Open Communication

June 25th, 2008  |  Published in Mormonism, Spirituality  |  1 Comment

Welcome to Above Yourself, a blog about self-improvement and faith. If you're new here, you may want to subscribe in a reader or subscribe by email. Many of the topics here are related to my faith in Jesus Christ and Mormonism, but all are welcome to share their own beliefs. Thanks for visiting!

Last month I had the opportunity to participate in a training course that focused on Communication Skills. Among all of the things that we talked about in that training, I learned that I needed to focus on being a better active listener and to be direct and straightforward in my own communication. Being straightforward and direct ensures that our message is clear and understood, and it helps to emphasize the importance our message has to us. Active listening means that not only do we hear the message, but we can communicate it back through paraphrasing. As our instructor said, it’s “<em>para</em>phrasing, not parroting”.

Although this was a training class for my job, it was clear to me from the beginning that improved communication skills might help me in other aspects of my life as well. When I put the things I learned into practice in my own personal life I can see the benefits of better communication. When I looked back over some of the course materials this morning, I realized that better communication could help me in the spiritual aspects of my life as well.

A significant part of our personal spirituality can come from our communication with our Father in Heaven through prayer. As we pray to Him, He can communicate with us through the Holy Ghost. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said the following about the communication that can be had through prayer:

As we commune with our Father in humble prayer, our hearts receive the gentle outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Lord tells us, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24).

Those who do not have this light ever struggle with disbelief. They cannot understand the things of God because their souls have little light. On the other hand, as our souls become filled with light, we begin to understand clearly things that once were dark.

-Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Improving Our Prayers,” Ensign, Mar 2004, 24–31

Prayer is an invaluable tool for communicating with God. As we improve the sincerity of our prayers and our own messages to our Heavenly Father, these messages earn increased attention from our Father and help us to be better guided by Him through the Holy Ghost. Our prayers earn new power when we become more open in our prayers, more sincere, and more in tune with our own personal feelings. In the same message, Elder Wirthlin said this about making our prayers meaningful:

There are many reasons our prayers may lack power. Sometimes they become routine. Our prayers become hollow when we say similar words in similar ways over and over so often that the words become more of a recitation than a communication. This is what the Savior described as “vain repetitions” (see Matt. 6:7). Such prayers, He said, will not be heard.

Our beloved prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, has observed:

“The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the telephone and ordering groceries—we place our order and hang up. We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another.” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (1997), 469.)

Do your prayers at times sound and feel the same? Have you ever said a prayer mechanically, the words pouring forth as though cut from a machine? Do you sometimes bore yourself as you pray?

Will prayers that do not demand much of your thought merit much attention from our Heavenly Father? When you find yourself getting into a routine with your prayers, step back and think. Meditate for a while on the things for which you really are grateful. Look for them. They don’t have to be grand or glorious. Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.

-Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Improving Our Prayers,” Ensign, Mar 2004, 24–31

As I focus on increasing my communication skills, I will also focus on increasing the sincerity and meaning I put forward in prayer. Each time we communicate well with others we can enhance our relationships with them by getting to know them better. Each time we pray we become closer to our Heavenly Father and we better know His will for us.


  1. Beth says:

    June 25th, 2008 at 9:39 pm (#)

    Really good quotes. I appreciated this — it’s something I need to improve upon, too. (I feel like I’ve been saying that for a LONG time, too. Time to do something about it, I guess!)

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