My mother taught me how to pray before I can remember. Every night I offered a prayer that many children around the world who aren’t members of the Church learn to say:
Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
I would follow this verse with a list of things that I wanted. When I prayed, I knew that I was talking to my Heavenly Father. I loved Him. But because I was not a member of the Church at that time, I didn’t approach our Father in Heaven through the Savior. I didn’t close my prayers in the name of Jesus Christ. I just said “Amen” at the end.
When I became a member of the Church as an adult, I learned about the great gifts that the Savior gave to me and to all others. I came to understand the example, the atoning sacrifice, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now I try to live as the Savior did and follow His example. I know that I can have the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ if I am valiant.
Now, the Savior has a place in my life that He did not occupy when I was a child. My prayers have become quite different, even though the Heavenly Father that I loved and prayed to as a child is the same Heavenly Father I know today.
I have also learned that instead of only asking for things in my prayers, as I did when I was a child, I need to thank Him for the blessings that I enjoy—for health, for my family, for freedom from want, for the opportunity to live in a land of peace and plenty, for the gospel, for the opportunity to serve the Lord, and, above all, for my Savior, Jesus Christ.
To me, no scripture is more valuable than Doctrine and Covenants 88:63–64: “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
“Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you.” [D&C 88:63–64]
Children, like me, many of you have learned to pray before you can remember, but you have learned to pray in a more understanding way than I did. You are very fortunate to learn from your parents and Primary teachers how to pray and how to love Jesus Christ. You can read the stories about Him and follow in His footsteps. You can learn that prayer is much more than simply presenting a list of requests to Heavenly Father. Remember to always try to make your list of things to thank Heavenly Father for be longer than the list of things you ask of Him.