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Friday, February 10, 2012

Why Satan Can't Read Your Mind

The Lord commands us to "… pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private" (D&C 19:28). 

I believe this scripture is telling us that there's a time to pray vocally, and a time not to.  I would think those times when it's appropriate to pray vocally include church meetings, family prayer and other instances in which more than one person is participating in the prayer. 

However, there are also times when we should pray in our heart.  I would think these times are more individualized in nature.

Perhaps for those who have received their endowments, the concept that Lucifer is able to hear vocal prayers carries added significance.  

We also learn in the scriptures that "there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and intents of thy heart."  (D&C 6:16)

Thus, it stands to reason that if we want Satan to hear something, vocalize it.  Conversely, if we only want God to hear something, utter it non-vocally.

"It is clear, then, that Satan and his followers, who have been cast out of God’s presence and are dead to His Spirit, are excluded from those who, by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, may know the thoughts and the intents of our hearts.

So, in his wisdom and mercy, God has provided a channel of communication between him and his children on earth that Satan, our common enemy, cannot invade. This is the channel of secret prayer. The significance of this to the Latter-day Saint is profound, for by this means we are able to communicate with our Heavenly Father in secrecy, confident that the adversary cannot intrude.

Often, we talk too much. We say things that need not be said or should not be said; for in saying them, we may open a crevice which enables Lucifer to wedge his way into our lives. We learn from 2 Nephi that Satan “seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Ne. 2:27; emphasis mine)

Satan and his followers are persistent in their quest to drag us down to their level. They will use any device or artifice to accomplish their end. If they see from our words or actions evidence of animosity or hatred or discord among us, they may capitalize on them in ways which will be detrimental to us.

Wisdom suggests, therefore, that we suppress words and actions which might enable Satan to harm us or whose tendency might be to create discord or enmity." (Elder Francis M. Gibbons, The Dual Aspects of Prayer, Ensign (CR), November 1991, p.78)

Indeed, as the hymn states,

There is an hour of peace and rest,
Unmarred by earthly care;
’Tis when before the Lord I go
And kneel in secret prayer.

May my heart be turned to pray,
Pray in secret day by day,
That this boon to mortals giv’n
May unite my soul with heav’n.

The straight and narrow way to heav’n,
Where angels bright and fair
Are singing to God’s praise, is found
Thru constant secret prayer.

When sailing on life’s stormy sea,
’Mid billows of despair,
’Tis solace to my soul to know
God hears my secret prayer.

When thorns are strewn along my path,
And foes my feet ensnare,
My Savior to my aid will come,
If sought in secret prayer.

Some observations:

a.      Sometimes, we find it difficult to pray because evil is present in our home. If so, before you begin your silent prayer, pray OUT LOUD that evil may be cast from your area, that the spirit of the Lord may be clearly heard and discerned, and that light and truth may exist in your area, pushing away that which is darkness and evil. Then, when you feel light, when you feel warmth, begin your silent prayer.

b.      Silent prayer requires a tremendous amount of focus or discipline. Rarely are you going to succeed in giving, say, a 20-minute silent prayer right off the bat without some amount of mental drift. Therefore, approach silent prayer like weightlifting (for in a sense, silent prayer is SPIRITUAL weightlifting). Start with smaller weights, for example, focusing in silent prayer for 2-3 minutes. Then the next time, try to do a silent, focused prayer for 3 minutes. Take it step by step.

c.      In order to stay focused, you may want to try this technique: Visualize Father on His throne, looking down at you, listening attentively. Focus on HIM. By doing so, you will see Him in your mind's eye (as distinguished from actually being in His presence). 

It is no small thing to visualize yourself approaching the throne of a God. When Father is with you, evil is nowhere present. It cannot be.


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  1. I think that sometimes we pray vocally because words have power, even if the adversary can hear them.

    Sometimes, when I pray, I don't use words at all. I let my soul stretch to heaven in longing. I do not know how else to explain this. It seems as if it is something that used to be natural to me in another time/another life. It feels very deep and very powerful, as if my request for help is being sent via a launch pad, as opposed to a bow shooting an arrow (normal prayer).

  2. I have felt that vocal prayer enjoys some kind of protection surrounding it, so that Satan cannot eavesdrop. Perhaps I have felt that way because I trust that prayer is supported by the Holy Ghost, and where light and truth exist, darkness is dispelled. I have felt the same way about the words spoken during Priesthood blessings.

  3. Great blog and observations. Thanks.

  4. I feel both are correct at times. If we take the time to bless and protect our homes, then they can be as sanctified and holy as the temples, with sentinels to guard and protect our homes. And as long as we are living a sanctified and holy life that protection will remain. When it fades, due to our natural inclinations or missteps , then the protection will need to be renewed; even as we repent and seek once again to carry the full armor of God.

  5. “There is another responsibility correlated and even co-existent with … agency, which is too infrequently emphasized, and that is the effect not only of a person’s actions, but also of his thoughts. Man radiates what he is, and that radiation affects to a greater or less[er] degree every person who comes within that radiation” (“Free Agency … the Gift Divine,” Improvement Era, February 1962, 87).
    So within each of our souls is a light, the source of our own aura. This light within us, when we are in tune with the Holy Ghost, becomes a bright white aura that permeates around each person who is spiritually drawn near God. When Satan sends tempting thoughts to entice us to think evil, he does not know our thoughts. How he know that we are giving into his enticements to think evil is that he can see our personal aura diminishing from bright white, while filled with the Holy Spirit, to less and less light as we withdraw ourselves from the Holy Spirit into sin.

    Letting our light shine is real. People can sense that there is something pure and uplifting about us when they are near us. Those souls who are sincerely seeking spiritual enlightenment will be led to us as we are led to them for the blessing of both, that both might be edified.

    1. I feel this post was for me. I am so grateful for it.
      Wow Ken I so needed your comment as well, thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  6. I know that satan cannot hear my thoughts. However, I have noticed that whenever I have a private conversation in prayer with God, and I feel the Spirit directing me, prompting me, speaking to me - I have noticed that I also have the opposition trying to direct me. For example, If I feel a prompting to call or visit someone who need to be uplifted, I will often feel/hear IMMEDIATE prodding with all the reasons I DON'T need to obey that Spiritual prompting. All this tug-of-war can be silent - within my own thoughts. I have been pondering this. Even though I know satan cannot hear my thoughts, is the devil able to know/hear what the Spirit is whispering to my heart? That is the only explanation I can give myself for WHY there is immediate bombardment of temptation to not heed the Spirit.

    1. I wouldn't jump to that conclusion. If Satan is able to hear your thoughts, then prayer would cease to be a safe means of communication with Father. All the promises God has made about prayer would be lies, making God a liar. Can evil exist in the presence of God?

      Wouldn't it be more plausible that Satan is able to see you praying, and would then seek to distract you? Ask Moses if Satan did that. Ask Christ if Satan did that as He prayed in Gethsemene. There's a huge difference between interfering with one who is praying and actually hearing the content of silent prayer.