Prayer Life of Mormons

30 August

A few weeks ago I was asked by a Christian what the prayer life of a Mormon was like.  Because their inquiry caught me off guard I gave an answer that was actually incomplete. After I got home and began thinking about it I began thinking of all the dos and don’ts in Mormon prayer etiquette and my heart sank as I began adding up all the rules.

It’s hard to keep track of everything when there’s always a laundry list of requirements so we’ve laid them out and listed them here.

If you’re unaware of the nuances in the Mormon lifestyle you’ll soon find out just how controlling the leadership is over its members. They waste no time in training their kids how to pray properly. One of the references I’ve included comes from the teacher’s manual for the 4-5 year old group of Sunday school activities.

Prayer is just one more difference between Mormons and Christians.  Most Christian churches actually have prayer meetings and to the horror of what the Mormon must think, sometimes these gatherings can go on for hours.

One of the most disturbing things Mormons have been told about prayer was taught by the late LDS apostle Bruce McConkie. In a 1982 speech he told students throughout Utah they shouldn’t pray to Jesus or feel that they have any special relationship with Him.

Don’t Pray to Jesus

1982 BYU Speech by Bruce McConkie; “I shall express the view of the Brethren, of the prophets and apostles of old, and of all those who understand the scriptures and are in tune with the Holy Spirit…We do not worship the Son, and we do not worship the Holy Ghost. I know perfectly well what the scriptures say about worshipping Christ and Jehovah, but they are speaking in an entirely different sense…There are those deluded cultists, and others who, unless they repent, are on the road to becoming cultists, who choose to believe we should worship Adam. They have found or should find their way out of the Church…

…Another peril is that those so involved often begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed…This is plain sectarian nonsense.

Our prayers are addressed to the Father, and to him only. They do not go through Christ, or the Blessed Virgin, or St. Genevieve or along the beads of a rosary. We are entitled to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).”

(A strong contradiction to this is found in the Book of Mormon. Apparently the Nephites prayed directly to Jesus and called Him Lord and their God. Why didn’t McConkie know this? As you’ll see further into this article Mormons are also told not to use the word Lord because it causes confusion.) 

3 Nephi 19:18; And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God.

Don’t Use God’s Name too Much

Doctrines of Salvation 1:16; “WHEN TO USE TITLE: “THE CHRIST.” The name Christ is a title comparable to the title Messiah and meaning The Anointed One, and has reference to the office of our Savior. If the remarks of a speaker have reference to the nature and calling of our Lord in the office which he holds, then the definite article preceding the name is in perfect order. However, when we are speaking of the Redeemer in some other sense than by reference to his official title, it is well for us not to use the article, but the whole name of our Lord, or, even better still, in order to avoid the too frequent repetition, we can say our Redeemer or Savior or the Lord.

The great lesson for us to learn, in all our preaching, writing, and conversations, is to use the titles of Deity sparingly, not with familiarity, or with lack of reverence.” – Joseph Fielding Smith – 10th LDS Prophet

Don’t Pray Longer than Two Minutes

Mormon Doctrine, pg 581, 583; “Prayers of the saints are expected to conform to a prescribed standard of divine excellence; they should fit into the approved pattern of proper prayer…583 “It is not necessary to offer very long and tedious prayers, either at opening or closing. It is not only not pleasing to the Lord for us to use excess of words, but also it is not pleasing to the Latter-day Saints. Two minutes will open any kind of meeting, and a half minute will close it…”

Don’t Use the Terms “Lord” or “In Your Name”; It’s Confusing

Prayer, pg 33, 35; “Two cautions: As we pray to our Father in heaven, we should avoid using the term “Lord”. This is confusing and makes it difficult for us to tell whether we are addressing the Father or his Son, Jesus Christ.

Second, we should avoid the unnecessary repetition of the name of Deity. The repeated use of such phrases as “Our Father,” “Dear Father,” “Holy Father” can detract and become vain repetition. Dr. Royal L. Garff made this succinct statement: “Needless reiterations change the sacred connotations of prayers into redundant utterances.”…

…pg 35…We should end our prayers by asking in the name of Jesus Christ. However, we should not close by saying, “In thy name.” This is confusing and raises the question, whose name? the Father’s or the Son’s?” – Carlos Asay, General Authority, Quorum of the Seventies

Pray to God Only, No One Else

Third Nephi 9-30: This is My Gospel, pgs 140-141; “The command to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ has been accepted without reservation by the Latter-day Saints in this dispensation. In 1916, Joseph F. Smith declared that “we . . . accept without any question the doctrines we have been taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith and by the Son of God Himself that we pray to God, the Eternal Father, in the name of His Only Begotten Son” (Conference Report [Oct 1916] 6). It is therefore not appropriate to pray to any other being than the Father.”  – Monte S. Nyman, Charles D. Tate, Jr.

Do Fold Your Arms during Prayer

Primary 2: Choose the Right A, Lesson 21; I Can be Reverent, pg 109-114;

“How do we get ready for prayer? (We fold our arms, close our eyes, and bow our heads.)…Why do we fold our arms, close our eyes, and bow our heads to get ready for prayer?

Point out that when we do these things, it is easier for us to feel Heavenly Father near us as we pray. Explain that just as it is important to know that our earthly parents are listening when we talk with them, it is important to feel that Heavenly Father is near us when we pray.”

Do Pray in Jesus’ Name

3 Nephi 18:19; “Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name.”

Do Kneel & Bow Heads

Third Nephi 9-30: This is My Gospel, pgs 139-140; “During private formal prayers, individuals should both bow and kneel down before God. Such a posture evidences humility, submission and meekness. Elder Bruce R. McConkie has explained that “our Father is glorified and exalted, he is an omnipotent being. We are as the dust of the earth in comparison, and yet we are his children with access, through prayer, to his presence…Amost [sic] by instinct, therefore, we do such things as bow our heads and close our eyes, fold our arms, or kneel, or fall on our faces” (12).” – Monte S. Nyman, Charles D. Tate, Jr.

Do Use Set Prayers in Temples & Sacrament Meetings

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, pg 1118; “The Church uses set prayers only in temple ordinances, in the two Sacrament prayers, and in the baptismal prayer.  “By revelation the Lord has given the Church…set prayers for use in our sacred ordinances…. [These] relate to the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, his crucifixion, and his burial and resurrection. All of the ordinances in which we use these prayers place us under solemn covenants of obedience to God” (Kimball et al., p. 56). In all other instances, Latter-day Saints express themselves in their own words…

… Unnecessary repetition of God’s name is avoided, as are idle clichés. Prayers close by stating that the prayer is offered in the name of Jesus Christ, concluding with amen…”

Do Revert to 1611 English

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, pg. 1118; “…”In all our prayers, it is well to use the pronouns thee, thou, thy, and thine instead of you, your, and yours inasmuch as they have come to indicate respect”…Unnecessary repetition of God’s name is avoided, as are idle clichés. Prayers close by stating that the prayer is offered in the name of Jesus Christ, concluding with amen…When someone prays in behalf of a group, the members customarily repeat the final “amen” aloud…In private, the individual or family members kneel with bowed heads and closed eyes. In public, the one praying usually stands, but also observes behavior appropriate to prayer. A prayer’s length is determined somewhat by the occasion, but generally prayers are reasonably concise…”

Use Bible Language

Prayer, pg 38; “The changing of the wording of the Bible to meet the popular language of our day, has, in the opinion of the writer and his brethren, been a great loss in the building of faith and spirituality in the minds and hearts of the people.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, Deseret Book Co., 1958, 2:15, 17.)” – Carlos Asay

Use Formal Vocabulary

Answers to Gospel Questions 2:15; “Question: “In our Sunday School class…The question is this: Is it important that we use the words, thy, thine, thee, and thou, in addressing Deity; or is it proper when directing our thoughts in prayer to use the more common and modern words, you and yours? Our bishop and our stake president have told us that the older words should always be used, but we seek further information on the question.”

Answer: Your bishop and stake president have given you proper advice whichshould be followed strictly. [Emphasis mine] Our Eternal Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, should never be approached in prayer in the familiar expressions so commonly used in addressing human beings…In the days when the Bible was translated into English it was common for men and women to greet each other using the pronouns thy and thine, thee and thou. As time went on and men and women became more worldly minded, such a custom was discontinued…Prayer and poetry certainly would miss much of their value if this were changed.”” – Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th LDS Prophet

Use the Sacred Language of Prayer (1611 English)

Prayer, pg 14; “9. Follow the formalities of prayer…These (though many) are simple and easy and contribute to the spirit of worship that attends sincere and effectual prayers…

…We speak in hushed and solemn tones…Almost by instinct, therefore, we do such things as bow our heads and close our eyes; fold our arms, or kneel, or fall on our faces. We use the sacred language of prayer (that of the King James Version of the Bible—thee, thou, thine, not you and your). And we say Amen when others pray, thus making their utterances ours, their prayers our prayers.” – Bruce McConkie

Do Keep Them Short

Mormon Doctrine, pg 583; “… Offer short prayers, and avoid vain repetitions, particularly the repetition of the name of Deity, and the name of the Savior. It is quite common to open a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, to close it in his name, and possibly use his name a few times through the prayer. If we approach the Father, and offer our petitions to him, and then close in the name of Jesus Christ, it is sufficient. There is no prayer so great and important that it is necessary to use more than once the name of the Son of God and of the Father.”

Do Avoid Formal Written Prayers Except for LDS Prayers

Mormon Doctrine, pg 585; “Those formal, written prayers which are commonly read by ministers, and those recited by lay church members in doing penance or seeking grace, are devoid of the true spirit of prayer and should be shunned. Frequently they are spoken without real intent; and their use keeps men from searching their own hearts in an attempt to pray in faith according to an approved pattern so that actual blessings may be gained from Deity.”

Do Be Careful What You Pray For

Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith’s Teachings, pg. 219; “The Lord once told me that what I asked for I should have. I have been afraid to ask God to kill my enemies, lest some of them should, peradventure, repent.”

As you can see there were a number of contradictions and confusing rules that dominate the lives of every Mormon.

We’re praying for their release from the ties that bind them from having a life of freedom that can only be found in the arms of Christ Jesus our Lord!

Come alongside us and pray for them as well, won’t you?

With Love in Christ;

Michelle Grim

Psalm 57:7-11; My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.  8 Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.  9 I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations.  10 For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.  11 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.

Psalm 149:3; “Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.”

PS: We’ve used the KJV in all of our examples on the site, but honestly do you really believe this is the way to pray?  Why would you need to use 1611 English thrown in with 21st Century English?  Is God not able to recognize your vocabulary if you don’t speak in seventeenth century English?  What about all those who don’t even speak English?

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