Feed Your Soul with Frequent Prayer
April 2024

“Feed Your Soul with Frequent Prayer,” Liahona, Apr. 2024

Feed Your Soul with Frequent Prayer

We need the spiritual nourishment of communicating with our Heavenly Father, a blessing available to us everywhere and always.

Enos praying

Photograph of actor portraying Enos by Matt Reier

We’ve all felt hungry before. Hunger pangs are the body’s way of telling us that it needs nourishment. And when we’re hungry, we know what we need to do—eat.

Our spirits also have ways of letting us know when we need spiritual nourishment. But it seems that it’s easier for us to simply ignore spiritual hunger than physical hunger.

Just as there are many varieties of foods we can eat when we’re hungry, there are various things we can do to fill our spiritual hunger. For instance, we can “feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3) in the scriptures and through the words of prophets. We can attend church regularly and partake of the sacrament (see Doctrine and Covenants 59:9). We can serve God and His children (see Mosiah 2:17).

But there is another source of spiritual nourishment available to us at all times, in every moment of our lives, no matter our circumstances. We can always communicate with Heavenly Father through prayer.

“My Soul Hungered”

As the prophet Enos hunted beasts in the forest, he thought about “the words which [he] had often heard [his] father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints.” These words “sunk deep into [his] heart” (Enos 1:3).

Because Enos was in this spiritual state of mind, he felt a strong need: “My soul hungered,” he said (Enos 1:4; emphasis added).

What did Enos do when he felt this spiritual hunger, this need for spiritual nourishment? “I kneeled down before my Maker,” he said, “and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul” (Enos 1:4).

So great was Enos’s spiritual hunger that he prayed “all the day long … and when the night came [he] did still raise [his] voice high that it reached the heavens” (Enos 1:4). Eventually, God answered his prayer and forgave his sins. Enos felt his guilt swept away. But his spiritual nourishment didn’t end there.

He learned about the power of faith in Jesus Christ, and he poured out his whole soul in behalf of his people—even his enemies. He made covenants with the Lord and secured promises from Him. And after Enos’s mighty prayer, he went among his people prophesying and testifying of the things he had heard and seen. (See Enos 1:5–19.)

Not every prayer will be answered in such a dramatic way, but our experiences with prayer can still be meaningful and life changing. We can learn some important lessons from Enos’s experience with prayer. For instance:

  • Striving to fully live the gospel can help us sense our spiritual hunger.

  • Our spiritual hunger can and should bring us to our knees to seek Heavenly Father’s help.

  • Praying to Heavenly Father can help satisfy our spiritual hunger—and then some.

  • We can pray anywhere, anytime.

  • Prayer can help us repent.

  • Prayer can strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ.

  • We can receive a personal testimony that our Heavenly Father hears us and is aware of us.

  • The testimony and strength we receive through prayer can help us to serve and strengthen others.

Elder Soares as a boy

My Experience with the Power of Prayer

Like Enos, I learned some of these same lessons through personal experience. My parents joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was a young boy, and I was baptized when I was eight years old. I always had a good, warm feeling in my heart about my Heavenly Father and about Jesus Christ, His restored gospel, and His Church. But it wasn’t until I was almost 16 years old that I came to pray about the truth of these things.

My inspired bishop asked me to teach a youth Sunday School class. I was supposed to teach a lesson about how we can gain a testimony of the gospel through prayer. This assignment from my bishop caused me to think more deeply about my own testimony. I had taken the time to study the Book of Mormon and always felt that the Church was true. I had always believed in the Savior Jesus Christ, but I had never taken to heart Moroni’s promise found in Moroni 10:4–5. I had never prayed about the truthfulness of the gospel.

I remember feeling in my heart that if I was going to teach these youth how to gain a testimony through prayer, I should pray for a testimony myself. My soul hungered—perhaps in a different way from Enos, but I nonetheless felt a spiritual need.

As I prepared the lesson, I knelt and offered the desire of my heart to my Heavenly Father to confirm the truth I felt inside. I was not expecting any great manifestation. But when I asked the Lord if the gospel is true, there came to my heart a very sweet feeling—that still, small voice confirming to me that it was true and that I should continue doing what I was doing.

The feeling was so strong that I could never disregard that answer and say I didn’t know. I spent that whole day feeling so happy. My mind was in the heavens contemplating the beautiful feeling in my heart.

The following Sunday, I stood in front of my three or four classmates, who were all younger than I was. I testified to them that Heavenly Father would answer their prayer if they had faith.

Elder Soares

An answered prayer Elder Soares received as a young man has allowed him to testify—as a missionary (above), father and husband, and Apostle—that Heavenly Father answers prayers offered in faith.

From then on, this testimony has stayed with me. It has helped me to make decisions, especially in moments when I’ve faced challenges. That prayer on that day, along with additional witnesses I have received through the years, has allowed me to testify to people, with conviction, that they can get answers from Heavenly Father if they pray in faith. This has been true as I have testified as a missionary, as a Church leader, as a father and husband, and even today as an Apostle.

The When and What of Prayer

Of course, we don’t pray only when we feel a particularly strong spiritual need. So, when should we pray? And what should we pray for? The short answer is anytime and for anything.

God is our Heavenly Father. Knowing this changes how we pray. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach Him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer. … When we are ready to come to Him, He is ready to come to us.”1

Our Heavenly Father is always ready to listen to us and wants us to pray to Him regularly and frequently. We should “counsel with the Lord in all [our] doings” (Alma 37:37) and pray morning, midday, and night. We should pray at home, at work, at school—anywhere we might be and over any of our endeavors (see Alma 34:17–26).

We should pray in our families (see 3 Nephi 18:21). We should pray “vocally and in [our] heart, in public and in private” (Doctrine and Covenants 81:3). And “when [we] do not cry unto the Lord, [we should] let [our] hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for [our] welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around [us]” (Alma 34:27). And we must always pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ (see 3 Nephi 18:19–20).

Joseph Smith as a young man

Illustration of Joseph Smith by Walter Rane, may not be copied

Approaching Our Heavenly Father

Our Father in Heaven wants to bless us. And He will—if we ask. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “Remember that without asking we can receive nothing; therefore, ask in faith, and ye shall receive such blessings as God sees fit to bestow upon you.”2

Our regular and frequent prayers are an essential part of a balanced diet of spiritual nourishment to our hungry souls. Communication with Heavenly Father through prayer is available and welcome everywhere and always.

One of my favorite scriptures teaches how we should approach our Heavenly Father when we kneel to pray: “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers” (Doctrine and Covenants 112:10). When we are humble and obedient, Heavenly Father will be with us. He will lead us by the hand. He will inspire us with where to go and what to do. He will answer our prayers according to His will, way, timing, and absolute knowledge of what is good for us.

We should remember this and cherish opportunities to approach the throne of God and receive blessings at His hand.