The Book of Mormon doesn’t waste any time getting into the topic of prayer. On the first page (verse 5) Lehi prayed to the Lord “with all his heart”. His prayer was answered by vision, the account says the experience caused him to be “overcome with the Spirit”.
Lehi eventually is told in a dream to depart Jerusalem with his family. Lehi tells his family and they leave town taking only provisions and tents. They left behind their home, land, gold, silver and precious things.
Lehi’s wife and children didn’t participate in the vision and dream so understandably they had questions. The Book of Mormon account provides a view into the various personalities of Lehi’s sons.
The two oldest sons, Laman and Lemuel murmured saying their father was following the “foolish imaginations of his heart”. The record explains why they murmured, “they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them”.
The other sons, Sam and Nephi reacted every differently. Nephi, the youngest is described as “having great desires to know the mysteries of God”. Nephi cried unto the Lord and “he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father”. Nephi told Sam about his answer to prayer and the record states that “he believed in my words”.
Nephi prays unto the Lord for his elder brothers. The Lord answers Nephi’s prayer by speaking to him. The Lord explains that Nephi is blessed because he sought the Lord “diligently, with lowliness of heart”. The Lord then tells Nephi that he will be a ruler and teacher over his brothers. The Lord also reveals that if his brothers rebel against the Lord they will be cursed and their seed will be a scourge unto Nephi’s seed, to stir them up in the ways of remembrance if they rebel against the Lord.
There is much to learn about the Lords dealings in the first few pages of the Book of Mormon:
1. We need to ask the Lord in prayer for those things we desire.
2. We each have a quality of heart that is the fountain of our desires and our prayers. Lehi prayed with “all his heart” and Nephi had “great desires”, whereas Laman and Lemuel were described as being like those in Jerusalem who sought Lehi’s life.
3. I’m surprised Laman and Lemuel stayed with their family as they traveled into the wilderness. They had many opportunities to stay behind and enjoy their home, land, and other wealth. I’ve also wondered why the Lord permitted the likes of Laman and Lemuel to be part of Lehi’s family. Wouldn’t things have been much better if the Lord sent obedient spirits in their stead?
I think these questions are answered when he taught Nephi that Laman and Lemuel would be a scourge unto Nephi’s seed, to stir them up in the ways of remembrance. It turns out that their disobedient natures were important to the Lords long term plan, and in the short term its probable that Nephi grew, at least in part, into the mighty prophet he became because of his rebellious brothers. Without their opposition would Nephi been as diligent in seeking the Lord’s help an guidance.
4. When we liken these things to our lives, to our own situations and circumstance, do we see how the Lord has dealt with us in ways that have stirred us up in the ways of remembrance. Are we closer to the Lord because the trials we’ve experienced and endured?