Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nephi Prayed

A conversation with a friend this week taught me a lessons about Nephi and his brothers and how their story applies to me. Nephi and his brothers, Laman and Lemuel, had been commanded by the Lord through His prophet to obtain the brass plates (the scriptures) from a wicked man named Laban who was rich and powerful. After risking their lives and failing their quest twice, Laman and Lemuel became angry with Nephi for wanting to try again and began to beat him up. An angel from God came and commanded them to stop the beating and testified to them that the Lord's promise was still in affect that they would be able to obtain the brass plates. The record then states:

"And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us (1 Nephi 3:31)?"

Though Laman and Lemuel doubted, Nephi's response was quite different:

"And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands (1 Nephi 4:1)?"

I can understand where Laman and Lemuel were coming from and I must admit that had I been in their shoes I would have likely said the same thing that they said. I say this because there are many times when the Lord has given me a promise and I have doubted that it would actually happen because of past experiences. For example, I sometimes have doubts that certain aspects of my character can actually be changed, having tried but failed 50 or ten thoughsand times.

But I have to ask myself, as my friend asked me, "What made the difference between Nephi and His brothers?"

Nephi prayed. He truly prayed to His Heavenly Father. Nephi recorded his first prayer when he truly humbled himself before God and put his trust in Him:

"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers (1 Nephi 2:16)."

Nephi, like me, sometimes struggled with change, but I admire his faith and trust in the Lord when change did not happen as expected. At one of these times Nephi recorded:

"Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted (2 Nephi 4:17 - 19)."

When I struggle with doubt, wondering if the future can really be different than my past experience, I can pray like Nephi. I can humble myself before the Lord and put my trust in Him and remember the testimonies of His servants. I'll finish this post with a quote by our prophet:
"The passage of time has not altered the capacity of the Redeemer to change men’s lives—our lives and the lives of those with whom we labor. As He said to the dead Lazarus, so He says today: “Come forth.” Come forth from the despair of doubt. Come forth from the sorrow of sin. Come forth from the death of disbelief. Come forth to a newness of life. Come forth."

-Thomas S. Monson, “To the Rescue,” Ensign, May 2001, 48

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