Thoughts on Prayer #1: Why is There a Pattern for Prayer?
I’ve been pondering prayer, so my next few posts will likely be on this topic.
I’ve always struggled with the LDS concept of prayer. I love the idea of expressing myself to God, but even as a kid I wasn’t comfortable with the prescribed process of prayer. The heightened language, finding a place to pray out loud, the “script” of giving thanks then asking for what we need felt like it separated me from God rather then bringing me closer to my Parents. My prayers tend be thoughts directed towards my concept of God, and tend to be more conversation then following the pattern.
My practice of thinking conversations at God works well for me, but then I go to church and am told that I’m doing to wrong. I worry if I’m using “vain repetitions,” that I don’t use formal language, that I don’t vocalize. There was a quote in the most recent General Conference that many people posted on Facebook: “Prayer only works if used as prescribed.” Clearly this was inspiration for many, but I found it depressing. If I don’t pray in the prescribed way, does that mean my prayers aren’t heard? That they are less important? If we accept the idea that we have Heavenly Parents, my parents don’t just listen to me when I talk in a certain way. They listen to me on the phone, in email, in person. They listen when I yell, when I cry, when I’m excited. They listen to my words, my body language, my mood. So why can I only communicate with my Heavenly Parents in one way?
I realize and appreciate that the LDS mode works for many people. I’m just not one of them. I pray differently and feel heard, but when I pray in the way I’m “supposed” to, I feel uncomfortable and it’s hard for me to express myself. So while God is listening, I can’t feel it because I’m not feeling like myself. So my questions are, why is it so important to pray out loud, with heightened language, etc., and are my prayers not heard, and will they not work, because I’m not “praying as prescribed?”