9 But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.
In the passage above, Nephi teaches us an important principle: before pursuing a goal, we need to pray. We shouldn’t just pray that we will accomplish the goal, but that our efforts will be beneficial to us. I can think of several reasons why that distinction might be important:
- It is possible to accomplish the wrong goals. By praying for our welfare, we invite Heavenly Father to refine or redirect our objectives.
- We may accomplish a righteous goal in an inappropriate way. Most often, this happens because we are doing the right things for the wrong reasons. If we ask for help, Heavenly Father can help us clarify and purify our motives.
- We can be so focused on our goals that we miss important unplanned contributions we can make along the way. Heavenly Father can help us recognize these opportunities as they come along and help us recognize when our priorities need to adjust to take advantage of new circumstances.