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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Prayer as a Commandment (1 Nephi 15)

Listen now!After Nephi had received this vision, he had to come back to the harsh realities of this world, for his brothers, Laman and Lemuel, despite their previous experiences with angels and God's protection, were still not believers in revelation from God.

Nephi relates that his brothers came to him with many questions about what he and their father, Lehi, had seen.
3 For he truly spake many great things unto them, which were hard to be aunderstood, save a man should inquire of the Lord; and they being hard in their hearts, therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought.
They told Nephi that they couldn't understand what Lehi and Nephi were telling them about natural branches of an olive tree, a rod of iron, a tree with fruit, and a filthy river. Nephi was direct in asking them, "Have ye inquired of the Lord?"

"We have not;" they said, "for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us."

Nephi responded, "How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts?"

In other words, they had been taught, correctly, that asking God is a commandment whenever we are in doubt or are confused about anything at all. It's not something to be treated lightly or tossed aside because of our unbelief or doubts. We have an obligation to approach God and ask Him for wisdom.

This is the principle problem with the Book of Mormon. Not that the book itself has problems, but that people will renounce it out of hand, after reading just a few pages, by declaring it unreadable, boring, difficult to understand.

What they really mean is that they don't understand or don't want to comply with the commandment from God to "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (Matt. 7:7)

How is it done? Through prayer! When we feel that we should not pray to know the truth of something, we are paying more attention to the devil than we are to God. For, "if ye would hearken unto the aSpirit which teacheth a man to bpray ye would know that ye must cpray; for the devil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray."

Alma, a prophet we will read about in a later book, taught:

Alma 34:17-27
17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your afaith unto repentance, that ye begin to bcall upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;
18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is amighty to save.
19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in aprayer unto him.
20 Cry unto him when ye are in your afields, yea, over all your flocks.
21 aCry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your aenemies.
23 Yea, acry unto him against the bdevil, who is an enemy to all crighteousness.
24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
26 But this is not all; ye must apour out your souls in your bclosets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.
27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your ahearts be bfull, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your cwelfare, and also for the welfare of dthose who are around you.

It is a theme that is repeated frequently in scripture.
  1. 22 And all athings, whatsoever ye shall bask in cprayer, believing, ye shall receive.
  2. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: aask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
  3. 3 Ye aask, and receive not, because ye bask camiss, that ye may dconsume it upon your elusts.
  4. 22 And whatsoever we aask, we receive of him, because we bkeep his ccommandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
  5. 15 Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to apreserve our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.
  6. 21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive...
  7. 20 And awhatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.
  8. 29 Therefore, aask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
  9. 26 And after that he came men also were asaved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the bsons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: cWhatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.
  10. 4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would aask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not btrue; and if ye shall ask with a csincere heart, with dreal intent, having efaith in Christ, he will fmanifest the gtruth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
  11. 9 And whoso shall ask it in my name in afaith, they shall bcast out cdevils; they shall heal the dsick; they shall cause the blind to receive their esight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk.
  12. 31 Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a aspirit manifested that you cannot understand, and you receive not that spirit, ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus; and if he give not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not of God.
  13. 9 Lay your ahands upon the bsick, and they shall crecover. Return not till I, the Lord, shall send you. Be patient in affliction. dAsk, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
  14. 63 aDraw bnear unto me and I will draw near unto you; cseek me diligently and ye shall dfind me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
  15. 52 And he also said unto him: If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be abaptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of bgrace and truth, which is Jesus cChrist, the only dname which shall be given under heaven, whereby esalvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you.
It is clear from these and many other passages what the Lord wants us to do. He wants us to talk to Him and ask Him for wisdom.

Will you ask God whether what you are reading in the Book of Mormon is true?