The 3 P’s That Changed My Perspective on Talking to God
“I don’t need you!”
As a parent, those words can hurt. Especially because in most cases, the statement simply is not true. My four-year-old son, who said those words to me with every ounce of independent confidence he could muster, does in fact need me. Every day. But with each new thing that he learns to do on his own, his reliance on Mom diminishes, and phrases like, “I KNOOOW,” “I can do it,” and my personal favorite, “I don’t need you,” come from his cute, little mouth.
The truth is he can do things. Every day he can do more things. But he can’t do all things. And that truth got me thinking more deeply about my relationship with God, who I regard as the Father of my spirit, my loving Father in Heaven who is just as concerned about me (probably more so) as I am about my son. How often am I like my four-year-old, relying solely on what I know, what I’ve learned, and what I think I can do “on my own”? How often do I try to do everything by myself? How often do I essentially say, “I don’t need you!” when I choose not to pray to God? To be honest, it’s a problem. It’s been my personal Achilles heel that I’ve been trying to overcome my whole life. I’m busy. I’m tired. Things seem to be okay in my life. So, why pray? Why every morning? Why every night? Does it even matter?
During a time of self-reflection and study, I came upon three principles that I’m calling my 3 P’s to prayer. They’ve helped me change my perspective about prayer, why we need it, and why it absolutely matters in today’s world.
Prayer Has a Purpose
I sat in a class recently about strengthening marriages where the teacher stressed the importance of good communication in a healthy relationship. When we understand that we are children of God and that He is our loving Father, just like any other familial relationship, prayer absolutely has a purpose.
It’s a means of connection for us to share our highs and lows with our Father. It’s how we talk to Him. It’s how we engage in good communication. God may be all-knowing, but he wants to hear about our lives from our perspectives. He wants us to articulate our joys, our sorrows, our questions, our worries, things only we can express. He wants us to talk to Him—he knows where our hearts are and wants us to know His.
I love this thought in the Bible Dictionary:
“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.”
Yes, prayer is the conduit by which God can hear our desires and grant us promised blessings. But I love this description that prayer is also how our will and the will of the Father come together. Prayer is a way that we can come to understand our purpose in this life and God’s plan for us. Through prayer, the answers we receive, and our willingness to act on them, we change. Our desires change. And day by day we find we’ve become a little more like the loving Father we’ve come to know and love over the course of consistent, meaningful prayers.
Prayer Is a Privilege
“Prayer is one of the most precious gifts of God to man,” said Elder J. Devn Cornish in a talk entitled “The Privilege of Prayer.” And he’s right.
Prayer is a way in which we can feel the Holy Spirit. Prayer is a way we can silence the world and dial in heaven. Prayer is the way we use the power to act in God’s name here on earth. Prayer is the method in which God’s miracles happen in our lives. Prayer is most definitely a gift.
When you think about, God didn’t have to give us all of that. He could have left us on our own here on this earth to figure things out on our own and in our own way. But He didn’t. Because He loves us, He has blessed us with the gift to pray to Him whenever we want, and that’s a privilege we should never take for granted.
As told in the Bible, Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den because he was caught “kneeled upon his knees three times a day” offering up prayers to God even though the king had signed a decree forbidding it.
He was willing to die for the privilege to pray.
Today, we hear stories around the world of believers who are persecuted, imprisoned, even killed because of their beliefs.
They are willing to die for the privilege to pray.
To go before deity, to literally approach the throne of God in prayer, is a privilege, a freedom that isn’t always granted, and a practice we can all appreciate and take advantage of more in our lives.
Prayer Is Powerful
We see it every day across social media—posts like “request for prayers,” “pray for my son,” “sending love and prayers your way.” We see these blanket invitations to pray, blasted across social networks that reach millions. Why? Because we believe there is power in prayer.
But it takes more than just words for that power to take root. It takes work. It takes faith in action.
“We must not imagine that any kind of prayer, no matter how sincere, will be very effective if all we do is to say the prayer,” taught Elder Cornish. “We must not only say our prayers; we must also live them. The Lord is much more pleased with the person who prays and then goes to work than with the person who only prays. Much like medicine, prayer works only when we use it as directed.”
God, in His loving grace and mercy, wants to bless us with everything He has. He wants us to witness miracles in our lives. He wants us to make connections with heaven. And that only comes as we let go of what we think we can do on our own and rely more heavily on what He can do for us every day.
Going back to a personal experience with my son, after “swimming” one time without his floaters and with the assistance of an aunt nearby, he is now confident that he knows how to swim. He fights me about putting on his floaters. He thinks he can swim the length of the pool—and then some—on his own. But he can’t. I know he can’t. He hasn’t had enough lessons and practice. He still needs the lift that his floaters provide.
Similarly, prayer provides that heavenly lift in our lives to protect us from the rough waters of life and give us the confidence and float we need to sail through the calm waters as well. We never know when the seas will change. We never know when things will get deep, when we’ll have to stretch and gasp and plead for heaven’s help to avoid sinking. And that’s why we communicate with God. Prayer is like our floaters. Through it, God provides the lift we need, the power we can’t always see, and the peace that comes in knowing God has a plan for me and personal growth is key.