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Wade Jewkes, Deseret News
S. Michael Wilcox in his office at the Salt Lake University LDS Institute of Religion before he retired.
If you don’t pour out, God can’t pour back in. —S. Michael Wilcox

SALT LAKE CITY — A question from a woman who was having trials prompted S. Michael Wilcox to think differently about the word “pray.”

Her question: “What do you do when prayer is not enough?”

Wilcox’s answer was to not just "pray," but to instead pour out, wrestle or believe.

Wilcox, a retired Church Educational System instructor, suggested at Time Out for Women recently that the word "pray" gets so overused that it loses its proper meaning.

“There might be a difference in my mind if we say, ‘I’m going in the bedroom to say my prayers’ or 'I’m going in to wrestle with my God.' ”

Different words “give a different frame of mind,” Wilcox said.

Pouring out prayers

Wilcox looked in the scriptures for examples of what could be exchanged with “prayer." When he read in 1 Samuel about Hannah, who wanted a child, he looked at words describing how she felt — fret, provoked, grieved, afflicted and complain.

“What does she do with all that’s in her soul?” Wilcox asked. “She pours out her whole soul before the Lord” (see 1 Samuel 1:15).

And when it’s poured out, there is room for God to pour in.

“If you don’t pour out, God can’t pour back in,” Wilcox said.

Wrestling prayers

“Wrestling prayers — I am empty in my soul, and I need something (in) it,” Wilcox said. Enos shares his wrestle with words such as “my soul hungered,” "supplication," "feel a desire," "pour out my soul," "struggling," "labored" and "diligence."

“This is intense effort into what he’s doing,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox also shared his experience with his wrestle with his conversion and gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon.

Prayer of action and belief

Wilcox said that he looks for what he calls the “10-piece promises.”

It stems from a story in 1 Kings 11, when the prophet Ahijah stops Jeroboam and tears Jeroboam’s new garment into 12 pieces, each one representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Ahijah gave 10 back to Jeroboam with the promise that if he was obedient, he would rule the kingdom, as would his children.

Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out well for Jeroboam.

“He then made decisions based on fear,” Wilcox said. “The very thing that he fears, he creates.”

In life, he said, remember the 10-piece promises, don’t have fear, and act in faith.

“We have to feel the promises sometimes and believe,” Wilcox said of the 10-piece promise.

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Prayer of desire

The Catholic St. Teresa of Avila calls this the “prayer of quiet,” Wilcox said.

Sometimes it’s when only a few or no words are needed, and just being filled with love.

“I always feel I need to talk in prayer — do you?” Wilcox said. But that’s not always the case.

“If we’ll be familiar with him, and if we’ll act and believe, and enjoy those moments of quiet when no words are necessary, if we’ll wrestle and pour out, prayer will always be enough,” Wilcox concluded.

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