Nephi was NOT Micromanaged – 1 Nephi 19:1-6

You can read 1 Nephi 19:1-6 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi was commanded to write a record of his people. So, he made plates and engraved the record of his father and their journeyings in the wilderness. He also engraved many of his own prophecies.
  • At the time, Nephi didn’t know that he would be commanded to make another set of plates. (The record that we are currently reading).
  • Lehi’s record, the genealogy of their fathers, and their proceedings in the wilderness are, for the most part, on the other plates.
  • The first set of plates were made by Nephi—by way of commandment.
  • Nephi received a second commandment—to keep another set of plates. On this record, he would write the most plain and precious parts of the ministry and prophecies.
  • This second record would be kept for the instruction of Nephi’s people and also for other wise purposes that Nephi didn’t know or understand.
  • Nephi obeys. He made the other plates.
  • Nephi commanded his people that they should hand these plates down from one generation to the next until further commandments from God.
  • Nephi kept the second plates also – so that the more sacred things may be kept for the knowledge of his people.
  • Nephi will not write anything upon the plates unless he thought it sacred.
  • If Nephi errs, he reminds us that they of old also erred. He isn’t trying to excuse himself, but to at least give a little perspective.

A Quick Catch Up

Nephi reminds us in 1 Nephi 19 about the various plates he is engraving.

nephi-plates

Nephi has given these little narrator-interjections from time to time. First, in 1 Nephi 6, he talked about his purpose in this set of records. I have blogged about it here.

Then, in 1 Nephi 9, he again tells us about his obedience to the commandment given to him of God – to make the plates. I also blogged about it here and here.

So – Nephi is catching us up. For today, I found one verse especially interesting:

“Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now, if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself. – 1 Nephi 19:6

Nephi was NOT Micro-managed

Sometimes I have the tendency to think that Nephi did everything by way of direct commandment. And yes, he was commanded to write this record. But sometimes, I think I imagine this scenario with a Heavenly Father who is a major micro-manager—who told Nephi every word to write, every conclusion to make, every punctuation mark to etch. I think I misunderstand.

Based on this verse, I am realizing that Heavenly Father probably didn’t micro-manage Nephi. And why would he?! Think of other experiences—when Nephi went to retrieve the brass plates from Laban, did Heavenly Father give him each direction step by step?

No!

When Nephi broke his bow, did Heavenly Father come down with a solution for them?

No!

When Nephi was building the boat, we read:

“And it came to pass that they did worship the Lord, and did go forth with me; and we did work timbers of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship.” – 1 Nephi 18:1, emphasis added.

Yes, the Lord taught Nephi how to build the ship, but He directed Nephi only from time to time. I suppose that there were a lot of problems and solutions that Nephi had to deal with on his own.

And now, here in 1 Nephi 19, we’re reading again how Nephi received this command—to write a record that was comprised of that which he found sacred. I don’t think that the Lord spelled it out for Nephi. We are reading the things that Nephi thinks are sacred and important.

Now, I don’t highlight this fact to downplay the scriptures. Not at all. Heavenly Father trusted Nephi to do this. And I’m sure that Nephi had the companionship of the Holy Ghost—which I’m assuming would testify to Him of the things He was engraving. I’m sure that Nephi was prayerful and thoughtful about this charge. I’m sure that Nephi didn’t think, I’m going to do whatever I want.

Nephi knew the future of his people. He had the right insight to be able to write that which would greatly help them. We can trust that he did a good job. In fact, I know that Nephi did a great job! I’ve been blessed by his record and the testimony he shares.

But I think that this concept stands out to me because there are times when I feel like we expect God to be more or less a micro manager. We forget what Heavenly Father said, Himself:

“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.” – Doctrine and Covenants 58:26

Yes, God gave Nephi the commandment to write a second record – that contained the plain and precious parts of the ministry. So Nephi had a basic idea of what to write. But I don’t think that the Lord told Nephi the “what” of what he should write word for word.

In fact, in verse 6, Nephi reminds us, And now, if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself.

Nephi has done his best, but he is also admitting that there may be problems. This is because he is the one who has done the recording! He is the one who has chosen the stories to include, the details, the conclusions! If the Lord would have done this, then I’m sure there would be no “err.” But the Lord commanded Nephi to write this record, so Nephi adds this little disclaimer. We need to remember that he is only a man!

More Patience and Mercy

I’m grateful for this scripture today. It reminds me to have more patience and mercy – with others and with myself.

We have gone through a lot of changes – as a church. And it might cause one to pause and say Why are there so many changes? Why are there corrections? Did we get it wrong? I don’t know if the answer is simply yes or no. Maybe it is yes AND no. The Lord gives us commands and then He lets us express our agency – which means he will not micro-manage us. He isn’t all that interested in whether or not we get it “right.” He wants us to do our best and then we go from there.

And what if we “err?” Well, I guess if God is okay with it, then I can be okay with it. Not to discount the pain that might come from these mistakes. But instead, this is a statement of faith – The Lord is powerful enough to right every wrong. Sometimes the “wrongs” we experience in life come because of a well-intentioned but mistaken person.

I know that it feels like injustice. But I suppose we simply need to learn to have charity for the “offender.” And faith in the Atonement of Christ – that truly He will consecrate our afflictions for our gain. We need to have more charity for others – who are doing the best they can, as we also do the best we can.

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Personal Priesthood Responsibility – Russell M. Nelson

Today, I’m studying the talk Personal Priesthood Responsibility, by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the October 2003 Priesthood Session of General Conference.

***

I don’t remember this talk a single bit. I’m not a bearer of the Priesthood. Personally, I’m more than okay with that. Usually, I don’t really read much of the Priesthood talks. I kind of feel they are directed for another group. But since I’m trying to read all of these talks, I decided to include the ones addressed at Priesthood sessions.

This talk is pretty self explanatory (based on its title). It’s about the personal responsibility that priesthood bearers have. Today, I’m just going to ponder a few things from the talk. This might seem a little disjointed. I hope you don’t mind.

The Strength of our Faith

President Nelson stated:

“…[T]he strength of the faith within each of us is developed individually, not as a group.” – Russell M. Nelson

I feel like the recent changes of our church meetings reflects what President Nelson taught in this quote. We can’t rely on the church, the Relief Society, or our Priesthood quorums to give us faith. We must develop our own faith. Obviously, I do think that we can learn from others. We can be taught by others. We are blessed by the testimonies of others. But ultimately, we must do the work of increasing our own faith.

President Nelson taught:

“Only as an individual can you develop a firm faith in God and a passion for personal prayer. Only as an individual can you keep the commandments of God. Only as an individual can you repent. Only as an individual can you qualify for the ordinances of salvation and exaltation.” – Russell M. Nelson

How can we increase our own faith? Experiment on it! Try living the gospel. Pray. Keep the commandments. Repent. Search the scriptures. Read good books, magazines, blogs. Increase our knowledge and then we apply that knowledge. Listen to the little nudges of the Spirit, and then trust in God!

Our Most Important Responsibility

President Nelson stated:

“Throughout life you will have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. Many of these are temporary and will be relinquished upon your release. (You probably won’t object to your release from a call to pull weeds at the welfare farm.) But you never will be released from responsibilities related to your personal and family development.” – Russell M. Nelson

family in sedona

I know that this quote resonates with me because it means so much to me. It is so easy to get caught up in all of our duties and responsibilities. I don’t want to suggest that many of the “other” hats we wear are not also important. But I do think that it is so easy to overlook ur most important responsibilities – our personal and family development!

I know it’s easy for me as a mother to feel guilty sometimes when I spend time working out or doing things for “me.” Yet these are vitally important not only to my own spiritual and physical health, but also to the health of my family!

It is easy to get so busy with our callings, jobs, hobbies, etc that we can overlook the simple needs of our own children and spouse.

We will never be released from these relationships. They matter more than the many other things we will do in our lives. Of course, it’s not an “either / or” kind of a thing. The Spirit can guide us to understand what the needful thing is for each of us to do. The Spirit also will help us to understand that the needful thing for us to do will change from day to day and season to season. But it is important for us to keep the perspective that we will never be “released” from the responsibilities related to personal and family development..

Living True to Personal Promptings and Commandments

President Nelson:

“We are to be true and faithful and live by every principle and doctrine that He has given to us. We cannot compromise a revelation or a commandment committed to our charge.” – Russell M. Nelson

This last part is really standing out to me today. We cannot compromise a revelation or a commandment committed to our charge. I want to think about that for a moment. How might I compromise revelations or commandments given to me???

I found a definition of the word compromise – to make a shameful or disreputable concession.

Do we ever do that? Make a shameful concession of the revelations that have been committed to our charge? And if so, why do we do that?

I’ll give you an example. Forgive me if this has already come up in other blog posts recently. It’s been on my mind a lot. In my Patriarchal Blessing, I’m warned – to keep the Word of Wisdom. Now, I don’t go out and drink alcohol. I don’t drink what we consider “hot drinks” (coffee, etc.). I don’t smoke. I don’t use illicit drugs. Whatever. I’m not special—there are a lot of people like me. I’m keeping the word of wisdom, right?

Well…maybe and maybe not.

I have to admit, even though I have studied the Word of Wisdom, I haven’t always done the best to pay attention to the majority of it!!! I have always found a way to justify eating plenty of meat daily. I have always found a way to justify not eating many fruits and veg. I have always found a way to justify treats (it’s my birthday, it’s Halloween, it’s national chocolate chip cookie day!!!)

Recently I have started counting macros. I want to lose some weight. I have followed a pretty conventional path as far as macro counting goes. I was consuming about 1 gram of protein per POUND of lean muscle mass. In other words, each day, I was supposed to be consuming 136 grams of protein.

That’s a lot of protein.

It’s really hard to consume that much protein without eating meat. So I was eating meat.

Actually, it’s hard to consume that much protein without eating a lot of meat. So I was eating a lot of meat.

I was doing this for a few months, and things were going well enough physically. But then, it started getting really hot outside, and I was starting to have issues with my heart – shortness of breath. Dizziness. Etc. It wasn’t going away, and I set up an appointment with my doctor.

In the early morning before my doctor appointment, I was even having chest pain. What do you do when it is 3 AM, and you are dizzy, short of breath, and having chest pain? Bargain with God!

I felt frustrated. What should I be doing?! Why was my heart acting up?! Should I be eating more protein? Less protein? Saturated Fat? Low Fat? Keto? Paleo? Vegan??? What was I supposed to do? There is so much conflicting advice. So many people have said so many different things. The still small voice spoke an impression to my Heart – God only said ONE thing.

I realized, I didn’t need to listen to all of these other doctors, scientists, etc. I just needed to put my trust in the commandments of God! It didn’t need to be a mystery! And I knew it. I have known the Word of Wisdom my whole life. And then, when I received my patriarchal blessing, I was given an even clearer emphasis/warning on this revelation – Always follow the Word of Wisdom!

Yet I had compromised this revelation and commandment committed to my charge. I vowed to keep the W.o.W from that point on. And I have. Oh…by the way – it only took a few days of keeping the word of wisdom: dialing down the protein, the calories, and amping up the veggies, fruits, with a backbone of grains…and guess what – no more dizziness. No more palpitations. No chest pain. And I’m losing weight really easily now. I’m at the beginning of this journey, but pretty excited to see where it is headed.

But the point is – we do this! We compromise our personal revelations and commandments. Sometimes I think that we accidentally downplay how important these things are because we usually call them: promptings or impressions. But they are personal revelations and commandments! If we don’t follow through with the promptings, impressions, personal revelations, and personal commandments we receive, then we cannot expect to be led by His Spirit in the future!

I’m grateful for this reminder. Sometimes it is scary to follow a personal prompting, revelation, commandment, or impression. Why is it scary? Well, I guess because it’s an act of faith. Was that the Spirit or was it just me? … often goes through my head. I let myself doubt my impressions, then I ignore them. Or allow myself to be distracted. And then, I miss the opportunity, the blessing, the protection, or whatever it was the the Lord was offering.

I really want to stop doing this!!!

***

Well, this is another long post, no matter how much I try to shorten them. I’m so thankful for the Prophet. Though today’s talk wasn’t really addressed to the women of the church, there were a few things that I gleaned from the talk. I’m grateful to know that President Nelson is a man who has worked hard to study and learn more about the Priesthood he holds. I’m grateful to know that he honors it and doesn’t abuse his position in the church. I’m grateful, also, to know that we have the priesthood on earth now. I have been blessed by this great power in my life.

Arrival – 1 Nephi 18:22-25

You can read 1 Nephi 18:22-25 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi guided the ship and sailed again towards the promised land.
  • After the space of many days, they arrived at the promised land. They called it “the promised land.”
  • Nephi, Lehi, and their families began to work – tilling the earth, planting seeds, and they grew in abundance.
  • At the land of promise, they found beasts, plants, and ore.

Arrival

Finally!

lehi-people-arrive-promised-land-39644-gallery
Lehi and His People Arrive in the Promised Land, by Arnold Friburg

We have read for 18 chapters; Lehi and his family had traveled for 8 years — finally they arrived at the promised land! Two things really stand out to me.

We Did Call It the Promised Land

We read:

” And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land.” — 1 Nephi 18:23

They knew. There was no question about it now. They weren’t in the wilderness. They weren’t in the beautiful but temporary place of Bountiful. They weren’t at sea. They knew that they had arrived in the promised land. They knew this trial was over. They knew that their new lives could finally begin.

This stands out to me I think because it gives me hope. We are all in trials in our own lives. As I write this (sometime before you will read it), I am in my own “wilderness.” My family and I have been working and pursuing a goal for years now. It has taken us all across the country.

There have been “Bountiful” times in the past few years – times when I think that we should be done. That we should be in our “promised land.” Yet it is temporary.

These experiences have been trials for me. However, I think that if I am honest with myself, then I knew that they weren’t my “promised land.” Yes, I had hope, but that’s it. I had hope with no real confirmation – which is more or less a wish.

Here, Nephi and his family don’t have mere wishful thinking. They don’t call this place Bountiful. They call it The Promised Land! They know that they have arrived!

In our own lives, we can take the same kind of comfort – even if it takes years for us to make it to our own promised lands, like Nephi and his family we will arrive. Additionally, like Nephi and his family, we will know it when we have arrived.

We Were Blessed in Abundance

We read:

“And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.” — 1 Nephi 18:24

I love the concept of abundance. I believe that God is an abundant God. He is not a God of scarcity. Yet, scarcity and abundance – being in opposition to one another – are related.

Let’s look at a few scriptures:

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” — John 10:10

The Lord offers to us an abundant life. This is such a hopeful concept. It’s an easy one to get behind – mentally. Who doesn’t want life “more abundantly”?

But it really isn’t that easy. The abundant life doesn’t just happen. If it did, I suppose it would be really easy for all of us to have abundant lives. If it did, I don’t think that Laman and Lemuel would have rebelled.

I mean, remember what they said earlier during their journey:

“Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy.” — 1 Nephi 17:21

This doesn’t sound like the sentiment of one who is living life abundantly. And I don’t want to look at the situation through rose colored glasses because that won’t help us. We have to look at it honestly so we can learn.

Remember what Laman and Lemuel went through. They left their home in Jerusalem – the one that was filled with goods and riches that made even Laban covetous. They left a life of abundance. And for eight years, they lived a most scarce life.

They had to hunt wild meat and eat it raw. I mean, imagine that – eating raw meat! Humans cook their food. Lehi’s family lived like animals in the wilderness. That would feel like a life of scarcity, not abundance.

Yes, they experienced tender mercies that help them overcome this time in their lives, but even Lehi called it “the wilderness of mine afflictions” (see 2 Nephi 3:1). This was not a time of abundance or joy. It was a time of scarcity and struggle. Yet the Lord promises that He will give us life more abundantly.

So – we need to understand the abundant life and how we can receive such a blessing. It seems to follow a pattern. The abundant life comes when we fully give ourselves up to God. We can learn more about this in the scriptures.

We read:

” If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:” — Isaiah 1:19

Eating of the good of the land doesn’t just happen. First, as Isaiah states, we must be willing AND obedient. Some real work happens on our part.

This specific scripture includes a helpful illustration of this concept. Ye shall eat the good of the land. We aren’t living in the Garden of Eden, where fruit and food just springs up naturally without any work. We must work, by the sweat of our brows, to have any fruit — to have the good of the land.

Yes, we can have the abundant life, but it requires obedience and work.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” — Matthew 16:25

This is an interesting scripture teaching us about the abundant life. If we will “save” our lives, then we will lose them. However, if we will choose to lose our lives – for the sake of God – it is then  that we will find our lives!

So – not only does having the abundant life require obedience, but it also requires sacrifice. When we are in the obedient and sacrifice phases, the Lord can seem more like a God of scarcity than abundance.

Another scripture:

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” — Galatians 6:9

Not only do we have to obey and sacrifice, but we have to endure. Even more scarcity in this abundant life! Or at least it seems like it is scarcity. I suppose that this is where faith comes in.

As usual, in order to suffer through our challenges (rather than murmur and rebel), we need to know the dealings of that God who created us.

Eight years in the wilderness (obedience! sacrifice! endurance) could make someone think that God was not abundant. And what would that mean? It would mean that God’s power was limited. That His knowledge was limited. If this was your experience and then understanding of God, yes! Of course you would murmur! I know I would.

So we need to learn how not to be weary in well doing. Nephi is an example of this. When he was in the wilderness of his affliction, he went to the Lord:

“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

Though the Lord allows us to go through moments that feel demanding and scarce of His support and blessings, He will not leave us alone. If we go to Him, He will visit us and soften our hearts. He will comfort us and our faith in Him will strengthen.

Remember what Nephi declared earlier in the Book of Mormon:

“…But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” — 1 Nephi 1:20

Though we must submit, struggle, and suffer, if we will have faith (and express it through obedience, sacrifice, and endurance), then the Lord will “choose” us. He will make us mighty. We will be delivered. Then we will live the abundant life.

The Lord promised:

“Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.” — Doctrine and Covenants 64:34

We can have hope – even when we are still struggling through the wilderness of our own afflictions. We can trust God when He promises us relief and abundance. Not only do we have God’s word, but we have the example of Nephi and his family. They really did arrive at the promised land. And after years of toil, starvation, and affliction in the wilderness, they arrived at the promised land and were blessed in abundance.

There Was a Great Calm – 1 Nephi 18:21

You can read 1 Nephi 18:21 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • After Laman and Lemuel loosed Nephi, he took the Liahona, and it began to work again. The Lord also answered Nephi’s prayer – the winds and storm ceased and there was a great calm.

There Was a Great Calm

We have been studying 1 Nephi 18 which details the journey of Lehi and his family – on the ship to the promised land.

In case you might need a refresher, when Lehi and his family first boarded the boat from Bountiful (on the Arabian Peninsula), things were going well. They were driven forth before the winds – on a course to the promised land.

Then, of course, Laman and Lemuel forgot God. They ignored the commandments. They got raucous. Nephi was compelled by the Spirit to talk to them. There was no time (or margin of error) for an open rebellion against God while out on the Ocean. (We can guess – they were either in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific Ocean…not where you want to be in a major storm).

Laman and Lemuel were so hard in their hearts, they didn’t care about rebelling against God while on the open ocean! (Can you tell that I really can’t get over this fact! Anger and wickedness makes us so irrational!) They tied up Nephi for days, and it was only with the real threat of death that they finally repented and untied Nephi. This is where we read what happened next:

“And it came to pass after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm.” – 1 Nephi 18:21

Prayer

The winds, the storm, the danger didn’t stop immediately. First Nephi prayed.

I love the chorus of the familiar hymn:

“Oh, how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day.
So, when life gets dark and dreary,
Don’t forget to pray.” – Did You Think to Pray?

Night to Day
Prayer will change the night to day.

There is so much hope in that refrain. There is so much hope in the power of prayer, and yet – I consistently underestimate it. I have experienced the power and miracle of prayer! And yet, I forget. I leave my room in the morning, forgetting to pray.

I forget to pray!

***

It was one thing for Nephi to pray while in the middle of the storm. That makes sense. But then he was untied. The Liahona started working again. It seems like Nephi could have just steered himself out of there. He didn’t need to pray again – to ask for another blessing.

But Nephi did. He prayed unto the Lord.

What do you suppose Nephi prayed for? I can’t say that I know. But here are a few things that I know about prayer:

Jesus Pleads with us to pray
When Jesus visited the Nephites in the Americas (the promised land), he stated:

Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;” – 3 Nephi 18:19

Jesus Promises to Answer Our Prayers
After teaching the people to pray, Jesus continued:

“And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.” – 3 Nephi 18:20

Not only has the Savior invited us to pray, but he tells of the benefit of prayer. When we ask God for blessings (that are good and right), in the name of Christ, and believing that we will receive – then it will be given unto us!

What did Nephi pray about? Not sure, but I’m going to guess that he asked for the storm to cease. They had been suffering for days. Though the Liahona was working, they were still at great risk of death. We have to speculate here, but I think it is okay to imagine that Nephi prayed gratitude that Laman and Lemuel had repented, gratitude that the Liahona was working, and a request – that the winds and storm would cease.

Calm

After Nephi uttered his prayer, the winds and storm ceased. There was a great calm.

This brings me so much peace and hope right now. I have experienced my own trials and storms. I often feel “tossed about” by the storms and winds of my life. It is easy for me to get caught up in these feelings – and get a little anxious and scared.

I feel hope by Nephi’s story because he prayed, and the Lord granted “a great calm.”

It’s interesting to note – they were still at sea. They had not yet been delivered. There were still miles to go. They would still be in the ocean for “the space of many days.” Though they were still in the wilderness of their affliction, they had been blessed to simultaneously feel “a great calm.”

The Lord may not always deliver us from our challenges, but we can feel calm and comfort even as we traverse the “oceans” in our lives.

I’m so grateful for the lessons that we learn in the Book of Mormon.

Nothing, Save the Power of God, Could Soften Their Hearts – 1 Nephi 18:17-20

You can read 1 Nephi 18:17-20 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • While Nephi was tied up on the ship, the Liahona stopped working – no one knew where to steer the ship.
  • In addition to the Liahona ceasing to work, a great and terrible tempest arose, and they were all driven back on the water for days.
  • Everyone was frightened. Lehi spoke to Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, but they simply threatened Lehi or anyone else who spoke up for Nephi.
  • Lehi and Sariah were so stressed out they nearly died.
  • Jacob and Joseph, who were young and needed much nourishment were also “grieved” because of the afflictions of their mother.
  • Nephi’s wife – with her tears, and prayers, and also children – couldn’t soften the hearts of Laman and Lemuel.
  • The only thing that could soften the hearts of Laman and Lemuel was the intensity of the storm. When they saw that they were going to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea, they repented and they loosed Nephi.

Nothing, Save the Power of God, Could Soften Their Hearts

I haven’t ever been in a ship at sea. I’ve never been on a cruise. I’ve been in harbors or bays, but never in the open ocean.

Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean

I’ve had dreams about being in tidal waves and tsunamis, but that’s the closest I can get to the terrifying fear that must come when you are in a ship in a storm at sea.

I’ve seen The Perfect Storm…that’s about it.

I think that it is easy for me to underestimate what Nephi and his family were going through on the ship.

But I can do my best to imagine the fear that everyone felt. Yet, Laman and Lemuel remained hard hearted.

Lehi Couldn’t Soften their Hearts
We read that Lehi tried to say many things to them, but Laman and Lemuel’s response: “…they did breathe out much threatenings against anyone that should speak for me;…”

What do you think those threatenings were? (We’ll throw you off the boat!). Not sure, exactly, but whatever Laman and Lemuel said it was enough for Lehi and Sariah to both back down and be so stressed out they very literally nearly died.

Jacob, Joseph, and Nephi’s wife and Children Couldn’t soften Laman’s and Lemuel’s Heart

We know that Laman and Lemuel had a beef with their dad for a long time, so I suppose it could be unsurprising that he didn’t soften their hearts.

But now, their much younger brothers – Jacob and Joseph – who are children (!)- can’t soften the hearts of Laman and Lemuel.

Not only that, but this time Nephi’s wife can’t soften their hearts, either. Remember, she was (most likely) the one who had softened their hearts much earlier in the wilderness (See 1 Nephi 7:19).  

This daughter of Ishmael (and her mother) were able to soften Laman’s and Lemuel’s hearts in the wilderness before, but Laman’s and Lemuel’s hearts are much harder by now. Which is also kind of insane when you think about it. When in the wilderness earlier, they were closer to Jerusalem. They could have possibly made it back to Jerusalem. There was a way for them to get back! Now they’re in the open ocean! There is no exit strategy. They are thousands of miles away from Jerusalem! Now, on a boat (that they made), they rebel?! This spelled death for everyone on that ship, yet they had harder hearts?!!!!! It’s crazy!

With our distance from the situation, we can see that having a hard heart is so incredibly illogical. We can apply this to ourselves, too. Having a hard heart causes us to make stupid decisions! A hard heart closes off rational thought. We must do all we can to have a soft heart – this will keep us happy, it will keep us on the right side of the Lord, and it will enable us to discern the truth of our lives!

Only God’s Power Could Soften their Hearts
In 1 Nephi 18, we read:

“And there was nothing save it were the power of God, which threatened them with destruction, could soften their hearts; wherefore, when they saw that they were about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea they repented of the thing which they had done, insomuch that they loosed me.” – 1 Nephi 18:20

This is a video of ships at sea. Try to imagine it. Try to imagine being in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of a storm. What purpose does rebellion and lack of faith serve in this circumstance???

What Will Soften My Heart?

Perhaps this is a good time to take stock of ourselves.

I have a heart condition. For many years I was even medicated for it. (Arrhythmia…) I think that this is the root reason that I’ve always been interested in the heart conditions that we read about in the scriptures.

What are our hearts like? Is my heart soft and supple? Is it capable of pumping and keeping me alive, spiritually? Or is my heart hard, stiff, and ready to stop at any moment?

Do I have the kind of heart that Christ asks for – a “broken heart”?

Or am I like Laman and Lemuel with a heart so hard that I ignore the cries of my aged parents, my young brothers, my pleading sister-in-law? Do I let my pride get in the way of rationality?

Okay, I can honestly say that I’m not like Laman and Lemuel, and thankfully I don’t think I know anyone that hard hearted. However, I know that there are times when I let my heart remain a little hard. When I don’t fully forgive another. When I won’t completely commit to my covenants. When I fail to have faith.

And I know, thanks to Laman’s and Lemuel’s insane example that hard heartedness is a TERRIBLE IDEA! I know that I don’t want to get to the point where they are – where nothing save it were the Power of god which threatened them with destruction will soften them!

Instead, I want to do the work that will continue to soften my heart – prayer, service, thoughtfulness, listening, caring, selflessness. I want to remain supple enough to be a witness of the power of God. Instead of being a witness that God’s power is about to kill me (the hard-hearted experience), I hope to be a witness of God’s power to deliver me (the soft-hearted experience).

I know that as we do the work, to have a broken, supple heart and a contrite spirit, then we will have positive and hopeful experiences with God and His power.

Sweet Power of Prayer – Russell M. Nelson

Today, I’m studying the talk Sweet Power of Prayer, by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the April 2003 session of General Conference.

***
Okay – so I remember this talk. I remember the examples President Nelson gave. I don’t remember anything about the moment I heard the talk…nothing like that. But I remember what was taught. It made an imprint on my soul.

Otherwise…let’s see. I had two little children at the time. Life was difficult being the mother of two toddlers, plus my marriage was iffy. But I tried my best to be faithful, and I was grateful for talks like these. I’m still grateful for them!

prayer

What is a Prayer

We will begin by defining what a prayer actually is:

Prayer (Noun):
1 a (1): an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought
// said a prayer for the success of the voyage
(2): a set order of words used in praying
b : a earnest wish or request

2 : The act or practice of praying to God or a god
// kneeling in prayer” – Merriam – Webster Online Dictionary: Prayer

So – simply put, prayer is a communication between us and God. Prayer has always been a part of the tradition of faith – since Adam and Eve. Even though the above definition of prayer says it may be a petition to God, this doesn’t mean that we always must use a request. Our prayers can also be full of gratitude and praise to God.

Prayer is communication with our Creator.

Who Can Pray

Every single one of us can pray.

“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered:…” – Joel 2:32

 

Whoever calls on the name of the Lord—whoever prays—will be delivered.

“And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.” – 2 Nephi 32:8

Any one of us can pray – happy, sad, good, evil, man, woman, child, etc…we can all pray to God. He pleads for us to ask, to call on Him, to pray! If we feel incapable or unworthy of prayer, then banish the thought! It comes from the devil. We can pray, and Heavenly Father rejoices in the soul that humbly prays.

Where We Can Pray

In the Book of Mormon, we read:

“Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.

Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.

But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.” – Alma 34:20-21, 26

We can pray anywhere. We can pray in our hearts or aloud. We can pray at church, home, work, school, supermarket, car, etc. The Lord will hear our prayer if we will say them!

Now – all of this being said, there are sometimes when conditions may be better than others. We need to be mindful of the Spirit and the control that we have over these physical conditions when we pray.

When To Pray

Always!!!

President Nelson explained:

“We pray privately, with our families regularly, at mealtime, and in daily activities. Simply summarized, we are a praying people.” – Russell M. Nelson

Why We Pray

I’ve thought about this a lot over the years. Why do we pray??? I have to admit that I haven’t always been the best with prayer. I know that I can still improve. But I have searched, and I have learned more.

We pray because the Prophets have told us to pray. We pray because the Savior has asked us to pray. Above all, we pray for the reason that President Nelson shared:

“Through prayer, we can show our love for God.” – Russell M. Nelson

Okay. So one of the reasons that we pray is to show our love for God. But how does this actually happen? What is it about prayer that communicates such a feeling toward Him? And is this the only reason to pray???

I think that the Bible Dictionary can really help us understand why we ought to pray.

“As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.” – Bible Dictionary: Prayer

We pray because we love God. We pray because we understand that we are nothing without Him. We pray because we need His influence, strength, and help in life. We pray because we desire blessings for ourselves, our families, our friends, and even our enemies. We pray so we can learn to align our will with His and have peace in our lives.

A few years ago, there was a mass shooting. I can’t remember where (unfortunately, they all kind of blur together. This is a sad, sad fact). I remember that after the shooting, there were a lot of people on Facebook pledging and encouraging one another to pray for those afflicted.

I also remember someone commenting that we don’t need to pray for people, we need to do something. It seems like there was a push in this direction – deriding the power of prayer, as if it is inactive and a cop-out. I felt saddened by this sentiment because I’ve prayed for people, and others have prayed for me. I know that there is power in prayer.

I remember when I was going through a particularly difficult trial, I reached out to a friend (via email). This friend responded and said, “I’m praying for you.” I felt so humbled and grateful to know that there were people praying for me!

I remember when my brother passed away, I knelt down and prayed – so saddened by the news of his death, and so worried about my dad who was also going through a divorce at the time. As I prayed, I realized that I was not alone, my ancestors who had passed on were also praying with me. Though the grave separated us physically, we were still united by prayer. Prayer transcends time, space, and even death. This was one of the most deeply comforting things I’ve ever felt in my life.

I also know that from personal experience, when I take the time to pray – truly pray for another, often I’m also inspired on how to help them! My “anti-prayer” friend had it wrong. Not only is prayer a way to actively help another, it provides an opportunity for us to put brain space and thought towards those in needs – so we can be prompted on how to act to help them.

Thoughts and words always come before deeds. What better way to hone our good deeds than by honing our words and thoughts through prayer???!!!

How to Pray

In the New Testament, the Savior taught us how to pray.

President Nelson explained:

“Jesus taught us how [to pray]. We pray to our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost. This is the “true order of prayer,” in contrast to “vain repetitions” or recitations given to “be seen of men.” – Russell M. Nelson

It’s really pretty simple. We say the words that are in our hearts to our Heavenly Father. We say them in Christ’s name. The gift and power of the Holy Ghost will attend us as we pray. Prayer, I have found, is very personal and takes practice. I don’t want to really prescribe a method of prayer here. But I will say that if you search within your heart and seek the guidance of the Lord, then you will know how best to pray. There are many tips in the scriptures.

I have found that I have my own specific needs to really help me get into a good state for prayer. I try to breathe deeply. I try to eliminate distractions and noise (I put my phone on “do not disturb”). I either sit (like you would to meditate) or kneel. In fact, usually I do both of these things in a prayer. I have found that it is easier for me to calm my mind and get into a really good mental and spiritual place for prayer by doing some light activity first – I like yoga and stretching. Or walking. Something about this physical activity really helps me, personally.

We can find a way to pray that helps us to eliminate “vain repetitions” or recitations. We can find a way to express the deepest desires, fears, concerns, gratitude, and praises of our heart to our Heavenly Father.

Words

What about the words of our prayers???

President Nelson stated:

“One can think a prayer, especially when words would interfere.” – Russell M. Nelson

Don’t you love that?! At this point, I’ve already used 1614 words in this blog post. I’m a wordy person, and if you have read my blog before, then you know it. But still, there are times when I just can’t put words to my thoughts, feelings, impressions, fears, concerns, etc. I can’t put words to my joy. I can’t always put words to what I want to say to my Heavenly Father. It is so refreshing for me to know that as I pray, I can be silent, even wordless!

Song of Prayer

At this time, President Nelson presented a song that he wrote. I still remember the tabernacle choir singing it. The song of the righteous is a prayer to God. I love this song, and actually made an arrangement for it some time ago. You can find it here: Our Prayer To Thee

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Every time I study one of President Nelson’s talk, I find that I have grown to love him more. I’m so grateful for the prophet. What a blessing to be guided by a prophet of the Lord in these latter-days. I’m grateful that he is a man of prayer. During the talk, he shared his own experience with prayer as a heart surgeon. For President Nelson, prayer was not simply a thing to be done at church or at mealtime. He prayed for his patients and before performing surgery. He was guided by the Lord during surgery, and his willingness to pray and open himself to God revolutionized an aspect of surgery on valves in the heart. President Nelson shared his experience:

“Many of us have had experiences with the sweet power of prayer. One of mine was shared with a stake patriarch from southern Utah. I first met him in my medical office more than 40 years ago, during the early pioneering days of surgery of the heart. This saintly soul suffered much because of a failing heart. He pleaded for help, thinking that his condition resulted from a damaged but repairable valve in his heart.

Extensive evaluation revealed that he had two faulty valves. While one could be helped surgically, the other could not. Thus, an operation was not advised. He received this news with deep disappointment.

Subsequent visits ended with the same advice. Finally, in desperation, he spoke to me with considerable emotion: “Dr. Nelson, I have prayed for help and have been directed to you. The Lord will not reveal to me how to repair that second valve, but He can reveal it to you. Your mind is so prepared. If you will operate upon me, the Lord will make it known to you what to do. Please perform the operation that I need, and pray for the help that you need.”

His great faith had a profound effect upon me. How could I turn him away again? Following a fervent prayer together, I agreed to try. In preparing for that fateful day, I prayed over and over again, but still did not know what to do for his leaking tricuspid valve. Even as the operation commenced, my assistant asked, “What are you going to do for that?”

I said, “I do not know.”

We began the operation. After relieving the obstruction of the first valve, we exposed the second valve. We found it to be intact but so badly dilated that it could no longer function as it should. While examining this valve, a message was distinctly impressed upon my mind: Reduce the circumference of the ring. I announced that message to my assistant. “The valve tissue will be sufficient if we can effectively reduce the ring toward its normal size.”

But how? We could not apply a belt as one would use to tighten the waist of oversized trousers. We could not squeeze with a strap as one would cinch a saddle on a horse. Then a picture came vividly to my mind, showing how stitches could be placed—to make a pleat here and a tuck there—to accomplish the desired objective. I still remember that mental image—complete with dotted lines where sutures should be placed. The repair was completed as diagrammed in my mind. We tested the valve and found the leak to be reduced remarkably. My assistant said, “It’s a miracle.”

I responded, “It’s an answer to prayer.”

The patient’s recovery was rapid and his relief gratifying. Not only was he helped in a marvelous way, but surgical help for other people with similar problems had become a possibility. I take no credit. Praise goes to this faithful patriarch and to God, who answered our prayers. This faithful man lived for many more years and has since gone to his eternal glory.” – Russell M. Nelson

We are guided today by a prophet who not only believes in prayer – theoretically – but has chosen to live that belief. Our prophet has witnessed and taken part in miracles through his willingness to pray. We can learn from his words and his example! We can choose to pray and live as faithfully as the words we utter in our prayers. I know that I am inspired to improve my prayers because of him.

Praising God in the Storm – 1 Nephi 18:12-16

You can read 1 Nephi 18:12-16 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • After being bound, the Liahona stopped working, and Laman and Lemuel didn’t know where to steer the ship.
  • A great storm arose – really terrible tempest – and Nephi and his family were driven back on the waters for three days.
  • Though the storm was terrible and Laman and Lemuel began to fear, they still didn’t loose Nephi.
  • On the fourth day, the tempest became especially terrible.
  • When they were about to be swallowed up by the depths of the sea – being driven back by the storm for four days – Laman and Lemuel were finally scared enough to repent of their iniquities and untie Nephi.
  • Though Nephi was swollen and pretty hurt from the whole ordeal, he didn’t murmur. He looked to and praised his God.

Praising God in the Storm

In 1 Nephi 18, we read of Lehi’s family’s experience traveling on the ship toward the promised land.

Let me back up for a second. In 1 Nephi 17, Nephi convinced Laman and Lemuel (through the power of God) to help him build a boat. They did, and they seemed to be genuinely humbled.

nephi-building-ship-jerry-thompson-1133016-gallery
Building the Ship, Jerry Thompson

At the beginning of 1 Nephi 18, we read that they finished the ship. This experience was humbling for each of them. We read:

“And it came to pass that after I had finished the ship, according to the word of the Lord, my brethren beheld that it was good, and that the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine; wherefore, they did humble themselves again before the Lord.” – 1 Nephi 18:4

Things are going well! Laman and Lemuel have stayed faithful enough to see through to the completion of the ship! Not only that, but we continue to read in 1 Nephi 18, that they all gather seeds and supplies. They board the ship. And then they set sail for the promised land. In fact, they are driven forth for “many days” without any incident or problems.

Smooth sailing – both literally and metaphorically.

But only for a moment.

Laman and Lemuel get naughty. Nephi is constrained to correct them. Laman and Lemuel refuse to remember any of the miracles or humility that they have experienced prior to this situation. And then, on the open ocean they decide to rebel against God and tie Nephi up.

This time, the Lord didn’t strengthen Nephi. He didn’t loose the bands. He didn’t shock Laman and Lemuel. This time, the Lord suffered that Nephi should remain bound as He caused a huge storm to come up and threaten the lives of every person aboard the ship.

This sounds pretty terrible. In fact, Nephi describes his physical situation:

“…and behold [my wrists] had swollen exceedingly; and also mine ankles were much swollen, and great was the soreness thereof.” – 1 Nephi 18:15

His situation really doesn’t sound fun.

It was only because of the imminent threat of destruction that Laman and Lemuel untied Nephi, and then we read what Nephi did:

“Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.” – 1 Nephi 18:16

I think that this scripture is what adds to the mythical stature of Nephi. He didn’t murmur or complain. Pretty amazing. In fact, so amazing it seems nearly impossible. Can you imagine being tossed around at sea – nearly to death – and yet praising God.

I mean, really think about it from Nephi’s perspective. This is after 8 years in the wilderness. This is after an initial sacrifice of their worldly comforts in Jerusalem for 8 years in the wilderness. This is after going back to get the plates. This is after going back AGAIN to get Ishmael’s family. This is after breaking his bow and nearly starving to death. This is after experiencing the death of Ishmael. This is after marriages and births. This is after making it to Bountiful and then building a ship.

Now, after all of these sacrifices, these years of hard work, Nephi is bound on the boat, in the ocean, and in a storm so severe it has nearly killed this entire boat – full of Lehi and his family.

Storm at Sea
Storm at Sea, by Marco Ricci

Thankfully, the threat of death was enough to coax Laman and Lemuel into some kind of temporary humility. They untied Nephi. And Nephi doesn’t murmur because of his afflictions! He praises God.

I’m not convinced that Nephi was mythical. I’m actually convinced that Nephi was a regular dude who had been refined by the Lord. And I believe that we can figure out a way to be like Nephi. I wish I knew the exact process that he used in this moment – the mental process or the mindset – to keep him from murmuring. I do have a theory though.

The Psalm of Nephi

In 2 Nephi 4 is recorded one of the most personal and intimate scriptures in the Book of Mormon. This is often referred to as the Psalm of Nephi, and I really believe it is an outline of the process for maintaining composure during trial. I won’t go through it all here because we will study it later, but I will outline the steps. I think that this is probably how Nephi was able to endure without murmuring.

Step One – Recognition and Honesty
In 2 Nephi 4, Nephi cries:

“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.” – 2 Nephi 4:17-18

Admittedly, I don’t know if Nephi, while tied on the ship, was this frustrated with Laman and Lemuel or not. But I can make an assumption. If I were Nephi, I’d be totally frustrated with them! As we already mentioned before – they had gone through SO MUCH! They had suffered so much. 8 years in the wilderness! So many sacrifices and trials. And now, they tied Him up?! Now, they refused to listen to the pleas of their parents, siblings, and others?! Now, Laman’s and Lemuel’s hearts were so hard that they would jeopardize everything and risk being killed at sea?! I can only imagine that Nephi was at least slightly annoyed with his brothers.

We don’t know what Nephi thought while tied up. But I would imagine that at first there was a reaction to his siblings. I’m not sure if he was angry. I don’t know. But we can read from the records that later on (in 2 Nephi), he did get angry with his brothers sometimes.

Though he may have every right to be angry with his brothers, the first thing Nephi does is become honest with himself. He realizes it is a sin to let anger fester in his heart.

I guess, this is a reminder that Nephi is a real person. He has feelings! But he doesn’t allow himself to be ruled by those feelings. His frustration with his brothers turns to frustration with himself. Nephi recognized that he let himself get angry, and that’s a sin. I would not be surprised if something like this happened as he was tied up in the early hours of his bondage on the boat.

Two – Nephi Remembers God
Nephi states:

“And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.” – 2 Nephi 4:19

Instead of letting himself droop in sin and frustration (no matter how justified he may be), Nephi makes a decision. This phrase: I know in whom I’ve trusted is a turning point. Nephi remembers God.

Nephi has trusted in God, and he can take comfort in this fact. I would imagine that while on the ship, he actively remembered the God whom he had trusted.

Three – Nephi Praises God through Recalling Experiences
After this turning point, Nephi then begins to praise God. I’ve often wondered what it means to “praise God.” I have usually thought of things like hymns and the word “Hallelujah.” Which, of course is a form of praising God.

But here, Nephi praises God by remembering specific instances that He has experienced in his own life:

  • My god hath been my support
  • He hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness
  • He hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep
  • He hath filled me with his love – even unto the consuming of my flesh
  • He hath confounded mine enemies – unto the causing of them to quake before me
  • He hath heard my cry by day
  • He hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time
  • My voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me

Nephi is able to buoy himself up – and His faith – through these specific praises to God. He has taken the time to make note of these experiences (probably writing them in a journal), and he has taken the time to remember them. And now, in these moments of weakness, he is able to use his own testimony to both praise God and to strengthen his own faith.

I can only imagine that while tied up on the ship that Nephi was praying to God. It would seem like God didn’t answer his prayers for four long and rough days. Or, if you look at it another way, God answered Nephi’s prayers by letting the waters get rough enough to compel Laman and Lemuel to humility.

It would be hard to suffer in that situation, but perhaps made easier if Nephi was praising God – by remembering, specifically, the tender mercies and miracles he had experienced up to that point in his life.

Four – Nephi Reasons with Himself
In 2 Nephi 4, after recalling all of these experiences with God, Nephi asks himself a series of questions:

  • Why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow?
  • Why should my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
  • Why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh?
  • Why should I give way to temptations?
  • Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

Remember, Nephi asked these questions in the context of the miracles and tender mercies of God. Nephi asked these questions to himself after declaring I know in whom I’ve trusted.

These questions are rhetorical. And when asked while given in the context of praising God, they are answered: My heart shouldn’t weep. My soul shouldn’t linger in the valley of sorrow – because I have trusted in God…My strength shouldn’t slack because of mine afflictions – God is my strength!…I shouldn’t, because of my flesh, yield to sin, but yield to the Spirit…I shouldn’t give way to temptations – they come from the adversary, not my Lord…I shouldn’t be angry because of mine enemies when I have God as an ally…

Five – Nephi Rejoices and Recommits Himself to the Lord
Now, Nephi is becoming resolved. He declares:

Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.” – 2 Nephi 4:29-30

Nephi, though struggling earlier, is recommitting Himself to God. His praise is elevated. He loves the Lord.

Six – Nephi Pleads with God
Now, Nephi’s prayer is becoming more vigorous. He isn’t angry at his brothers. He is repentant and realigning himself with God. And he is pleading with God – for additional strength to endure his trials.

Nephi asks for redemption and deliverance. He asks that he make shake at the appearance of sin. He prays that the gates of hell would be shut before him and the gates of righteousness open. He pleads that the Lord will encircle him with the robe of righteousness. He prays for God’s strength.

Seven – Nephi Praises God Again, and His Faith is Sure
Nephi declares:

O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.” – 2 Nephi 4:34-35

Through these seven steps, Nephi went from frustration to testifying of the Lord to the Lord!

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So how did Nephi do it on that ship? I don’t really know. We don’t have any record of his thoughts or feelings as he suffered on the ship – bound – for days. We don’t know what through his head or heart. We just know what happened after he was released. He didn’t murmur because of his afflictions. He praised God all the day long.

I really don’t think that this just happened because Nephi is Nephi. I believe that those four days were a refining process for Nephi. I believe he was sorely tempted, but that he prevailed. I believe that Nephi probably went through some kind of process that turned his heart away from the possible anger, frustration, and fear of the situation – and toward His God – the rock of his righteousness.

And I think that we can do the same. We can remember who we have trusted. We can recall the tender mercies we have experienced in our lives to buoy ourselves up during times of trial. We can recommit to our Lord, our God. We can trust in Him and testify to Him of our love and trust in Him. We can go through this mental exercise so that we will not murmur, but will praise God all the day long – even when in the midst of terrifying afflictions.