Elder Scott has taught:

As you seek spiritual knowledge, search for principles. Carefully separate them from the detail used to explain them.         Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances. It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle.

This is a place to deposit those principles (at least the ones that the Spirit says are okay to share with others). I gave it this format, rather than the list format, so that you can have more freedom in how you express those principles.

Fasting and Prayer

posted Feb 22, 2011, 12:59 PM by Jeffrey Thayne   [ updated Feb 24, 2011, 7:58 AM ]

The story of Alma preaching at Ammonihah is a story about prayer.

"Nevertheless Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance."

This is faith. I remember missionaries saying, "Well, you can't pray that people will get baptized, because that's up to them and God can't take away agency. Instead of praying that these people will be baptized, pray in generalities instead, or for things that are more realistic and feasible. For example, rather than pray that you'll baptize the people you are teaching, just pray that God will help you be a better person for the experience."

Well, Alma didn't do that. He prayed with an eye of faith that God could work miracles in the people's hearts. In fact, changing people's hearts is God's specialty. The doctrine of agency doesn't detract from the transforming power of God.

"Nevertheless, they hardened their hearts ... and reviled him, and spit upon him, and caused that he should be cast out of their city ... And it came to pass that while he was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, it came to pass while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying: Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice"

Alma left the city, full of anguish. Perhaps his own faith was being tried, and he felt it acutely. He had poured out his soul in fasting and prayer (we know he was fasting, because he told Amulek, "Amulek, because thou hast fed me and taken me in, thou art blessed; for I was an hungered, for I had fasted many days"), and yet, the miracle hadn't happened. That weighs on the soul. But, Mormon tells this story for a reason, and I think the reason is illustrated by Moroni's assurance from God that we receive no witness until after the trial of our faith.

And sure enough, Alma's faith, fasting, and prayers were answered. He met Amulek, spent a long time building up connections in the city, and eventually converted a significant portion of the population (including Zeezoram). 

From Amulek's perspective:

Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling cagainst God, in the wickedness of my heart, even until the fourth day of this seventh month, which is in the tenth year of the reign of the judges. As I was journeying to see a very near kindred, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto me and said: Amulek, return to thine own house, for thou shalt feed a prophet of the Lord; yea, a holy man, who is a chosen man of God; for he has fasted many days because of the sins of this people, and he is an hungered, and thou shalt receive him into thy house and feed him, and he shall bless thee and thy house; and the blessing of the Lord shall rest upon thee and thy house.

Just like Alma the Younger was stopped by an angel because of the prayers and fasting of his father, so was Amulek stopped by an angel because of the prayers and fasting of Alma the Younger. Alma the Younger learned this from his father's example.

Principle: Fast and pray long enough for righteous desires, and eventually God will respond.

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