In a general conference address in 2008, Elder Bednar taught that “meaningful prayer requires both holy communication and consecrated work.” He elaborated:

We press forward and persevere in the consecrated work of prayer, after we say “amen,” by acting upon the things we have expressed to Heavenly Father.

In other words, while praying for things we earnestly desire is critical, it is not sufficient; our prayer must be accompanied by effort to accomplish the very thing for which we are petitioning God. Just as faith without works is dead, so too is prayer without work.

It is with this background that I point the reader to the First Presidency’s 2011 Christmas message, released this week. In that brief, three paragraph note, we read the following:

May this Christmas season be a time of prayers for peace, for the preservation of free principles, and for the protection of those who are far from us.

It first becomes important to ask: are these things we are praying for at all? Are peace, principles, and protection truly our desire? Rather than requesting that soldiers be kept safe while deployed abroad, are we asking for their safe and speedy return? Instead of simply asking that the leaders of our nation be inspired, are we praying for all those who are working to defend the principles of liberty that once made this nation so great?

If we can answer in the affirmative, then we are on the right road—but only by a few steps. It is not enough to simply ask that such things be made a reality. Without a demonstration of consistent commitment on our part to do whatever is in our power to make it happen, our heavenward petitions will fall on deaf, divine ears.

As President Thomas S. Monson has said: “Pray as though everything depended upon God; work as though everything depended upon you.”

Whether we are sufficiently working at those things is a personal question we must each consider. Am I substantively and legitimately working to bring about peace, to preserve free principles, and protect those who are far from me?

Are you?


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