6 Now the leaders of the Lamanites had supposed, because of the greatness of their numbers, yea, they supposed that they should be privileged to come upon them as they had hitherto done; yea, and they had also prepared themselves with shields, and with breastplates; and they had also prepared themselves with garments of skins, yea, very thick garments to cover their nakedness.
7 And being thus prepared they supposed that they should easily overpower and subject their brethren to the yoke of bondage, or slay and massacre them according to their pleasure.
8 But behold, to their uttermost astonishment, they were prepared for them, in a manner which never had been known among the children of Lehi. Now they were prepared for the Lamanites, to battle after the manner of the instructions of Moroni.
Why was Captain Moroni such a successful military commander? In large part, it was because he prepared for battles so effectively.
- In his first battle, against the Zoramites, he introduced the concept of armor. It might not seem innovative to wear breastplates and carry shields, but it apparently hadn’t been done before in this society, and it gave his armies a tremendous advantage over their enemies (Alma 43:19-21, 37-38).
- Now, nearly two years later, a Lamanite army invaded the Nephite territories. Remembering Moroni’s prior preparations, the Lamanites came wearing breastplates and carrying shields, as they knew the Nephite armies would also do. But this time, Moroni had made additional preparations which the Lamanites had not anticipated. Around the cities of Ammonihah and Noah, his armies had dug a ditch, and behind the ditch, he had built up a ridge of dirt. His soldiers were able to stand on the ridge of dirt and defend the city very effectively against the invading army (Alma 49:4, 18-22).
- In subsequent years, he continued to prepare. He turned the Nephite cities into veritable fortresses by having his troops build a wooden wall on top of the ridge of earth, with well-protected towers on top of those walls. He did this in every Nephite city, so that his armies would be prepared for the next invasion (Alma 50:2-6).
So often, we take our challenges most seriously when we are in the heat of battle. But as President Thomas S. Monson often reminded us, “When the time for performance arrives, the time for preparation is past.” (“Our Sacred Priesthood Trust,” General Conference, April 2006). The question becomes: how do we choose to spend our time when we are not in danger, when there is no need for urgency? Do we take our blessings for granted and become less diligent? Or do we spend our time preparing for the challenges which surely lie ahead?
In our most recent general conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook reminded us of the importance of spiritual preparation in our personal lives:
Fulfilling divinely appointed responsibilities, based on righteousness, unity, and equality before the Lord, brings personal happiness and peace in this world and prepares us for eternal life in the world to come. It prepares us to meet God (“Prepare to Meet God,” General Conference, April 2018).
Today, I will remember and follow Captain Moroni’s example of preparation. I will remember that the decisions which will be most impactful in my life may occur long before they are urgently needed. Above all, I will prioritize spiritual preparation, remembering that my efforts to live the gospel today will not only bring me happiness and peace, but will also prepare me to return to the presence of my Heavenly Father in the future.