The first thought that comes to mind in this chapter is in verse 6. It seems as though Alma was teaching one group of people and then there was another group that was more prepared than the first. This applies to missionary work and budgeting time. As missionaries, we need to pray to be led to those who are prepared to “hear the word.” This saves time and makes missionary work more effective and efficient.
Humility and Habits
There are many times when it seems I am compelled to be humble. Just when I think I understand accounting or whatever class I have, I find out I really do not know what is going on – I am humbled. Sometimes school will be going just fine and I tend to forget my scripture study and sincere prayers, then things begin to fall apart and I turn to Heavenly Father for help. I begin to do those things that I know are right so that Father can bless me. All of this is good because I repent, but I would be so much more blessed if I truly humble myself all on my own. I would grow so much more and the Lord could me my life a finer instrument in his hands. This is what I’m trying to do now – truly humble myself and do the right thing.
Written October 19, 1998
In my life these days, I don't have to worry about juggling school work, classes, work and dating. All of that has been replaced with a career, church callings, raising a family and managing a home. In all that, I've found that I get so tired at night that I will go to bed without saying my personal prayer. Early mornings are similar … I forget to pray in my rush to get to work. I've been thinking long and hard about how to rectify this situation. I want to humble myself rather than being forced to be humble. I don't like the feeling I get when I feel compelled to pray and I have not been regularly praying.
In the matter of prayer and scripture study, a habit must be formed. From what I've been taught, a habit forms after 21 consecutive days of performing an action. I've developed a habit of personal scripture study and our family has a habit of family prayer and family scripture study. So what I need to work on is a habit of personal prayer, morning and night. The time: after I get up and before I go to bed. The place: our living room (everyone else is in bed).
Faith and Experimentation
Today is known as the Information Age. Anyone in a modern society can virtually learn anything because everyone has access to vast amounts of data and information. Ironically, with practically everything at our fingertips, we are still confused. There is so much information out there about the Gospel, both for and against, that one can still learn all there is to know and remain as though they knew nothing about the Gospel. The Information Age can give us so much, but it cannot give us faith.
There are those who feel the need to nail down every point of doctrine in their minds before they are baptized. These are the people who are "compelled to know, before they will believe." (Alma 32:16) There is no faith in their belief.
Alma counsels us that all we really need to begin with is a desire to believe and to experiment. To me, this sounds like curiosity. Many will turn away missionaries and members of the Church without so much as even listening to a word we say. But if these same people would simply have a little curiosity and investigate a little, then they begin to exercise a little faith.
Once a desire is placed within a person's heart, they must not cast it out. The little seed must have some time to ferment. If given some time, "it will begin to swell" within a person's heart and that person agrees that it is indeed good. The Spirit may touch a person's heart in a way and it becomes "delicious" to them.
Just this mere fact that it begins to swell within and touch a person's heart should strengthen a person's faith. But the person's knowledge is not perfect yet … the seed is not strong enough quite yet.
As the seed sprouts and grows, the person must care for it and nourish it "with great care." If he neglects the tree and does not water it and fertilize it, then the heat of the sun (or the world's temptations) will scotch it and the tree will die. Again, nourishing a seed and tree equates to developing those habits. If we skip a day of watering the tree or if a new member or investigator skips church meetings for a week, then the sun and doubt begin to destroy the little tree.
We must develop those habits and "look forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof." (Alma 32:40) We must keep our eye on the goal and imagine what our life will be like once our habits are established and we are firm in the Gospel.
Forming these habits require diligence and patience and long-suffering and waiting. (Alma 32:41, 43)
By and by as we form these habits and continue to exercise our faith, we see the fruit form and then one day we are able to pluck the fruit and enjoy the delicious taste. In this analogy, fruit equals actions which equal our character. Thoughts form words, words form actions, actions form habits, habits form character and character is who we are.
In conclusion, we should note that our faith not only applies to the Gospel and our testimony, but it can also apply to any aspect of our lives be it in matters of exercise and diet or in learning something new.