Prayer is the way by which any person can communicate directly with his Heavenly Father. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons or Latter-day Saints) believe prayer is necessary for each person to build a close relationship with the Lord. This relationship is necessary in order to live a righteous life.
“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” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:5).
Through prayer, people can receive guidance from their Heavenly Father. At baptism, members of the Mormon Church receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This means they have the privilege of having the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost, as their constant companion. Mormons believe if they live righteously the Lord will communicate to them through the Holy Ghost. He will answer questions or let His will be known to them. This is what they refer to as personal revelation. The Holy Ghost helps righteous men and women to know truth in their hearts and in their minds.
In John 14:26 the words of Jesus Christ are recorded:
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
Mormons know the Lord is directly concerned with each individual’s life and that He will answer their sincere prayers.
“And all things, whatseoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22).
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
In fact, Mormons know the Lord wants each of His children to pray to Him so that they show humility to their Father in Heaven and acknowledge His power. By acknowledging a need for the Lord in their lives, men and women are blessed.
“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into they closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and they Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6).
Prayer is also a way for men and women to thank the Lord. Mormons know that all blessings that come to them in life are from the Lord and believe they should thank Him for every blessing.
“Behold, my beloved brethren, remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice” (2 Nephi 9:52).
When Jesus Christ was on the earth He taught the people of Judea to pray and left an example for all to follow.
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name . . .” (Matthew 6:9)
The Mormon Church encourages members to pray from their hearts. Members feel that each prayer should be sincere and should be a conversation with God. However, the LDS Church does use set prayers during specific worship services and ceremonies. During the sacrament, worthy members partake of bread and water that serve as symbols of Jesus Christ’s body and blood, which was shed for all mankind. This ceremony, or “ordinance,” begins with a blessing by worthy men who hold the priesthood. The words to the blessing are set and must always be repeated exactly as Jesus Christ instructed in The Book of Mormon and The Doctrine and Covenants. Otherwise, Mormon prayers are personal and unscripted. At Church events other than temple dedications, the Holy Ghost prompts us what to pray for.
For new converts or investigators of the Church, a first prayer is often offered without knowing whether there is any real God to pray to. It might amount to the words, “Is anybody up there? If there is somebody up there, will you answer me?” The result of offering this first prayer can be a profound witness that, indeed, there is someone up there. Though God has created the universe and keeps it ever in balance, that doesn’t ever keep Him from being a personal God, attentive to the smallest needs of those who seek Him.