Are we allowed to prayer over the phone? I was told by 2 bishops that we do not pray over the phone. Recently I received a mission calling for volunteer work for Familysearch and I was asked to pray over the phone. So have things changed or what is Church policy?
I’m not aware of any general counsel to the church regarding praying over the phone. Since I don’t know the context or scope of the counsel given to you by the bishops you mention, I cannot comment on that counsel except to say that it would have to be limited in scope to their stewardship. However, we can look at the precedents set in other ways. Specifically, church conferences, from General Conference right down to some Stake Conferences, and other meetings such as Devotionals, all of which include prayers, are transmitted electronically to some viewers who are not in the same room, let alone within earshot of the person praying (and sometimes are not listening in real time). This seems to me not unlike praying over the phone – parties in multiple locations join together in prayer and worship, with at least one party remote from the one voicing the prayer.
I also don’t know who counseled you in your new calling to pray over the phone. I would assume it’s someone with stewardship over you, and thus in authority to make decisions in this regard. Given your concerns about the conflicting counsel, I recommend you schedule some time to meet with the person with stewardship over your new calling and discuss the new counsel and what these bishops have told you in the past, and ask for help reconciling the two. I also recommend personal prayer asking for guidance in your approach to this issue, and to praying over the phone in a way that ensures the Spirit’s presence:
Alma 37:37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
I’m also reminded of Alma 34:17-28, where we are counseled to pray in pretty much every place and for everyone and everything – there may not have been phones or broadcast technology in those days, but if there had been, it’s not hard to imagine that Amulek might have included them in his list. Also, 2 Nephi 32:8 reminds us that the Spirit teaches us to pray.
I commend you for giving serious consideration to priesthood counsel, for desiring to be consistent and obedient to the will of God, and for being willing to serve the Lord through a Family History mission. I pray that your conversation with your priesthood leader in your new calling will go well, and that you will gain peace and understanding in this issue. Thank you for your example and service!