Young Men Lesson 31: Continue in Prayer and Fasting
Manual 1; Excerpt from "Lessons from the Lord's Prayers," by Russell M. Nelson
July 27, 2012
"Our prayers follow patterns and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. He taught us how to pray." -Russell M. Nelson
• How have you seen the power of fasting and prayer in your life?
• What can you do to make your fasts more meaningful? (see D&C 59:13–16).
Excerpt from "Lessons from the Lord's Prayers," by Elder Russell M. Nelson, April 2009 General Conference:
The Lord has taught ways by which our prayers can be enhanced. For example, He said that “the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” 31
Prayer can also be enhanced by fasting. 32 The Lord said, “I give unto you a commandment that ye shall continue in prayer and fasting from this time forth.” 33 A plea for wisdom in fasting was offered by President Joseph F. Smith, who cautioned that “there is such a thing as overdoing. A man may fast and pray till he kills himself; and there isn’t any necessity for it; nor wisdom in it. … The Lord can hear a simple prayer, offered in faith, in half a dozen words, and he will recognize fasting that may not continue more than twenty-four hours, just as readily and as effectually as He will answer a prayer of a thousand words and fasting for a month. … The Lord will accept that which is enough, with a good deal more pleasure and satisfaction than that which is too much and unnecessary.” 34
The concept of “too much and unnecessary” could also apply to the length of our prayers. A closing prayer in a Church meeting need not include a summary of each message and should not become an unscheduled sermon. Private prayers can be as long as we want, but public prayers ought to be short supplications for the Spirit of the Lord to be with us or brief declarations of gratitude for what has transpired.
Our prayers can be enhanced in other ways. We can use “right words” 35 —special pronouns—in reference to Deity. While worldly manners of daily dress and speech are becoming more casual, we have been asked to protect the formal, proper language of prayer. In our prayers we use the respectful pronouns Thee, Thou, Thy, and Thine instead of You, Your, and Yours. 36 Doing so helps us to be humble.