The book of Ether is Moroni’s abridgment of the Jaredite record. The prophet Ether made this record on 24 gold plates, which were discovered by a group of King Limhi’s people. The following teaching idea will help students understand some principles about prayer that are taught in Ether 1.
Begin class by asking students to think about a situation they were in when they really felt the need to pray for help. Invite a few students to share their experiences, or share one of your own experiences.
Remind students that the book of Ether is Moroni’s abridgment of the record of the Jaredites. Jared, his brother, their friends, and their families lived during the time of the Tower of Babel (approximately 2200 BC), when God confounded the people’s language.
Invite a student to read Ether 1:33–35 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for reasons why Jared and his brother felt the need to pray for help. (Before the student reads, you may want to explain that the phrase “cry unto the Lord” is another way of saying “pray.”)
What help did Jared and his brother need from the Lord?
What do these verses tell you about how Jared felt about his brother’s faith?
Divide students into pairs. Invite each partnership to take turns reading aloud to one another from Ether 1:35–42. Before they read, ask them to look for (1) each time the brother of Jared cried to the Lord and (2) each time the Lord showed compassion to the brother of Jared as a result of his prayers. After sufficient time, invite a few pairs to share an example of the Lord showing compassion to the brother of Jared and his family because of their repeated prayers.
What principles can we learn about prayer from these verses? (As students share the principles they have identified, emphasize the following principle: As we consistently cry unto God in faith, He will have compassion on us. Write this principle on the board.)
Explain to students that it is important to remember that “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 already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them” (Bible Dictionary, “Prayer”).
Invite students to review Ether 1:34, 36, 38, looking for what the brother of Jared asked for in his prayers. Ask a student to list the things the students identify under the phrase “cry unto God” in the principle you wrote on the board.
Emphasize that Jared and his brother had faith and were willing to be obedient to the Lord. Suggest that students mark the phrase “let us be faithful unto the Lord” at the end of Ether 1:38.
Invite students to review Ether 1:35, 37, 40–42, looking for the specific ways God blessed the brother of Jared and his family and friends. As students identify these blessings, have a student list them under the word compassion in the principle you wrote on the board. Point out that the Lord gave the brother of Jared the blessings that he prayed for.
Write the following questions on the board, or prepare them on a handout. Ask students to refer to the principle written on the board and, in their partnerships, discuss the questions. These questions will help them understand and feel the importance of the principle.
Once students have had time to discuss these questions, you might ask them to share an experience they discussed in their groups or to share insights from their discussion.
Share your testimony of Heavenly Father’s love for us and His desire to bless us as we regularly call upon Him. Invite students to consider how they could apply the principle on the board. For example, they might set a goal to pray more regularly or choose one way to make their prayers more sincere. You may want to give them time to write what they desire to do in their study journals.
Explain that a study of the prayers of the brother of Jared can give us additional insight into the Lord’s love for us and the blessings that come through prayer. Invite a student to read Ether 1:43 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the additional blessing God promised Jared and his brother.
After students report what they have learned, point out that the brother of Jared had not specifically prayed for the blessing of having his posterity become a great nation. You might suggest that students mark in their scriptures the phrase at the end of Ether 1:43 that shows why God answered the brother of Jared’s prayer in this way: “because this long time ye have cried unto me.”
What principles can we learn from the Lord’s generosity to Jared and his brother, as shown in Ether 1:43?
There are several principles that can be learned from this scripture. One important principle is that if we pray regularly to God with faith, we can receive blessings beyond those we request.
When have you had an experience that shows this principle is true? Do you know someone who has had such an experience, or can you think of someone in the scriptures who has? (Tell students you will give them a moment to think of examples before you ask them to respond. You might also want to share an example from your own life.)
To conclude this lesson, share your testimony that God hears and answers our prayers. He is full of wisdom and compassion and delights to bless His children. He is pleased when we sincerely and consistently pray to Him. Encourage students to make an effort to pray with more faith. Encourage them to remember that Heavenly Father is filled with compassion and will answer their prayers according to what He knows will bring the greatest blessings into their lives.
Explain that in the next unit, students will learn more about the Jaredites. Although prophets warned the Jaredites not to appoint kings, the people did so, and the kings led the people into captivity. Men who desire worldly power usually use secret combinations to further their selfish desires. Moroni recorded many marvelous things that were done because some of the people had great faith. He taught that those who humble themselves before God and have faith in Him will receive His grace to help them overcome their weakness.