In the Latter-day Saint Children’s Hymn, A Child’s Prayer, the lyrics teach us that heaven is ever reachable through prayer.
Heavenly Father, are you really there?
And do you hear and answer ev’ry child’s prayer?
Some say that heaven is far away,
But I feel it close around me as I pray.
Heavenly Father, I remember now
Something that Jesus told disciples long ago:
“Suffer the children to come to me.”
Father, in prayer I’m coming now to thee.
Pray, he is there;
Speak, he is list’ning.
You are his child;
His love now surrounds you.
He hears your prayer;
He loves the children.
Of such is the kingdom, the kingdom of heav’n.
This song applies not only to children young in age, but to all of Heavenly Father’s children. We are commanded to ‘call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore” (Moses 5:8). The same commandment was given to Adam when he left God’s presence. From that day to this, prayer has been a way for us to speak to Heavenly Father.
How should we pray?
The scriptures teach us that we should pray to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ because “no man cometh unto the Father, but by [Him]” (John 14:6). We must pray with a humble heart. We must be willing to submit to His will and echo the words of Jesus Christ, “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). We must have a repentant heart to confess the sins we committed when we pray. We can also include others in our prayers especially those who need comfort.
Praying to our Heavenly Father also requires a sincere intention. This intent can be to give gratitude to Heavenly Father for the blessings we have received or to ask for guidance and direction and then act on the answers we receive. Jesus counseled, “Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6). We must not pray in public to get the attention and approval of other people. However, we can pray in groups as we join our families, congregation, community and friends in prayer. We can pray silently or vocally.
What should we pray for?
Praying to our Heavenly Father includes giving gratitude for all of our countless blessings especially the Plan of Salvation and the Savior’s Atonement. We can also pray for light when we feel clouded with confusion, or direction when we make important decisions, etc. We are taught in the Book of Nephi that “…whatsoever [we] shall ask the Father in [Jesus’] name, which is right, believing that [we] shall receive, behold it shall be given unto [us].” Furthermore, it has been written in the Book of Matthew, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Heavenly Father is a loving Father who wants to grant our righteous desires. However, He gives a warning to those who ask for unrighteous things saying, “And if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation” (Doctrine & Covenants 88:65).
When should we pray?
Heavenly Father is on standby 24 hours a day, every day. When we feel the need to communicate with Him, He is ever ready to hear us. We can pray when we are alone or when we are surrounded by people. We should pray before meals and morning and night with our families. We can pray when we are walking to work or when we are doing our chores. Latter-day Saints start and close meetings with a prayer. Praying to our Heavenly Father can be done anytime.
How are prayers answered?
Prayers are answered in a multitude of ways, in the Lord’s own time, and in accordance with each person’s individual needs. Answers can come by having feelings of peace about a certain choice or option, or through solutions and opportunities we’d perhaps never have thought of before. Answers can come through the scriptures, through other people, or even through the help of angels who can guide and inspire from the other side of the veil.
When we pray, we must remember that our timing is not God’s timing. In the Book of Isaiah, the Lord said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways… For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The righteous desires that we cry out to the Lord in prayer are answered through our faithfulness and our willingness to wait upon the Lord. Some blessings come as we desire, some blessings come later, and some do not come until we reach heaven, In addition, some blessings may not be right for us, and the answer given is “no.”
For the blessings that do not come, we read an explanation in the Book of James that reads, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” The blessings that we ask will not come if our desires are not in line with Heavenly Father’s will. He promised us that “If [we] abide in [Him], and [His] words abide in [us], [we] shall ask what [we] will, and it shall be done unto [us]” (John 15:7).
Praying to our Heavenly Father brings us closer to Him. There is no prayer too silent that He cannot hear nor any place too far away that we cannot reach Him.