Whether we are seeking answers to problems, are in need of divine comfort or need to find strength and faith, we can speak to God and obtain his help. Simply put, we can pray. But, how do we pray? How can we understand his answers?
In the Bible, we are taught how to pray. Jesus Christ taught his disciples using an example of how to pray to God when he shared what is commonly called "The Lord's Prayer." Matthew 6:9-13 states:
"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."
Address God and praise him
When you call someone on the phone, you generally ask to speak to them by name. It's the same with prayer. Address your Father in Heaven and praise him; thank him for the blessings in your life. We have much to be grateful for in our lives: family, friends, homes, our gifts and talents or answers to prayers. Showing gratitude and respect to God helps us be humble and willing to submit to his will for us rather than focusing on our own wants.
Seek forgiveness and strength to overcome temptations
Part of praying requires being humble; often by recognizing our wrongs and receiving forgiveness. God wants us to learn from our mistakes and become a master over ourselves. We will make mistakes. It's part of life. Read Why it's OK to make mistakes. As we make amends, it is important to ask God for strength to overcome and avoid possible future temptations. We can also pray for help to overcome our own weaknesses and shortcomings.
Humbly ask God for specific blessings or help that you need
Discuss with him struggles or worries you have. These can be personal pleas for help or in behalf of loved ones. Let him cry with you. He cares about the smallest matters—even a lost item like a shoe or car keys. Personally, I have prayed and taught my kids to pray for help in finding something. Frequently, after we pray, the item is located within minutes. We can ask for help in our jobs, our problems with children, prayers for healing or simply for peace. Since he truly knows each of us as individuals, he knows how best to help, comfort and strengthen us. Often, as we are prayerful in our heart and minds—not just while praying—we will receive impressions of things that we can do. Here are 4 ways to rely on God during tough times.
Listen for answers
When you're chatting with a friend, you don't pour out your soul and then take off just as they were getting ready to respond, right? You wait and listen to what they have to say. It is the same for prayer. God won't answer in a big booming voice from the heavens like TV might suggest. More likely, it will be a thought, feeling or impression that comes to your mind and heart. God usually speaks through the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit to convey his message. With practice, anyone can learn to recognize to and respond to these subtle answers. Sometimes the answer is "no" or "not yet," and we need to be willing to accept those answers as well.
Each of us can talk to God regardless of how religious or non-religious we are, our level of faith or what we have or have not done. He will be there on the weekends, in the middle of the night and in the middle of our deepest sorrows or our greatest joys. We just need to call upon him to be heard. He is waiting, with his arms extended, to help each of us. He just wants us to "call" him frequently— as many times a day (or night) we desire. There is strength and power in prayer.