A woman named Mary Jane Woodger wrote an article in the New Era a few years ago called, "What I Have Learned About Mighty Prayer." It's suggestions can be used to teach a Family Home Evening. I put the main points from the article on a post-it note and stuck it on the wall next to my bed where I would see it every night before I prayed.
- Prepare for prayer
- Remember that God loves you
- Express sincere gratitude
- Pray fervently
- Pray in specifics
- Pray aloud
If you have a copy of Preach My Gospel, before you kneel down for prayer, review pages 94-95. It gives some amazing pointers of how to get the most out of prayer. In my mission we had to review these pages every night while saying the end-of-the-day-companion prayer. It sometimes took forever to go through all of it, but I know that those were the most complete and helpful prayers I have ever prayed. Of course, it's geared towards missionaries, but it can be easily modified to fit anyone's prayers.
And lastly, the final part of prayer is receiving the answers to the questions we have asked. I have heard counsel stating that remaining on our knees and allowing the Spirit to speak to us through thoughts and impressions will often be the way we get those answers, or, my favorite GenCon quote, "We speak to the Lord in prayer, he speaks to us through the scriptures." As far as interpreting those answers, I recommend a talk by Richard G. Scott titled "Learning to Recognize Answers to Prayer." It goes over the ways we receive answers and what we can do to follow them. In closing, I want to leave with a quote from the talk:
"It is vitally important to recognize that the Lord also responds a third way to prayer by withholding an answer when the prayer is offered. Why would He do that?
He is our perfect Father. He loves us beyond our capacity to understand. He knows what is best for us. He sees the end from the beginning. He wants us to act to gain needed experience:
When He answers yes, it is to give us confidence.
When He answers no, it is to prevent error.
When He withholds an answer, it is to have us grow through faith in Him, obedience to His commandments, and a willingness to act on truth. We are expected to assume accountability by acting on a decision that is consistent with His teachings without prior confirmation. We are not to sit passively waiting or to murmur because the Lord has not spoken. We are to act.Most often what we have chosen to do is right. He will confirm the correctness of our choices His way. That confirmation generally comes through packets of help found along the way. We discover them by being spiritually sensitive. They are like notes from a loving Father as evidence of His approval. If, in trust, we begin something which is not right, He will let us know before we have gone too far."