I believe in prayer, and have felt impressed to discuss this small and simple practice by which great things are brought to pass. Prayer is certainly the most basic religious ritual of all faiths. All those who believe in God seek Him in some form of prayer. It is the earliest religious behavior we teach to our children. And yet the process of prayer cannot be fathomed by the human mind. None of us understands how it works even though we have had a lifetime of experience with it.
But we do know some things:
The first thing we know is that prayer rests on the principle of faith. We have faith in the doctrine that we are children of a Heavenly Father; that we are separated from Him during this time of mortality; and that our goal is to become like Him so that we can once again return to His presence. Think about that. When we understand that God is our Father and we are His children, then prayer becomes natural and instinctive.
We also know that prayer is an expression of agency. Earnest, sincere, heartfelt prayer is a deeply personal choice. No one can force us to reach out with all of our hearts. No one can compel us to feel after our Maker. I love the way Isaiah expresses this heartfelt desire to pray: “With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early” (Isaiah 26:9).
And so our small and simple choice to pray allows God to unlock the powers of heaven in our behalf. The Holy Ghost is free to fill our minds and hearts, leading us towards Him and our eternal destiny. I can think of no greater thing.
We know that prayer grows out of humility. When we pray, it signals a recognition that we cannot live this life alone, that we are dependent upon the Father and His Son for our very breath. I know some very smart people. I know some gifted and highly skilled people. I know some very wealthy people. But I have never met any person who has sufficient resources to meet all the demands of this life on his or her own. We need God. And if our troubles can take us to God, we can be thankful for them.