I have become aware with increasing clarity that Heavenly Father's greatest desire is to bless all of his children. Effective prayer is the key to accessing the help God is eager to extend to us. Because prayer is a conversation with God, our Heavenly Father, surely he would want to help us discover--from the scriptures, the experiences of others, and from our own experiences--some of the principles which underlie effective prayer.
Marital therapists often teach couples new ways of conversing with each other that help them understand each other better, show each other greater respect, and more accurately reveal each person's underlying feelings. If used faithfully, these effective “principles of communication” can draw a couple closer together.
Using the scriptures as our base, we can describe the most effective ways of conversing with God: spiritual “principles of prayer.” These principles can draw us closer to him and help us understand him better. If we were closer to him, wouldn't we be happier? Wouldn't we be drawn more strongly into his miraculous world?
My own experiences have led me to believe that God's miracles (his divine intervention) fill the world around us. Our Father in Heaven loves to make miracles for those who turn to him with a sincere heart. The scriptures tell us that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (2 Chr. 16:9).
In referring to the work and miracles which Christ did in our behalf, the apostle John said, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). How many miracles has Christ brought us since his resurrection? They are countless, and they are occurring every day to those with believing hearts.
Miracles are natural experiences, for we are really spiritual beings. Our essence is spiritual, and we wear our bodies like a garment. God is the Father of our spirits (Heb. 12:9), and we are his children. It is part of our spiritual heritage to commune with God and to participate in miraculous experiences with him. Joseph Smith said that it is the “first principle of the gospel ... to know that we may converse with [God] as one man converses with another.”  Heavenly Father created our world to train and develop our spiritual attributes. The apostle Peter said God's “divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness ... that by these [we] might be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:3-4; emphasis mine). Our challenge is to develop our spiritual selves, to transcend and control our physical selves.
If miracles are a part of our spiritual heritage, what then restricts our faith and blocks our spiritual development? I believe it is our tendency to set our hearts upon the physical things which we can see and hear, touch and taste or smell. One Gallup poll showed that Americans rank health, family, love, and friends ahead of God.  We could only do this because these things all appear more real to us than God does. Nevertheless, when we set our minds and hearts “so much upon the things of this world,” our Heavenly Father says that the “Spirit of the Lord is grieved” and the “heavens withdraw themselves” (D&C 121:35, 37). Our Savior's kingdom, meanwhile, “is not of this world” (John 18:36). Although our world appears to be a physical one to us, it is not that way to God, who said, “all things unto me are spiritual” (D&C 29:34).
Marvelous possibilities open up to us when we drop our fixation with worldly things and exercise faith in God, the divine power in the universe, and in his principles. Jesus said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do” (John 14:12). This is what our Heavenly Father wants us to learn.
Although the physical life is easier to see, only the spiritual life can deliver a lasting peace and happiness. One survey showed that people who are “highly spiritually committed” are far happier than the less spiritually committed.  I think this is so because spiritual growth and development is our deepest and most vital need. Only the spiritual life is full and abundant. That's why Christ came, that we “might have life, and ... have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
During my last years in college I had a number of miraculous experiences. After pondering them, I began to believe that how I had prayed had a lot to do with how God had responded. I took this conviction to the Third Marine Infantry Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California, where I served as a Navy chaplain. While there, I had an experience while counseling a young Baptist Marine that seemed to clarify some principles of prayer, both for the Marine and for myself. After we had prayed, using principles which Heavenly Father had revealed to us, this young Marine returned to my office the next week saying, “Chaplain, you'll never believe what happened.”
I saw that the spiritual principles we had learned fit perfectly into a framework I had used as a missionary to teach investigators how to pray. So I used that framework to organize the ideas and began to share this Marine's story with a few others who seemed especially sincere, to help them learn how to pray. Nearly all of those who learned these principles came back to report their own personal miracles. I hope this book will bring the same results for you.