4 And it came to pass that we went up unto the house of Ishmael, and we did gain favor in the sight of Ishmael, insomuch that we did speak unto him the words of the Lord.
5 And it came to pass that the Lord did soften the heart of Ishmael, and also his household, insomuch that they took their journey with us down into the wilderness to the tent of our father.
(1 Nephi 7:4-5)
How did Nephi and his brothers convince Ishmael and his family to join them in their journey to the promised land? Nephi tell us that they first “gained favor in the sight of Ishmael.” Once they had earned his trust, they “did speak unto him the words of the Lord.” But ultimately, it was the Lord who “did soften the heart of Ishmael, and also his household.”
Nephi knew what it was like to have his heart softened by the Lord. He must have understood that his words, however eloquent, would not change Ishmael’s heart unless the Spirit of the Lord confirmed the truth of those words to Ishmael directly.
Today, I will remember the example of Nephi and his brothers. When I have the opportunity to extend an invitation, I will do my best to extend it effectively. But I will remember that it is ultimately the Lord who can soften their hearts so that they might be willing to accept the invitation.