“Sharing Time: Ponder, Pray, and Listen,” Friend, Apr. 1996, 4
“All over the world at the end of day,
Heavenly Father’s children kneel down and pray,
Each saying thank you in his own special way,
Saying thank you, thank you in his own special way.”
(Children’s Songbook, pages 16–17).
Heavenly Father hears and answers the prayers of His little children. You are His child. He loves you and will hear and answer your prayers.
Before you begin to pray, take a few moments to think carefully about the beautiful blessings Heavenly Father has given you. This careful thinking is called pondering. Pondering about Heavenly Father’s blessings to you will bring a feeling of thankfulness, or gratitude, into your heart, and this feeling will help you prepare to talk to Him.
As you begin your prayer, let the feelings of your heart come through your voice. Speak to Heavenly Father with love and reverence. When you speak from your heart, He will listen. Tell Him how much you love Him. Thank Him for your blessings. Ask Him for the blessings you need. Tell Heavenly Father how you feel about His Son, Jesus Christ. Share with Heavenly Father the things that make you happy and the things that make you sad or frightened. Ask for the Holy Ghost to be with you. You can talk to Heavenly Father about anything. When you pray to Him, take your time and do not hurry.
When you finish your prayer, sit quietly for a moment and “listen” by thinking about Heavenly Father. Praying can invite a sweet, peaceful feeling that comes from the Holy Ghost. Heavenly Father will answer your prayers in a way that is best for you. As you pray, you will feel His love for you, and your love for Him will grow.
Color the “Morning” and “Evening” sides of Figure 1, and the faces in each box in Figure 2. Carefully cut out both figures, and the windows in Figure 1. Fold both pieces along the dotted lines, with the pictures on the outside. On Figure 1, glue Tab A to the base to form a three-sided holder. Then insert the two-sided piece (Figure 2) through the holder. This little prayer reminder can sit next to your bed or on your pillow. Each morning and evening as you slide the picture piece through the holder from right to left, it will remind you to ponder, pray, and then listen.
1. Explain to the children that the scriptures contain many stories of individuals who prayed for help from Heavenly Father and received answers to their prayers. Write the scripture references for several of these stories on separate slips of paper. Let each class select a slip of paper and prepare a skit to dramatize the story. Some of the following stories could be used: Hannah prays for a son (see 1 Sam. 1:8–20); Nephi makes tools to build a boat (see 1 Ne. 17:8–10); Abraham’s servant chooses a wife for Isaac (see Gen. 24:10–20); Martin Harris wants to see the plates (see D&C 5:1–2, 11–12, 23–25; “Testimony of the Three Witnesses” in the introductory pages to the Book of Mormon); Enos prays for a remission of his sins (see Enos 1:1–6).
2. Invite two or three families from the ward or branch to share with the children a time when their prayers as a family were answered. Encourage the children to ask their families when their prayers have been answered. Provide opportunities for the children to share these experiences in Primary.
3. Explain to the children that the Lord has commanded us to pray every day (see 3 Ne. 18:18–21). Tell them that their prayers will be most effective if they ponder before praying and listen for an answer or a prompting after praying. Discuss with the children the meaning of the word ponder (to think deeply; to consider carefully). Pondering before we pray helps us prepare to lovingly speak to Heavenly Father. Explain that an important part of praying is listening to or feeling the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Write ponder, pray, and listen on the chalkboard, or place word strips on the wall. Have the children sing these songs from the Children’s Songbook and decide which part of the prayer process each talks about: “I’m Thankful to Be Me,” p. 11 (ponder); “I Thank Thee, Dear Father,” p. 7 (pray); “I Know My Father Lives,” p. 5 (listen); “I Pray in Faith,” p. 14 (pray); “I Feel My Savior’s Love,” p. 74 (ponder); “I Love to See the Temple,” p. 95 (listen); “Children All Over the World,” p. 16 (pray); “My Heavenly Father Loves Me,” p. 228 (ponder); “The Still Small Voice,” p. 106 (listen).
4. Discuss with the children the importance of Joseph Smith’s prayer in the Sacred Grove. Our Heavenly Father answered Joseph’s prayer, and He restored the gospel to the earth. Show the segment “Joseph Smith’s First Vision” from the video Moments in Church History (15 mins.—stock #53145).
5. Discuss with the children how thinking about (pondering) the many blessings the Lord has given us and about what we need the Lord’s help for prepares us to offer a more careful, thoughtful prayer. Give each child a blank piece of paper and a pencil or crayon. Have the older children fold the paper twice in each direction to form 16 squares. Have the younger children fold the paper once in each direction to form four squares. In each square on one side of the paper, have them write the name, or draw a picture, of a blessing Heavenly Father has given them. On the other side, have them draw pictures of times when they might pray and of the things they might ask help for. Encourage them to share this activity with their families.
6. Younger children would enjoy making a small lunch-bag puppet. The eyes should be under the fold of the bag so that they will appear closed when the bag is folded. This will remind the children to close their eyes while praying. Glue eyelashes along the corresponding parts of the fold. Draw a nose and smile below the fold of the bag, and eyelids and eyebrows on the top of the fold. A small heart could be drawn under the smile to remind the children that praying will make them feel good; ears could be placed on the sides of the bag to remind the children to listen for answers to their prayers. After they have assembled their puppets, have them use the puppets to show how a child closes his eyes before saying a prayer, then listens afterward for an answer. Remind the children that answers come in many ways.
7. Help the children prepare a kit for giving a family home evening lesson on prayer. The kit might include: (1) These words written on a card: JESUS CHRIST SAID (3 Ne. 18:18–21). (2) Two envelopes glued on a piece of paper. In the top envelope, place 14 beans, beads, kernels of corn, or pieces of paper. Each morning and evening when the family has family prayer, an object is moved from one envelope to the other; thus each week the family transfers the 14 objects from one envelope to the other. (This activity would work using any two containers.) (3) A prayer puppet as explained in Sharing Time Idea #6 for the child to use in explaining how to prepare to pray.
8. For additional Sharing Time help on the topic of prayer, please see these Sharing Time pages in the Friend: “When I Begin to Pray,” Oct. 1982, p. 37; “What Shall I Say When I Pray?” June 1985, p. 45; “Seek Guidance Through Prayer,” May 1988, pp. 38–39; “I Can Receive Answers to Prayer,” Sep. 1989, pp. 44–45; “Prayer Language,” Apr. 1991, pp. 36–37; “Alma and Amulek Teach the Zoramites to Pray,” Feb. 1992, pp. 12–13.