In 1903 Elder Francis M. Lyman of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a missionary named Joseph Cannon visited St. Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire, during a time of dramatic social and economic change. There they learned more about Russia’s culture and religious traditions by visiting Orthodox cathedrals and interacting with people. They also met with the Lindlöf family, the only Latter-day Saints in Russia at the time. Then on August 6 (July 24, Old Style), Lyman and Cannon met with two missionaries in the Summer Garden to offer a prayer for Russia and its people. Cannon wrote that Lyman “called upon the Lord to bless this great empire, in many respects the greatest in the world, and endow its rulers with wisdom and virtue, that there may be peace and progress here.” He also prayed for the Lord to prepare the way that “the voices of His servants may sound the glad tidings to the uttermost parts of this great land.”
Lyman and Cannon had a similar experience a few days later when they visited Moscow. After exploring the city and learning more, the two Church leaders went to the Alexander Garden near the Moscow Kremlin to offer another prayer on August 9 (July 27, Old Style). Cannon recorded that Lyman “prayed that the hearts of the sincere and honest might be turned to seek for the truth, and petitioned the Lord to send servants full of wisdom and faith to declare the Gospel to the Russians in their own language.” After returning, however, Lyman consulted with other Church leaders and learned that the Church was not yet prepared to send missionaries to Russia. It would be many years before the Apostle’s prayers were finally fulfilled.