“They who think the path difficult, have not tried it. . . . All who yield . . . obedience to God’s law undergo a real transformation, by the Holy Ghost, which enables them more and more, to receive and understand spiritual messages. Unless that transformation is accomplished, a person is opaque to spiritual truth, and the ‘things of God’ are beyond his understanding. Great is the effect of such spiritual communication. . . . It transforms life.”
John A. Widstoe
Prayer, in its most intimate form, is an endowment. It is given as a gift. And as with all great gifts from our Father in Heaven, learning to receive it is a transformative process.
Receiving the gift of prayer is premised not so much on earning the right to the gift, it is not granted upon the accumulation of good works; we receive it by learning how to be open and learning how to receive. We learn how to receive through the process of submitting our whole souls to the spirit and ministry of reconciliation. Much of this process is learning how to remove those things in us that keep us from receiving his highest blessings. We must learn how to become partakers of our Father’s heavenly gifts.
The gift of prayer is the gift of transformation. It is more than opening a line of communication, it is a process of becoming something different; it is the process of becoming something new. This type of transformational prayer comes through a process of reconciliation, yielding, and submitting.
The Father and the Son communicate with their whole being; with their mind, their heart, and the fullness of who and what they are. As we learn to pray we go through a transition of becoming something different, because we, too, have to learn to pray with our heart, our mind, and the fullness of what and who we are. We have to learn ow to pray with the wholeness of our being. Our Father in Heaven and Savior are full of truth in their hearts, their minds, and in every part of their very being. They literally are the truth. Therefore, we must apply our entire mind, heart, our entire being in a process of reconciliation to them and their “beingness” in order to fully bind to them – to become one with them. This makes the prayer of transformation a sacred prayer of intercession.
In prayer, our spirits literally become informed; in other words, in-the-form-of, or likeness, of God. We can’t come to know him and be taught by him without becoming like him. Receiving his truth not only transforms our understanding, but it also transforms our very being. It is an endeavor of the whole soul. As we do so we receive the truth as a matter of who we are and what we are. The way we feel, the way we think, the way we sense, the way we understand. We begin to see things as they are.
The need for this type of fundamental and transformative prayer comes from the condition in which we are found on this earth. We all chose to partake of a fallen nature so that we could, by our own free will and choice, learn how to partake of the divine nature. Because of our fallen natures we are filled with division. Our will and his will. Our spirit and our body. Our understanding and His understanding. Earthly cravings and Heavenly desires. Both the light and the darkness within us.
All division must be reconciled into wholeness. The darkness within us must be displaced by divine light. Our earthly cravings must be purified into the whole-hearted desire for Heavenly things. It doesn’t work to simply profess that you desire the will of the Lord; we must become such that the impulse of our soul is to desire his will.
As Richard Foster, the great Christian theologian, wrote, “Prayer involves transformed passions. In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after Him: to desire the things He desires, to love the things He loves, to will the things He wills.”
In prayer we can become one with the Lord. We must come to embody the atonement because that which was once divided in us has become one. We must come to live in a state of at-one-ment.
Prayer is the process of submitting every aspect of who and what we are. We become like them in the process of prayer, and through the process of becoming like them we come to know them.
In the 7th chapter of Moroni verse 48 we are invited to pray with all the energy of heart. The process of learning how to do pray this way has a transformative effect on us. When we pray with all the energy of heart it provides us a conduit to become filled with the love of God, and that love flows to us without compulsory means. Through this prayer and reception of love we begin to understand our Savior and see him as he is. We can only do this because through this process we have become like him. Thus, this process of learning how to pray as he does, with our whole being, removing barriers to his love, we can become transformed as sons and daughters of God and receive his likeness.
The great questions then become, how do I learn to pray with all the energy of heart? How do I pray so that the spirit can transform me? How do I submit in prayer to receive a mighty change? How, exactly, does my will actually change so that I fundamentally desire the will of the Lord?
These essays suggests both a principle and a pattern of prayer of how to pray with our whole beings, removing our resistance to his love, and becoming transformed through the process of prayer. The principle is that of the softened heart. It has to be deeply understood because the softened heart is the fundamental key to the entire prayer pattern. Understanding the softened heart principle and then implementing it in the prayer pattern, I believe, is a sure path to enter into mighty prayer.
Each component of the pattern was learned in a separate and sacred experience in the past twenty years of my life. It is one perspective of how we can approach our Father in Heaven, learn how to yield to his transformative grace, and become made in his image.