There are a few things I’ve said to my children over the years that, quite frankly, I hope they don’t ever remember. In moments of weakness, exhaustion, impatience, and frustration, I’ve said things or handled situations in such a way that I hope they have long since forgotten. Family life is sometimes complicated and messy. I often feel like a broken record asking and re-asking the same questions, issuing the same reminders and warnings, over and over again. I would like to think (hope? pray?) that somewhere in all of this asking and reminding and warning and pleading that my children hear my faith and feel my love. What will they remember? What can I say and do that will have a lasting influence on my children so they will never, ever forget the things that really matter?
As the title for this week points out, the Lord doesn’t just work with me…He works IN me (Words of Mormon 1:7). Sometimes it’s more in spite of me, but God works IN me to bless and help and strengthen others.
Enos – Words of Mormon
If you need a refresher on the different parts of the plates and how they all fit together, this graphic is a good reminder. I’ve printed it out as a bookmark for each of us as we study this year. Omni marks the last book from the unabridged small plates of Nephi, Words of Mormon is a bridge chapter as Mormon explains things, and then we’ll jump to Mosiah from Mormon’s abridgement of the large plates.
Sometimes a concise block of scripture can be especially powerful. Enos, Jarom, Omni, and Words of Mormon comprise 10 pages of the Book of Mormon and each is just one chapter. In Omni, the author changes every few verses. Yet, what lessons we learn in the pages about mighty prayer and forgiveness, keeping the commandments, the influence of righteous parents, offering our whole souls to God, and the wise purposes of the Lord.
DISCUSS and PONDER:
What principles from these chapters are most meaningful for your family? How can you highlight a few key takeaways in a way your children will remember?
My heartfelt prayers will be answered
What’s your escape when things get hard?…when you have a question?…when you need some room to think and to take a step back from the world? For me, and probably for many of you, it’s the temple. We currently live in Frankfurt, a short drive from the newly reopened temple in Friedrichsdorf, and I attend regularly. It’s a sacred space I look forward to, and I rely on the strength and power I receive each time. Usually, however, we live countries away—1000s of miles— from the nearest temple and it’s not feasible to attend very often. In those situations, I like to escape to a mountain or other green space and create my own sanctuary to commune with God. Where do you best commune with God?
Perhaps for Enos, hunting was his escape, a space where he could think. Or, as is true for us as well, perhaps he was going about his daily necessary tasks, carving out whatever time he could to think on the Lord. Either way, on this particular day, he was weighed down by his sins and he said, “My soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul” (Enos 1:4). We don’t know much about Enos prior to this experience, exactly where he was on his spiritual journey, or what prompted this heaviness. We do know his father Jacob was a “just man” (Enos 1:1) and Enos had been taught in “his language and in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of [his] God for it.” Enos had heard many of his father’s powerful teachings about Jesus Christ “concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints” and those words “sunk deep into [his] heart” (Enos 1:3). Still, there was something special and unique about this day hunting beasts. His heart was heavy and he recounts the “wrestle which [he] had before God” in order to receive a remission of his sins.
What do you do when you feel heavy and weighed down with sin? Enos had been taught to pray and pray he did. His prayer became one that we still hold up as a standard, likely because of its unusual length and very descriptive language. “All the day long did [he] cry unto him; yea, and when the night came [he] did still raise [his] voice high that it reached the heavens” (Enos 1:4). That kind of prayer, in a sacred space and when we have made a heartfelt effort to wrestle before the Lord, is answered. For Enos, he heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed” (Enos 1:5). Knowing the Lord can’t lie, Enos felt his guilt swept away. Elder Robert D. Hales said, “We cannot find Enos-like faith without our own wrestle before God in prayer. I testify that the reward is worth the effort” (Dec. 2007 Finding Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ). Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf confirms, “Once we have truly repented, Christ will take away the burden of guilt for our sins. We can know for ourselves that we have been forgiven and made clean. The Holy Ghost will verify this to us; He is the Sanctifier. No other testimony of forgiveness can be greater” (April 2007 General Conference)
The CFM manual lists a few questions to ponder about Enos’s prayer:
- What words describe Enos’ efforts as he prayed? Young children might like to act these out. Older children and youth could list them on a board and discuss.
- wrestled (Enos 1:2), hungered (Enos 1:4), kneeled (Enos 1:4), cried all day and night (Enos 1:4), poured out his whole soul unto God (Enos 1:9), struggling in the spirit (Enos 1:10), prayed with many long strugglings (Enos 1:11), unshaken faith in Christ (Enos 1:11), labored with all diligence (Enos 1:12), cried unto God continually (Enos 1:15)
- What did Enos initially pray for? (see Enos 1:4). What can you learn from Enos’s response after he received an answer? (see Enos 1:5–7).
- How did Enos act on the answers he received?
- What can you learn from Enos about how to have “unshaken” faith in the Lord? (Enos 1:11).
We learn much as Enos pleads for and receives his own forgiveness and then turns his thoughts to his brethren and the preservation of the records. His soul did not rest (Enos 1:17) until he “knew it would be according to the covenant which he had made.” Enos trusted God, even though the promised outcomes at the time seemed impossible.
In Enos 1:27, he wraps up with his testimony. Enos knows he will soon “go to the place of [his] rest, which is with [his] Redeemer.” He looks forward to seeing the Savior’s face with pleasure, and “he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father.” His prayerful struggle in his youth, and perhaps later prayers like it, developed this kind of faith. He spent the remainder of his life prophesying and testifying of things he had seen and of things to come.
DISCUSS and PONDER:
What do you seek individually or as a family that might warrant more effort when praying? What could you change, perhaps not in every prayer but somehow, to really communicate with God? What miracles will the Lord grant you and your family as you struggle and wrestle before Him?
ACTIVITIES ABOUT PRAYER
- Watch this Book of Mormon video about Enos.
- Review what President Russell M. Nelson has said about growing into the principle of revelation.
- Watch this video about peace and the power of prayer or this one is older seminary video about Enos
- This video ties in connects Joseph Smith’s quest to a modern-day young adult
- 5 ideas and worksheet on making prayer more meaningful
- Make prayer sandwiches with children and prayer journals with youth
- Use this prayer coloring sheet with children
Jarom – Omni
The Lord will bless me when I keep the commandments
Jarom and Omni recount one of the most repeated promises in the Book of Mormon: “Inasmuch as ye will keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land” (Jarom 1:9). It was true for the Nephites and it’s true for us today.
Jarom is Enos’s son and Jacob’s grandson. He knows he has “little” space on the plates and is satisfied with what’s already been written. “For what could I write more than my fathers have written? For have not they revealed the plan of salvation? I say unto you, Yea; and this sufficeth me” (Jarom 1:2).
What does it mean to prosper in the land? Sometimes prospering is succeeding financially or materially. Jarom points out some examples of this among the Nephites in Jarom 1:8 when they:
- “multiplied exceedingly and spread upon the face of the land”
- “became exceedingly rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things, and in fine workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war—yea, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war.” Wouldn’t it be nice if this kind of prospering always followed when we keep the commandments?
Prospering can also mean being blessed spiritually. Because they were “prepared to meet the Lamanites, they did not prosper against us” (Jarom 1:9). Leaders did “labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them” (Jarom 1:11).
Similarly, we have prophets, priests, teachers, and many others that seek to help us not be “destroyed upon the face of the land” and “prick [our] hearts with the word,” “continually stirring [us] up unto repentance.” We’re about to have another round of such pleading and pricking and stirring up as we approach April’s General Conference. It’s a wonderful thing to be cared about, taught, and encouraged to keep the commandments so we can be blessed and prosper in the land.
DISCUSS and PONDER:
How has your family prospered by keeping the commandments? Have everyone share a gospel principle or program that you have tried to follow and the blessings that have come. Recommit to following Christ and his prophets along the covenant path. Discuss specific preparations your family is making to prepare for April’s General Conference.
In Omni, we get a quick relay of passing down the plates every few verses. Omni is Jarom’s son and admits he is a “wicked man” and has not “kept the statutes and the commandments of the Lord as [he] ought to have done” (Omni 1:2). I love that he’s included in the Book of Mormon, even for just three verses. He isn’t living as he’s been taught but he still keeps the record as he was commanded. Thanks, Omni! Next we see Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, and Amaleki each have a go at recording a short history of “seasons of serious war and bloodshed” (Omni 1:3), the judgements of the Lord (Omni 1:7), and contention (Omni 1:10).
Amaleki tells us of King Mosiah who was made king over Zarahemla. The CFM manual helps us remember that Mosiah hearkened to the voice of the Lord to flee the land of Nephi and lead his people “into the wilderness, as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord; and they were led by many preachings and prophesyings. And they were admonished continually by the word of God; and they were led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla” (Omni 1:13) While in Zarahemla, they discover a group of Israelites that include Mulek. The people of Mosiah and the people of Zarahemla unite together and Mosiah is appointed to be their king (Omni 1:19). Amaleki gives a brief history of the Jaredites and their lone survivor Coriantumr (Omni 1:21). We also learn of the death of King Mosiah and his son Benjamin, “a just man before the Lord,” is appointed king (Omni 1:23-25).
Amaleki ends with this familiar plea: “I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved” (Omni 1:26).
DISCUSS and PONDER:
What does it mean to offer our whole souls to God? What are some specific ways listed in Omni 1:26 that we can work towards salvation as a family?
What records do we keep personally and in our family? How can we make these records more focused on Christ? Have each person write down or draw pictures of how he/she feels about Jesus Christ. Focus specifically on how He has blessed your family as you try to follow Him. Share with each other and place the papers up to look at throughout the week.
Click here for specific Family Search activities to help your family discover, gather, and connect.
Words of Mormon
A Wise Purpose
Mormon writes this 18-verse chapter-book bridge between the small and large plates. As the CFM manual points out, “Mormon gives an explanation of these two records, and his words teach an important message about trusting the Lord, even when we don’t fully understand His direction” (CFM pg 51). He writes it as he is “about to deliver up the record which [he’s] been making into the hands of [his] son Moroni” and says, “I have witnessed almost all the destruction of my people, the Nephites” (Words of Mormon 1:1).
If we ever doubt the Lord’s timing in our lives or lack understanding and perspective, we can look no further than the small plates. Nephi was inspired to write them for “a wise purpose…, which purpose [he] knew not” (1 Ne. 9:5). This took a great deal of effort, trust, and faith. Mormon exercised the same when, about 1000 years later, he was inspired to “include the small plates of Nephi in his record in addition to the large plates” (CFM pg. 51). Mormon testifies, “I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will” (Words of Mormon 1:7).
We often don’t know why we might be prompted to follow a certain course, but if we trust that the Lord has a wise purpose for us and our lives, we can proceed in confidence. Perhaps we won’t fully understand until much later – possibly even in the next life – but we can trust that such “purposes are known unto the Lord” (1 Ne. 19:3). God is in the details of our lives, just as he was in the coming forth of holy scripture. Ultimately, these plates were preserved that “the promises of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to his people” and that all “might know the promises of the Lord, and that they may believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ, and be glorified through faith in his name, and that through their repentance, they might be saved” (D&C 3:19-20).
The last few verses in Words of Mormon set us up for what’s to come in the book of Mosiah. Mormon, having read what’s to come about wars, false prophets, and crimes, says that King Benjamin is “a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness; and there were many holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority; and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people….With the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land” (Words of Mormon 1:17-18). We’ll start to see what it looks like to have many holy men attempt to establish peace through preaching the word of God.
DISCUSS and PONDER:
What is something hard going on in your life or family that you don’t fully understand? How might you gain strength by trusting in the Lord’s “wise purpose” for you? What actions might you be prompted to take to show the Lord that you’re willing to follow Him even when you don’t know all of His purposes?
If you’ve ever come out in an unfamiliar airport and seen your name on a sign held by a helpful driver, you know the feelings of immediate relief and gratitude. Someone knows your name and is waiting and prepared for you! In a much larger way, Enos looked forward to meeting the Savior again and entering into the place prepared for him. He had built his life on the sure foundation of Christ, through the influence of righteous parents, keeping the commandments, and service to his people. We can do the same. The Lord knows our name and is prepared for our return.
As we offer our whole souls to God, we will find joy, forgiveness, peace, redemption, and ultimately salvation. The Lord will work IN us to do His will. Pres. Ezra Taft Benson said, “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life.”