1 And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla.
2 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
3 But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.
Soon after their life-changing experience with the angel, Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah separated to preach the gospel in different lands. Alma remained among the Nephites, and the sons of Mosiah went to preach to the Lamanites. Fourteen years later, they met again. As Mormon tells us in the passage above, Alma was overjoyed to see the spiritual strength and maturity of his friends. “They had searched the scriptures diligently” and “had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting.” The results of this steady investment of effort over fourteen years were evident to Alma: “they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth” and “when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.”
In May of 1829, just after the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood and nearly a year before the organization of the church, the prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation on behalf of his brother Hyrum, In the revelation, the Lord emphasizes the importance of preaching the gospel but counsels Hyrum to focus on preparing for preaching opportunities which will come in the future:
Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.
But now hold your peace; study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men, and also study my word which shall come forth among the children of men, or that which is now translating, yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in this generation, and then shall all things be added thereto (D&C 11:21-22).
This makes sense. You can’t teach what you don’t know. But there’s more to this counsel than simply acquiring information. When we study the scriptures, we open our hearts to the Spirit of the Lord, which can provide us with insights and guidance while we teach. No wonder full-time missionaries study the gospel for at least 2 hours each day. They not only gain knowledge; they also qualify themselves for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, which enables them to teach with power.
Today, I will remember that my own personal scripture study, prayer, and fasting are essential to my effectiveness as a teacher of the gospel. I will recommit to participate meaningfully in these activities throughout the year 2018 so that I can teach with the power of God.