2 Nephi 26-33: “Pray Always”

The final eight chapters of 2 Nephi are Nephi’s farewell address to his children and posterity. They are the words of dying man who has seen the destruction of his people and wants them to listen to him. I feel Nephi’s urgency in these final chapters and I think there is so much in his words that applies to our lives.

The chapters are split into sections where Nephi’s is letting his posterity know what he has seen for them and the future and then his words on how they can avoid that fate personally and come unto Christ the Lord.

I got a new book that is amazing and helpful for your study this year. Go to the link to check it out – The Book of Mormon For the Least of These

CHAPTERS FOR STUDY WEEK 9-10 – 2 Nephi 26-33

– Satan has built a world that deceives us into rejecting Christ.

– The Doctrine of Christ is a constant cycle of following the Savior, failing, repenting and covenanting with God, and receiving the Holy Ghost to help us in our journey of refinement.

– Praying is our link to God, the Evil spirit will try to convince us not to pray.

History and Context:
– Nephi references “churches” often in these chapters. It is critical to understand that he doesn’t only mean “other churches” in the sense of other denominations. He could mean our global church, other denominations, our local congregations, and even our homes.   

– Descriptions of God’s wrath, judgments, or movements as thundering, lightening, fire, earthquakes and other strong natural phenomenons, is mostly symbolic and is very common in ancient writings of Elohim, Yahweh, and other Deity. It emphasizes the power and efficacy of His actions and feelings.  

– Baptism in Nephi’s day would have been significantly different than modern Christian baptism, in fact, Nephi focuses primarily on two components of Baptism – 1. Ritual Purification and 2. Obedience. These were common ideas to ancient Israel and so would have added up for Nephi. The third component of baptism in modern times was entrance to the community.  This was not instituted in Book of Mormon times until Alma (when the people were more mixed genealogically and needed a new community) and until the times of Paul when bringing new converts into the community was necessary.

– Nephi is clear that his writings and teachings are not perfect, and he probably made mistakes in his record. If this is true for Nephi (later Mormon and Moroni say similar things), then it is also likely that Joseph could have made mistakes and entered in his own view of things in the translation. There are many who get shaken by modern ideas or words appearing in the Book of Mormon translation, when it seems logical to me that Joseph was the one interpreting the imperfect information and presenting it, imperfectly, into the words of the Book of Mormon. 

– Nephi’s visions of the future, and his decades of being personally acquainted with the Messiah make his words important to study and absorb. He was also a man fully acquainted with grief, sorrow, pain, division, war, and conflict. His experiences would have colored his teachings and I believe that is was the wisdom of God that we have his words to help us in modern times. His words and teachings are very applicable to our own lives. 

Nephi’s Vision of the Future (26-27, 29-30)
Nephi predicts the destruction of his people three or four generations after the Messiah will visit his people hundreds of years in the future. Knowing that the Jews and his people will be destroyed, Nephi sees that it is the Gentile (unclean) nations who will eventually receive the gospel and use it to not only reunite the Jews to the gospel, but the lost tribes of Israel, and the Lamanites. This will be done through combining the record that Nephi and his family will write with the writings of the Jews and Israel to convince and spread the Spirit throughout the world. After the gospel has been restored an spread, the world will divide even further.

Warning to Churches (Us) (28)
There are very specific philosophies that are the cause of unbelief, unhappiness, and conflict in human lives. The Devil wishes to sow this discord, misery, and confusion and Nephi gives warnings to the churches about these ideas. I cannot stress enough that we cannot look at these warnings as descriptions of “other churches” but must look within our individual hearts, our social groups, our local churches, and other affiliations to notice and change the things Nephi is warning us about.

The Lord’s plan for us is to learn and grow little by little, repentance by repentance, and experience by experience. It is the simple things that bring us to God – faith, humility, repentance, and prayer.

  • Warnings
    • Actions
      • Contention (for any reason)
      • Ignore and diminish the Spirit of the Lord
      • Seeking to hide sins and ideas
      • Disregard the poor
      • Pride, Greed, Intellectual Superiority
      • Whoredoms
    • Ideas
      • Eat, Drink, and be Merry – YOLO (You Only Live Once)
      • Do not care about following the Lord, because God redeemed us
      • Social Divisions caused by pride, nationalism, racism, money.
      • Knowledge and Wealth as the measurement of success
      • Revile that which is good and call it of no worth.
    • Satan’s Plan – Distraction from repentance and faith in Christ
      • Cause division, anger, and hatred among all people
        • Focus on others
      • Create safety, prosperity, and security
        • Remove need for the Lord
      • Advance Alternate Ideas to Repentance and Christ
        • There is no God or Devil, there is no purpose, there is no good or evil.

The Doctrine of Christ (31)
Nephi follows up his warnings and prophecy with his final advice to follow the simple and plain doctrine of Christ.

  • Follow Christ – Love God, Love Neighbors
    • Fail
  • Repent and Covenant (Baptism/Sacrament) with Christ to Change
    • Receive Holy Ghost who helps us Follow Christ better.
      • Repeat

This is the cycle of becoming like Christ and it is truly that simple.

Nephi’s Final Testimony (32-33)
Nephi’s sermon concludes with him emphasizing that the thing that helps us follow the Holy Ghost is seeking communion with God through prayer and seeking the words of Christ. Despite his weakness in writing, Nephi shares his testimony that his words are the truth and that he knows Christ and that it is all about the Messiah and our relationship with him. The scriptures, the commandments, the plan, the gospel, the atonement is all to bring us back to Christ and communing with Him in our efforts to become something better than we are and closer to the glory of God where we can find joy and rejoicing with our ancestors and posterity.

Why is pride and selfishness so prevalent with human beings? What can we do to prevent pride from overtaking our lives?

When we think about ignoring the poor and less fortunate, what does that mean for us individually? Collectively? Are we truly honest with ourselves in where our hearts are in this regard? Can we truly live the gospel and adhere to ideas and actions that alienate and worsen the plight of our fellow human beings?

Nephi emphasizes simple and plain gospel principles. What can we do to make our lives more simple, and focus on doing our best, repenting, and loving each other?

Key Moment or Scripture: 2 Nephi 32:8-9
And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.
But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

This has always been one of the most important scriptures in my life. Specifically there are two parts that matter deeply to me. The first part is where Nephi says that the “evil spirit” teacheth a man not to pray, and the second is that when we “pray” in the name of Christ that the Lord will consecrate the things we do for the welfare of our souls.

There was a time in my life, where I was living a sinful life, a life that was not in harmony with Christ. I was in a dark place and that darkness threatened to overtake me. I didn’t feel “worthy” to pray or be close to the Lord, but I will never forget being in a testimony meeting and knowing that I should pray. That day I prayed, truly in the name of Christ and I realized that anyone could pray, in fact, the purest act of faith on earth is praying when we are separated from God. It shows we need the Lord and we care. In that moment I felt the spirit tell me the Christ loved me and that I would make it back.

I plead with each of you to never forget that praying is THE act of faith, it is the power to find our way to God. We aren’t always going to get an answer, or hear the Lord, but we will FIND our way to the Lord. The Lord will consecrate our prayers for the welfare of our souls. We don’t always know what our souls will need, but I can only speak for my experience; when I pray regularly to repent and ask for help, my life finds meaning, and my trials provide learning, and my relationships provide joy. My soul heals, enlarges, and becomes refined when I pray. Reject the evil one and pray always is the best advice I could give anyone.

Final Thoughts:
I will be combining Jacob into one post on March 15th so there will be no post next week. Jacob is one of my favorite books and it is interesting to see the struggles Jacob experiences as he takes Nephi’s place as leader of the group. He has to be judicious in his words as there is little space left on the smaller plates, but he teaches some very important things. In addition, we witness the full integration of Nephites into the indigenous population and the writings become even more family oriented as they are passed down.

  • Sources
    • Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon by Brant Gardner
    • Understanding the Book of Mormon by Grant Hardy
    • The Book of Mormon – For the Least of These by Fatimah Salleh