We ended the last post thus:
…If we presume that Heavenly Father wants us to initiate (spiritual) “age appropriate” dialogue… what does that sound like? How do we develop this kind of rapport? After all, virtually all prayers we hear within in the LDS tent are stuck within the confines of the four steps. As per previous posts we might step outside the tent to find others to teach us how to praise and bless God (e.g., Praise). Abraham and Moses provide some good examples. Enos? The Brother of Jared? But, where would we go to learn to dialogue with God at our current spiritual level?
It will be interesting to see how He will respond to the prayer requesting Him to teach us how to pray.
Well, I didn’t expect to receive an answer the following morning, and I certainly didn’t expect to receive a confirming/expanding answer today.
On Monday, while pondering the Savior’s teachings and examples regarding prayer taught in 3 Ne, my mind dwelt upon this commandment:
And it came to pass that he commanded the multitude that they should cease to pray, and also his disciples. And he commanded them that they should not cease to pray in their hearts. (3 Nephi 20:1)
Let’s put this in context. The large group has just recently prayed and then received the teachings of the prior day, retold verbatim by the disciples. They watched as the disciples were: baptized; filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire; “encircled… as if by fire” (baptized by fire?); ministered to by angels; and then ministered to by Christ. Okay, now that is a pretty eventful day. Next up is being told to kneel and pray, and hearing Christ pray three times to the Father, the last of which could not be written. They watched as the disciples countenances did shine as white as Christ’s. It’s hard to imagine it getting any better. When the Savior returns from praying, he commands them to continue to pray in their hearts. He provides the sacrament. They are filled with the Spirit. Then He quotes scripture and expounds “all things unto them, both great and small… even from the beginning until the time that He should come in His glory….” Mormon commented that “there cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people.”
If we presume that His commandment to “continue to pray in their hearts” was to continue while He took them through this world tour, what can we conclude? It would be ridiculous to presume that He wanted them be busy about praying in their hearts and ignore all that He taught. It seems equally absurd that He would have been asking them to perform some kind of intellectual multitasking or time-division multiplexing. Is it possible that our intellect and our spirits can operate independently? I always thought of prayer as a cognitive process (4 steps; I’ve never remember hearing a prayer that wasn’t pure cognitive) and the Holy Spirit would confirm to our spirits the truth (“in your mind and in your heart”). I never considered the possibility that my spirit could originate a prayer, independent of my head.
All of the sudden, the idea of “praying always” takes on a different meaning. Additionally, the idea of “having no more disposition to sin” makes a great deal more sense. After all, how could you sin if God was always with you? And, God could always be with you because regardless of what activity your mind and body were involved with, your spirit could still be praying and communing with the Father. To give this a name, perhaps we could call it “constant companionship.”
This morning, I received an invitation by a cherished friend to meet for lunch. We discussed this and the prior post in greater detail. Among other jewels, he asked, “Do you invite Heavenly Father to join you in all your activities?” Now, I’ve heard of a person who spends the day in prayer, interrupting the prayer to accomplish those things he needs to… well, accomplish. But, this is a further reach, and absolutely in line with the idea of continuously praying within one’s heart. No interruptions. Just spending one’s entire life in concert with the Father.
Well Heavenly Father, would you like to go for a ride? You can ride shotgun.