Episode 79: What it Means to Pray with Real IntentNov 14, 2022
Have you ever wondered what the phrase, "pray with real intent," actually means? Aren't all prayers offered with real intent? I mean, you are intently asking for real things after all. I always thought that in order to pray with real intent I needed to feel a force behind it, an urgency or desperation.
This always felt off to me though. Until I began studying about what meaningful prayers really meant, I had no idea what real intent was. I want to walk you through what it really means to pray with real intent. Let’s us begin with the gospel topics essay about prayer.
"Make our prayers meaningful. The prophet Mormon warned that if anyone 'shall pray and not with real intent of heart … it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such' (Moroni 7:9). To make our prayers meaningful, we must pray with sincerity and 'with all the energy of heart' (Moroni 7:48). We must be careful to avoid 'vain repetitions' when we pray (see Matthew 6:7)."
I think the phrase sincerity and energy of heart really tripped me up. I think that’s where I got the forceful nature and desperateness from. Looking back now I can see that I was looking through the lens of the natural man when I thought of prayer. I thought of prayer as more of a checklist item than a real relationship building tool. I actually recorded a podcast on that very topic last year. The Gospel is Not a Checklist. It's a Relationship.
So what is does real intent mean then? The thing that sparked my mind on this was the last phrase from above, to "avoid vain repetitions." How often do you find yourself praying for the same thing over and over again not really hearing what you are saying? So the thing that switched it all up for me is to make my prayers more intentional.
I believe the one key to praying with real intent is to make prayer intentional. The way I make my prayers more intentional is to ponder them before I pray. There’s another great essay on this in the gospel topics under revelation.
“Take time to ponder. When we take time to ponder the truths of the gospel, we open our mind and heart to the guiding influence of the Holy Ghost. Pondering takes our thoughts from the trivial things of the world, helping us gain a more eternal perspective and bringing us closer to the Spirit.”
I love that phrase, “pondering takes our thoughts from the trivial things of the world.” Don’t you think that’s what real intent means? Praying with an eternal perspective to bring us closer to the Spirit. Let me take this a step further. In the guide to the scriptures under ponder it says
“To meditate and think deeply, often upon the scriptures or other things of God. When combined with prayer, pondering the things of God may bring revelation and understanding.”
This is telling us we need to be combining pondering with prayer to really receive the revelation we seek out of prayer. Nephi did this exact thing when he was wanting to receive his own revelation on what his father Lehi had seen. In 1 Nephi 11 it reads,
For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.
Nephi sat pondering. Don’t you think he was praying as well? He was probably pondering in prayer and received some very critical revelation that has changed the course of history for us all. Another example of pondering is Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon pondering on the meaning of heaven in D&C 76:19 . There it reads,
“And while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about.”
My guess is that they were sitting in a meditative prayer state and that is when the revelation came. So what does a pondering meditative prayer look like then? Well the one way that I do this is with my Seeking Personal Revelation Journal. If you want to know how I use this in detail check out the episode I did a few weeks ago about meaningful prayer.
Before I pray, I sit in a meditative state of silence and think about my day before and the day I am about to encounter. I ponder on the things God helped me with the day before and where God can help me in my day ahead. I write down a couple words for each occurrence
Then after I have a few things in each of those categories, I start my prayer with the items I want to talk to God about. I talk…then I listen. This is also a pondering meditative state. My journal has a place for me to write down the revelations I receive and a way to not lose track of what I wanted to talk to God about
This is my way of praying with real intent. I am intentional about my conversation with God. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin in a 1982 talk I think sums up my process perfectly.
“To soundly plant good seeds in your heart requires prolonged, intense, unremitting pondering. It is a deep, ongoing, regenerating process which refines the soul.”
That is exactly how I feel after using my Journals to pray…refined. I would love for you to feel this way too! This week I have put both my journals on sale. The Seeking Personal Revelation Journal is 20% off with code FALLSALE.
My Meaningful Prayer Journals are on sale too. These are a mini version of my revelation journal and make great holiday gifts. They are on sale for buy 5 get 1 free and you can use code HOLIDAY to receive that discount.
Also, I still have the running sale for bulk orders that would be great for relief society presidencies of 25% off you whole order of 75 or more prayer journals and that discount is automatically taken at checkout. These journal truly have helped me have a stronger connection with God by building a relationship with Him through intentional prayer.
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