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Prayer Gimmicks

Don - November 8, 2005

I have a problem with prayer! I seem to pray with sincere "vain repetitions". Every once and a while I examine my praying, the thoughts, words and routine. I keep finding myself weighted in the balance and found wanting. Over the years I’ve tried making changes in the wording, the routine and even the positions to help me better focus. Here’s some examples of what I mean…

First let me say that I usually make a conscious effort to focus on the event, that I’m actually talking to my Heavenly Father and that He’s listening. But what I’m talking about here are the "gimmicks" I sometimes use to help me with that focus:

Wording: thee and thou are ok, but sometimes it helps me to be more friendly and familiar and I use "you" and "your". Once in a while I’ll have a thank you prayer, where I just thank, no ask… it’s hard because there are so many things I want! I’ll focus on just one thing, or just one person or family member and make the whole prayer about it or them, nothing else. I sometimes vocalize my personal prayer, saying my prayers out loud seems to help me concentrate better.

Positions: Other than kneeling I’ve bowed over my knees like I was a member of Islam praying to Mecca. Or stood for my personal prayer. Or prostrated myself completely on the floor…not the bed. Or I will kneel with both my arms raised to the square (I got that idea from a picture of the sacrament being blessing that I saw in the church history museum).

I guess if I were spiritually stronger I wouldn’t need to use these gimmicks to help me focus. Any ideas that work for you?


  1. I never close my eyes — I can’t concentrate with my eyes closed for some reason… I usually just lower my eyes in group prayers.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 8, 2005 @ 3:25 pm

  2. I have found that praying out loud really helps me have better prayers. On my mission I would pray when my comp was in the shower. I have done it much less now that I am married with kids. Not surprisingly my prayers are much weaker.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 8, 2005 @ 6:06 pm

  3. I agree with J. Stapley. Where possible, I say my prayers out loud, or at least mouth the words.

    Comment by Kim Siever — November 8, 2005 @ 6:19 pm

  4. Don,

    FWIW, I dropped the “thee” and “thou” language for my personal prayers not too long ago. I found I’m more genuine and sincere if my mind is free to express itself in the simplest manner. Sometimes prayer isn’t vocal at all for me, just intense concentration/meditation on God’s will.

    As far as vain repetition, I always remind myself that Jesus doesn’t want vain repetition. It seems that repetition in and of itself is fine, so long as it isn’t vain. Moreover, sincere prayer can be repeated. After all, prayer isn’t for God, according to Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount, but it’s for us. So I say: “pray as you may.”

    Just my two Lincolns.

    Comment by David J — November 8, 2005 @ 8:53 pm

  5. I just do the best I can depending on the circumstances. Most the time I just talk to Him. But I don’t cuss.

    Comment by annegb — November 8, 2005 @ 9:51 pm

  6. They say God is in the details, right? I find it easier to concentrate when I am as specific as possible. This is mentioned in “Drawing on the Powers of Heaven” and references Nephi when he takes the curse of drought off the land.
    I feel God answers my prayers more specifically when I pray specifically, even in thanking Him.

    Comment by Bret — November 8, 2005 @ 11:32 pm

  7. I have cussed (but don’t recommend it). God loves still.

    Comment by LisaB — November 10, 2005 @ 7:10 am

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