Alma the Younger was overjoyed to be reunited with the sons of Mosiah, who he hadn’t seen for fourteen years (Alma 17:1-4, Alma 27:16-19). These four friends had been with Alma when an angel appeared and called him to repentance (Mosiah 27:8-12). All five of them had changed their lives as a result of the experience, had stopped fighting against the church, and had dedicated their lives to helping other people become converted. The sons of Mosiah had been serving as missionaries among the Lamanites for fourteen years, while Alma had served as chief judge over the Nephites for part of the time and as high priest over the church for the entire time. Now, after reuniting with his friends, Alma reflected on their ministry and on his own.
Mormon inserts this chapter into the narrative without introduction and without explanation. It was clearly written by Alma, but we don’t know why or for whom.
Like Nephi’s psalm, this chapter represents a personal account of an inner struggle: Alma was trying to reconcile his desire to be an effective missionary with his faith in God’s oversight of His work.
- Alma’s desire (Alma 29:1-2)
- I wish I were an angel and that I could speak with a voice of thunder (Alma 29:1-2).
- Alma’s self-correction (Alma 29:3-9)
- “But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish, for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me” (Alma 29:3).
- God allows everyone to choose between good and evil, between life and death, between joy and remorse (Alma 29:4-5).
- Since I know this, “why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called” (Alma 29:6-9)?
- Alma’s joy and gratitude (Alma 29:10-17)
- “When I see many of my brethren truly penitent…then is my soul filled with joy” (Alma 29:10).
- “I also remember the captivity of my fathers.” God delivered them from bondage and established His church among them. He has also called me to preach and has given me much success (Alma 29:11-13).
- When I think of the success of my friends, the sons of Mosiah, I’m filled with joy (Alma 29:14-17).
Alma’s journey in this chapter is a good one to follow. He starts by honestly expressing a desire: he wishes he could speak with the same power that he experienced when an angel appeared to him. He wants to teach so convincingly that no one can ignore or reject his message.
Immediately after expressing that desire, Alma acknowledges that it is not right. He reminds himself of the doctrine of agency: God will not force his children to obey Him. He also reminds himself that God will ensure that everyone has the opportunity to choose. Therefore, Alma concludes that he ought to be satisfied with doing the work that God has given him.
Alma finds joy in the success he and others have experienced. Not everyone has responded favorably to their preaching, but many have. Their joy is the reason Alma and his friends have made such sacrifices, and he is grateful that God has given them success.
I will respond to this passage by following Alma’s pattern of self-correction. When I sense that my desires are not aligned with God’s will, I will acknowledge what I am feeling. I will remember true principles which can help me govern and redirect my desires. And I will find joy in the blessings I already have.
Blog Posts About Alma’s Desire to Speak with the Voice of an Angel
- What Can I Do to Feel More Joy? (12/15/2019)
- What Are the Roles of Persuasion and Punishment in Motivating Good Behavior? (12/4/2019)
- What Does the Book of Mormon Teach About Abraham? (7/20/2019)
- What Should I Do When I Feel Inadequate? (7/12/2019)
- What Does the Book of Mormon Say About Complacency? (5/11/2019)
- Was It a Sin for Alma to Wish He Were an Angel? (2/18/2019)
- Alma Desires to Speak with the Voice of an Angel – Alma 29 (9/10/2018)
- The Success of My Brethren – Alma 29:14-16 (11/9/2017)
- An Instrument in the Hands of God – Alma 29:9-10 (7/12/2016)
- O That I Were an Angel – Alma 29:1 (7/12/2016)
- I Ought to Be Content – Alma 29:3 (7/9/2015)
- Alma 29:1 O That I Were an Angel, and Could Have the Wish of My Heart (11/11/2014)