I was sitting in a Primary lesson some months ago, taught by a friend, Jeff. He wanted to teach the Primary children about prayer. He asked the children, “What would your dad say if you asked for a piece of chocolate?”

The children answered honestly:

  • Maybe later
  • Yes
  • If you do your jobs first
  • No, it’s not good for you
  • Ask your brother, it’s his chocolate

Then Jeff compared this to the Lord’s answers to our prayers. When we ask the Lord, our Heavenly Father, for certain blessings, the answers vary. So much.

I especially loved the last answer: Ask your brother, it’s his chocolate. In essence, the Lord is saying, That is not mine to give you.

Let’s talk about prayer. What to pray for. What is not the Lord’s to give you and what CAN the Lord give you. The short answer?

“Christians are taught to pray in Christ’s name. We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ—when His words abide in us. We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant.”

What to pray for?

Reading in the Book of Mormon when I was a teenager, I was struck with the description of the Nephites prayer, prayed in 3 Nephi.

“…it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire.”

3 Nephi 19:24

It struck me because, I would love to be given what I should pray for. Sometimes my entire prayer is, “Please tell me what I should even ask.”

And not that I don’t know what result I want, from the prayer. But I honestly want His will to be done, and I am not sure my part. I don’t know what to pray for.

Here is an example Jody used:

Jody’s client was raised by an alcoholic mother. The mother had made a lot of wrong decisions. The client was really questioning God because of her mother’s condition. Every time her mother started to clean up her life, she would fall again. Fall hard, sometimes.

Desired result = Peace, for her and for her mother

Her prayer = “I am really frustrated with God because my mother has been my longest running prayer.” She’s saying, Fix my mother, right?

The client knew what she wanted. But, it was not given unto her what she should pray.

“I wonder if we should change what you are praying for. I wonder if your prayers would be more effective if they were about you, rather than about your mother. What if it were about who you could be? How you could show up for her? For you to just know how to love her? …

Keep your prayers focused on things that have to do with how YOU show up in the world – in your relationships, in your life, even in your trials… I don’t believe we can pray away other people’s agency. I don’t believe that prayer is supposed to be a way for me to control the uncontrollable. I think that we can utilize prayer to connect with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ with whom all things are possible for US. That They can help US be OUR strongest, wisest, most empowered, most confident, most creative, more resourceful selves.”

Ready for this??

“(Praying in this way) helps to get the result we want EVEN if the circumstance doesn’t change.”

(For more on that, check this out: )

Did the client’s mother change? Not necessarily. But can the client still get the desired result – peace? Absolutely!

Ask ourselves: What do we really want? What are my reasons for wanting that? Do I like my reasons for wanting that? What is the feeling behind what I want? Peace. Love. Acceptance. We’ve been through this before. These are feelings.

And these feelings, my friend, are something we can ask for! That is available to you and to me in our prayers!

How? When we pray that prayer, with all sincerity, He can direct us toward thoughts that will lead to those feelings. He will, through His Spirit, as He did with the Nephites, lead us to the words – the thoughts – and then the desires – the feelings – will follow. They will “fill” us, in fact.

I need to think about this some more. Let’s sit on this, this week.

I’ll close with this quote my brother sent me recently:

“Each of us faces a choice. We can choose to see ourselves as the Lord’s servants and humbly seek to know what He wants us to be doing with the talents and time He has given us… Or we may imagine that the story is all about us. Too many fall into this trap. They forget that they are His servants and begin to imagine that He is theirs. They think erroneously that Christ came to make all their dreams come true. For those in such a trap, prayer becomes like dropping memos on a desk in a heavenly office: ‘Could you please take care of this as soon as possible?'”

BYU Speeches, Larry Wilson, December 2015, Return of the King

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