Prayerful parenthood

Few things in this life require more effort, care, constant attention, love, prayer and faith than being a parent.

Consider this:"Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers." (Mosiah 26:1.)

Imagine the heartache of those Nephite parents. Having listened to one of the great sermons in all history, they, no doubt, felt the Spirit bear witness of the truth of King Benjamin's words. Later, however, they watched as their children rejected the word.

That tragedy, unfortunately, is an all-too-real possibility in our own day.

The Lord has charged parents with the great responsibility to teach and lead their children in the ways of truth. And He has also given parents great advice and direction in how to do so.

The charge to parents is clear:

"And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion . . . that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents." (D&C 68:25.)

"I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth." (D&C 93:40.)

That Satan has many ways to thwart parental efforts is also clear:

"[Many] . . . flattering words . . . did cause them to commit many sins;. . ." (Mosiah 26:6.)

"And the wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth through disobedience. . . ." (D&C 93:39.)

And methods to help us combat Satan's efforts are also abundantly clear:

"And now the spirit of Alma was again troubled; and he went and inquired of the Lord what he should do concerning this matter. . . ." (Mosiah 26:13.)

A lthough Alma, in this particular instance, was seeking the Lord's help in knowing how to deal with transgressors, the principle is universally applicable and can be very helpful to parents: Parents need to worthily seek the Lord's help through fervent prayer.

After Alma's inquiry, the Lord told Alma that he was blessed because of his exceeding faith (Mosiah 26:15) and then reminded Alma of some of the fundamental principles of the gospel.

Parents - all of us needing help - are wise to follow Alma's example: Seek the Lord's help, remember His teachings and promises, and remind ourselves of how we fit into the gospel plan. That "exceeding faith" will bless us just as it did Alma.

Alma, of course, had first-hand experience in dealing with a less-than-faithful son. But throughout what must have been a terribly difficult ordeal, Alma continued to have faith.

When an angel appeared to Alma the younger to chastise the prophet's son for persecuting the church, the angel said Alma (the older) had "prayed with much faith" concerning his son. (Mosiah 27:14.) The father's faith and teaching must have had some effect on the rebellious youth for, later, when the younger Alma was recounting his sinful past, he said that, while he was struck dumb, he remembered his sins - and his father's testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Alma 36:17.)

Alma the younger, of course, heeded the teachings of his father, repented and became one of the greatest missionaries and leaders ever known in the Lord's church. After his conversion, Alma testified that mortals must "be changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness." And that we must "become new creatures." (Mosiah 27:25-26.)

Years earlier, those who had heard King Benjamin's speech testified that the Spirit had "wrought a mighty change [in theirT hearts" and that they had "no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." (Mosiah 5:2.)

Isn't it interesting that some of Alma the younger's first words of testimony parallel so closely the words of those who listened to King Benjamin - the same words that other youth, like Alma, originally chose to ignore?

Certainly parental responsibility is great. But, also certainly, the help and guidance from the Lord is even greater.

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