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"According to Their Prayers," Alma 25:13-17

Alma 25:13-17

One final group of Lamanites is recorded here as having been converted to the Lord after their warring. After the fight had all gone out of them, they too decided to join themselves to the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, bury their weapons of war, and to walk in the ways of the Lord. (see vs. 13-14)

Verses 15 and 16 go on to explain their relationship to the law of Moses in connection with their faith in Christ. As the author, Mormon, explains it here (as it has been in other parts of the Book of Mormon as well -- Jacob 4:5, Jarom 1:11, Mosiah 3:14-15, and Mosiah 16:14 among others), the law of Moses served to point them to faith in Christ. I cannot help but draw a connection between modern-day standards for the youth that the Church has established through our living prophets.

Verse 16 might very easily read as follows in talking about our days:
Now they did not suppose that salvation came by the [standards of the Church; e.g., "For the Strength of Youth"]; but the [standards] did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ; and thus they did retain a hope through faith, unto eternal salvation, relying upon the spirit of prophecy, which spake of those things to come.
I love this principle because it puts the standards for the youth in their proper place. This helps me understand a little better why the Nephites were diligent in keeping the Law of Moses, and why that is so frequently emphasized in the Book of Mormon, which was written for our day; a day in which the law of Moses is no longer practiced.

So here's the dilemma / issue.  Church standards don't equate to salvation, but they can serve to facilitate it. True doctrinal salvation is based in patterns of prayer, personal worship, scripture study, repentance, service, and so forth. So if the standards for dress or appearance are not being ardently followed, but the patterns of true discipleship are being embraced, then ought we not to focus on the later, those things which we really cannot see, and leave to God the judgment of perceptions.

And on the flip side of that argument, how often does sin and serious moral deviation, go hiding from among us under a cloak of adherence to standards: those visible, outward appearances?

This is why this little nugget of truth from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry' s "The Little Prince" rings so profoundly true:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

The final verse at the end of this chapter signifies the end of their missionary labors. It is a brief statement, but these four missionary brothers are now in a period of rejoicing because "the Lord had granted unto them according to their prayers, and that he had also verified his word unto them in every particular."

So much is said is so few words in this final verse. Here the end of this incredible 14-year account, the conversion of a heathen civilization unto the ways of Christ the Lord gives such indispensable validation of the instrument of prayer. Of all tools of stratagem large and small, the confirming testimony of prayer is placed forefront here.

In these verses we also find credence to the detailed nature of prayer, and how every specific detail that was revealed to them in prayer had been verified.