My prayers are largely ineffective
Everyone in the gospel has a weakness. Mine is prayer. Although I have received answers to prayer on many occasions, for the most part it has been hit-and-miss. During times of sin, this is understandable, but during times of righteousness, unanswered prayers can be awfully frustrating, especially in the light of the Savior’s promise that whatever we ask for in faith, nothing doubting, would be received.
It is written,
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4: 3)
Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen. (2 Nephi 4: 35)
The word amiss is an adverb that means “in a faulty manner; contrary to propriety, truth, law or morality.” This means that if a person prays to God for something and does not receive, he is praying incorrectly.
Starting from scratch
I once learned from a certain person that most men, when trying to win the hearts of women, will use the techniques they think are best. If their techniques don’t work, they try harder, using the same techniques. The idea is that if the square peg ain’t going in the round hole, use a bigger hammer. The wiser course of action, though, would be to re-evaluate the techniques and perhaps throw them right out the window and start altogether from scratch.
This is what James McCanney did when tackling the prime number enigma (which he ended up breaking as described in his Calculate Primes book). I heard that he took all the books and papers he had in his library about prime numbers and put them away, out of sight, and then took months of time to work to forget it all. When the information that others had written about prime numbers was completely out of his mind, he looked at prime numbers with a clean sheet and was finally able to crack the code, without any false presuppositions to cloud his view.
In the same manner, I decided a few days ago that everything I thought I understood about prayer was wrong and threw it all out the window (mentally). So, with this absolutely clean slate in front of me, I looked at prayer again. Here is what I saw:
What prayer isn’t
Prayer is not how we talk to God, nor how He talks to us. When we pray, we are not to be picturing God in front of us, or standing on a cloud above us, or sitting on a throne, etc. Prayer is not designed to be a conversation, similar to one we would have with another person, with the exception being that we can say anything we want to say, and bare our whole souls without fear of judgment because the person we are talking to is mute (doesn’t talk back) and invisible. Prayer is not even communication, in the typical sense, with anyone, at all. It is not meant to be the means to tell God what we need or want or desire. He already knows all that. In fact, prayer cannot tell God anything more than He already knows. Nor is it designed to reveal us to ourselves. It is not intended to express or reveal how we feel, such as gratitude, praise and desires, or fears, guilt and hatred. It is not designed to humble us or make us feel guilty or miserable or lowly or meek, by kneeling down, folding our arms, bowing our heads, speaking in reverent tones, using reverent language, lifting up the arms, prostrating oneself, etc. It is not so that we convince ourselves to repent or that we are okay or that the principles of the gospel are true, etc. It is not designed to be a psychological tool, although it can be used as one. The frequency of prayer is not random, nor are the types of prayers offered. In short, virtually everything I thought I knew about prayer is wrong.
What prayer is
Prayer is an ordinance
Just as the sacramental prayer is, in fact, nothing more or less than a prayer, yet we consider it a sacred ordinance of the gospel, all prayers are likewise sacred ordinances of the gospel. They are performed by the power of the priesthood. Not the Melchizedek, Aaronic, Levitical or Patriarchal orders of priesthood, but a different order available to all the children of God, priesthood being a divine language. Nevertheless, all priesthood is Melchizedek, meaning that all priesthood power and authority is an appendage of the Melchizedek priesthood.
Prayer is a role play
The words of the prayer are the words that God wants to hear. They are the words that Jesus Christ would say in our place. We are not to say what we want to, or feel like, saying. We are only to say what God wants to hear. (And it is through the scriptural patterns of prayer that we learn what God wants to hear.)
Prayer is an exercise to develop the right-brain-heart
In a previous post, I wrote:
Belief, Doubt and Prayer
The right-brain-heart is the believing brain, whereas the left-brain-mind is the doubter, unless the belief is based upon logic, facts, peer-reviewed evidence, etc. So, when the Lord instructs us to pray in faith, believing that we will receive, nothing doubting, he is explaining the manner of using both hemispheres of the brain. Verbal prayers require the left-brain-mind, while faith and belief both originate in the right-brain-heart. And by saying “nothing doubting” He is explaining that the left-brain-mind is to speak but do nothing more. So, there is to be no conflict between left-brain-mind and right-brain-heart. Belief and faith are to come from the right-brain-heart without any doubt from the left-brain-mind. In our prayers, then, we are to be one, meaning that our left-brain-mind and right-brain-heart are to be united, with the right-brain-heart in its proper role as the primary and dominant brain. Prayer, then, becomes a means whereby we may train our left-brain-minds to be subservient to our right-brain-hearts.
Prayer is to be performed in a temple of God
The kingdom of God is within you, said Jesus. It is located in the right-brain-heart. It is the temple of God, where the Holy Spirit dwells. When we pray, we are to mentally enter this specific temple and offer our prayers there, in the midst of the right-brain-heart. We are not to imagine looking outward at an image of God, but are to imagine looking inward into this eternal area of man, even the organ of eternity. Only by mentally entering and focusing on this organ, which is eternal in its scope, being patterned after the brain of God, can we access its powers and gifts and fully develop them.
Prayer is to be performed vocally three times a day
Just as the sacrament ordinance is performed routinely (weekly), daily prayer ordinances are to be offered up morning, mid-day and night, creating a routine. These are vocal prayers in which the individual enters the temple of God and performs the ordinance with mind, body and spirit.
Prayer is to be performed vocally and in secret (in one’s heart), publicly and in private
These prayer ordinances, when performed in one’s head, are done using mind and spirit, but not the body (for they are not voiced out loud). This means that we speak in our minds, hearing our own voices in our heads, but not in our ears.
Prayer is to be carried around in one’s heart continually
This refers to prayer done using only the spirit. It means to remain centered or focused on the right-brain-heart, meaning that we imagine that we are still in the confines of this sacred, inner temple, and that we feel towards God continually, praising Him, thanking Him and asking Him for blessings upon us and others using only our feelings, with no mental or spoken words.
Prayer is to be done with family and friends
The promise is that when two or more are gathered in the Lord’s name, He will be there and whatever they ask in faith, believing they will receive, will be granted. All of the family or friends gathered should be “in their temples” for these prayers to be effective.
Prayer, whenever possible, is to follow the true order
The most effective prayer is one in which the ordinance is done in complete union. The true order of prayer given during the endowment shows, first of all, that such a prayer is to be offered only in the temples of God (the right-brain-heart) and secondly, that each person is to repeat the exact words offered by the one acting as voice. In this way, all voice the same prayer. Although the church will crack down on anyone attempting to perform the full true order of prayer outside of a church temple, meaning that the signs of the priesthood are made also, anyone can gather around an altar and perform the true order of prayer outside of a church temple and merely leave out the signs. As long as each of them are focused on their right-brain-heart (their inner temple), the Lord will bless them even as they ask.
In the ordinances the power of godliness is manifest
Without the ordinances of the gospel, the power of godliness is not manifest. This is why the ordinance of prayer has been given to us, all of us, that we might have the power of godliness manifest to us in the flesh. But unless the ordinance of prayer is performed properly, no power will be manifest.
Everything is found in the right-brain-heart
It is not necessary to feel what you are praying for. Everything is found within the right-brain-heart, all variations of feelings. So, even if you don’t feel grateful, once you mentally “enter” the inner temple of God and begin to pray, you can speak words of gratitude in truth. Every feeling is there, perhaps found buried deep within, but there nonetheless. We are directed to praise God, even if we don’t feel like praising Him; to thank Him, even if we don’t feel thankful; to ask Him for all things, even if we don’t feel faith. The inner temple is an environment devoid of doubt. It is endless and therefore contains endless power and possibilities. Once we “enter” it, or center our thoughts upon it, looking inward and not outward, and then begin saying the words of the prayer, not what we want to say, but what we think God wants to hear from us, the temple comes to life and responds with faith, powers and gifts. Prayer is an ordinance that trains us to be like Christ because once we enter the inner temple and voice a prayer that God wants to hear, we speak the words of Christ, for only prayers that speak the words of Christ please God. Prayer trains us, then, to speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, for the Spirit speaks the words of Christ and when we pray in the Spirit, we also receive in the Spirit.
The routine of prayer is necessary
We are commanded to say so many daily prayers, of the three types (spirit-mind-body, spirit-mind and spirit-only), because this is a training ordinance. Man learns by doing. He learns to walk by walking, run by running, ride by riding, talk by talking, etc. Prayer can only be learned and mastered by praying. And it must be mastered by all disciples of Christ. But repetitively praying amiss does nothing except causes doubt and despair to come upon us. So, a proper understanding of what prayer is, how to perform it correctly, and why we need it is necessary for it to have its designed, divine effect upon us.
The reason why prayers are ineffectual
People are not praying in inner temples of God. That is the main reason. They are praying as if they are speaking to some invisible, mute person. They are saying words that they want to say. They are not trying to please God with their words, but are only saying what they are thankful for, instead of thanking God for everything; they are only confessing the hand of God in the things that they can see it in, instead of confessing His hand in all things; they are only asking for those things they want or those things they think they can get, instead of asking for all things. They are only praising God when they feel like praising Him, and not all the time. They are in the wrong environment. They are utilizing only the left-brain-mind, which is selfish. (The right-brain-heart is selfless.) They are looking outward from their perspective, not inward from God’s perspective.
Once we look inward, at ourselves, as if we were God (or Christ), and pray after this manner, always remembering that God dwells in the right-brain-heart and not the left-brain-mind, and thus looking to or “entering” the right-brain-heart, our prayers will become effectual and we will receive what we ask for.
I admit that this new way of looking at prayer may not be correct. I am currently trying it out, testing the waters, so to speak. I plan on reporting whatever results I get from this new understanding and prayer experiment. If anyone would like to try to pray in the manner explained in this post and report back on their experience, with comparison to how they normally pray, that would be great, also. I would recommend an extended test, such as a seven-day experiment, with three vocal prayers a day minimum, including all the other prayers we are supposed to do, but always in the way stated in this post.