But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.Latter-day Saints pray a lot. Recently, I was curious how often the typical practicing church member prays, so I sat down and counted it. (The number varies based on what day of the week it is and what kind of family situation the person is in.)
2 Nephi 32:9
- At a minimum, an active church member will pray in the morning upon getting up, before each meal, and in the evening before going to bed. (Assuming 3 meals per day, the running total so far is 5.)
- On a day with church meetings, the number increases, since each meeting begins and ends with prayer. (Assuming it's a Sunday, that's 6 more prayers, bringing the total to 11.)
- For people who are in family situations with more than one practicing church member, there is also family prayer. (I wasn't raised in the church, so I don't know how most families do family prayer. Is it morning and night, or just at night? Running total, 12 or 13.)
With all that praying, it's really easy to fall into a pattern of just going through the motions. I know there have been times in my life where I've said prayers without actually praying. I think that's what Jesus warned against when He said to avoid "vain repetitions". (In fact, since we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, a perfunctory prayer is probably a violation of the commandment against taking the name of God in vain.)
I think the text of the Lord's Prayer is instructive on how to make prayer more meaningful. I'm going to use the version in Matthew 6:9-13 because it's the most familiar. (It's also available in Luke 11:2-4 and 3 Nephi 13:9-13.) I'm going to break it down with commentary.
- After this manner therefore pray ye:
- Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
- Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
- Give us this day our daily bread.
- And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
- For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Imagine what the world would be like if we all prayed multiple times per day with this much sincerity and carried this prayer in our hearts. We could change the world!