We are all children of God. He loves us and knows our needs, and He wants us to communicate with Him through prayer. As we make a habit of approaching God in prayer, we will come to know Him and draw ever nearer to Him. Our desires will become more like His. We will be able to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that He is ready to give if we will but ask in faith.
As we strive to make prayer a part of our lives, we should remember to make our prayers meaningful. The prophet Mormon warned that if anyone “shall pray and not with real intent of heart … it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such” (Moroni 7:9). To make our prayers meaningful, we must pray with sincerity and “with all the energy of heart” (Moroni 7:48) and avoid “vain repetitions” (see Matthew 6:7).
When we make a request through prayer, we must do all we can to assist in its being granted. Heavenly Father expects us to do more than merely ask Him for blessings. When we have an important decision to make, He often will require that we “study it out in [our] mind” before He will give us an answer (see D&C 9:7-8). Our prayers for guidance will be only as effective as our efforts to be receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Our prayers for our own welfare and for the welfare of others will be in vain if we “turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need” (Alma 34:28).
Always give thanks to Heavenly Father (see Alma 34:38), take time to remember our blessings, and seek Heavenly Father's guidance and strength in all we do. Alma counseled his son Helaman: “Cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever” (Alma 37:36; see also Alma 34:17-26). We should offer prayers “for [our] welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around [us]” (Alma 34:27). We should ask our Heavenly Father to bless and comfort those in need.
Seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost so we will know what to include in our prayers. The Holy Ghost can teach us to pray and guide us in the things we say (see Romans 8:26; 2 Nephi 32:8; 3 Nephi 19:9, 24). He can help us pray “according to the will of God” (D&C 46:30).
At least every morning and every night, we should find a place that is free from distractions and kneel in humility and commune with our Heavenly Father. We should never give in to the idea that we are not worthy to pray. This idea comes from Satan, who wants to convince us that we must not pray (see 2 Nephi 32:8). If we do not feel like praying, we should pray until we do feel like praying.
The Savior has commanded, “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work” (D&C 10:5). Although we cannot be continuously on our knees, always offering a personal, private prayer, we can let our hearts be “full, drawn out in prayer unto [God] continually” (Alma 34:27; see also 3 Nephi 20:1). Throughout each day, we can maintain a constant feeling of love for our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. Heavenly Father hears our prayers. He may not always answer as we expect, but He does answer—in His own time and according to His will. Because He knows what is best for us, He may sometimes answer no, even when our petitions are sincere.
Answers to prayer come in many ways. They often come through the Holy Ghost, from the circumstances of our lives, or through the kind acts of those around us. As we continue to draw near to our Heavenly Father through prayer, we will recognize more readily His merciful and wise answers to our pleadings. We will find that He is our “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Revelation is communication from God to His children. This guidance comes through various channels according to the needs and circumstances of individuals, families, and the Church as a whole. When the Lord reveals His will to the Church, He speaks through His prophet. According to our faithfulness, we can receive revelation to help us with our specific personal needs, responsibilities, and questions and to help us strengthen our testimony.
The scriptures tell of different types of revelation, such as visions, dreams, and visitations by angels. However, most revelations to leaders and members of the Church come through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Quiet spiritual promptings may not seem as spectacular as visions or angelic visitations, but they are just as powerful and lasting and life changing. The witness of the Holy Ghost makes an impression on the soul that is more significant than anything we can see or hear. Through such revelations, we will receive lasting strength to stay true to the gospel and help others do the same.
The following counsel will help us prepare to receive promptings from the Holy Ghost: Pray for guidance, be reverent and humble, keep the commandments, partake of the sacrament worthily, study the scriptures every day, and take time to ponder.
When seeking specific guidance, we should study the matter out in our minds. At times the Lord's communication will come only after we have studied a matter out in our minds. Patiently seek God's will. God reveals Himself “in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will” (see D&C 88:63-68). Revelation will often come line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. We should be patient and trust in the Lord's timing.
Amid the many noises and messengers in the world today, we must learn to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Following are some of the principal ways the Holy Ghost communicates with us:
He speaks to the mind and heart in a still, small voice (D&C 8:2-3). Although such revelation can have a powerful effect on us, it almost always comes quietly, as a “still small voice” (see 1 Kings 19:9-12; Helaman 5:30; D&C 85:6).
He prompts us through our feelings. Although we often describe communication from the Spirit as a voice, that voice is one that we feel more than we hear.