Prayer is an essential part of a religious, spiritual life. As we acknowledge our own fallibility and the greatness of God, our prayers can be more meaningful. They can give us strength when times are hard, like when a child has a chronic illness, or when our spouse needs our forgiveness. Our prayers can allow us to rest from our day-to-day struggles like early morning feedings, demanding schedules, and rebellious teens.

However, we still need to put the work into having effective prayers. We have a role in the success of our communication with God, just as much as we do when we communicate with our families. These tips will help you to do your part to have more purposeful, interactive communication with your Heavenly Father. Believe me: He will do his part, too.

1. Ponder your life and what you need

My husband and I have frequent conversations where I ask, "What do you think we should do about this?" His answer is inevitably "I don't know." This frustrated me until I realized that I hadn't even thought about what we should do. It was, in essence, a lazy question.

Likewise, when we talk to God we need to know what it is we're actually asking for. So ask yourself, "What does my life look like right now?" There are times when the kids are doing great at school, our spouses are excited about being home, and we even managed to do a Pinterest project or two. These are the times we need to know where we can be of the most help. Other times, our prayers are more of a cry for help. Think about your life so that you can be specific in your prayers. Knowing where you are on the spectrum right now will help move you to a better place when you pray.

2. Reflect on your divine identity and your relationship with God

Did you know that you are a child of God? The all-knowing ruler of the universe eternal being is the literal father of your spirit. He loves you perfectly, 10 million times more than any earthly parent could. Sometimes he asks you to forego things that are temporary and mediocre, but only because he sees things from an eternal point of view. He wouldn't want you to settle for less than the best, which is what his precious child deserves. Remembering that, changes everything about prayer.

3. Visualize God listening to you pray

When I pray, I try to think of myself as a princess approaching her father's throne. I imagine myself reporting on the assignment I have been given and receiving counsel and encouragement. In my mind's eye, I can see the love on God's face. Try it the next time you pray. It's a sweet experience, especially when you pray for your spouse and children.

4. Ask inspired questions

Believe it or not, you can pray about your prayers. This is often the first step to finding out your obstacles to having meaningful conversations with God. It is also the first step to asking the right questions. Recently, I have been asking for a grateful heart. This is very different from my prayer a few weeks ago, which was worn out and frustrated and confused. After I prayed about what I should be asking for, I realized that happiness is something God can help me seek, not something that just finds me. I wouldn't have realized this without changing my question from "why me?" to "what can I do differently?" If you're struggling to receive answers, try rethinking your question.

When it comes down to it, God really wants to talk and listen to us, especially about our families. However, our ability to talk and listen to Him can often use some work. When we are self-aware, both in knowing what our life looks like and knowing who we really are, we can ask useful questions. We can also have the humility necessary to change our lives in the way that pleases Heavenly Father. Praying in this way takes courage, but it is always worth it in the end.

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