A statue of George Washington in a kneeling position, head bowed with hands clasped together in solemn prayer, once inspired LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson.
"He is depicted not astride a charging horse nor overlooking a battlefield of glory, but kneeling in humble prayer, calling upon the God of heaven for divine help. To gaze upon the statue prompts the mind to remember the oft-heard expression, 'A man never stands taller than when upon his knees,'" President Monson said in his April 1978 general conference talk, "The Prayer of Faith."
"Men and women of integrity, character and purpose have ever recognized a power higher than themselves and have sought through prayer to be guided by that power," he said. "Such has it ever been. So shall it ever be."
In celebration of National Prayer Day on Thursday, May 5, here is a collection of thoughts and principles shared by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the topic of prayer.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared three principles of prayer in his October 2008 general conference talk, "Pray Always." His second principle taught that prayers become more meaningful when expressing gratitude.
"The most meaningful and spiritual prayers I have experienced contained many expressions of thanks and few, if any, requests," Elder Bednar said.
"As we strive to make our prayers more meaningful, we should remember that 'in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments' (see Doctrine and Covenants 59:21)," he said. "Let me recommend that periodically you and I offer a prayer in which we only give thanks and express gratitude. Ask for nothing; simply let our souls rejoice and strive to communicate appreciation with all the energy of our hearts."
President Spencer W. Kimball described the need for prayer in his April 1979 general conference talk, "Fortify Your Homes Against Evil."
"There is a great need in the world today for prayer which can keep us in touch with God and keep open the channels of communication," he said. "None of us should get so busy in our lives that we cannot contemplate with prayer. Prayer is the passport to spiritual power."
You must ask
One of the keys to receiving a divine blessing is asking in prayer, wrote Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in his book "Broken Things to Mend."
"God is anxiously waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as he always has," he said. "But he can't if you don't pray, and he can't if you don't dream. In short, he can't if you don't believe."
Pray and go
During President Monson's early years as an apostle, he visited Tahiti and learned the Tahitian people were known as some of the "greatest seafaring people in the world," he said in an April 2002 general conference talk.
A church member told President Monson the Tahitian sea captains are amazing.
"The weather may be terrible, the vessels may be leaky, there may be no navigational aids except their inner feelings and the stars in the heavens, but they pray and they go,” the member said.
President Monson saw a lesson in that statement.
"We need to pray, and then we need to act. Both are important," President Monson said in 2002. "Let us pray; then let us go and do."
Answers to prayers
The younger generation may ask, "But what about today? Does he still hear? Does he continue to answer?" President Monson said in April 1978.
"There is no expiration date on the Lord’s injunction to pray. As we remember him, he will remember us," President Monson said. "Most of the time there are no flags waving or bands playing when prayer is answered. His miracles are frequently performed in a quiet and natural manner."
Fasting can play a role in receiving answers to prayers, according to Elder James B. Martino of the Seventy.
"Prayer and fasting will allow us to be susceptible to spiritual promptings," Elder Martino said in his October 2015 general conference talk, "Turn to Him and Answers Will Come."
In April 2002, President James E. Faust, then the second counselor in the First Presidency, described prayer as a lifeline.
"When God placed man on the earth, prayer became the lifeline between mankind and God," President Faust said. "Through all generations prayer has filled a very important human need. Each of us has problems that we cannot solve and weaknesses that we cannot conquer without reaching out through prayer to a higher source of strength. That source is the God of heaven to whom we pray in the name of Jesus Christ. As we pray we should think of our Father in Heaven as possessing all knowledge, understanding, love and compassion."
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"Morning and evening prayers — and all of the prayers in between — are not unrelated, discrete events; rather, they are linked together each day and across days, weeks, months, and even years," Elder Bednar said. "This is in part how we fulfill the scriptural admonition to 'pray always' (Luke 21:36; 3 Nephi 18:15, 18; Doctrine and Covenants 31:12). Such meaningful prayers are instrumental in obtaining the highest blessings God holds in store for his faithful children."
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