What is the best way for a disciple to develop a close, personal relationship with Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father? We learn who They are through following the commandments. We learn what we mean to Them through prayer.
Prayer is an open line of communication between us and the heavens. It can, and should be, a conversation with a dear friend. It is talking out your joys, your worries, your fears and ambitions with the Lord through prayer that allows Him into our lives. Inviting Him in invites his blessings and guidance.
How do we build this type of relationship? Part of it is remembering that prayer is an active connection with deity. As a result, our prayers need to be active as well.
Because prayer should become a part of our daily lives, it runs the risk of becoming so routine that we forget its true purpose. We go through the motions, but our prayers become repetitive, wandering and empty. A disciple of Christ is trying to focus his life around the Savior in every way possible. Perhaps one of the most important ways is to maintain that focus during our prayers. A disciple’s prayers are prayers of action.
What do I mean by action? I mean taking an active roll in all the aspects of our lives that we include in our prayers: thankfulness, forgiveness, and pleadings.
Here’s a simple example. A typical prayer before a meal includes a thanks for the food and maybe a request to bless it for our nourishment. What difference would it make if we made this prayer a little more active? Perhaps it might include a request for us to express love and gratitude for the hands that prepared the meal. Perhaps it’s a greater appreciation for the blessings of bounty. It might even include a discussion about your health and the blessings of a physical body, a request to help you be more mindful of your physical needs, or support for changes to your diet that you are trying to make. The result is an active conversation and a commitment to action on your part.
The same principle applies to all aspects of prayer. When we pray for forgiveness, are we asking for guidance and strength to do our part in making things right? Are we praying for those involved in our error, or only ourselves? Are we acknowledging the great gift of the atonement that makes our repentance possible? Or are we simply stating a closed request for mercy and grace.
Prayers for our needs and concerns can include requests for specific help and guidance. Including our thoughts and ideas about the situation and what we think we can do to help Him, helps us show a commitment to seek His will. We need to really talk to Him, tell Him every aspect of our fears and concerns, and tell Him our desires— though He knows our hearts already. When we do this we are actively opening our heart and mind, humbling ourselves before Him, and asking for the faith and courage to do His will.
Prayers for others carry the same responsibility. Pray for them with sincere intent. Rather than a trite “Please bless” talk to your Heavenly Father about your concerns for them. Imagine what they must be feeling. Ask Him to provide them with comfort and peace. Ask Him what you can do to be an instrument in that peace. Listen to the Spirit, then obey.
Prayers of action require action. Not only do they require us to approach the prayer itself with focus and purpose, but they also commit us to following through with those things we have brought before the Lord. Prayers of action are conversations with an Elder Brother, a loving Father, an understanding friend. We talk, He listens. He talks, we listen. Prayers of action touch heaven and return with blessings of joy.