Can what you want and what God wants for you become one?
While I was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I found an article called “How to Pray in a Way God Can Answer,” by Celeste Davis, that completely changed my perspective on prayer. The article helped me understand that the deeper purpose of prayer is to learn how to align my will with God’s. After reading the article, I shared it with many people who were praying for the first time, and it helped them receive answers to their prayers.
Often, we pray for things with the goal of making life easier for ourselves. But what God wants is for us to grow—which often involves taking a more difficult path. Davis’s way to pray involves making a Venn diagram in which one circle is what you want and one circle is what God wants for you. There’s a happy middle ground in the Venn diagram that encompasses both what you want for yourself and what God wants for you—things such as living the gospel, serving others, and becoming more patient.
Once you understand the common ground of your desires and God’s desires for you, the next step is to pray using the following pattern: “My desire + ‘But if not’ + a Godly desire.” Davis describes some of the benefits she’s received from praying this way: “I’m…fulfilling the real purpose of prayer, which is not to negotiate my desires, but to align myself with God….I don’t fear hard situations or not getting what I want nearly as much as I used to….I feel a deep trust in God growing up inside me.”
After praying like this for a while, hopefully “the two circles from [your] graph [will grow] much closer,” like Davis’s and my circles did. Your desires and God’s desires will start becoming one, and as a result, the answers to your prayers will start to come and your love and trust in God will increase.
Discover for yourself Celeste Davis’s formula in the article “How to Pray in a Way God Can Answer.”
—Anna Canlas, Mormon Insights
FEATURE IMAGE BY BEN WHITE
Find more insights
To learn more about ways to pray and receive answers, read Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer.”
Check out the video “The Privilege of Prayer,” by Elder J. Devn Cornish.
Read more about prayer in the Church’s Bible Dictionary entry for prayer.