"Prayer is to the soul like the irrigating stream to our dry and parched fields and orchards. Prayer nourishes, strengthens and imparts vitality to the seed. The seed grows under the influence of prayer. But where prayer is neglected, the results are just as we see them when we neglect to irrigate our fields and orchards. That which is planted there begins to wither and dry up.
"So it is with the word of God in the human soul; it must be watered by the Spirit of God. Prayer must be exercised in order to invoke the power and blessing of God to rest upon it. Then the seed grows; the tree grows and flourishes; its branches spread abroad and fill the whole man, and he knows that it is the word of God that he has received. He has a living and abiding testimony in his heart concerning it, and doubt has no room within him. But let him neglect his prayers, let him neglect to cultivate the seed and to watch over it, then it begins to wither, and he begins to doubt and to ask himself whether this is indeed the work of God. This is not because the seed was not good; it is because of the neglect of the individual."
- George Q. Cannon, Deseret Weekly Feb. 17, 1895; see Gospel Truth 1:345; or Millennial Star Aug. 6, 1898, 58:501
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In our time, we may not be quite as familiar with the processes of irrigation as President Cannon's contemporaries were. But we understand how crucial it is for plants to get appropriate amounts of water; many of us have seen a houseplant or a lawn wither and dry from lack of moisture.
President Cannon uses this analogy to link our spiritual growth to the need for prayer. Our soul needs to be "watered by the Spirit of God" and prayer is the mechanism to enable that watering.
When testimonies falter or faith grows weak, President Cannon's assertion is certainly relevant. Without the things that cultivate and nourish the seeds and plants, they will wither and die. We must never cut off the divine source of Living Water (see John 4:7-15) from our lives!