After many people accepted Alma’s message in Zarahemla, Gideon, and Melek, the people of Ammonihah rejected Alma and cast him out of their city. As Alma grieved for the wickedness of these people, the same angel that had appeared to him and the sons of Mosiah came to him again. The angel commended Alma for his faithfulness and commanded him to return to Ammonihah. Alma faithfully obeyed the Lord’s commandments, and the Lord called Amulek to assist him in his ministry. Alma and Amulek faithfully set out to teach the people of Ammonihah, filled with the Holy Ghost and power to do the Lord’s work.
Invite students to think about someone they know who is a member of the Church but has turned away from the Lord and His gospel.
Why can it sometimes be hard to help people draw closer to the Lord after they have turned away from Him?
Explain that Alma 8 records that Alma preached to a group of Nephites who had turned away from the Lord. As students study this chapter today, invite them to look for truths that can guide them in their efforts to help those who have turned away from the Lord.
Summarize Alma 8:1–6 by explaining that after Alma taught the people of Gideon he preached in the land of Melek, where many people came to hear him and were baptized. After his success in Melek, Alma traveled to a city called Ammonihah.
Invite a student to read Alma 8:9–10 aloud. Encourage the class to follow along, looking for what Alma did as he tried to teach the gospel to the people of Ammonihah.
What do you think it means that Alma “labored much in the spirit” (verse 10)?
What did Alma pray for?
What principle can we learn from these verses that can guide us when people we know choose to turn away from the Lord? (Help students identify the following principle: When individuals choose to turn away from the Lord, we can ask God in mighty prayer that He will pour out His Spirit upon them. Write this principle on the board.)
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 8:11–13. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the people of Ammonihah responded to Alma.
How did the people respond to Alma?
Why do you think the people responded in this way, even though a prophet of God prayed mightily for them?
Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency. Invite the class to listen for why people may not respond in the way we want them to, even though we may pray mightily for them.
“Faith is powerful, and often it does result in miracles. But no matter how much faith we have, … it cannot violate another person’s agency.
“One woman prayed for years that her wayward daughter would return to the fold of Christ and felt discouraged that her prayers had seemingly gone unanswered. This was especially painful when she heard stories of other prodigal children who had repented of their ways.
“The problem was not a lack of prayers or a shortage of faith. She needed only to understand that, as painful as it might be for our Father in Heaven, He will not force anyone to choose the path of righteousness. …
“God will invite, persuade. God will reach out tirelessly with love and inspiration and encouragement. But God will never compel—that would undermine His great plan for our eternal growth” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Fourth Floor, Last Door,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 16–17).
Why do you think it is important to understand that our prayers cannot overrule another person’s agency?
If our prayers cannot force someone to change, why should we pray for others who have strayed from the Lord?
Point out that although Alma’s requests were not immediately granted, some people in Ammonihah did repent later (see Alma 14:1).
When have you seen someone turn back to the Lord after others prayed for him or her? (Caution students not to mention individuals by name or give too many personal details.)
Invite students to think of someone they could pray for who has chosen to turn away from the Lord. Encourage them to pray for this person and to think about other ways they might be able to help him or her.
As students continue studying Alma 8, invite them to look for some of the ways in which God answered Alma’s prayers for the people of Ammonihah.
Remind students that Alma had been cast out of Ammonihah and that he was on his way to the city of Aaron. Invite a student to read Alma 8:14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Alma felt as he walked away from Ammonihah.
What feelings did Alma have as he walked away from Ammonihah?
Invite a student to read Alma 8:15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the angel who appeared to Alma told him to do.
What did the angel tell Alma to do? (“Lift up thy head and rejoice.”)
What reason did Alma have to rejoice?
Invite a student to read Alma 8:16–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the angel commanded Alma to do next.
What did the angel command Alma to do?
Why might it have been difficult for Alma to be obedient in this situation?
Invite students to read Alma 8:18 silently, looking for the word that describes the manner in which Alma responded to the Lord’s command to return to the city of Ammonihah. (You might want to suggest that students mark the word speedily.)
What can we learn about Alma from the fact that he returned speedily to Ammonihah?
Write the scripture reference Alma 8:19–26 on the board. Underneath this reference write the following incomplete statement: If we choose to obey the Lord’s direction promptly, then …
Divide the class into groups of three, and explain that they will read Alma 8:19–26 aloud in their groups. Ask one student to read the words of Alma, a second student the words of Amulek, and a third student the words that tell the story. As they read, invite students to consider how they might complete the statement on the board to form a principle.
After students have finished reading, ask:
How is Alma’s experience with Amulek an indication that God heard and answered Alma’s prayers? (See Alma 8:10.)
According to verse 20, what did Amulek say about the influence Alma would have on him and those who lived with him? (He knew that Alma would be a blessing to him and his household.)
Based on Amulek’s observation, how might you finish the statement on the board to form a principle? (Using students’ words, complete the statement on the board so it conveys the following principle: If we choose to obey the Lord’s direction promptly, then we can bring blessings into the lives of others.)
Explain that in addition to being a blessing to Amulek and his family, Alma and Amulek were also able to bless many others in Ammonihah as they preached the gospel, and as the people repented of their sins.
What are some situations in which our prompt obedience to the Lord’s direction might bless another person?
Read the following account that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles related about President Thomas S. Monson, who as a young bishop received a prompting to visit a person in his ward. Ask the class to consider how this account can help us understand why it is so important to promptly obey directions we receive from the Lord about how we can help others.
“Twenty-three-year-old Tom Monson … had the distinct impression [during a stake priesthood leadership meeting] that he should leave the meeting immediately and drive to the Veterans’ Hospital high up on the Avenues of Salt Lake City. Before leaving home that night he had received a telephone call informing him that an older member of his ward was ill and had been admitted to the hospital for care. …
“Now the prompting was stronger than ever: ‘Leave the meeting and proceed to the hospital at once.’ But the stake president himself was speaking at the pulpit! It would be most discourteous to stand in the middle of the presiding officer’s message, make one’s way over an entire row of brethren, and then exit the building altogether. Painfully he waited out the final moments of the stake president’s message, then bolted for the door [and rushed to the hospital]. …
“Running the full length of the corridor on the fourth floor of the hospital, the young bishop saw a flurry of activity outside the designated room. A nurse stopped him and said, ‘Are you Bishop Monson?’
“‘Yes,’ was the anxious reply.
“‘I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘The patient was calling your name just before he passed away.’
“Fighting back the tears, Thomas S. Monson turned and walked back into the night. He vowed then and there that he would never again fail to act upon a prompting from the Lord” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Thomas S. Monson: Man of Action, Man of Faith, Always ‘on the Lord’s Errand,’” Ensign, Feb. 1986, 11).
How can this account help us understand the importance of promptly obeying the Lord’s directions about how we can help others?
When have you or someone you know been able to bless someone because you or they obeyed the Lord’s direction promptly?
Summarize Alma 8:27–32 by explaining that Alma remained with Amulek many days. Eventually God commanded Alma and Amulek to preach to the people of Ammonihah. As Alma and Amulek went forth, they were filled with the Holy Ghost and received power from the Lord to do His work.
Conclude by sharing your testimony of the principles students identified in Alma 8. Encourage students to pray for others, obey God’s commandments, and promptly act on the direction they receive from the Lord.