This week I read the book of Ether in the Book of Mormon. I learned quite a bit about prayer from Ether. In particular, the prayer of the brother of Jared when he asked the Lord to provide light for the barges impresses me. First we learn that in order to receive help from the Lord, we must make some effort. We can't just cry unto the Lord and expect Him to fix all of our problems. Like the Brother of Jared, we must make a plan, work it out and then bring our plan to the Lord and ask for His help. If it is a worthy plan and we have faith in His ability to help, He will. Because of the faith of the brother of Jared, The Lord could not withhold blessings from him. Isn't that great, to know that the Lord is bound by what He says and if we ask according to His will, in faith, He will answer our prayers.
The brother of Jared was obviously a prophet of great faith. However in Ether 2:14 he was chastised for failure to pray. I imagine he hadn't ceased to pray but his prayers had maybe become routine and lacking in depth. I know my prayers often seem to be the same every day and in my mind that makes them insincere. This is a struggle for me because I get really tired or otherwise occupied and prayer is not as big a priority as it should be. This Jaredite prophet was obviously a man of great faith who had become lackadaisical in his communication with the Lord. The Lord chastened him for 3 hours. I think this was a long overdue conversation and not just a lecture from the Lord. He wants us to take time to communicate with Him.
IN the Book of Mormon we also learn about Enos, who prayed all day and all night. I have heard quite a few comments this semester about how God doesn't want to hear us go on and on and we can get our point across in a short amount of time because he already knows what we need. With respect to these good people, I disagree. I had a bishop, a man I have great respect for, who challenged us to pray for 30 minutes at least once a day. It was an interesting experience. The first 5 minutes are repeating the generic things we say every day. Then I ran out of things to say. Then after silent contemplation, I found the things I really needed to say. I think it takes some time to just shut out the world and really get to that place where we are communicating. Communication is a 2-way process. Taking time allows us the opportunity to receive communication from Him as well. Sometimes a thought or impression or a voice, vocal or in our mind, can come to us in moments of silence when we are focusing our energy on prayer. Now, I don't pray like that all the time, but I do try to find time to get a little deeper when I commune with the Lord at least once a day. I am blessed, find deeper understanding and guidance when I do really give time to prayer. I should do this more than I do.
Prayer is a blessing. It is the opportunity to communicate with our Savior. No one loves us more. He wants to bless us and help us through our struggles. Praying according to His will, in faith and with sincere effort can only bless our lives.