How to Pray Sincerely when You REALLY Don’t Feel Like It

Image by More Good Foundation on flickr

The scriptures talk a lot about keeping prayer sincere – about praying with all your heart, with real intent, and that we should pray fervently every day. We know that an insincere prayer is not as meaningful or as beneficial as the heartfelt, faith-filled prayer.

So what do you do when it’s time for evening prayers, and you’re just not feeling into it. Of course it might help to just start praying, and see if you start feeling better about it, but if you’re like me, sometimes it’s hard to be “fervent” when you’re exhausted or in a bad mood. What do you do then? How can you pray sincerely, or with real intent, if you’re just not feeling it?

Our Heavenly Father is a person. He’s human – albeit a perfect, all-powerful, omniscient human, but he’s a human being. He knows that we will not constantly have a burning desire to be constantly serving and demonstrating love. But He does want us to talk with Him, openly and honestly. Besides, the commandment is not, “Feel really spiritual inside so you can pray with real intent of heart.” The commandment is, “Pray with real intent of heart.”

If you can’t pray with all your heart because your heart doesn’t feel like praying, tell your Heavenly Father something like, “Father, I know I need to pray with all of my heart, and I know I need greater motivation than I do so I can do what’s required of me, but I’m not feeling it right now. Please bless me with that motivation. Please bless me with righteous desires. I don’t feel it, Father, please, help me to feel gratitude, love, and whatever feelings are necessary for my prayers to be truly sincere. Help me know what I need to do to have the motivation and love to fulfill my assignments in a way that is beyond just going through the motions. And if not, please bless me with the character to do what I’m supposed to anyway.”

A New Approach to Scripture Study: Day 2


Questions and Answers

Tab1. Come up with a gospel or life question and then dig through the scriptures and the words of living prophets for the answer.  Whether you find the answer or not, you will learn something by searching.  If you have trouble coming up with a question to ask, start reading somewhere to get an idea.

Tab2. With your scriptures in front of you, say a quiet prayer and ask Heavenly Father a question. Then open the scriptures at random, and see if the first verse that your eyes rest on contains the answer.  If not, keep reading until you do find an answer.  Once you find the answer, pray and ask more questions, closing and opening the scriptures again to a new place.

Tab3. Think of a simple question that you already know the answer to, and write it down with your answer.  Then prove your answer by finding specific verses that teach that truth in the scriptures. If necessary, turn to the words of modern day prophets.  If it’s too hard to find, ask yourself why you believe it to be true, and make a note to yourself to be on the lookout for a scriptural or prophetic answer to the question.  Then try a simpler question.
If this is too easy the first time, try a harder question until you find one that challenges you so you can search for the answer.

Tab4. Choose a place in the scriptures to read (or pick up where you left off) and begin reading the verse very slowly, searching for questions that the verse holds the answer to.  Write the question above the verse, or write the question and verse in your study journal.

Tab5. Look for questions written in the scriptures, such as “can ye feel so now?” or, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” and ponder the answer you would give for yourself.

Scripture quote of the day:

David A. Bednar:

“The Prophet Joseph Smith provided an important guideline about pondering and reflecting upon the scriptures. He taught: ‘I have a key by which I understand the scriptures. I enquire, what was the question which drew out the answer, or caused Jesus to utter the parable?’ (History of the Church, 5:261). Thus, striving to understand the question that preceded a particular revelation, parable, or episode can assist us in obtaining a deeper understanding of the scriptures”

(“Because We Have Them before Our Eyes,” New Era, Apr. 2006, 6).

Suggested talk: Getting the Most Out of Your Scripture Study