How to Have more Meaningful Prayer

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How to Have more Meaningful Prayer is a topic I was asked to speak about at our church Girls Camp this last week. When I showed a printable I made on my instagram stories, people wanted to know more about it, and wanted a copy of the print, so I thought I’d whip up a post to share all about it.

Donut forget how to have meaningful prayer

How to Have more Meaningful Prayer is an interesting topic. I’ve been taught to pray since I was a little girl, and have heard lessons and talks over the years on making my prayers more meaningful and not just “vain repetitions” as mentioned in Matthew 6. But I still don’t know that I’ve got it all figured out. It was really great for me to prepare this lesson (and one of the reasons I love teaching seminary so much) is because it allows me to delve into the topic, and find ways to improve myself.

>>>>>>>>>DOWNLOAD THE 4X6 JPG PRINT HERE: Do-nut forget how to have meaningful prayer

The lesson I shared to the girls at camp was just 20 minutes long, which is SHORT! I had about 2 hours worth of info I could have talked about. As with all lessons, I tend to over prepare, then be prayerful and guided as to what the girls need to hear most.

I started with an attention getter! I did a brief intro of myself (though my first group of girls, half were actually in my seminary class last year) and then I said…”Oh shoot, I have to make a quick phone call.” I’d arranged with a friend (adult) in the class ahead of time that I was going to call them. I placed the call, so the girls in the class saw both of us. I proceeded to chat about my summer, ask about her summer, but didn’t give her a chance to answer, and just blab, blab, blab. After a bit, I hung up.

I asked the girls how they would feel if they got a call like that, and what was wrong with the situation. “It was one sided”, they chimed in.

I talked about how it must feel to God, if we just blabbed in prayer, and didn’t pause to LISTEN.

Now I’ll say, listening in prayer is a challenging concept. I’ve never heard a voice, but in all of my years, I’ve aimed to train my body in the language of my spirit, to learn to recognize answers, promptings, etc.

It’s been my greatest desire as an adult to be receptive to the Spirit whispering to me how I should mother, reach out to others in service, just live my life, and like I said, I’m still learning.

But I emphasized to the girls, it’s a life goal, and doing the “little things” is the training ground to truly understanding and be guided through that listening.

I shared a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley, who was the president of our church a few years ago until he passed away. We see him as a prophet of God, and he once shared this quote, “Sometimes when we pray, it’s like we’re picking up a phone, ordering groceries, and then we hang  up the phone–we put in our order, and we don’t think any more about it than that. But if we take a few minutes just to think about our particular need in a given moment, then prayer becomes more meaningful.”

I had one of the girls read this quote, and we talked about PAUSING before prayer to THINK about what to pray for, instead of just running through the task.

I mentioned to possibly keep a prayer journal about things on your mind, and referring to it like a “cheat sheet” before prayer to remind us.

Write about:

  • What we are grateful for
  • Family concerns
  • Traits we’d like to work on
  • Who we can serve
  • Someone who is sad/sick
  • Gospel topics we are trying to understand

I was asked to tie in the theme of the Girls Camp which was about pirates and maps, specifically Charting our Course. Preparing for prayer is charting our course. I talked about how when I was on a long road trip, if I put my address into the GPS in a big city, I could easily “chart my course” but if I was in the middle of nowhere, the GPS couldn’t locate a tower, and I was stuck. I tied it into prayer, because if I’m not keeping prayer as a constant in my life, and just pray when I’m stuck, I won’t be as receptive to promptings as well.

We pulled out our scriptures to Enos 1: 2-4, 11-12

  • And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.
  • Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
  • 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.
  • 11 And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him with many long strugglings for my brethren, the Lamanites.
  • 12 And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.

For those not of our faith, Enos is a prophet in The Book of Mormon. He is a great example of MIGHTY PRAYER.

We spoke of the WRESTLE he had, and I asked the girls to think of a topic they are wrestling with. Is it a relationship, gospel topic, personality trait they are trying to improve? We all have different “wrestles.” While Enos was out doing his “chores” (hunting beasts) he REMEMBERED a lesson he had from his father about eternal life and JOY. His SOUL HUNGERED. I asked the girls to think of being hungry. We always hear, “I’m STARVING” from our kids, right? It’s a trait we can all identify with. Enos hungered to know something, and he knew he could pray to be enlightened. So he did just that…prayed all day and into the night.

I asked the girls to think that if there is something that they want SO BAD (hungry for) are they willing to make the effort?

In verse 12, it states, his faith was unshaken and he was granted his desires because of his faith.

Now, just because we are all faithful, doesn’t mean we are granted our desires when we want them, if ever! We can have righteous desires, but we often have to wait…and/or work more for them, and often they come disguised in other ways, often trials. Just like Garth Brooks sang in “Unanswered Prayers.”

We talked about how praying out loud helps us stay focused. The importance of praying for others.

I shared a story that is personal to me, about a time in my life as a young adult that I felt sad, lonely. It was right after I had my first baby, and I lived in a ghetto apartment with my husband in school and it was COLD outside! I wanted a friend, and it didn’t seem to come as easy as it had before. I prayed and cried about it for a while, but it wasn’t until my prayers changed to, “guide me to someone who needs a friend more than me” that my prayers were answered. I reached out to someone that I might not have otherwise, and she truly needed someone, and I got to be that person for her. THAT is what pulled me out of my sadness funk, the opportunity to be a light for someone else.

I share that story often when I teach, it’s the answer to most problems/challenges, forget yourself and go to work, serve someone else.

I then closed my lesson with pulling up another favorite scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants (another scripture book us Mormons study from, words of our modern day prophets). D&C 9:7-9 is special to me, because it guided me to feel peace about making one of the biggest decisions of my life, marrying my husband.

  • Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
  • But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
  • But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong;

I shared with the girls that when ASK in prayer, after we’ve done our party to study…PAUSE….LISTEN, that we can have answers, and the GOOD answer is that burning in our chest. That feeling of light, peace, and joy.  But this is all part of the training process, our spirits teaching our bodies to listen in the language of God, to slow down, and be guided by the Holy Spirit.

As pertaining to my husband, I shared a bit in the 9th chapter of My Love Story, but I didn’t share the above scripture, which is an integral part of the process for me. I was confused, wrestling between my mind and my heart, and felt a little lost. I had a special experience that night, where I felt that burning feeling of light and peace and joy, and I always look back to that incident as a turning point for me. Help to keep going, that this was RIGHT and GOOD, and I’m so grateful for that experience.

I closed my lesson on meaningful prayer with the Do-nut handout, meant to be a scripture bookmark, or to hang on a mirror, to REMIND the girls some elements for more meaningful prayer. I could have covered so much more, but I felt happy with what was shared in our discussion, and grateful again that I got to remind myself, and look for ways to improve my relationship with my Heavenly Father through prayer. I’ve come to rely on that in my life, and in the times that I’m just going through the motions, and not having meaningful prayer, I feel a bit more empty. I don’t like that feeling.


I hope this helps some of you out there!

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