Lesson 34: Prayer, Precious and Powerful

"Lesson 34: Prayer, Precious and Powerful," The Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual, (1996)


Objective

Class members will feel comfortable expressing their feelings to their Father in Heaven in prayer and will seek to pray more often.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Obtain the picture of a young girl praying (62310) from the meetinghouse library.

  2. 2.

    See that each class member has a copy of the Book of Mormon.

  3. 3.

    Prepare some dominoes for an object lesson (or something that could be used in place of dominoes). On the first domino attach the label, Prayer. Attach other labels such as hate, anger, pride, selfishness, greed, dishonesty, and so on. Use as many dominoes as you think advisable, labeling each. On the reverse side of each domino (except for the one labeled prayer), write labels naming the opposite of the sin on that domino. For instance, love on the reverse of hate, anger and long-suffering, pride and humility, selfishness and unselfishness, greed and generosity, dishonesty and honesty.

  4. 4.

    Print the following short statements, each on a separate piece of paper or poster:

    The more we pray, the more we will become comfortable in our conversations with our Heavenly Father.

    “It is out of the depths of true prayer that an individual rises to real heights.” Neal A. Maxwell

    “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you” (D&C 88:63).

  5. 5.

    Prepare three separate wordstrips with the following words:

    Why?

    How?

    What?

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Object lesson

Prayer might be compared with pushing over a stack of dominoes. (Stand the dominoes, or other objects, that you have labeled in a line, with the domino labeled prayer first, closest to you, and the other dominoes lined up with the sin-labeled side facing the class, away from you and in front of the prayer domino. Push the prayer-labeled domino over into the line that faces the class. Pull the toppled dominoes out of the stack one at a time and reveal the word on the opposite side. For example, when prayer has toppled pride, humility results. Go through the whole list of sins prayer has toppled, showing the class the results.

Why Do We Pray?

Wordstrip

Post the wordstrip: “Why?”

  • Why do we pray? (Have the class think about this question as the lesson is given.)

Picture

Show the picture of the young girl praying at her bedside.

Adam and Eve were the first of Father in Heaven’s children to experience separation from him. The Father must have known how much we would need his guidance in this separation, for among “the first instruction[s] the Lord gave Adam and Eve, following their expulsion from [the Garden of] Eden, was to pray” (Marion G. Romney, “Why We Should Pray,” in Prayer [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], p. 16; see also Moses 5:4–6).

Heavenly Father’s instruction to us today is no different. Read together and discuss Doctrine and Covenants 90:24: “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.”

  • Why do we pray? (Allow for responses; however, guide the class to the conclusion that we pray to get help in all things. See D&C 59:21.)

  • Name something you do well. (If class members are reluctant, point out some skills of class members of which you are aware.)

  • How did you become good at these skills? (Through practice. Doing it over and over and over again.)

Poster and wordstrip

Hold up statement 1: The more we pray, the more we will become comfortable in our conversations with our Heavenly Father.

How Do We Pray?

Post the wordstrip “How?”

Discussion

  • How do we pray? (Allow responses and then read the following.) Sister Dwan J. Young, a general president of the Primary, offered four simple steps to prayer:

“The first one is to prepare. Remember who it is with whom you are speaking. We are to come to our Father with humility and meekness, ready to listen as well as to talk. We should always remember that this is our Eternal Father we are speaking with, and so, whenever possible, we kneel. We fold our arms and bow our heads to show him that we have reverence for him. Sometimes it isn’t possible to do these things—not even for a moment while we pray. But even in these unusual situations we can still begin with reverence. … Then begin by calling on your Father in Heaven.

“The second step is to be grateful. Remember to thank your Heavenly Father for his blessings. … When we start by expressing gratitude for the things we already have, we begin to see our lives in a new way. Sometimes being grateful doesn’t come easily. … Sometimes when we come to our Heavenly Father we are in such despair that it is hard to think of anything to be grateful for. These are times when prayer is especially important, times when drawing near unto him is essential because we so desperately need him to draw near unto us. …

“The third step is to seek. Ask for his help, but ask with an open, searching spirit. Plead for guidance to meet the challenges you have been given. Ask, knowing as Nephi did, that ‘the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.’ (1 Nephi 3:7.)

“The fourth and last step to prayer is to close. Remember to offer your prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. He is our emissary, our representative, to the Father. That is why we offer our prayers in his name. It is our acknowledgment of him as our Savior” (Ensign, Nov. 1985, pp. 91–92).

Chalkboard and discussion

Write the following on the chalkboard:

Four Steps in Prayer

  1. 1.
  2. 2.
  3. 3.
  4. 4.

And above all, we must pray regularly. Amulek says: “Let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him [the Lord] continually” (Alma 34:27).

We may feel too embarrassed to bring before the Lord our specific weaknesses. Perhaps there are situations we encounter where we think, “I’m so ashamed this is happening to me. I don’t want anyone to know!” Heavenly Father knows anyway. He is keenly aware of his children, of each of us. Admitting aloud to him a particular weakness, expressing from our heart our sorrow for some sin or blunder is effective! It helps us.

  • Why is it effective; why does it help us? (Allow time for response. Direct the class to the conclusion that when we talk with Heavenly Father about an experience, a mistake, a situation, it helps us better understand what has taken place or what may be happening. He helps us to understand. Expressions from the heart are often very humbling and help make us teachable. When we can be taught, then repentance and change can come about in our lives. This brings happiness.)

Poster and wordstrip

Hold up statement 2: Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “It is out of the depths of true prayer that an individual rises to real heights” (in “What Should We Pray For,” in Prayer, p. 52).

What Should We Pray For?

Wordstrip and discussion

Post the wordstrip “What?”

  • What should we pray for? (Allow for response. Guide them to the thought that we can pray for every aspect of our lives.)

Scripture discussion

Read together Alma 34:17–27.

In the Book of Mormon we also read that “whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you” (3 Nephi 18:20; italics added).

Even though we may ask for something in prayer, how God answers is left to his divine wisdom. We may find that our answer does not come right away. (See D&C 9:7–9.)

Poster

Hold up statement 3: “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you” (D&C 88:63).

Prayer Can Take Many Forms

Our prayers can take many forms. They can be sung, wept, whispered, or exclaimed. Prayers can be “thought” when time and circumstance do not permit them to be said aloud. Prayers can be as short as one word—“Help!”—or as long as Enos’s prayer (see Enos 1), which lasted all day long and into the night. Prayers can be petitioned silently while driving a car, riding a bus, during an exam, in a doctor’s office, or wherever we are and need our Heavenly Father. The need for prayer can come at any time, and when it does, remember with whom you are talking. Prayer is precious and powerful!

Sister Dwan J. Young shared her testimony of prayer:

“The important thing to remember is to pray often, talk to Heavenly Father, seek his counsel so that he can guide you. When you draw near to Heavenly Father in prayer, he will draw near to you. You need never feel alone again. I testify to this” (Ensign, Nov. 1985, p. 92).

Testimony and Challenge

Bear your testimony and challenge each class member to set a goal to improve the way each talks to his Father in Heaven.