Hazrat Shaikh Moulana Muhammad Zakariyya (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) once mentioned:
Making du‘aa is extremely important and I do not deny it’s significance in any way. However, it is important for one to understand that merely sufficing on du‘aa without making a concerted effort to improve one’s life is incorrect. One will not see improvement in one’s life through sufficing on du‘aa.
Allah Ta‘ala mentions in the Quraan Majeed:
قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّٰهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللّٰهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ ۗ وَاللّٰهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ ﴿٣١﴾
O Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)! Say (to your Ummah), “If you (claim to) love Allah then follow me, (through following me,) Allah Ta‘ala will make you beloved to Him and forgive your sins, and Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
Therefore, you should endeavour to follow the blessed sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to the best of your ability and be punctual upon your ‘ibaadaat with abstaining from all sins. Du‘aa will show its effect and assist a person when he makes an effort as well, just as certain medications are beneficial to a person when they are coupled with the correct diet, dosage of medications, etc.
Ponder and think that no person’s du‘aa could ever be equal to the du‘aa of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). If du‘aa alone was sufficient and there was no need for one to make an effort, then merely on account of the du‘aa of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), everyone would have accepted Islam and no person would have remained on kufr. Adhere to the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to the best of your ability, for it is through adhering to the sunnah that one’s du‘aa will prove beneficial.
(Qutbul Aqtaab Hazrat Shaikhul Hadeeth Moulana Muhammad Zakariyya (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) pg. 411)