President Russell M. Nelson said, “I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation, for the Lord has promised that ‘if thou shalt [seek], thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal'” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” General Conference, April 2018).
In the first five chapters of Ether, we see this process happening in the life of the brother of Jared. He receives “revelation upon revelation” as he and his brother strive to lead their people after experiencing the confounding of languages at the Tower of Babel. Moroni tells us that they were “directed continually by the hand of the Lord” (Ether 12:6).
At least nine prayers are referenced in these chapters. In the earliest prayers, the brother of Jared asks for a blessing and receives it. Over time, he begins to ask for guidance and to receive instruction from God. He makes mistakes along the way, is reproved by God, and repents. Ultimately, his prayers lead him to the Savior, who shows him “all things” (Ether 3:25-26).
How can we develop our ability to be directed by God? Here are some lessons I’ve learned from these chapters:
- God is willing not only to answer our requests but also to teach us as we talk with Him: What Will Ye That I Should Do? – Ether 2:23-25
- Don’t stop praying when things are going well: He Remembered Not – Ether 2:14.
- We have to invest time and energy consistently to build a relationship with God: What Can We Learn About Coming Unto Christ from the Brother of Jared?
- Sometimes, long prayers are necessary. It can take time for us to align our will with God: This Long Time – Ether 1:41-43.
- Answers may come incrementally over time: The Lord Had Compassion upon Jared – Ether 1:35, 37, 39-42.
- We should pray with a proper expression of reverence and respect: We Know that Thou Art Holy – Ether 3:2-5.
- The setting for our prayers is important: we may need to eliminate distractions in order to listen more effectively: How Can I Be a Better Listener?
- We can prepare for prayer by thinking through possible solutions to the challenges we face: Ether 2:22-25 What Will Ye That I Should Do?
- Even as we bring our challenges and questions to God, we need to remember that He has purposes for us which we aren’t even aware of: That This Man Might Know – Ether 3:17-18.
- It is appropriate to lean on the spiritual strength of other people at times. However, we should each learn to communicate directly with God: Why Did Jared Ask His Brother to Pray Instead of Praying Himself?
Belief and Knowledge
- Knowledge can become the basis for belief: Because Thou Knowest These Things… – Ether 3:11-13.
- We will receive more knowledge from God when we remove barriers to belief: When Ye Shall Rend That Veil of Unbelief… – Ether 4:13-15.
- We can sustain our belief by anchoring ourselves to the word of God, humbling ourselves, and exercising faith: What Does It Mean to “Dwindle in Unbelief?”
- Our attitude toward all good things is indicative of our attitude toward God: He That Will Not Believe My Words Will Not Believe Me – Ether 4:12.
- We should be grateful for the knowledge that we have received from God, but we should also remember that we have much more to learn: What Is the Sealed Portion of the Book of Mormon?
- God will share some information only after we have demonstrated that we can be trusted: What Do We Know About the Jaredite Plates?
- God sends witnesses to help us recognize truth: Who Were the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon?
- We can be both realistic (knowledgeable) and optimistic (believing): Awake to a Sense of Your Awful Situation – Ether 8:24.
- When the Lord gives you a mission, He also gives you the help you need to fulfill that mission: Gazelem.
- We should repent regularly so that our bad habits don’t harden: What Does It Mean to Be “Ripe in Iniquity?”
- We should pray for our country and for its leaders: What Does the Book of Mormon Teach About the United States of America?