The Privilege of Prayer

After studying “Sermon on the Mount: The Lord’s Prayer,” I reviewed some insights I gained from Elder J. Devn Cornish’s talk, “The Privilege of Prayer” and wanted to share them with you. I’d love to know your thoughts on personal prayer, how it blesses your life, and how you might improve your communication with your Father in Heaven.

“Our Father which art in heaven.” We are sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven. We have the privilege to communicate with Him through prayer. When we pray to Him, we are able to share with Him our joys and successes, our hopes and dreams, our questions and dilemmas. We have the privilege to ask Him for divine comfort, assistance, answers, and blessings. These are His instructions and promise:

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

“Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matt. 7:7-11).

“Hallowed be thy Name.” Elder Cornish reminded us that “Jesus addressed His Father in an attitude of worship, recognizing His greatness and giving Him praise and thanks. Surely this matter of reverencing God and giving heartfelt and specific thanks is one of the keys to effective prayer.”

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” As we share our hopes and dreams with the Lord, we seek to know how we can align our desires and talents with His will and His work that we may assist in building His kingdom. Our Bible Dictionary explains that “Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them.”

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Daily prayer gives us the opportunity to ask the Lord for the things we need and the things we want. It also reminds us of our dependence on the Lord and helps us recognize His tender mercies that assist us, comfort us, and enable us each day. As we pray for help to do the simple things and the hard things each day, we learn how to keep our commitments to the Lord and appreciate His grace and blessings that abundantly enable us to do all things.

“And forgive us our debts.” Elder Cornish pointed out that in Luke 11:4 the Savior teaches us to pray, “Forgive us our sins.” He reminded us, “An essential and sometimes forgotten part of personal prayer is repentance. For repentance to work, it must be specific, profound, and lasting.”

“As we forgive our debtors.” Asking the Lord to help us forgive others and receiving the divine balm of healing and peace is one of the great blessings of prayer. Elder Cornish said, “Sometimes the wrongs others have done to us are very, very painful and very hard to either forgive or forget. I am so grateful for the comfort and healing I have found in the Lord’s invitation to let go of our hurts and turn them over to Him…. Then we must drop the matter completely, letting the Lord take it from there, if we desire to be healed.”

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We have the opportunity to pray each day for power and protection from temptation and evil. Do we consistently seek this blessing in our prayers for ourselves and our family members? Do we daily ask for assistance to “put on the armour of light?” (Romans 13:12). Nephi’s psalm offers great insight into how our prayers “may begin the protective process of putting on the whole armor of God (see Ephesians 6:11) by looking forward to the day ahead and asking for help with the sometimes frightening things we may face.” Nephi prayed:

“O Lord…Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?

“May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

“O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy” (2 Nephi 4:31-33).

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Elder Cornish noted, “How instructive it is that Jesus concluded this prayer by praising God again and expressing His reverence for and submission to the Father. When we truly believe that God rules His kingdom and that He has all power and all glory, we are recognizing that He really is in charge, that He loves us with a perfect love, and that He wants us to be happy. I have found that one of the secrets to a joyful life is to recognize that doing things the Lord’s way will make me happier than doing things my way.”

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