This week’s lesson is on prayer. Below is a list of links taken from the main FAIR web site and the FAIR Wiki, which may help in discussing possible questions or issues that could potentially come up while studying this topic. Again, please note that by providing these resources we are not suggesting that they be included in any lessons taught. Rather, they are intended to be used as helps by the instructor or participating class members in case the issues do come up during class or personal study.
Beth T. Spackman, “In 3 Nephi 19, we read that some Nephites prayed to Jesus. Is it proper to pray to him?,” Ensign, June 1988.
Are we allowed to pray to our “Heavenly Mother?”
Gaylen Hinton, “I need help in praying for and receiving guidance and personal revelation.,” Ensign, October 1993, 60.
Blake T. Ostler, “Spiritual Experiences as the Basis for Belief and Commitment,” 2007 FAIR Conference.
Boo in Boston says
A re-read of President Hinckley’s statement should provoke you to reprase the question thusly: “Is it appropriae to pray to our heavenly mother?” No one prohibits us from praying to whomever we choose. If you want to explore the matter further, you may discover that President Hinckley was a little more expansive about the matter. Around the time of Janice Allred’s difficulties with the church over “heavenly Mother,” President Hinckley said something like (and this is a paraphrase of words that appeared in news accounts of the day) **believe and pray to whomever you choose, just do not teach and advocate it as church doctrine.**
Nice job Trevor.
We’ve got to admit that there is some irony in the fact that we don’t communicate directly with the one person who sacrificed himself for us. I’ve simply come to the conclusion that praying to Jesus is probably not that big a deal, but probably should be done in private. I personally don’t pray to Jesus, but I fail to see the harm. I don’t fully understand the prohibition against it.
Some other thoughts that I don’t think are addressed in the links. I don’t have the answers to them.
(1) How does God hear all of our prayers at once?
(2) How is praying for God’s intervention compatible with free agency?
(3) Really? We can only pray to Jesus if he standing in front of us?
(corollary to the above) What is the difference between a prayer and a conversation?
(4) Why do some New Testament figures apparently pray to Jesus, but we can’t?
(1) I think we can simply consign this to mystery. Orthodox Christians would have you believe that in order for God to be able to hear all our prayers he has to be everywhere at once. That is simply silly. They just aren’t being creative enough.
One potential way to understand how (2) above is to consider open theism. I don’t mean to open up a discussion about open theism, but it is one avenue that many LDS have taken and that works.
I am not sure open theism is the best choice to reconcile the two, though I’m not versed in philosophy enough to really say why. I will say that I find William Lane Craig’s version of Molinism to be very, very convincing, and I imagine most Latter-day Saints would, too.
I should say “many” instead of “most.”
An anti-Mormon organization called the Institute for Religious Research (IRR) has posted a Youtube video at:
that seems to be making fun of the Beth Spackman article which you reference. They mock her statement that “… on that occasion [3 Ne. 19:16-30], while he was in their presence, praying to him was acceptable.” I think it’s a weak argument as well but they go on to criticize Latter-day Saints for not praying to Jesus Christ as they do.
Beth Spackman actually references the scriptures that answer their criticism but she doesn’t go into the all-important content of those scriptures. Maybe we at FAIR need to post a response or do a Youtube video responding to their criticism.
It might state that the Bible gives us the pattern in
Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2 where the Lord teaches us to address our prayers to “our Father which art in heaven.” The Book of Mormon teaches us specifically to pray to the Father in his (Jesus Christ’s) name. (3 Ne. 20:30-31; 3 Ne. 27:2, 28-29) It might also state that Latter-day Saints
follow the instructions Jesus Christ gave to the Jews and the Nephites in the above scriptures. Protestants who follow IRR’s misinformed guidance do not.
The IRR Youtube video completely ignores these scriptures. We should ask them why would we do as they recommend when it goes against Jesus Christ’s clear teachings in the New Testament and especially in 3rd Nephi? We would
be ignoring the very principle of modern revelation that distinguishes us from IRR and other Protestants. We might ask if Protestants are going to follow the Catholics in praying to Mary and to saints as well? When we follow the Lord’s example, we are being obedient and trusting in him. When we do our own thing, we show a lack of faith. The scripture indicates that, “to obey is better than sacrifice.”(1 Sam. 15:22) I’d say this applies to misguided prayers to Jesus, Mary, and others as well.
IRR references more information on their web site at:
that should be considered in our response.
We’ve completed a draft response to IRR. It’s at: