Having Heard That He Had the Spirit of Prophecy – Alma 16:5-6

5 Therefore, he that had been appointed chief captain over the armies of the Nephites, (and his name was Zoram, and he had two sons, Lehi and Aha)—now Zoram and his two sons, knowing that Alma was high priest over the church, and having heard that he had the spirit of prophecy, therefore they went unto him and desired of him to know whither the Lord would that they should go into the wilderness in search of their brethren, who had been taken captive by the Lamanites.
6 And it came to pass that Alma inquired of the Lord concerning the matter. And Alma returned and said unto them: Behold, the Lamanites will cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti. And behold there shall ye meet them, on the east of the river Sidon, and there the Lord will deliver unto thee thy brethren who have been taken captive by the Lamanites.
(Alma 16:5-6)

During the month of April, I am going to study the chapters in the Book of Mormon which describe wars. As I study, I’m asking the question, “What lessons can I learn from these stories? What principles were applied by these military leaders anciently which I can put into practice in my daily life?”

In the passage above, we read about Zoram, the chief captain over the Nephite armies about 80 years before the birth of Christ. Mormon opens the chapter by telling us that “there [had] been no wars nor contentions for a certain number of years” (Alma 16:1). A large army of the Lamanites, their enemies, attacked the city of Ammonihah without warning and destroyed the city in one day. They also also took a large number of prisoners among the people who lived nearby, and carried those prisoners into the wilderness. Zoram’s task was to find the Lamanite army and free the prisoners (Alma 16:2-4).

This task would have been substantial even if he had known where the Lamanite army had gone. But the biggest problem he faced was not knowing where to look for them. They were in the wilderness, and presumably were traveling back to their lands where it would be much harder to recover the prisoners.

As Mormon tells us in the passage above, Zoram knew that he would be unsuccessful unless he could anticipate where the Lamanite army would travel. Knowing that Alma, the high priest over the church, had the spirit of prophecy, Zoram went to Alma, asking him where he should lead his army. Alma prayed and received specific instructions: the Lamanites would cross the Sidon river in the south wilderness near the land of Manti. That was the information Zoram needed, and his army was able to defeat the Lamanites without the loss of a single prisoner.

Do I also face challenges for which I am missing a key piece of information? What role can the spirit of prophecy play in helping me to be successful? Unlike Zoram in this story, I can’t always ask a church leader to pray for specific information which will help me with my assignments at work, in the community organizations I’m part of, or in my family. But as President Russell M. Nelson emphasized in general conference yesterday, every one of us can receive revelation to help us with our personal challenges:

How can we find answers to questions that perplex us? If Joseph Smith’s transcendent experience in the Sacred Grove teaches us anything, it is that the heavens are open and that God speaks to His children…. Follow the example of the Prophet Joseph. Find a quiet place where you can regularly go. Humble yourself before God. Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him for answers and for comfort…. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will ‘grow into the principle of revelation’ (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” General Conference, April 2018).

Today, I will follow Zoram’s example by identifying crucial gaps in my knowledge and seeking guidance by the spirit of prophecy to help me be successful in my responsibilities. As our living prophet has counseled, I will find a quiet place to pray for the guidance I need, I will listen, I will write the answers that come to my mind, and I will act upon what I learn.

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