Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Alma 31

(April 9, 2013)
We like to say that we are nothing like the Zoramites, but we do so at our own peril.  Reading carefully the words of the Zoramites’ prayer, we can clearly see that they spend most of their prayer expressing ‘thankfulness.’  Now that thankfulness was nothing more that a bit of self-deception (an issue I am carefully aware of, in recent days) to obscure their pride, but just at they were able to deceive themselves under a blanket of ‘gratitude,’ so too can we do the same thing if we are not careful.

What do we express gratitude for?  That we are in the true Church?  Yes, that is something we should be profoundly grateful for, but read the Zoramites’ prayer again – they expressed their thanksgiving for the same thing.  That we have been given blessings?  That was in the Zoramites’ prayer.  That we have knowledge of the truth?  Same thing.

I pondered this for some time, trying to find what would make the prayer of the Zoramite of a different quality than our prayers now.  It was worrisome the similarities, but I finally found the difference – at no point does the prayer get outside of the person praying.  They seek no one’s benefit but their own.  Want to pray in such a way as to not be a Zoramite?  Ask the Lord how you can bless someone’s life today and then go and serve.

This carries over into the final point from this chapter – look at Alma in his prayer in comparison to the Zoramites.  Alma knew he would suffer for his attempts to convert the Zoramites, and yet his prayer was not ‘thankfulness’ that he hadn’t been led astray by their wickedness.  His prayer was that the Zoramites’ souls were precious and worth saving, and asked for the Lord’s help in helping others.  This, I contend, is the difference in the two prayers.

I do not think it an accident that these two prayers were included in this chapter.  Mormon was attempting to communicate something to us by writing out both the Zoramite prayers and Alma’s prayer.  I believe this is his reason for doing so.

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