The Object of Prayer

By Ashley D

Though I consider myself to be a religious person who believes communication with God is possible, I am no expert on prayer. I believe it is important; I believe it works. But that doesn’t always translate into action for me.

I have no problem kneeling down at night and giving thanks for all I’ve been given — that’s the easy part. But when it comes to the “asking” part — whether it’s asking for guidance, asking for a particular blessing, or asking for comfort or peace — I’d rather skip to the “amen.” My life is pretty good as it is now, and there are so many people whose struggles are far greater than mine, so what right do I have to trouble God for more? Plus, I’m not a big fan of asking for things from others — I’d rather just do it on my own. I’ve known for awhile that I’m likely missing the mark on this whole prayer thing, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized the object of the “asking” part of prayer.

The LDS Church publishes a Bible dictionary that gives introductory explanations to many Bible words and phrases. I’ve read the entry on prayer countless times, but something new stood out to me recently: “The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them” (emphasis added). So all this time, God has been storing blessings with my name on them, and those blessing are in some heavenly holding place until I simply ask?

I don’t expect to suddenly receive bundles of blessings now that I’ve had this small epiphany. I should be clear that this asking business isn’t quite as simple as posing a one-time question to the Lord and leaving it at that. Blessings require some work or effort on our part, and prayer is one such form of work. But knowing that God has great things in store for me — conditional upon the way I live and the effort I place in communicating with Him — sure changes the way I think about prayer.

What experiences have you had with securing blessings from God through prayer? Whether you’re a devoted pray-er or an occasional communicator with God, how do you view the object of prayer?

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2 thoughts on “The Object of Prayer

  1. Tim says:

    This really made me think about prayer. When I read the title, I was sure that you would conclude that the purpose of prayer is to bring our will in line with God’s will instead of asking for blessings and then getting them. I was wrong, and I’m glad. I hadn’t really thought of the fact that God has blessings waiting for me, I just have to ask for them. That makes me want to take a little more time to pray each day so that I can try to know what I’m supposed to ask for and receive those blessings that are waiting for me.

  2. Melanie says:

    Ashley – I’ve had this exact conversation with myself so many times! For me, asking for help eventually become an incredibly important part of prayer – and my relationship with God. I ask for strength and discernment almost daily. Once I realized life wasn’t about proving how independent I was – that it’s about learning, growing and experiencing – I started to see prayer as an opportunity to ask God for wisdom I don’t already have in recognizing the choices that would lead to worthwhile experiences from an eternal perspective. Some of the sweetest blessings I have asked for and received include peace during hard times, knowledge that God loves me, an understanding of how Christ’s atonement applies to me personally, and reassurance that God never forgets my loved ones. It’s in these personal moments when I can ask God what I should even be asking for – essentially help in recognizing my weaknesses and a deeper appreciation for His help.

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