Amulek exhorted the people of Ammonihah to be “watchful unto prayer continually, that ye may not be led away by the temptations of the devil” (Alma 34:39).
Moroni later used the same phrase to describe the role of the church in the lives of believers:
They were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer,Moroni 6:4
To be watchful is to be alert and vigilant, observing one’s surroundings carefully in order to be aware of danger. The opposite of watchfulness is inattentiveness, carelessness, or mindlessness.
To the members of the church in Sardis, the apostle John wrote that although they had a reputation for vitality and energy, they were spiritually asleep:
I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
His advice to them was to wake up and take care of the things in their lives that needed attention:
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die:Revelation 3:1-2
Elder David A. Bednar has issued the same call to us:
Constant vigilance is required to counteract complacency and casualness. To be vigilant is the state or action of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties. And keeping watch denotes the act of staying awake to guard and protect. Spiritually speaking, we need to stay awake and be alert to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and the signals that come from the Lord’s watchmen on the towers.“Watchful unto Prayer,” General Conference, October 2019
Watchfulness not only helps us avoid danger, it also helps us prepare for good experiences. In May 1831, after teaching members of the church how to distinguish between true and false spirits, the Lord reminded them that they would one day see and hear Him. “Watch therefore,” He said, “that ye may be ready” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:46).
What role does prayer play in watchfulness? When we are watchful, we are more inclined to pray, because we recognize our need for heavenly help. Therefore, the consistency and quality of our prayers is a useful indicator of our current level of watchfulness.
Today, I will be observant and intentional in my discipleship. I will heed warnings that come from prophets and from the Holy Ghost, and I will avoid complacency or casualness. I will be watchful.