Gospel Q&A is a series from LDS Daily that strives to answer important gospel questions from readers. Today, we answer the question, “If Satan can hear what we verbalize, but cannot hear our thoughts, should we say our prayers out loud? Doesn’t this give him an advantage? Heavenly Father knows our thoughts?”
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While we often discuss how to overcome the evils of the world through Jesus Christ, our focus is on just that—Jesus Christ. We don’t have Sunday School lessons that go in-depth on the nature of the adversary or how he works. There’s wisdom in that, but it can leave us with questions about who we’re up against.
What Power Does Satan Have?
From my research, I could find no definitive statement that Satan listens to our prayers. However, based on other scriptural accounts and with our basic understanding of the power given to the adversary on earth, we can safely assume that hearing our prayers is possible.
Here’s what the gospel topic essay on Satan says about his influence:
Heavenly Father allows Satan and Satan’s followers to tempt us as part of our experience in mortality. He and his followers try to lead us away from righteousness. He directs his most strenuous opposition at the most important aspects of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. For example, he seeks to discredit the Savior and the priesthood, to cast doubt on the power of the Atonement, to counterfeit revelation, to distract us from the truth, and to contradict individual accountability.
It’s so important to remember that while Satan has been allowed the power to tempt and try us, he has no power to force us into evil. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “Satan cannot seduce us by his enticements unless we in our hearts consent and yield. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him.”
The First Vision
Joseph’s experience in the Sacred Grove came to mind as I thought about praying aloud. When he went into the grove of trees, he prayed aloud for the first time. Satan was there and sought to stop him. Joseph described that he was sure he was “doomed to sudden destruction” as darkness surrounded him.
Joseph used all of his power to continue praying and cried out to God for help. Immediately, a pillar of light appeared, the darkness fled, and Joseph experienced a heavenly manifestation that would ring in the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This experience can be instructive in our own life. Yes, Satan has the power to tempt us away from connecting with God. He can exert influence in our lives, including when we pray. But the moment we call upon the name of Jesus Christ, especially out loud, he flees. He cannot remain where the love and power of Jesus Christ are. So, in my mind, there is nothing better to combat the forces of the adversary in your life than to pray aloud.
These evil forces cannot thwart God’s answers to your prayers either. They cannot hear something you pray about and use it against you unless you have given up your agency to follow their enticings. They cannot overcome the fulfillment of God’s will in your life if that is the desire of your heart.
In the end, our focus on the Savior is our ultimate answer to questions about combating the adversary.
Disclaimer: While all of our answers will use scriptures and/or words of modern prophets, we do not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We don’t believe any of our answers are comprehensive.