Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Appreciating Juxtaposition in Mormon's Words

Mormon is an amazing editor.   He puts the gospel of Jesus Christ before our eyes in such a way that we can't miss the meaning.  One of the best ways he points out the ways of Christ is by contrasting them with the ways of Satan.  By doing this, there is little or no misunderstanding.

For example, here are two buildings next to each other.  They are very different in design, structure, size, and material.  Capturing them next to each other brings out the differences in them so that you notice both of them more.  The exaggeration of their differences shows the contrast.  Mormon does the same with Alma 31.

This is one of the most bizarre findings in the Book of Mormon, in my opinion.  The chosen, elite Zoramites, a group of apostate Nephites, take turns standing on this high platform in their synagogs and recite a set hypocritical prayer.  (Alma 31:15-18.)   They do this to "look good" to one another.  It shows forth their pride as they stand, one by one, in front of each other in their expensive, beautifully adorned attire.  Isn't this a little peculiar?  (You couldn't get me to go up there, that's for sure.  I'd be afraid my sandals didn't match my robe and someone would notice and think I wasn't HOLY!)  These are people who once had the gospel of Jesus Christ. How did they evolve into thinking that this form of worship was acceptable to God?  This was their form of prayer.

We, Us, & Our
Our class counted.  We found the Zoramites mentioned the words, WE, US, & OUR in their prayer 21 times.  (Thank you, Chase.)  Their selfishness shows through their prayer.  Our class discussed that their prayer excludes others, it teaches false doctrine that there is no Christ,  it shows insincere gratitude and their self-proclaimed worldly pride.  This is about as far off the mark as we could get from offering meaningful prayers to our Heavenly Father.  

Contrast this with Alma's prayer in Alma 31: 26-35.  He notices their pride and is grieved by how he sees the Zoramites mocking God in their worship. He unselfishly asks for the Lord's help for himself and his fellow missionary brethren (Amulek, Zeezrom, Omner, Ammon, Aaron, Corianton and Shiblon) for strength to be able to withstand their afflictions as they attempt to bring the Zoramites to Christ.  "O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ.  Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee."

I have learned much from Elder David A. Bednar's two General Conference talks on prayer.  He gave one talk in April 2008 titled "Ask In Faith", and one in October 2008 titled "Pray Always".  I found that Elder Bednar directs us to pray in ways that Alma did.   We are to pray with an expectation to act, and not just to expressWe have a dual obligation to both plead and perform, the requirement to communicate and act. Now that Alma expressed this prayer, his work to bring the Zoramites to Christ is supported by the power of the Lord through Alma's faith.  Elder Bednar also teaches us to counsel with the Lord in prayer, express heartfelt gratitude, and pray for others.  Alma shows this as his prayer resembles an intimate conversation with his Father.  You can feel his gratitude within the reverence of his prayer for the sincere purpose of saving Zoramite souls.

Sometimes we overlook the subtle. The Book of Mormon explains the gospel so clearly so we cannot overlook or misunderstand.  The good next to the bad helps us identify how to get on, and stay on, the Lord's side.  Thanks, Mormon.


  1. Now that I know what it is, I believe I will continually look for "juxtaposition" in the scriptures for further insights. Great job girl!

  2. Thank you Lori! what a great explanation of juxtaposition! I am going to use this for a family home evening!