Have you ever prayed and known your prayer was heard? Have you ever felt like you had truly communed with God? What does it take to make every prayer that kind of prayer?
In the scriptures, we see various examples of prayers. We teach in Sunday School and people new to prayer that the basic steps of prayer are:
In Matthew 6:9-13, and Luke 11:2-4, the Lord taught his disciples how to pray. The two accounts together give us a better picture of what happened.
Luke 11:1 – the disciples were with Jesus while he was praying and asked him to teach them how “to pray, as John (the Baptist) also taught his disciples.”
Matthew 6:5-8 – Jesus gives some preliminary pointers before he gave an example or template for prayer. He warns them not to be hypocritical, to enter their “closet” to pray in secret, and not use vain repetitions.
Then he taught them and in this we see something a little different than the “standard” prayer.
Now of course this is a very short, simple prayer, demonstrated to his disciples so they could begin to understand better how Jesus prayed. This prayer example would have taken only a minute, while Jesus obviously prayed much longer and deeper than this instructive prayer. However, it is important to recognize that Christ always praised his Father and submitted himself to his will, to suffer all things the Father knew he needed to suffer to fulfill his life’s mission. Our prayers will benefit from utilizing this pattern rather than the “standard template” above and this leads us into our topic.
There is a phrase found 9 times in the scriptures: 6 in the Book of Mormon and 3 in the Doctrine and Covenants. The phrase is “mighty prayer.”
What is “mighty prayer” and how does it differ from regular prayer? It is without question that when Jesus prayed, he engaged in mighty prayer. Here are 3 specific examples.
These examples are very fruitful for study and analysis, but to avoid writing a book length blog post, I want to turn now to the verses that specifically mention “mighty prayer.”
This is a good time to start a collection note in Scripture Notes by doing a search for:
Then click “Create CN” to create your collection note and make notes as you study these verses.
Here are a few questions we can start off by adding to our master collection note area.
The first result from our search takes us to 2 Nephi 4:24.
24. And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
You’ll want to click the add previous and next verse buttons so you have verses 23-25. Look at the fruits of Nephi’s mighty prayer.
None of the experiences Nephi had are barred from us. It is only unbelief that holds these experiences back from us. Later in Nephi’s writings, he tells us that after we have received the Holy Ghost and the baptism of fire, it is our privilege to utilize the Spirit to pray words of praise and use the language of angels.
2 Nephi 31:13. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.”
This is indeed mighty prayer and includes words of praise, and no doubt submission, devotion, and deliverance.
We are all well familiar with Enos’ marathon prayer. He stated :
Enos 1:4 “And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.“
This is not to say mighty prayer must last this long, but what are the lessons here? Mighty prayer takes time and it doesn’t follow a simple template. The Savior warned his disciples to not engage in vain repetition (Matthew 6:7, 3 Nephi 13:7). The problem isn’t in the repetition, it’s in the vanity.
Webster’s 1828 dictionary has 9 different definitions of vain. Here are a few relevant ones:
Obviously, Enos’ prayer was not vain. He tells us in verse 2 it was a “wrestle which [he] had before God.” I would submit to you that the only way an individual can pray for this duration and without vanity, which it is evident Enos succeeded at doing based on the results he received, is to pray in the Spirit. Only the Spirit could direct such a prayer. Words were given to him as to what to pray for.
We see this same thing happened to the Nephite disciples. After Christ prayed to the Father, the disciples also prayed. Without using the word “mighty” in this verse, it says:
3 Nephi 19:24. “And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire.“
The disciples were in tune with the Spirit and relied on it to give them the very words they should pray. They were filled with desire to connect to God, the source of life and light, and they utilized the Spirit of God for the purpose of transforming their minds into God’s thoughts and will that they should pray for.
From the fifth lecture on faith, second paragraph, we read this:
“…And He being the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fullness of the glory of the Father, possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one; or, in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things; by whom all things were created and made that were created and made, and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one; the Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power, and fullness – filling all in all; the Son being filled with the fullness of the mind, glory, and power; or, in other words, the spirit, glory, and power, of the Father, possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom, sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father, mediator for man, being filled with the fullness of the mind of the Father; or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father, which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on His name and keep His commandments; and all those who keep His commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of Him who fills all in all; being filled with the fullness of His glory, and become one in Him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one.”
When we engage in mighty prayer, we are putting ourselves in tune with the Holy Spirit such that what we pray are the words of praise that all eternity feels, the words of petition that God knows we need to utter to be blessed, the wrestling that our soul longs to utter but can’t find words to express, and the powerful feelings that fill us with confidence knowing our prayers have been sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise and they will be fulfilled. This is praying with the tongue of angels as Nephi did.
We don’t arrive at this point by arbitrarily deciding to pray in mighty prayer. It takes preparation, yet it’s not outside our reach to make this our standard mode of praying. Any time we make the effort to be clean through repentance and make the appropriate sacrifices to have the Spirit with us, our prayers can be more powerful and pull down blessings that the Lord is desirous to bestow upon us. Continual practice and having the Spirit for our constant companion, will bring this all about. Pray for the constant companionship of the Spirit and for guidance in prayer.
There are more insights to gain from these verses, but now I need to go pray :) so I leave it to you to study the remaining verses on mighty prayer. May our prayers be always effectual.
It would also be valuable to read the Bible Dictionary entry on prayer. Very soon the Scripture Notes app will have the Bible Dictionary content added to it for study and the ability to add that content to collection notes.
You should add 2 Nephi 31:13 and 3 Nephi 19:24 to your collection note and if you find other verses on mighty prayers where it doesn’t mention the word mighty, leave it in the comment section below.
As always, these blog posts are written for my personal benefit to organize my thoughts and ponder on these topics. I am no expert on these things and am learning just like everyone else. Anyone else that benefits from these posts is icing on the cake. Rich celestial chocolate icing…
(Featured image by gracel21 @ 123rf.com)
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