Warning that the world has moved far from spiritual things, President Thomas S. Monson spoke during one of his October 2011 general conference addresses on the importance of communicating with Heavenly Father through prayer. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also stressed the importance or daily, fervent supplication of and communication with Heavenly Father, in a general conference address he gave in 2007.
“As a means of being in the world but not being of the world, it is necessary that we communicate with our Heavenly Father through prayer,” President Monson said. “He wants us to do so; He’ll answer our prayers. The Savior admonished us, as recorded in 3 Nephi 18, to ‘watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you. …
“ ‘Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;
“ ‘And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.’ ”
Lessons from His youth
President Monson shared the story of how he gained his testimony of the power of prayer at the age of 12.
“I had worked hard to earn some money and had managed to save five dollars. This was during the Great Depression, when five dollars was a substantial sum of money—especially for a boy of 12. … I know there was something specific I planned to purchase with the five dollars, although all these years later I can’t recall what it was. I just remember how important that money was to me.”
At the time, his family did not own a washing machine and their clothes were sent out each week for washing. One week, his jeans with his five-dollar bill in the pocket were sent to the laundry.
“When I realized what had happened, I was sick with worry. I knew that pockets were routinely checked at the laundry prior to washing. If my money was not discovered and taken during that process, I knew it was almost certain the money would be dislodged during washing and would be claimed by a laundry worker who would have no idea to whom the money should be returned, even if he had the inclination to do so. The chances of getting back my five dollars were extremely remote—a fact which my dear mother confirmed when I told her I had left the money in my pocket.
“I wanted that money; I needed that money; I had worked very hard to earn that money. I realized there was only one thing I could do. In my extremity I turned to my Father in Heaven and pleaded with Him to keep my money safe in that pocket somehow until our wet wash came back.
“Two very long days later, when I knew it was about time for the delivery truck to bring our wash, I sat by the window, waiting. As the truck pulled up to the curb, my heart was pounding. As soon as the wet clothes were in the house, I grabbed my jeans and ran to my bedroom. I reached into the pocket with trembling hands. When I didn’t find anything immediately, I thought all was lost. And then my fingers touched that wet five-dollar bill. As I pulled it from the pocket, relief flooded over me. I offered a heartfelt prayer of gratitude to my Father in Heaven, for I knew that He had answered my prayer.
“Since that time of long ago, I have had countless prayers answered. Not a day has gone by that I have not communicated with my Father in Heaven through prayer. It is a relationship I cherish—one I would literally be lost without. If you do not now have such a relationship with your Father in Heaven, I urge you to work toward that goal. As you do so, you will be entitled to His inspiration and guidance in your life—necessities for each of us if we are to survive spiritually during our sojourn here on earth. Such inspiration and guidance are gifts He freely gives if we but seek them. What treasures they are! …
“My beloved brothers and sisters, communication with our Father in Heaven—including our prayers to Him and His inspiration to us—is necessary in order for us to weather the storms and trials of life. The Lord invites us, ‘Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me.’ As we do so, we will feel His Spirit in our lives, providing us the desire and the courage to stand strong and firm in righteousness—to ‘stand … in holy places, and be not moved.’ ”
Elder Richard G. Scott: The Supernal Gift of Prayer
“Prayer is a supernal gift of our Father in Heaven to every soul,” Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said.
“Think of it: the absolute Supreme Being, the most all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful personage, encourages you and me, as insignificant as we are, to converse with Him as our Father. Actually, because He knows how desperately we need His guidance, He commands, ‘Thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private.’
“It matters not our circumstance, be we humble or arrogant, poor or rich, free or enslaved, learned or ignorant, loved or forsaken, we can address Him. We need no appointment. Our supplication can be brief or can occupy all the time needed. It can be an extended expression of love and gratitude or an urgent plea for help. He has created numberless cosmos and populated them with worlds, yet you and I can talk with Him personally, and He will ever answer. …
“Don't worry about your clumsily expressed feelings. Just talk to your compassionate, understanding Father. You are His precious child whom He loves perfectly and wants to help. As you pray, recognize that Father in Heaven is near and He is listening.
“A key to improved prayer is to learn to ask the right questions. Consider changing from asking for the things you want to honestly seeking what He wants for you. Then as you learn His will, pray that you will be led to have the strength to fulfill it.
“Should you ever feel distanced from our Father, it could be for many reasons. Whatever the cause, as you continue to plead for help, He will guide you to do that which will restore your confidence that He is near. Pray even when you have no desire to pray. Sometimes, like a child, you may misbehave and feel you cannot approach your Father with a problem. That is when you most need to pray. Never feel you are too unworthy to pray.
“I wonder if we can ever really fathom the immense power of prayer until we encounter an overpowering, urgent problem and realize that we are powerless to resolve it. Then we will turn to our Father in humble recognition of our total dependence on Him. It helps to find a secluded place where our feelings can be vocally expressed as long and as intensely as necessary.”