Mormon Prayer: Heavenly Conversation

In honor of this weeks National Day of Prayer, leaders from different faiths were interviewed by The Washington Post to demonstrate how they pray. Sister Linda Otani McKinney, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and leader of a local LDS Relief Society, was invited to share about Latter-day Saint/Mormon prayer. She explained how we think of prayer as “a heavenly conversation,” and outlined the four basic steps to prayer; Opening, Thanking, Asking, Closing.

I’m so impressed with how respectful, acurate and beautiful this video was put together. Thank you, Washington Post! 

In the words of a beloved hymn “Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed.” (Hymn 145)

As children of our Heavenly Father our souls naturally long for communication with Him. I have found that as I make prayer a part of my daily practice, it becomes more and more personal and meaningful.


Latter-day Saints are a praying people. It is a core practice of our every-day life. We believe that prayer opens the heavens and calls down miracles. Indeed, the foundation of our Faith began with a simple prayer, offered in 1820 by a 14 year old boy.

There are four basic categories of prayer; Personal, Family, Public, and Priesthood.



At least twice a day – typically morning when we wake, and evening before bed – we should take the opportunity to find a private place to kneel and speak in private with our Heavenly Father.

woman praying
Personal Prayer

Prayer is actually a two-way communication.

I have found that if I wait quietly and patiently after I have prayed I receive ideas, thoughts, words or some type of guidance which I believe is the Lord responding back. Many wonderful impressions have come to me doing this, and if I act on the ideas and impressions that I receive, I tend to receive more from the Lord. I pray many times throughout the day in my heart and mind in conversation with my Heavenly Father.



Our family prays over every meal we eat together, and we take the opportunity to kneel in a circle and pray together at least once per day, usually in the evening before bedtime. Each member of the family takes a turn offering the family prayer. Mormons have a long-time practice of holding a weekly “family night” every Monday evening, called Family Home Evening.

Monday nights are sacred.

No church meetings are ever scheduled on a Monday. Our church buildings, temples and stores close on Monday nights. Mormons instinctively never call or visit the home of another member after 6 PM on a Monday night. The general format of “family night” opens and closes with singing a hymn and saying a prayer. In-between the prayers the family has lessons on gospel topics, study scripture together, or play games, and of course, afterward there’s always treats. 🙂 Some Monday nights the family chooses to have an activity like a picnic or sporting event, but we typically offer a prayer together before leaving the house.

A Family Prayer
A Family Prayer

For many years our personal family tradition has been to hold a mini devotional each night. We call it our “Spiritual Time”, and it gives us a chance to gather together, regroup and share something about our day. We often sing a hymn, we always read from the scriptures, and then we kneel together for our nightly family prayer. Afterward, we do our “family cheer” and group hug. We all love this family ritual and I think it’s really helped forged a deep bond.


As a Latter-day Saint there are many opportunities to offer public prayers. We open and close every meeting – large or small – with a prayer. When offering a public prayer, one becomes the voice for the group, so we try to tailor what we say to meet the needs of everyone present. We usually ask a special blessing to be on the person(s) speaking or teaching at the meeting. These prayers are not prepared in advance or written down, they’re simply spoken from the heart.

Sister Jean A. Stevens became the first woman to pray during a General Conference during the Saturday Morning Session of the 183rd General Conference.
A Public Prayer in a large Church Meeting


Last but certainly not least there are special prayers offered by the men holding the Priesthood for pronouncing blessings with specific purposes, often by the laying on of hands. These include the prayers to bless the Sacramental bread and water each Sunday, baby blessings, baptismal and confirmation prayers, the marriage sealing and other temple prayers, the patriarchal blessing, ordination to the Priesthood, Healing of the Sick, a Setting-Apart for mission service or a church calling, a father’s blessing, and other personal blessings for help or comfort.



The Savior taught that we should “Pray always” so that we can receive the promised blessing to have His spirit always with us. Truly, there is no greater blessing for us to seek after in this life. What a gift to be able to pray! – MoSop



  1. Awesome post! I am intrigued by the LDS way of praying with arms folded. I’ve seen it before, but where does that come from, do you know? I like it… I think it’s a great way to really fold your body in and focus on what you’re doing!


    1. Hi Rachel, thanks for reading and for your comment. Great question! The LDS tradition of folding arms when we pray is purely cultural and not a requirement. I’m not sure when it began, but I believe it stems from an early Western pioneer tradition of showing respect for God. Its evolved into a practical and simple way to teach young children how to quiet their bodies and be reverent for prayer time.
      I really love your insightful observation of “focus”! I agree. To me, when I fold my arms and bow my head in prayer it symbolizes taking time to shut out the world and focus on my personal communion with God.


      1. Children used to pray with their arms folded in the 17th as 18th centuries, I believe, in European cultures. I know that children in Catholic orphanages, when looked out for by the monks, were taught that way, and that’s where the pretzel shape comes from. It’s said to resemble a child in prayer.


  2. I think this is, at least, one of your best posts. You are so clear about the subject of prayer, I can tell that you were led by the Spirit in creating and writing your piece. And the Lord will bless you accordingly. I love you, Holly!


  3. Hi, Holly,

    Roger again. I have written to you about Irish Mormon soprano Alex Sharpe. Please pray for Alex. I understand that she is not feeling well but is performing like the true professional she is on the current Celtic Woman tour. She has been invited to solo with MoTab on August 16, after her solo concert with friends in Logan earlier in August. Please pray for Alex’s health. Thank you and bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

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