Lesson 24: Prayer and Meditation

Young Women Manual 1, (2002), 105–8


Objective

Each young woman will realize the great value of daily prayer and meditation in her life.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Picture 14, Jesus Praying in Gethsemane (62175), located at the back of the manual.

  2. 2.

    Write the following statement from President Harold B. Lee on a poster or on the chalkboard: “Life is fragile and, therefore, should be handled with prayer.”

  3. 3.

    Prepare a copy of the following invitation for each girl class member:

  4. 4.

    Assign class members in advance to read the following items in the lesson:

    1. a.

      The poem “An Informal Prayer”

    2. b.

      The statement by Elder H. Burke Peterson on how to pray

    3. c.

      The statement by President David O. McKay on meditation

  5. 5.

    Invite two class members to sing the hymn “Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire” (Hymns, no. 145) as a duet.

  6. 6.

    Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction: Extend an Invitation

Handout

Distribute the invitations to the class members (see “Preparation”). During the development of the lesson, the young women will be directed to read the various scriptural references in order to discover the message of the invitation.

Discuss with the class the person to whom the invitation is extended. Have class members locate Doctrine and Covenants 104:79 and read it together. This identifies each one of the young women as the one to whom the invitation is extended.

The Scriptures Teach Us about Prayer

Discussion

Have the young women suggest reasons why the Lord invites us to pray. After the young women have given their suggestions, have them locate the four scriptures on the invitation. Have each scripture read, and in each identify the reason the Lord gives for prayer.

Doctrine and Covenants 19:28 (it is a commandment); 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (give thanks in everything; it is the will of God); James 1:5 (if you lack wisdom); and Alma 34:27 (pray for the welfare of yourself and others).

Explain to the young women that there are many more reasons to pray and that these four scriptures represent only a few.

Poem

To begin the discussion of how to pray, have the assigned class member read the following poem.

An Informal Prayer

“The proper way for a man to pray,”
Said Deacon Lemuel Keyes,
“And the only proper attitude
Is down upon his knees.”
“Nay, I should say the way to pray,”
Said Reverend Dr. Wise,
“Is standing straight with outstretched arms
And rapt and upturned eyes.”
“Oh, no, no, no,” said Elder Snow;
“Such posture is too proud.
A man should pray with eyes fast closed
And head contritely bowed.”
“It seems to me his hands should be
Austerely clasped in front.
With both thumbs pointing toward the ground,”
Said Reverend Dr. Hunt.
“Las’ year I fell in Hodgkin’s well
Head first,” said Cyrus Brown,
“With both my heels a-striken’ up,
My head a-p’inting down;
An’ I made a prayer right then an’ there;
Best prayer I ever said;
The prayingest prayer I ever prayed;
A-standin’ on my head.”

(Sam Walter Foss, “The Prayer of Cyrus Brown,” in Stars to Steer By, ed. Louis Untermeyer [New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1941], pp. 301–2.)

Scripture discussion

Have the young women locate 3 Nephi 19:6 as indicated on their invitations. Explain that when the Savior appeared on the American continent, he taught his disciples how to pray, and they taught the people. Have the scripture read, and ask class members to tell how the Nephites were taught to pray.

Quotation and discussion

Explain that to help us in our efforts to draw nearer to him, our Heavenly Father has given us considerable counsel through our modern leaders on how to pray. Have the assigned class member read and then discuss the suggestions from Bishop H. Burke Peterson:

“As you feel the need to confide in the Lord or to improve the quality of your visits with him—to pray, if you please—may I suggest a process to follow: go where you can be alone, go where you can think, go where you can kneel, go where you can speak out loud to him. The bedroom, the bathroom, or the closet will do. Now, picture him in your mind’s eye. Think to whom you are speaking, control your thoughts—don’t let them wander, address him as your Father and your friend. Now tell him things you really feel to tell him—not trite phrases that have little meaning, but have a sincere, heartfelt conversation with him. Confide in him, ask him for forgiveness, plead with him, enjoy him, thank him, express your love to him, and then listen for his answers. … Answers from the Lord come quietly—ever so quietly. In fact, few hear his answers audibly with their ears. We must be listening so carefully or we will never recognize them. Most answers from the Lord are felt in our heart as a warm comfortable expression, or they may come as thoughts to our mind. They come to those who are prepared and who are patient” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 13; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 19).

Picture discussion

Display the picture of the Savior praying in Gethsemane, and ask the young women to suggest some of the things we learn about prayer from a study of this picture. Help them to recognize such things as humility, solitude, faith, kneeling, concentration, and meditation.

Meditation Is a Form of Prayer

Scripture discussion

Ask the young women to locate and read 1 Timothy 4:15, listed under “How” on their invitations. Ask them to give you their understanding of the term meditate.

Quotation and discussion

Have the assigned young woman read the following statement by President David O. McKay:

“I think we pay too little attention to the value of meditation, a principle of devotion. … Meditation is the language of the soul. It is defined as ‘a form of private devotion or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep, continued reflection on some religious theme.’ Meditation is a form of prayer. …

“Meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord” (Man May Know for Himself, comp. Clare Middlemiss [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1969], pp. 22–23).

Again briefly discuss the places where Bishop Peterson suggested we go to be alone. Then ask the young women to think about where they would go to meditate.

Scripture discussion

Explain that how and where we pray and meditate are closely related. Have the class members refer to their invitations and locate the scriptures designated “Where.” Read them together and identify where the Lord suggests we go:

Matthew 6:6 (Pray in closet or secret places.)

Alma 34:26 (Pray in closet, secret place, and your wilderness.)

Ask the young women to consider where their own personal “wilderness” could be. Help them determine some areas where they could go individually to meditate.

Scripture discussion

Explain that Heavenly Father has also told us when to pray. Ask the young women to consult their invitations to learn the appropriate time to pray according to the scriptures:

Alma 34:21 (Pray morning, midday, and evening.)

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (Pray without ceasing.)

Emphasize that Heavenly Father is always available and wants us to communicate with him. A righteous life includes a never-ceasing prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord.

Life Is Fragile—Handle with Prayer

Poster or chalkboard

Refer to the following statement on a poster or on the chalkboard: “Life is fragile and, therefore, should be handled with prayer” (quoted by Harold B. Lee, in Conference Report, Mexico and Central America Area Conference 1972, p. 48).

Chalkboard discussion

Ask the young women what problems, decisions, and temptations in their lives could be handled more effectively with meditation and prayer. Record their answers on the chalkboard:

Meditation and prayer will help in:

  1. 1.

    Building testimony.

  2. 2.

    Overcoming negative attitudes.

  3. 3.

    Observing a meaningful fast.

  4. 4.

    Withstanding peer group pressures.

  5. 5.

    Maintaining Church standards.

  6. 6.

    Meeting school problems.

  7. 7.

    Improving one’s self-image.

  8. 8.

    Keeping the Word of Wisdom.

  9. 9.

    Developing good habits.

  10. 10.

    Overcoming weaknesses.

  • How could meditation make your prayers about the problems listed on the chalkboard more effective?

Quotation

After the young women have answered the question, read the following statement from Elder Boyd K. Packer that further clarifies the above question:

“When you have a problem, work it out in your mind first. Ponder on it and analyze it and meditate on it. Read the scriptures. Pray about it. …

“Ponder on things a little each day and don’t always be in the crisis of making major decisions on the spur of the moment. …

“I have learned that the best time to wrestle with major problems is early in the morning. … The blackboard of your mind has been erased by a good night’s rest. The accumulated distractions of the day are not in your way. Your body has been rested also. That’s the time to think something through very carefully and to receive personal revelation” (“Self-reliance,” Ensign, Aug. 1975, p. 88).

Conclusion

Teacher presentation and scripture

Point out that many invitations include an R.S.V.P., which means that the person who receives it must decide whether or not to accept the invitation and give a reply. Ask the young women to refer to their invitations and read the promise; encourage them to accept the invitation to meditation and prayer. Have them read Alma 37:37 to discover the promise offered by the Lord (he will direct them for good, watch over them, and lift them up at the last day).

Ask the young women to seriously consider their own answer to the invitation. Explain to them that if they accept the invitation to pray and meditate, they should commit themselves to a daily program.

Reread the poster “Life is fragile and, therefore, should be handled with prayer.”

Testimony and experiences

Suggest that the young women handle their lives with prayer. Bear your testimony about the value of prayer and meditation in your own life. Share an experience of your own with prayer, and also invite the young women to share their experiences.

Hymn

Close the lesson by having the assigned young women sing, “Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire” (Hymns, no. 145).