How Does the Lord Strengthen Us?

Near the beginning of the Book of Mormon, Nephi affirms that God will take care of the people who strive to obey Him. Nephi listed three ways that God does this:

  1. “He doth nourish them” – helps them maintain their physical and spiritual health
  2. “and strengthen them” – empowers them to do things they couldn’t do on their own
  3. “and provide means” – send tools and people to help them (1 Nephi 17:3).

How does He strengthen us, and what do we need to do to be strengthened by Him?

When Nephi’s brothers tied him up and threatened to leave him in the wilderness to die, he prayed:

O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound (1 Nephi 7:17).

Nephi tells us that, after he said this prayer, “the bands were loosed from off my hands and feet.” Elder David A. Bednar provided the following insight into this story:

I personally do not believe the bands with which Nephi was bound just magically fell from his hands and wrists. Rather, I suspect that he was blessed with both persistence and personal strength beyond his natural capacity, that he then “in the strength of the Lord” (Mosiah 9:17) worked and twisted and tugged on the cords and ultimately and literally was enabled to break the bands (“In the Strength of the Lord,” BYU Devotional Address, 23 October 2001).

When the people of Alma prayed for deliverance from bondage, the Lord didn’t immediately give them what they asked for. Instead, He said, “I will…ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage.” They had to continue to carry those burdens, but “the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease” (Mosiah 24:14-15).

Years later, as Alma’s son led the Nephites against a much larger invading army, they were “strengthened by the hand of the Lord, having prayed mightily to him that he would deliver them out of the hands of their enemies” (Alma 2:28). They still had to fight, but they were much more successful in battle than they would have been.

From these examples, I see two things we must do in order to access the strengthening power of the Lord:

  1. We must recognize and acknowledge that we are not strong enough on our own to overcome the challenges we face. All of these people knew that they could not save themselves, and all turned to God for help.
  2. We must work with the confidence that God’s enabling power will come. As the people in these stories began to do what they needed to do, they were strengthened. God didn’t save them while they passively watched. He magnified their efforts so that they were able to accomplish more than they could have accomplished alone.

Today, I will seek for the strengthening power of God. I will acknowledge my dependence on Him, recognize my own limitations, and seek His help. Then I will go to work, with confidence that He will strengthen me along the way.

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