Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Joseph Fielding Smith on the reasons and benefits for prayer

Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972) was the son of Joseph F. Smith, 6th president of the Church, and grandson of Hyrum Smith, brother of the Prophet Joseph. He was called as an apostle in 1910, and served as the 10th president of the Church from 1970 until his death in 1972 at age 95.
"I wonder if we ever stop to think why the Lord has asked us to pray. Did he ask us to pray because he wants us to how down and worship him? Is that the main reason? I don't think it is. He is our Heavenly Father, and we have been commanded to worship him and pray to him in the name of his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. But the Lord can get along without our prayers. His work will go on just the same, whether we pray or whether we do not....
"Prayer is something that we need, not that the Lord needs. He knows just how to conduct his affairs and how to take care of them without any help from us. Our prayers are not for the purpose of telling him how to run his business. If we have any such idea as that, then of course we have the wrong idea. Our prayers are uttered more for our sakes, to build us up and give us strength and courage, and to increase our faith in him.
"Prayer is something that humbles the soul. It broadens our comprehension; it quickens the mind. It draws us nearer to our Father in heaven. We need his help; there is no question about that. We need the guidance of his Holy Spirit. We need to know what principles have been given to us by which we may come back into his presence. We need to have our minds quickened by the inspiration that comes from him; and for these reasons we pray to him, that he may help us to live so that we will know his truth and be able to walk in its light, that we may, through our faithfulness and our obedience, come back again into his presence."
- Joseph Fielding Smith, "Be True and Faithful to Every Covenant," CR April 1968 pp. 10-12
Click here to read the full talk

Why do we pray? President Smith suggests that God doesn't need our prayers; we don't do it for His sake. His work will go on just fine without our prayers.

Clearly, we are counseled to pray because we need the benefits that come from praying; "to build us up and give us strength and courage, and to increase our faith in him."

The list of results and benefits he provides should be motivating to anyone who is unsure of the merits of regular, sincere prayer:

I found it interesting to consider the various points of that description and ask myself, "Have I felt that?" And especially, "Have I felt that recently?"

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