17 And at some period of time they will be brought to believe in his word, and to know of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers; and many of them will be saved, for the Lord will be merciful unto all who call on his name.
One of the Ten Commandments teaches us that we should not take the Lord’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7). But as we learn from the passage above, it is not enough to refrain from using the Lord’s name inappropriately. We need to also learn to use it correctly: to call upon Him using His name, reverently and in an attitude of worship.
Near the beginning of the Old Testament, after mentioning the births of Seth and Enos, the author rather abruptly announces, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26). The Joseph Smith translation clarifies the meaning of that sentence: “And then began these men to call upon the name of the Lord, and the Lord blessed them (Moses 6:4, italics added). It’s not that no one had ever called upon God before the birth of Enos. Rather, each one of the people mentioned in this narrative had to reach the point where they began to pray appropriately. When they did so, each began to receive God’s blessings.
The prophet Joel prophesied of a time when God would pour out His Spirit upon everyone. People would prophesy, have spiritual dreams, and see visions. Even though there would be great natural disasters in that time, he promised that “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered” (Joel 2:32).
Alma made the same promise to the inhabitants of the city of Ammonihah in the passage above.
Sister Carol F. McConkie reminded us of the importance of learning to pray appropriately:
Prayer is essential to developing faith. When the Lord comes again, will He find a people who know how to pray in faith and who are prepared to receive salvation? “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” We are children of a loving Heavenly Father, and we may enjoy personal communion with Him when we pray “with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ” and then act in accordance with the answers we receive by the promptings of the Holy Ghost. In faith we pray, we listen, and we obey, that we might learn to become one with the Father and the Son….
We pray to our Father in the name of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost, thus engaging all three members of the Godhead in our utterances (“The Soul’s Sincere Desire,” General Conference, October 2016).
Today, I will seek to elevate the quality of my prayers. I will use God’s name appropriately as I pray to the Father in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. I will remember that God’s blessings are available to those who use His name appropriately, calling on Him with sincere hearts and real intent, listening to the answers received through the Holy Ghost, and then acting on those answers.