Why do we pray?
I recently read an article written by Elder Renlund where he said, “When God directs us to do one thing, He often has many purposes in mind.”
I believe that prayer is one of those things that God has directed us to do that has many purposes.
I love the definition of prayer in the Bible dictionary. It teaches us some of the purposes of prayer, including:
- As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Fatherland we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part. Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship.
- Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child (us) are brought into correspondence with each other. 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.
- Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them.
- Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.
But God is wise and all knowing and He knows that there are many other purposes for prayer.
There is science backed research that shows the positive effects of daily meditation. Did you know that you already meditate? You probably do at least twice a day when you pray. I believe that prayer is a form of meditation.
Meditation has been found to:
- decrease depression
- reduce stress
- relieve headaches
- increase our “niceness”
- boost memory
- build better relationships
- protect your heart
- get more sleep
- help us be more creative
How is all of this possible?
Prayer helps us to clear our mind and organize our thoughts. Our brains are much like our homes. They get cluttered with thoughts. In fact, we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. And those thoughts are much like the dust in my home; quick to accumulate and all over the place. Frustrating.
The difference is that we eventually take time to dust our homes.
Our thoughts? Not so much. In fact, we just hang on to them. Whether they are helpful thoughts or not, we don’t get rid of them.
But I have noticed that when I pray, I pour my thoughts out to my Heavenly Father, and as I do, it is like I am dusting my home. I am able to find thoughts that I want to keep and thoughts I want to get rid of because they are not serving me very well.
When we pray and we offer gratitude, it directs our minds away from the negative that our brain likes to focus on. Our brains our wired to notice the negative. Why? Negative thoughts and feelings are “dangerous” according to our minds. And because our brains are wired to help us survive, they are always on the look out for danger.
I am so grateful to Heavenly Parents who have taught us and encouraged us to pray. Not only will it help us get home to them, but it helps us to enjoy our earthly life to our fullest capabilities. We may not be able to always control the things that happen in our life, but we can control how we react and view our experience. Prayer plays a major factor how we view our personal earthly experience.