Talk on Prayer

Hello! My name is Krissy Ellsworth and I have been called to serve in the Germany Berlin Mission.

Well, here I am. I’ve been looking forward to serving a mission for many years. All of my efforts and prepartion have culminated to this point in my life. The hour of my mission is nigh at hand and I am overjoyed that I will get to devote all of my time and energy to serving the Lord and my brothers and sisters in Germany.

The topic I’ve been asked to speak on is prayer, of which I have a really strong testimony.  To start off my talk, I’d like to read to you the words of one of my favorite hymns.

Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray?

In the name of Christ our savior, did you sue for loving favor as a shield today?

When your heart was filled with anger, did you think to pray?

Did you plead for grace, my brother, that you might forgive another who had crossed your way?

When sore trials came upon you, did you think to pray?

When your soul was full of sorrow, balm of Gilead did you borrow at the gates of day?

Oh, how praying rests the weary. Prayer will change the night to day.

So when life gets dark & dreary, don’t forget to pray.

This hymn is one of my favorites because it serves as a reminder that the more demands and trials are thrown in my way, the more I need to communicate with Heavenly father to ask for help.  The words are simple, but the message is clear: I found three distinct purposes for prayer expressed in these three verses. First, that the “loving favor” of the lord can serve as a protection for us during the day. Second, prayer can keep us from harboring anger in our hearts & help us forgive others. Third, prayer will ease our burdens in times of sorrow and trial. The Lord promises us these wonderful blessings and many more when we seek to communicate with Him in faith. He knows us, individually,. He knows our needs and is always ready & willing to “open the door when we knock.”

I know from experience that even at least a couple of minutes devoted to prayer in the morning can change my attitude for the better throughout the day.  I have felt its amazing power & have received countless blessings throughout my life.

I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned over the years about prayer in a “who-what-where-when-how-why” fashion.  It may be that we’ve all heard these truths many times, but hopefully someone will learn something new.

-Who do we pray to?

-We pray to our Father in Heaven and no one else. We pray in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ.

-What should we pray for?

Everyone’s prayers are different. We all have different needs, different trials, different feelings. Some of the things I pray for on a daily basis are:

– The Lord’s spirit to be with me.

-the protection of loved ones

-the capactiy to forgive myself and others

-faith to accept God’s will

-to view things from an eternal perspective, from God’s view

-for help to improve myself

-help to reslove dilemmas, make hard decisions, Overcome bad feelings toward others, get over my fears, and even for help to find lost keys or cell phones. I used to not think so, but the small things are important, too!

Sheri Dew has said, “Is anything too insignificant to discuss with the Lord? Is any heartache too petty? Is any anxiety or worry too trivial? Is any weakness too insignificant to deal with? The lord doesn’t think so. He has invited us to weary Him with our requests and needs. He has counseled us to pray over our flocks and fields, to cry unto Him for all of His support, to counsel with Him in ALL our doings so that He can direct us for good.”

Where?

-Where do we pray? Pray anywhere, and everywhere….

When?

I heard a story a while ago in General Conference about a Primary teacher who asked a little boy if he said his prayers every night.

“Yes,” he replied.

“And do you always say them in the morning, too?” the teacher asked.

“Nope,” the boy replied. “I ain’t scared in the daytime.”

We all have our fears, but what this little boy needed to learn is that we should pray always—not only at night when we’re afraid of the boogie monster—or whatever.

D&C 10:5 states “Pray always, that you may come off conquerer; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.”

-Pray when you are working and when you are playing. Pray when you are prompted and pray when you are tempted—particularly when you don’t feel like it at all.  If we do not feel like praying, we should pray until we do feel like praying.

Heber j. Grant taught about the importance of praying in all we do.

He said, “Get down on your knees and pray to God to guide you in all you do. The minute a man stops supplicating God for his spirit and directions just so soon he starts out to become a stranger to him and his works. When men stop praying for God’s spirit, they place confidence in their own unaided reason, and they gradually lose the spirit of God, just the same as near and dear friends, by never writing to or visiting with each other, will become strangers. We should all pray that God may never leave us alone for a moment without his spirit to aid and assist us in withstanding sin and temptation.”

-How do we pray?

-We can pray vocally or in secret. We can have a prayer in our hearts. A prayer can be sung in a hymn, whispered, or even thought. It can be as short as one word, “HELP! or as long as you wish.

I heard another story about a seminary teacher who suggested to his students that they spend at least 15 minutes a day in personal prayer. They all thought that was way too long. One student came up to him later and said, I just don’t think I can think of that much to say. The teacher asked, Don’t you spend at least that much time every day talking to your best friend? She said, of course! The teacher said, then give some thought as to why it is that you have more to talk over with your friend than you do with the Lord.

We can always ask in a prayer what to say in a prayer if we need to.

I have a good friend, who was recently baptized into the church. She asked me if I could teach her how to pray, and I was happy to do so.  She was really worried about praying in front of everyone at church. She confessed to me that she was intimidated by all of the smart students in the ward. I told her that attending church in Cambridge, MA will do that to you once in awhile.  But then I quoted to her something Joseph F Smith said,

“The Lord can hear a simple prayer offered in faith, in half a dozen words, and he will recognize fasting that may not continue more than 24 hours, just as readily and as effectually as he will answer a prayer of a thousand words and fasting for a month.”

Why should we pray?

As I was pondering about the importance of prayer, I came up with so many reasons.  I’m sure we all have different reasons to pray, but let me share with you the top ten reasons why I pray, in no particular order.

1. It is a commandment. The Lord Jesus Christ has told us several times in the scriptures to pray to our Heavenly Father in His name.

2. I pray to know God. “The concept of knowing God implies developing our relationship with him as our Heavenly Father. Essential to this development is our experiencing daily two-way communication in prayer.” Jill Todd Banfield (Draw Near Unto Me)

3. I pray to show my gratitude. We are showered with blessings every single day that range from simply having a roof over our head to being able to see, hear, and enjoy all of God’s creations around us.  We should be anxious to thank God for everything we have.

4. to constantly have the spirit with me.  Patricia T. Holland once said, “If we listen too often to the voices of the world, we will become confused and tainted. We must anchor ourselves in the spirit and that requres daily prayer.”

5. to receive comfort and strength in times of trial or grief. We can pray to feel the love of God in our lives, and this love is freely given to us. Our hearts can be unburdened and we can find solace and strength.  Virginia U. Jensen, a former counselor of the General Relief Society Presidency said, “Sincere prayer restores peace and gives hope. It lightens heavy hearts and heals the wounds of sin. It restores perspective, allowing us to recognize our blessings even in the midst of trials.”

6. because “Prayer is the key to knowing who we are and what God expects of us.” I don’t remember where I got that quote, but I really liked it and wrote it in big bold letters in my journal. A great scripture that goes along with this is (Proverbs 3:5-6)”Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

7. I know that our desire and ability to live a more Christlike life will increase when we pray.

8. prayer can bring physical, as well as spiritual healing.

9. to obtain or reaffirm truth. We can pray to strengthen our testimonies.

10. to confess our sins and weaknesses and cry unto the Lord in repentance.

­______________

The Lord has promised us that we will receive answers to our prayers as long as we have faith; It’s also important to prepare our hearts & minds to receive those answers. Elder Gene R. Cook outlines the steps prepare ourselves for prayer in his book, entitled appropriately “Receiving answers to your prayers:”

  1. Have faith in Christ
  2. Repent of your sins
  3. Humble yourself before the Lord. Be prepared to accept his will, even if it’s contrary to your own.

4. Obey the Commandments

D&C 88: 63-64 reads, “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you;”

Prayer is a blessing and a privilege for us. God loves us, and wants to draw near unto Him through daily communication.

I was really impressed by president Monson’s recent talk in conference entitled, how firm a foundation. He asks, “How can we most effectively gain and maintain the foundation needed to survive spiritually in the world in which we live?” First, fortify your foundation through prayer.

Let us pray with sincerity and meaning, offering our thanks and asking for those things we feel we need. Let us listen for His answers, that we may recognize them when they come. As we do, we will be strengthened and blessed. We will come to know Him and His desires for our lives. By knowing Him, by trusting His will, our foundations of faith will be strengthened. If any one of us has been slow to hearken to the counsel to pray always, there is no finer hour to begin than now.”

I believe in prayer.  It is a powerful thing. Many people express that they don’t know where they’d be without prayer, without the Gospel in their lives. Well, I know exactly where I’d be. I’ll let you think about that for a second. For me, It’s a place without love or light. Think….Hobbes’ Leviathan. a world of continual fear, and danger of violent death; and life would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. If that’s not extremely unpleasant, I don’t know what is.

The Gospel is true. There’s no doubt about it. I know the lord loves me, and has a plan for me and for each one of you. There is no greater calling than to be servant of the Lord & to share truth, love, & joy with others. I know the book of Mormon is true. It is the word of God, a testament that He lives & wants us to return to His presence. Joseph Smith was a true prophet. through his faith & diligence the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to this earth. I am so grateful for this Church, and for the peace and joy that it has afforded me.  I am so grateful for the love and support of my family & friends and can’t wait to share my testimony with the world as a missionary. May the Lord bless you. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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