Sweet Hour of Prayer
Did you know that the most oft-repeated commandment in the scriptures is to pray? And, yes, it is a commandment. It's not because the Lord needs to hear from us, it's because we need to draw close to Him.
We once had a stake president who said that the first step to inactivity and even serious transgression was always to stop praying. "But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear…" (Alma 13:28).
We're encouraged to pray about everything--from ourselves to our families to the crops in our field (Alma 34: 20-27). We should never feel we are "bothering" God with our petty problems. And when help and answers come, we are counselled to acknowledge His hand in our affairs. For example, have you ever prayed for help locating a lost item, had an idea about where to look, found the lost item, then said, "Never mind, Lord. I got it."
We learn in Primary that there are three possible answers to prayers: YES, NO, and NOT YET. Of course we always want it to be YES, but there are times when that would not be the best thing for us and NO is the answer that we need, if not the one we want. As for NOT YET, sometimes that is the hardest one of all because it takes patience and humility on our part. But like the expression says, "Don't mistake God's delays for God's denials."
In the Jan Karon books about the village of Mittford, the minister talks about the prayer that never faileth: “Thy will be done." This is illustrated in the movie Shadowlands about C.S. Lewis. When his beloved wife, Joy, is in the hospital suffering from cancer, one of his colleagues says to him, "Are your prayers being answered?" Lewis responds, "I don't pray to change God's will; I pray to change my own."
Finally, we should remember that prayer is a two-way communication. When you telephone a loved one, it's discouraging when they do all the talking and you never get a word in edgewise.
After saying Amen, stay still a few minutes and listen. Give the Lord a chance to respond or tell you something. Then it really does become, "sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, that calls us from a world of care…"