Note ... this commentary was written on three different dates. At the end of each section, I note the date I wrote it. I have not done this with past entries, but for this one I thought it would be appropriate to keep the dates.
Alma 31 is a continuation of the theme of apostasy among the Nephites. In Alma 30, we read of individual apostasy (Korihor). Now in Alma 31, we read of an apostate group.
Insight from Spanish Translation
I was reading this morning in Alma about how the Zoramites had fallen. We must realize that the Zoramites were once active or part of the church. They had apostatized. Now, how did it all start? In Alma 31:9 it says, "for they would not observe to keep the commandments of God." In Spanish I get greater meaning. It says “pues no se esforzaban por guarder los mandamientos de Dios.” I understand that to mean they didn’t try to keep the commandments. They didn’t make any effort to keep the commandments. In Alma 31:10, it talks about how they at one point stopped their daily prayers and hence they fell into temptation and apostasy. So if a person tells you that daily prayer is not that important, don’t believe him for one second!
Written June 13, 1997
The Zoramites were led by an apostate and Anti-Christ named Zoram. They dissented from the Nephites and set up their own society near the borders of the Lamanite nation. The Nephites feared the Zoramites would unite with the Lamanites and thus have yet another war on their hands. Unfortunately, it seems that this missionary effort galvanized the hardest of the Zoramites who kicked out the humble. The humble were received by the Ammonites. The Ammonites' charity caused the Zoramites to be even angrier and they began to stir up the Lamanites to battle the Nephites. (see Alma 35:10-11)
Two of the main beliefs of the Zoramites were that God is a spirit and that there would be no Christ. These things they professed once a week on the Rameumptom. Their hearts were also set upon gold and silver and fine goods and they were very prideful.
The Zoramites professed to be religious "yet their hearts are swallowed up in their pride." (Alma 31:27) It is evident that they cared more for riches than the things of God. In Alma 31:23, it says that after they vainly prayer on the Rameuptom, they return to their homes and "never [speak] of their God again" until the next week.
Do we worship only once a week? We are commanded, as were the Nephites, "to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that [we] might not enter into temptation." (Alma 31:10) We should not lay aside our faith when we go to work or play. We should not forget about the Savior's teachings once we exit church meetings on Sunday. We should live the gospel every day, all the time. To help us keep that focus, we need to pray regularly every day.
Written June 6, 2007
I read this chapter again for the first time last night while my elders (I was an MTC teacher at this time) were studying their GSR (gospel study review). A few days previous, I was been studying the topic of prayer with my elders. Before I comment on Alma 31, I would like to make a few comments on prayer.
In the Bible dictionary under prayer, there are some very profound comments. It says, “prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can attain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.
“We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ – when his words abide in us (John 15:7). We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent his mind, but spring out of the selfishness of man’s heart.” (p. 753 Bible Dictionary).
Every time before, when I read Alma 31, I always considered it to be just the introductory chapter of the mission to the Zoramites. It is much, much more that that. It is a chapter about prayer. Two prayers are given in this chapter. One is a vain, repetitious, selfish, holier-than-thou prayer given by the elite class of the Zoramites. The other is a humble, submissive, thy-will-be-done-Lord prayer offered up by Alma.
A few things in Alma’s prayer really impressed me. In verse 30, he says, “wilt thou give me strength, that I may bear with mine infirmities. For I am infirm.” I feel this way a lot. I always pray that I may be strong, but not with as much conviction as Alma does – a lesson should be learned.
Later on in verse 31, Alma prays, “grant unto me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me.” It seems as though Alma knows that trials will come and so he simply prays for strength and not that he won’t have to pass through them! The Lord’s will is that Alma passes through tribulation with strength and that is exactly what Alma prays for. Later he prays for his companions that their souls would be comforted in Christ (verse 32) and that they will “bear their afflictions” which would come. Alma’s prayer was so faith-filled, that the Lord let them “suffer no manner of afflictions.” The chapter ends, “this because he prayed in faith.”
Written June 26, 1998