “Use your words!” I think God says that to me a lot.
Why would a parent expect their child to speak their need? If all the children sitting around a table have full cups of juice, but the three year old’s cup is empty and he is crying– isn’t it rather obvious to the parent what is wrong? If the parent automatically fills the juice cup, the immediate problem is solved and the crying stops. (Lets be honest, its very wonderful when crying stops). But why would some say the parent has done the child a disservice?
Consider this instead:
parent: please tell me what I can do to help you.
parent: you need to tell me so I know what I can do to help you.
child: (sniff, sniff) can I have some juice too?
parent: of course!
Resolution! But not just immediate problem resolution. The juice cup is filled, the crying has stopped, but the child has learned something. I can calm myself down, I can verbalize my pain, and I interact with the world to get what I need, and-my parent is there for me when I need them!
Prayer is much the same! We are running around the earth, we see everyone else’s juice cup filled, we just want some too, but its just so hard to stop crying and carrying on and say it to our Parent, “Please…please help me.”
From the Bible Dictionary (a most under-read treasure!):
Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.
We expect our children to speak their needs even though we know them (mostly, ha.) God expects us to speak our needs even though He knows them. (see Matthew 6:8)
Boyd K. Packer on multiple occasions in General Conference addresses has made this point:
No message in scripture is repeated more often than the invitation, even the command, to pray—to ask.
We are children of a Father who really wants us to put in the work to pray and to put in the faith to communicate.
Here is Elder Scott from the most recent General Conference:
The first tool is prayer. Choose to converse with your Father in Heaven often. Make time every day to share your thoughts and feelings with Him. Tell Him everything that concerns you. He is interested in the most important as well as the most mundane facets of your life. Share with Him your full range of feelings and experiences.
Because He respects your agency, Father in Heaven will never force you to pray to Him. But as you exercise that agency and include Him in every aspect of your daily life, your heart will begin to fill with peace, buoyant peace. That peace will focus an eternal light on your struggles. It will help you to manage those challenges from an eternal perspective.
With these thoughts in mind here is the accompanying scripture smore. Enjoy your studies!
S: (Prayer/Ask) How can I work harder and have more faith when it comes to my communications with God?
- Read the rest of the Bible Dictionary entry on prayer here
- Study this talk from Elder Bednar, Ask In Faith.
- Study at least two of the scriptures he cites. Here is a list of them: James 1:5–6, Joseph Smith—History 1:10, 18, James 2:20, D&C 58:28, Luke 17:5, Ether 12:6, Ether 12:12–15, D&C 10:47, Luke 22:42, 44
- Look again at the quote from Elder Scott cited above. Which part resonates with you? Can you think of any scriptures that teaches one of the principles in his statement?
- How often is my heart drawn out unto prayer?
- Think of someone you consider prayerful. What attributes do you think stems from a prayerful heart and mind?
R: (Write) your thoughts, what you learned, impressions you received, and anything else in your scripture journal (include your thoughts on the study session question: How can I work harder and have more faith when it comes to my communications with God?) Also consider writing down the following:
- write down a specific challenge for yourself to improve your prayers.
- copy down your favorite scripture from the list above, or one of your personal favorite verses about prayer.
E: (Prayer/Thank)- thank God for what you’ve learned and ask if there is anymore.
The Challenge: What specific action will you take to improve the prayers during your days? Tell me about it too! =)
click here for more information on s’more scripture study method