Why Should We Pray


(This is an excerpt from 21 Principles, by Richard G. Scott.)

Communication with our Father in Heaven is not a trivial matter. It is a sacred privilege. It is based upon eternal, unchanging principles. We receive help from our Father in Heaven in response to our faith, obedience, and the proper use of agency. One of the great lessons that each of us needs to learn is to ask. Why does the Lord want us to pray to Him and to ask? Because that is how revelation is received.

When I am faced with a very difficult matter, this is how I try to understand what to do. I fast. I pray to find and understand scriptures that will be helpful. That process is cyclical. I start reading a passage of scripture; I ponder what the verse means and pray for inspiration. I then ponder and pray to know if I have captured all the Lord wants me to do. Often more impressions come with increased understanding of doctrine. I have found that pattern to be a good way to learn from the scriptures. There are some practical principles that enhance revelation.

First, yielding to emotions such as anger or hurt or defensiveness will drive away the Holy Ghost. Those emotions must be overcome, or our chance for receiving revelation is slight.

Another principle is to be cautious with humor. Loud, inappropriate laughter will offend the Spirit. A good sense of humor helps revelation; loud laughter does not. A sense of humor is an escape valve for the pressures of life.

Another enemy to revelation comes from exaggeration or loudness in what is stated. Careful, quiet speech will favor the receipt of revelation. On the other side of the equation, spiritual communication can be enhanced by good health practices. Exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep, and good eating habits increase our capacity to receive and understand revelation. We will live for our appointed life span. However, we can improve both the quality of our service and our well-being by making careful, appropriate choices.

For spirituality to grow stronger and more available, it must be planted in a righteous environment. It is important that our daily activities do not distract us from listening to the Spirit. Haughtiness, pride, and conceit are like stony ground that will never produce spiritual fruit.

Humility is a fertile soil where spirituality grows and produces the fruit of inspiration to know what to do. It gives access to divine power to accomplish what must be done. An individual motivated by a desire for praise or recognition will not qualify to be taught by the Spirit. An individual who is arrogant or who lets his or her emotions influence decisions will not be powerfully led by the Spirit.

The Lord has declared: “And ye are to be taught from on high. Sanctify yourselves and ye shall be endowed with power, that ye may give even as I have spoken” (Doctrine and Covenants 43:16). The words sanctify yourselves may appear puzzling.

President Harold B. Lee once explained that you can replace those words with the phrase “keep my commandments” (Teachings ofPresidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee [2000], 34).

Read that way, the counsel may seem clearer. One must be ever mentally and physically clean and have purity of intent so that the Lord can inspire. One who is obedient to His commandments is trusted of the Lord. That individual has access to His inspiration to know what to do and, as needed, the divine power to do it.

Detailed direction comes when we readily respond to the initial promptings of the Spirit. At times such spiritual guidance can indicate or imply events that will occur later in life. Our acceptance of such promptings and our willingness to obey do not mean that the will of the Lord will be changed. They do mean that the impact on our life will be different.

There will be far more significant consequence because of our willingness to obey the counsel given by such sacred guidance of the Holy Spirit.

When we are acting as instruments in behalf of others, we are more easily inspired than when we think only of ourselves. In the process of helping others, the Lord can piggyback directions for our own benefit.

Our Heavenly Father did not put us on earth to fail but to succeed gloriously. It may seem paradoxical, but that is why recognizing answers to prayer can sometimes be very difficult.

Sometimes we unwisely try to face life by depending on our own experience and capacity. It is much wiser for us to seek through prayer and divine inspiration to know what to do. Our obedience assures that, when required, we can qualify for divine power to accomplish an inspired objective.


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