As a child my parents taught me to pray. They explained and expounded the importance of speaking to a Heavenly Father who loves me. They taught me that God wants to hear from me, that it should be like a conversation, and that just like parents we call on the phone, He also wants to hear from us frequently.
Praying has always been a struggle for me. I’m one of those people you read about in the scriptures: I’m a sinner. When I sin, I feel bad. This shame of sinning makes me feel wholly unworthy to approach the mercy seat of God. My paradigm is really messed up on this. I think that when I sin I can’t pray. Like, to me, it just isn’t ok to make a mistake that you constantly pray for help with, then mess up, and pray for help and strength again. The constant cycle of praying for strength, messing up, praying for strength, messing up, mentioning the strength thing in a fast once a month, and messing up again just makes me feel terrible.
When I turn off the lights and walk to my bed, I consciously think about the need to kneel down and pray. But, of course, as I bypass kneeling and crawl under my comforter, I think about all the reasons I don’t feel worthy or comfortable to pray. And I feel justified in refraining. Perhaps in a few days or more when I feel a bit more “right with God” I’ll consider praying again.
Yes, I’m well aware this is a messed up perspective to have on prayer. I certainly hope no one else thinks the same way I do.
As I was texting my best friend, we touched on how I’m doing. He knows everything about me and generally has his thumb on the pulse of my spiritual well-being. This is a portion of our conversation:
What he said next was deeply profound to me:
“You don’t need a recommend to pray.”
He proceeded to then share a scripture with me:
“..For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.” -2 Nephi 32:8
Prayer is a spiritual gift and privilege. I can’t fully express why I feel that a hypocrite like myself is unfit to speak to my Father. I know He loves me, just as he loves you and all His other children. It just happens to be difficult for me put that knowledge into practice.
If there are others out there that share my same mis-guided and ridiculous belief that prayer is for the righteous, please stop. I don’t expect my paradigm to shift overnight, but maybe over a few nights and even more prayers, the truth that prayer doesn’t require a recommend will set in.