Questions and Answers

“Questions and Answers,” Liahona, June 1999, 18

Questions and Answers

Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

I am thankful for all my blessings, but it seems if I list them I will be repeating the same things in my prayers every day. How do I keep my prayers from being repetitious?

Our Answer

Prayer is one of the most important acts we can do as children of our Heavenly Father. It is the way He has provided us to communicate with Him. Prayer is a form of worship. We use prayer to express gratitude, to ask for guidance and blessings, and to seek answers.

The Church uses three set prayers—the baptismal prayer, which is the first ordinance essential for salvation, and the two sacrament prayers, by which we renew our baptismal covenants. In other circumstances, whether praying in private or for a group, we use our own words and phrases as appropriate to the occasion and as inspired by the Spirit.

Often we fall into the habit of using the same words and phrases, almost without thinking. That’s the problem. Not thinking about what we are saying can cause prayers to seem meaningless. Sincerity in prayer is not measured by using different words or phrases each time we pray. Sincerity is a matter of the feelings of the heart and of the yearnings of the spirit.

Jesus Christ showed us how to pray. He used simple, expressive language, and He warned against praying just to be seen by others. He also warned against “vain repetitions,” words used over and over without sincerity. (See Matt. 6:5–8; 3 Ne. 13:5–8.)

The scriptures give additional instruction about prayer. In the Book of Mormon, Amulek counseled us to “cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.

“Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening. …

“But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.

“Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you” (Alma 34:20–21, 26–27).

The Lord wants us to pray about whatever concerns us. In fact, He commands us to “pray always” (2 Ne. 32:9).

Part of praying always is remembering to be continually grateful to the Lord. Thanking Heavenly Father for our blessings helps us focus on the source of all goodness; it makes us happier by bringing to our minds all the blessings we have received. There are many blessings you may want to thank Heavenly Father for on a regular basis. If you do so out of sincere gratitude and not just out of habit, it does not matter that you mention some of the same blessings from day to day.

But if you catch yourself thoughtlessly reciting a memorized list in your prayers, then it is time to rethink your reasons for praying.

If you’ve fallen into this habit, try some of our readers’ suggestions:

  • Visualize yourself speaking to the Father.

  • Take a few moments before you pray to think about the purpose of your prayer and what you would like to say.

  • Express to the Lord why you are grateful for certain blessings.

  • Ask for specific help in solving specific problems.

  • Always remember to pray that God’s will be done.

What you pray about may not change greatly from day to day, but taking the opportunity to think about your needs and blessings and thank the Lord for all He has given you is a great way to start making your prayers more meaningful and effective.

Readers’ Answers

At times my prayers were monotonous and I felt empty, as if my Father in Heaven wasn’t listening to me. This changed when I started to pray with true intent, sharing with Heavenly Father all the things I feel. As I pray, I think of the great love He has for me.

Jorge Andrés Alzate,
Las Palmas Ward, Neiva Colombia Stake

Our prayers may sometimes be repetitious, but it doesn’t matter as long as they are sincere and offered in faith. Jesus said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).

Sherrie S. Campos,
Maasin Branch, Maasin Philippines District

In giving thanks for our blessings, we need to remember to give thanks for prayer itself, the means by which we can communicate with our Heavenly Father.

Marianne R. Garcia,
Imus Ward, Cavite Philippines Stake

Reading and pondering the scriptures will help us be more spiritual when we pray. If we think about the power God has, our prayers will no longer be the same but will spring from the heart.

Mariela Paredez Márquez,
Ciudad Real Ward, Guatemala City Guatemala Villa Hermosa Stake

Even though we may perform the same basic tasks, our experiences differ from day to day, helping us grow and progress. As we recall the events of the day, we will realize we do have different things to talk about and be thankful for in our prayers.

Sister Natsuko Sekiguchi,
New Zealand Auckland Mission

Whenever I pray to Heavenly Father, I try to talk with Him about the things I would talk to my earthly father about. I try not to restrict myself to the “steps of prayer,” but I open my heart to my Heavenly Father and explain my intimate feelings, speaking with Him as though He were at my side. This approach has helped me eliminate repetitious prayers.

Elder Rodrigo Cesar Gobo,
Brazil Porto Alegre South Mission

We should consider that we receive several types of blessings in life: global, which are common to everyone; individual, in response to our prayerful requests; and those we have not sought but which the Lord deems useful for us. Since we have so much to be thankful for, our prayers need not be the same from day to day.

Furthermore, our prayers should not consist solely of thanking our Heavenly Father for all the blessings He gives us. We can ask blessings for others, such as food, shelter, healing, conversion, reconciliation, and so on. We should also ask for forgiveness for our weaknesses and for anything else we need.

Lynda Andriamisamalala,
Antananarivo Fourth Branch, Antananarivo Madagascar District

As I was growing up, I learned how to pray more sincerely and differently by listening to the prayers of my family members. I think a sincere prayer comes from the heart—no matter how often the same things are said.

Tagiilima Sauia,
Mapusaga First Ward, Pago Pago Samoa Mapusaga Stake

Besides thanking the Lord for the innumerable blessings we enjoy, we should open our hearts and tell Him how much we love Him. He loves us and appreciates hearing of our love for Him. Prayers of thanks, if offered with sincere intent, are not repetitious to the Lord.

Elisabetta Marangon,
Treviso Branch, Venice Italy Stake

I believe if God does not get tired of answering my prayers, I should not get tired of telling Him of the same things. Even if my prayers are the same most of the time, He will listen to them knowing that they come from my heart. I believe this is better than not expressing my gratitude to Him at all.

Joel de Rosario Dela Cruz,
Bustos Branch, Malolos Philippines Stake

The Savior taught us the pattern of prayer (see Matt. 6:5–13), in which we give thanks for our blessings before we seek our daily needs.

He also said:

“When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

“… For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matt. 6:6, 8).

Anthony L. Silberie,
Rotterdam Second Ward, Rotterdam Netherlands Stake

If you seek after Heavenly Father, you will realize He has never stopped listening for you. If you open your heart and ask in faith, He will always be there, even if the words of your prayers are the same.

He knows everything, including our fears and our sorrows, but He is still willing and waiting to listen.

Daisy Raquel Salazar Saravia,
Chinandega Branch, Chinandega Nicaragua District

The Book of Mormon gives us a powerful example of prayer in the experience of Enos. Enos wrote, “My soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication” (Enos 1:4).

Enos had a specific need, as all of us have specific needs. If we let our thoughts be guided by the Spirit, we can offer fervent prayer every day. As our faith develops, we, like the prophet Enos, will know that not only are our prayers heard, they are also answered.

Sister Rossana Mara Correia,
Brazil Belem Mission

Today is different from yesterday, and tomorrow will be different from today. That means each day we have something new to be thankful for.

I believe Heavenly Father is pleased if my prayers to Him are like sharing confidences with a friend. I thank Him for all the blessings and trials I experience each day, ask forgiveness for my shortcomings, and seek His help to do better the next day.

Elsie D. Bisig,
Las Pinas Second Ward, Las Pinas Philippines Stake

When I pray I make an effort to think about whom I’m talking to. I thank Heavenly Father for each blessing He gives me and for each experience I have—not just the daily events, but also those of an eternal nature. In the morning I tell Him what I propose to do, and in the evening I give Him an accounting and thank Him for His assistance.

Elder Marcelo Leiva,
Chile Osorno Mission

Jesus Kneeling in Prayer and Meditation, by Michael J. Nelson