Monday, July 10, 2017

President Spencer W. Kimball on effective personal prayer

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"Do you want guidance? Have you prayed to the Lord for inspiration? Do you want to do right or do you want to do what you want to do whether or not it is right? Do you want to do what is best for you in the long run or what seems more desirable for the moment?
"Have you prayed? How much have you prayed? How did you pray? Have you prayed as did the Savior of the world in Gethsemane or did you ask for what you want regardless of its being proper? Do you say in your prayers: 'Thy will be done'? Did you say, 'Heavenly Father, if you will inspire and impress me with the right, I will do that right'? Or, did you pray, 'Give me what I want or I will take it anyway'?
"Did you say: 'Father in Heaven, I love you, I believe in you, I know you are omniscient. I am honest. I am sincerely desirous of doing right. I know you can see the end from the beginning. You can see the future. You can discern if under this situation I present, I will have peace or turmoil, happiness or sorrow, success or failure. Tell me, please, loved Heavenly Father, and I promise to do what you tell me to do.' Have you prayed that way? Don't you think it might be wise? Are you courageous enough to pray that prayer?
"Or, are you afraid that he might not see eye to eye with you? Are you willing to take your own judgment and throw his to the winds? Well, what about it? Are you omniscient? Can you see the future? Are you more clever than God? Can you guess what tomorrow has for you? Do you love yourself? Do you worship yourself, your mind, your judgment? Do you want to be happy forever or for life, or do you want to satisfy only the demands of today?"
- Spencer W. Kimball, personal correspondence, date unknown; see TSWK 123-124

This excerpt, taken from a compilation of President Kimball's teachings, came originally from some personal correspondence written by President Kimball, instead of the usual formal discourses. It appears President Kimball was responding to some inquiries about effective personal prayer. He asks a series of thought-provoking questions about prayer, helping us each explore our own prayers as we strive to find ways to improve the quality and effectiveness of our communication with God.

So much depends on our attitude and motivation as we pray. President Kimball helps us explore the options, suggesting the kinds of approaches that will make a difference. The third paragraph of the excerpt, in particular, suggests the kinds of attitude of faith and trust in God that would make prayer effective, as contrasted with the fourth paragraph describing some of our more common mistakes in our attitudes of prayer.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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