3 And yet, I being over-zealous to inherit the land of our fathers, collected as many as were desirous to go up to possess the land, and started again on our journey into the wilderness to go up to the land; but we were smitten with famine and sore afflictions; for we were slow to remember the Lord our God.
Some form of the word “remember” appears 221 times in the Book of Mormon. (I learned this by searching “remember” and “remembrance” in the digital copy of The Book of Mormon at the University of Michigan library.) Sometimes, the word appears in the form of a command, as when Helaman says, “O remember, remember, my sons, the words which king Benjamin spake unto his people” (Helaman 5:9). Other times, it is an explanation for how a group of people were able to remain faithful over time:
But notwithstanding their riches, or their strength, or their prosperity, they were not lifted up in the pride of their eyes; neither were they slow to remember the Lord their God; but they did humble themselves exceedingly before him. Yea, they did remember how great things the Lord had done for them (Alma 62:49-50).
We forget things all the time. That’s part of how our mortal brains work. We learn facts and concepts, and unless we make a concerted effort to commit them to memory, we are unable to retrieve them only a short time later. Memory loss also serves a useful purpose: helping us overcome the negative effects of traumatic events we’ve experienced in the past. (See “How the Brain Purges Bad Memories,” Scientific American, July 31, 2015.)
But there are some things that we must remember in order to be successful and happy. When we partake of the sacrament each Sunday, we promise that we will “always remember” Jesus Christ (Moroni 4:3, Moroni 5:2). After King Benjamin’s speech, he appointed priests to teach his people, “to stir them up in remembrance of the oath which they had made” (Mosiah 6:3). Just as students prepare for an exam by reviewing the material they have learned, we also need to regularly review the information and principles that are most important in order to keep them on the forefront of our mind.
There is a reciprocal relationship between remembering the Lord and having the companionship of the Holy Ghost. The sacrament prayer promises that if we always remember Him, we will always have His Spirit to be with us. But President Henry B. Eyring pointed out that one of the roles of the Holy Ghost is to bring things to our remembrance. (See John 14:26.) “The key to the remembering that brings and maintains testimony is receiving the Holy Ghost as a companion. It is the Holy Ghost who helps us see what God has done for us” (“O Remember, Remember,” General Conference, October 2007). No wonder that President Thomas S. Monson urged us in his most recent general conference talk “to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day.” He made the promise that “As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives” (“The Power of the Book of Mormon,” General Conference, April 2017).
In the passage above, Zeniff blames own overzealousness for the poor decisions which led to the captivity of his people, but he also recognizes another cause: he and his people “were slow to remember the Lord our God.” Perhaps if they had participated more consistently in religious activities, including prayer, fasting, and church services, they would have remembered Him more easily and avoided some of the calamities which they experienced.
Today, I will recommit to remember the things that matter most. I will resolve to participate in activities which will help me and my family to remember the Lord and the blessings we have received from Him. By doing this, I will invite the Spirit of the Lord into my life, which will in turn enable me to “receive heaven’s help in [my life].”