Thursday, June 24, 2010

Prayer, King Benjamin, and Children

I don't know how well my thoughts will come out in writing because they're just kind of several little ideas floating around in my brain right now!

Background:  So I have been thinking about prayers a bit lately, connected to some new insights on Alma 37:36-37.  Then I've been reading King Benjamin's speech to his people in the beginning chapters of Mosiah (which is one of my favorite passages of scripture).  In chapter 4, he reiterates what he said previously about remembering our unworthiness and God's greatness.  He emphasizes the need to acknowledge our complete dependence on God.  This connected to my thoughts on prayers in the sense that praying constantly is a way to recognize that dependence.  When we don't pray before doing something, it's like we are telling God that we don't need His help; we can do it on our own. 

This then lead me to thoughts about my children.

We are probably all familiar with the scripture Mosiah 3:19 that gives attributes of a child and the way we should be.  I don't know whose children that scripture is talking about, but it's sure not mine!  Submissive?  Patient? Ya right!  It seems like I'm always trying to teach them to be independent and how to do things, yet they just want me to do it for them.  They whine and say they can't do it and that they need help.  Then, in the moments when I'm in a hurry and it will be like 100 times faster for me to just do it myself (put shoes on, buckle seat belts, etc.), that is the time they suddenly decide to be independent!  "I can do it by myself!" 

How often are we like those little kids?  When Heavenly Father lets us try things on our own, we go whining to Him for help saying we can't do it!  Yet, times when He is ready and willing, we just walk away without asking for help in prayer and essentially tell Him "I can do it by myself!"  Praying constantly is admitting our complete dependence on Him.  That doesn't mean He will do everything for us, but just that He will be with us.  And why would we not want Him with us all the time?  Even in our sleep?  As King Benjamin reminds us, we could not even breathe from day to day if not for Him.  Let's not be the children born into the natural man, but rather the kind of child the Lord refers to in the scripture mentioned above.  Let's "always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily..."  What is the reward for this?  We will "always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins..."  There are even more beautiful promises, but I just wanted to emphasize the fact that we can always remain clean of our sins and God can always be with us, if only we don't refuse His help by calling on Him in constant prayer.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What does the word "Mormon" mean?

I've heard the definition attributed to Joseph Smith that the word "Mormon" literally means "more good."  That's nice, but it probably doesn't mean much to people outside the church.  On my mission I would tell people that the name came from an ancient prophet who compiled the teachings and history of an ancient American people that knew about Christ, similar to what the Bible is.  But the fact that it was just some guys name also doesn't seem to be all that great. 

I read an article by Garth Norman and Alan Miner the other day on the site of the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum about the baptism at the Waters of Mormon.  I was familiar with a lot of what was written (where Alma got his authority, why he baptized himself at the same time he did Helam, etc.) but was intrigued by his analysis of the word Mormon.

In 3 Nephi 5:12 it says,
"And behold, I am called Mormon, being called after the land of Mormon, the land in which Alma did establish the church among the people, yea, the first church which was established among them after their transgression." 
Miner and Alan further explain,
"Today, we associate the name of the Book of Mormon as did the Nephites of old, with the restoring of the covenant among the people.  The name of the book is a type for its purpose: to restore a knowledge of the covenants to the remnant of the seed of Lehi.  Therefore the name, Book of Mormon, symbolically means the Book of the Restoration of the Covenants.  [Raymond C. Treat, "Covenants: Key to the Restoration of the House of Israel," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments , Vol. 2, pp. 52-53]"

"A study of the title page of the Book of Mormon tells us its main purpose is to restore a knowledge of the covenants to the house of Israel.  This adds weight to the understanding that the name Mormon was always associated with the place of the restoration of the covenant to the Nephites.  In fact, the name Mormon may have become synonymous with the concept of the restoration of the covenants.  [David Lamb, "The Meaning of the Name Mormon," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments , Vol 2., p. 45]"
So, the next time someone asks you what the word "Mormon" means (or better yet, the next time you ask someone if they know what it means), I think this definition is the best one, IMHO.