Prayers, Public and Private

As Alma and Amulek preached to the Zoramites, they characterized prayer as a ubiquitous part of a disciple’s life. Alma quoted a passage written by the prophet Zenos, in which he spoke of praying in the wilderness, in his field, in his house, in his closet, in the midst of congregations, and after being cast out. (See Alma 33:4-11.) Amulek then elaborated on this scripture, urging their listeners to pray in their fields and in their houses, but also in their “closets,” their “secret places,” and even their “wilderness.” And then he continued, “when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually” (Alma 34:17-27).

In 1829, the Lord instructed Martin Harris, “Thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart, yea before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:28). Not long after, the Lord made it clear that each member of His church had a duty to “pray vocally and in secret” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:47, 51). He subsequently reaffirmed this admonition to Joseph Knight (Doctrine and Covenants 23:6), and later to Jesse Gause (Doctrine and Covenants 81:3).

If a disciple of Jesus Christ is naturally inclined to pray, then it’s not surprising that we pray both in public and in private. We want to reach out to our Father in Heaven regularly, and that desire overcomes any self-consciousness we might feel in communicating with Him in front of others. It also overcomes any hesitance to express the deepest feelings of our hearts, things which we can only express when we are alone.

Today, I will renew my commitment to sincere, genuine prayer. I will focus my attention on Him as I pray and will strive to communicate meaningfully with Him, whether I am alone or with others.

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