Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, the Young Women general president, addressed students and faculty of Brigham Young University at a devotional held at the Marriot Center on Tuesday, February 4, 2020. In preparing her talk, she felt God’s intimate knowledge of and love for each individual, stating: “He cares about you in a way that human language cannot adequately express.”
Christ’s Pattern for Prayer
Sister Cordon outlined the pattern for prayer taught by Jesus Christ, stating, “recently, as I uttered the familiar words to address my Heavenly Father in prayer, I was overcome with a sense of awe. I paused and thought, ‘Who am I to address God?’ But almost instantly, an innate knowledge was rekindled—He is my Father, and I am His daughter.”
Sister Cordon realized that God wants to connect with her as much as she desires to communicate with Him.
Having established a connection with Heavenly Father, she said, the next step of prayer is to offer thanks. “There is a power that comes as we are generous with our gratitude.”
A Childhood Gratitude Lesson
When she was 4 years old, Sister Cordon was asked to bless her family’s dinner. She kept an eye open during the prayer to make sure she did not forget to bless any item of food or member of the family: “I prayed for the mashed potatoes, the meat, the corn; then I prayed for Mom, Dad, Linda, and Glenn,” Sister Cordon said. As she was about to close her prayer, her mother whispered in her ear, reminding her to bless her brother Rodney.
“With the full wrath of a 4-year-old,” Sister Cordon said, she answered, “No, and you know why!”
While she does not recall why she was upset with her brother, this memory has taught Sister Cordon about the value of expressing gratitude even when angry or hurting. “What if we offered thanks for those situations that bring us frustration, sorrow or even anguish?” she asked. “Could we open our heart and offer thanks for a trial while still experiencing it?”
Sincerely thanking God during difficult times, Sister Cordon said, allows Him “to help us see our trials and ourselves in a different way. Thanking Him, rather than asking for something to be taken away, helps us accept His unceasing effort to mold us into who we are meant to become.”
Asking for Blessings
After expressions of gratitude, a prayer typically includes requests for specific blessings. “The object of our prayers should be to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is eager to bestow, according to His will and timing,” Sister Cordon said.
Unlike Google, Sister Cordon added, “prayer may not offer you over 34 million results on a single topic, but through prayer you may be blessed with a clear mind and quickened understanding.”
Sister Cordon also acknowledged the perceived challenges of prayer: “There may be some of you who are thinking, ‘I have prayed and continue to pray, but the Lord doesn’t answer.’”
She, too, has questions and concerns that she prays about repeatedly: “There is a reason prayer is referred to as ‘a form of work’ (Bible Dictionary, “Prayer”).” She added, “At some point, we all ‘wait upon the Lord’ (Psalm 37:9).”
Closing a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ means recognizing His role in one’s life, Sister Cordon said, and it “puts our gratitude and our asking in the context of the divine plan of happiness,” of which He is the center.
She then paused and asked the audience members to reflect on what they had received the previous week as they asked God in prayer, encouraging them to write down their answers after a few moments of silence.
Praying for Solace
In December 2016, Sister Cordon said, “life sent me a hurricane of sorrow.” On a family vacation to a Disney theme park, her oldest grandson, 2 ½-year-old Derek, stopped breathing in the middle of the night.
Sister Cordon stayed with the family at the hotel while Derek’s parents rushed to the hospital. She knelt and prayed for him to recover. Instead, she received a shocking answer: “As I was praying, the Spirit gently but unmistakably impressed on my mind, ‘Little Derek has returned home to heaven.’”
Though she had not expected that response from the Spirit, Sister Cordon knew it was true. In the midst of her grief, she felt the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
“I still have a hole in my heart for little Derek and will until I am able to see him again, but until then I gain solace in the Lord and keep moving forward, building on the sure foundation of our Savior Jesus Christ,” she said.
No matter what trials come in this life, Sister Cordon added, God knows each individual and offers comfort, blessings and rest.
Choose to Pray Always
Sister Cordon observed that it is easy to cease to pray, letting a once close relationship with God grow distant.
For example, the brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon went to God often in prayer, asking Him to spare his people’s language and then asking for guidance about where they should move. However, once they had made it to the seashore, they stayed there for four years, and the brother of Jared allowed his commitment to prayer to lapse.
The Book of Mormon reads, “For the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord” (Ether 2:14).
The story of the brother of Jared is hopeful because he chose to repent and be guided by the Lord again, Sister Cordon added.
“Our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ love us,” she said. “Even if we’ve spent four years on the seashore and never called home, They are there, ready and waiting to bless us. …Can you imagine the truths we will discover and the wonders we will achieve as we choose to ‘pray always’ (Luke 21:36) with the same fervor we plead with when we are in need?”