In Moroni 7:26 we are taught five simple steps to improve our prayers:
1. He begins by saying, “Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father . . .” The first step is to ask. We must pause long enough to recognize what we are in need of and then ask. The Bible Dictionary explains, “The object of prayer is . . . 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” (753).
2. The next step is to ask “in my name,” that is, in the name of Christ. We do this because He is our Mediator. We ask the Father for things through Christ because Christ is our advocate; He pleads our case to the Father, giving us a greater chance at the victory (see D&C 45:3–5).
3. The third step is to determine “which is good.” Sometimes it is hard to know what to pray for. Our mind wanders as issues become unclear and complicated. We have to do a little research on our own. This step includes a lot of legwork. Many times we can determine what is good only after we have done all we can on our own. Then we can take everything we have learned and place it at the feet of the Lord and ask Him to help us make the decision.
4. The fourth step is to ask “in faith, believing that ye shall receive.” It is much easier to have faith when we know the Savior and believe that we have done all we can on our own to receive an answer. There is a moment of silence that precedes this step—a time of reflection. That is when we listen for encouragement; we try to hear the steady rhythm the Spirit brings; and we match our steps with His, sometimes not even looking up as we wait for direction.
5. The last step is the best step of all: “Behold, it shall be done unto you.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Some blessings come soon, some come late, . . . but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come” (“An High Priest of Good Things to Come,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 38; emphasis in original). The blessings will come. The answers will be forthcoming. We don’t always know how, but we can learn to watch for and accept the answers that He will send our way. This watching requires the patience we talked about before. It also requires effort. Not many people can run six miles the first time they take up jogging. And so it is with answers. We learn to receive them, a step at a time, until we become familiar enough with the answers to prayer to appreciate them everywhere around us.
As we become more familiar with the way He answers us, we will learn to pray more often. We will come to expect the answers only He can bring, and we will seek for instruction from the Lord more frequently. “Blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time” (D&C 6:14).