When Jesus Christ taught on the earth, He taught His followers how to pray. He frequently prayed to His Heavenly Father in public, and invited all of us to do the same. Throughout the Bible, God promised to answer our prayers.
Mormons consider prayer a very real, very personal conversation with God, whom they know and love, and who knows and loves them. There are very few set prayers in their faith. Prayers are meant to be spoken from the heart, a true communication of our deepest feelings and thoughts.
Although there aren’t set words to say, there is a pattern to prayer that Mormons use in most cases. They begin by respectfully addressing God by name, using a terms of endearment in the greeting, such as “Dear Heavenly Father” or “Our beloved Father in Heaven.”
This is followed by expressions of gratitude for blessings they are receiving from God. This helps them to remember that all good is given to them by God, and not simply through their own efforts. It also helps them to notice the good in their lives, even in the worst of times. Finally, it’s a courtesy to thank those who lovingly help us.
Next, Mormons will ask for what they stand in need of, if they choose. They believe God hears and answers prayers, although not always in the way they hope. Requests are offered with the understanding that God is in charge and knows more about us and about the situation at hand than we do. God always answers, but there are three possible answers: Yes, no, and not yet. Mormons learn to trust God’s decision in these matters and also learn to recognize the answers that are given.
Mormons then close their prayers in the name of Jesus Christ and conclude with the word Amen.
This is a simple pattern that, like a sonnet, allows for unending variety. Each prayer is as different as the person giving it. It is his or her own way of staying in touch with God and of maintaining or re-creating a loving relationship with God.
Mormons pray frequently. Individually, they are counseled to pray morning and evening, as well as any time in between they need or want to communicate with God. Many keep an open, running conversation going with Him throughout the day, in addition to their formal prayers. Mormons also pray before each meal, before leaving the house for the day, and before important events. Families pray together twice a day, often combined with a brief family devotional in the morning. Married couples pray together each morning and evening, in addition to their personal and family prayers. All meetings and classes open and close with prayer. As you can see, by the end of the day, a married Mormon with children will have prayed many times and all Mormons will have prayed multiple times.
The commandment to pray is our personal reassurance that God exists and is paying attention to us. No matter how many children He has, He knows each of us individually and hears every prayer, answering it with loving understanding of our needs.