Throughout all of the standard works, it is clear that prayer is important. Jesus Christ Himself teaches us to ‘pray always unto the Father’ in 3 Nephi chapter 18. The word ‘prayer’ and variations of it are used a whopping 375 times in the Bible. And the entire Doctrine and Covenants came as answers to prayers! It is evident that God is huge on prayer and wants us to pray more, but how can we do that?
I don’t know about you, but the concept of ‘praying always’ is a tough one for me. I have a hard time praying while I’m working out, or while I’m at a party, or while I’m having a conversation. (I have a surprisingly easy time praying during a date or a math test!). Luckily for us, I don’t think God meant literally to talk to Him 24/7. I feel like He would get very tired of that very quickly! Rather, God wants us to ‘counsel with [Him] in all of our doings’. (Alma 37:37). Let’s explore more of what this means, how we can do it, and how it can help us in our lives.
So, what does it mean to counsel with the Lord in all of our doings? 2 Nephi 32 provides a key part of the answer: ‘ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ’. In simpler English, this means that anything that we do for the glory of God, we should pray before doing it.
Of course, that begs the question of “Which things do you do for the glory of God?” And that, my friends, is why God wants us to pray so often. The true mark of a disciple isn’t in the number of commandments he keeps or in the number of ministering hours he records. The true mark of a disciple is in how fully his life is dedicated to God. Thus, every single action you do should be for the glory of God if you truly want to become a disciple!
Now, think about putting these concepts together. If we need to pray before everything we do that glorifies God, and everything that we do should glorify God, we should pray before doing anything! I would argue that even if you aren’t glorifying God in an activity you do right now, if you started to pray before doing it you would soon glorify God in that activity. The praying is the means to the end of becoming a disciple of Christ! So, should we pray before a baseball game? Yes! What about before a date? Yes! What about before reading a book? Yes!
That seems a little burdensome I’m sure. Praying before every activity can take quite a chunk of time out of your life. Thankfully, God will bless us for the time that we take out of our life to pray. Continuing our reading of 2 Nephi 32, we learn ‘that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.’ For everything that we pray before doing we will receive the blessing that it will be for the welfare of our soul. That is such a huge blessing! Our life is made up of actions- some are neutral, some are good, and some are bad. But imagine if by praying before every action we do, every action will be ‘consecrated for the welfare of our soul.’ Our soul’s welfare would be very secure indeed!
Now, I don’t think that praying before doing something bad will make that bad action into a good one. Sometimes, praying before will deter us from taking the bad action. But, even if we still take the bad action, praying before will consecrate that action for the welfare of our soul. In other words, we will be able and willing to learn from it and change for the future.
Let’s talk about some personal applications. Maybe you are going to go to class. Praying before could lead to revelation on your way. That would be for the welfare of your soul. Maybe God will lead you away from meeting a potential bad influence. That would be for the welfare of your soul. There are countless ways God could consecrate things for the welfare of your soul- but if you really believe that the Book of Mormon is true, than you can trust that He will do just that.
It’s so simple and easy to do, but also so easy to forget. What task are you off to next? Pray beforehand!