Joseph came downstairs laughing after putting the boys to bed.
“Guess what Isaac prayed for tonight?”
“What?” There is never any point in guessing since Isaac always thinks of the last thing you’ll ever think of.
“He prayed for chocolate rain and two billion dollars under his pillow.”
(Now before you wonder if we are just money-loving chocolate addicts here at our house, let me quickly admit to the latter.)
This is one of my favorites. I think any combination of hazelnuts and Swiss chocolate is perfection in confection, but I digress!
Joseph then told me that the evening scripture study was based off of The Lord’s Prayer. Isaac and Elijah were most interested in the part about ‘vain repetitions.’
When I was a child, I remember wondering why, after opening our prayer, we always said “We are thankful for the stay.” When I finally realized everyone was saying, “Thankful for this day,” I felt like I had been conned all those years!
Here are a few other phrases that I have heard in all the different places we’ve lived:
- Please bless us that we can have a good day. (God’s version of a ‘good’ day might be different than ours…He is interested in our eternal progression we often are just asking for nice weather, no technical difficulties, and no hindrances.)
- Please bless this food so it will nourish and strengthen our bodies. (Perhaps instead of thinking how our food will affect us, we can just thank God for providing food for us.)
- Please bless all those who are not here this week that they can be here next week. (I’m sure this has been said many times with sincere sentiments..but consider this version: Please help us to know what we can do to make sure ______ knows we would love to have her family here with us.)
- Please bless the missionaries. (Elder Bednar tackled this one in this talk in 2008. His point was much like the one above- what part are we playing in helping the Lord’s work along?)
Perhaps you see one of these that you often say in your prayers. Does that mean your prayers are vain and repetitious? Nope. And maybe. We all know what auto-pilot prayers feel like. I sure do!
On the other hand, during a difficult time in my life, I confided in my recently-returned missionary brother that every morning my prayers went like this: “Please help me through the day….please…please please please….” He responded, “beware vain repetitions!” God and I knew that my prayers had never been more sincere…
The point is that a ‘surface prayer’ (usually under circumstances like these: “Hurry and say the prayer! The food is getting cold!” or after tucking in for the night “I need to pray! I wonder if it counts if I’m laying down..” or in Sacrament Meeting “I really need to say something deep”) counts for vain repetitions.
And the prayer that takes all the energy of our soul, all the focus of our mind, with our mind’s eye seeing our words falling on Heaven’s ears, then we are praying, as Enos did, in “mighty” prayer.
Thanks for studying with me today!
S: (Prayer/Ask) How do my prayers compare to what my Father in Heaven expects from me, His child?
- Here is the bible video of Jesus teaching His disciples about prayer
- I love this promise Elder Bednar gives:
Prayer is a privilege and the soul’s sincere desire. We can move beyond routine and “checklist” prayers and engage in meaningful prayer as we appropriately ask in faith and act, as we patiently persevere through the trial of our faith, and as we humbly acknowledge and accept “not my will, but Thine, be done.” (Ask In Faith, 2008)
- From this most recent General Conference, President Eyring gave this quote from Joseph F. Smith:
“We do not have to cry unto him with many words. We do not have to weary him with long prayers. What we do need, and what we should do as Latter-day Saints, for our own good, is to go before him often, to witness unto him that we remember him and that we are willing to take upon us his name, keep his commandments, work righteousness; and that we desire his Spirit to help us.” (Priesthood and Personal Prayer, 2015)
- From another talk, read how Elder Bednar describes the prayers of the 12 Apostles:
The most meaningful and spiritual prayers I have experienced contained many expressions of thanks and few, if any, requests. As I am blessed now to pray with apostles and prophets, I find among these modern-day leaders of the Savior’s Church the same characteristic that describes Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon: these are men whose hearts swell with thanksgiving to God for the many privileges and blessings which He bestows upon His people (see Alma 48:12). Also, they do not multiply many words, for it is given unto them what they should pray, and they are filled with desire (see 3 Nephi 19:24). The prayers of prophets are childlike in their simplicity and powerful because of their sincerity. (Pray Always, 2008)
- Here is a link to a powerful list of scriptures from the index of the LDS scriptures. Before clicking on any one of them, scan through the whole list. Open your heart to know which one will help you improve your prayers! I really wanted to copy the whole list here, but it would be a lot of scrolling! If there is anything you do click on while reading this, read this link!!! Just a suggestion 😉
- Do you know the tune to this hymn, Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire?
- Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,Uttered or unexpressed,The motion of a hidden fireThat trembles in the breast.
- Prayer is the burden of a sigh,The falling of a tear,The upward glancing of an eyeWhen none but God is near.
- Prayer is the simplest form of speechThat infant lips can try;Prayer, the sublimest strains that reachThe Majesty on high.
- Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,The Christian’s native air,His watchword at the gates of death;He enters heav’n with prayer.
- Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,Returning from his ways,While angels in their songs rejoiceAnd cry, “Behold, he prays!”
- The Saints in prayer appear as oneIn word and deed and mind,While with the Father and the SonTheir fellowship they find.
- Nor prayer is made on earth alone:The Holy Spirit pleads,And Jesus at the Father’s throneFor sinners intercedes.
- O thou by whom we come to God,The Life, the Truth, the Way!The path of prayer thyself hast trod;Lord, teach us how to pray.
- Think about your life’s timeline in terms of prayer. When have you had particularly thoughtful, sincere prayers? When have your prayers slipped a little, becoming mostly ‘surface prayers’? To what would you attribute these two times?
- What do you think deeper prayers will bring to your daily life? Why?
- What is your favorite story from the scriptures that includes a prayer? Look it up in the scriptures and read through it.
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 do my prayers compare to what my Father in Heaven expects from me, His child?)
- What would you say are three steps to deeper prayers? Write down the steps that you come up with.
- Look back to the lyrics of Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire. Which verse resonates with you right now? Sing it! =) Here is the link for the tune. Or, write down the verse into your scripture journal.
E: (Prayer/Thank)- thank God for what you’ve learned and ask if there is anymore.
The Challenge: For a set period of time, make a commitment to deepen your prayers by following your three steps that you wrote.
click here for more information on s’more scripture study method