December 9th, 2011

Prayers for Peace, Free Principles, and Protection

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?

3 Responses to “Prayers for Peace, Free Principles, and Protection”

  1. Doug Bayless
    December 9, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    Great thoughts, Connor. I really appreciate them. :)

    As far as what we should be actively participating in encouraging our elected leaders to do, I think America’s role in the world is one of the most relevant and important questions of our day. I hear an awful lot of people claiming that America needs an effective Empire of permanent outposts across the globe in order to effectively respond militarily in our self-appointed role as the “Hegemon” of peace.

    I thought President Hinckley’s comment in his 2003 Conference Address “War and Peace” seemed to speak to that question:

    “We sometimes are prone to glorify the great empires of the past, such as the Ottoman Empire, the Roman and Byzantine Empires, and in more recent times, the vast British Empire. But there is a darker side to every one of them. There is a grim and tragic overlay of brutal conquest, of subjugation, of repression, and an astronomical cost in life and treasure.”

    And then, speaking again to whether or not we ought to be deploying our defense forces in permanent “pre-emptive” and aggressive armed actions throughout the world … the kind with no potential peace treaty and no measurable objectives … I’m also a fan of President J. Reuben Clark’s observation (keeping in mind that he’d had so much experience in the US Department of State before serving in the First Presidency):

    “For America has a destiny – a destiny to conquer the world – not by force of arms, not by purchase and favor, for these conquests wash away, but by high purpose, by unselfish effort, by uplifting achievement, by a course of Christian living; a conquest that shall leave every nation free to move out to its own destiny; a conquest that shall bring, through the workings of our own example, the blessings of freedom and liberty to every people, without restraint or imposition or compulsion from us; a conquest that shall weld the whole earth together in one great brotherhood in a reign of mutual patience, forbearance, and charity, in a reign of peace to which we shall lead all others by the persuasion of our own righteous example.”

  2. David Goates
    December 10, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    I heard an earnest and sincere appeal in a sacrament meeting invocation for “peace on earth..” This time of year we hear it more often than any other because we are reminded of “glad tidings of great joy” and “peace on earth, goodwill to men.”

    It seems I can never pass a Christmas season, however, without being reminded and thinking deeply on the content of what I call “The Christmas Day Revelation” of December 25, 1832. (See Section 87, The Doctrine and Covenants). Ironically, on the day we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace (even though it was really April 6th), it is designated as a “revelation and prophecy on war,” given through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

    It is only eight short verses, but they are packed with implications stretching down through the hallways of time since that day into our lives today.

    There will be no peace on earth until Christ comes again because of the abuse of moral agency by Heavenly Father’s children. The “end of the world” IS the “destruction of the wicked” (JS-M 1:4). When the world has had its fill of bloodlust and killing, the Savior will come in a day of judgment, and all the prayers, goodwill and sincere efforts to bring peace on earth notwithstanding, the future will be filled with war.

    Sorry to sound a pessimistic note, but to pray for peace on earth, goodwill to men, is only to add to the multitudinous prayers of the faithful martyrs whose blood cries out from under the altar. In time those prayers will all be answered but not as soon as most of us would wish.

  3. mark
    December 14, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Connor,

    I would have to say: one of the best posts you have done.

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