In humble prayer, Moroni expressed a concern. He worried about the weakness he perceived in his writing and in the writing of other Book of Mormon prophets. The Lord responded with a promise to strengthen those who humble themselves and have faith in Him.
Suggestions for Teaching
Moroni teaches that the Lord can help us overcome our weaknesses
Write the word strong on one side of the board and the word weak on the other side of the board. Give students time to ponder what they feel are their strengths. Then invite them to think about a few of their weaknesses or inadequacies.
Ask students to ponder a weakness that they have which they would like to overcome. Explain that Moroni taught about why we have weaknesses and how we can overcome them.
Invite a student to read Ether 12:23–25 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the weakness Moroni felt he and other writers of the Book of Mormon had. Before students read, you may want to explain that the word Gentiles in these verses refers to people or nations in the latter days “that are without the gospel” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Gentiles,” scriptures.lds.org).
What weakness did Moroni feel he and other writers of the Book of Mormon had?
What did Moroni worry would happen because of the weakness of those who wrote the Book of Mormon?
Invite a student to read Ether 12:26–27 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s answer to Moroni’s concern. Invite students to report what they find.
What principle can we learn from the first sentence of Ether 12:27? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we come unto Jesus Christ, then He will show us our weakness.)
What are some things we can do to come unto Jesus Christ? (Answers might include that we can pray, fast, repent, study the scriptures, participate in temple worship, serve others, and seek to develop Christlike attributes.)
Why do you think it is important for us to recognize our weaknesses?
To help students answer this question, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency:
“Often we try to avoid looking deeply into our souls and confronting our weaknesses, limitations, and fears. Consequently, when we do examine our lives, we look through the filter of biases, excuses, and stories we tell ourselves in order to justify unworthy thoughts and actions.
“But being able to see ourselves clearly is essential to our spiritual growth and well-being. If our weaknesses and shortcomings remain obscured in the shadows, then the redeeming power of the Savior cannot heal them and make them strengths [see Ether 12:27]. Ironically, our blindness toward our human weaknesses will also make us blind to the divine potential that our Father yearns to nurture within each of us” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Lord, Is It I?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 58).
How can seeing ourselves clearly, including our weaknesses, prepare us for spiritual growth?
According to verse 27, why does the Lord give us weakness? (To help us be humble that we may draw upon His grace.)
Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we humble ourselves and exercise faith in the Lord, then …
How would you complete this principle, based on the Lord’s teachings in verse 27? (After students respond, complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following principle: If we humble ourselves and exercise faith in the Lord, then He will make weak things become strong unto us. Invite students to consider marking the words in this verse that teach this principle.)
How does the Lord “make weak things become strong unto [us]”? (Through His grace. You may need to explain that grace is a “divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ” [Bible Dictionary, “Grace”].)
Invite students to share experiences they have had when the Lord has helped them (or someone they know) to overcome a weakness. (Remind students that they should not share experiences that are too personal or private.) You might also want to share the following experience from a young woman or an experience of your own.
“I have always been a naturally shy person around people I don’t know very well. …
“School started, and it seemed as if Satan knew my weakness and set out to intensify it. …
“One night before bed, I was reading in Ether 12. … ‘If [men] humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.’ …
“Tears filled my eyes. I knew that what I felt was my desire to come unto Christ. Suddenly I understood that the Lord had a plan for me. I also realized that the Lord wanted to help me make good friends. If I just had humility and faith, the Lord would help make my weakness a strength. …
“Lately I have seen how the Lord has kept His promise. … How grateful I am for the lesson I learned that night and for all the peace and serenity that comes with knowing God lives, He loves us individually, and He wants to help His children” (Raina Nibarger, “Shy No More,” New Era, Oct. 2009, 45).
To encourage application of the principles taught in Ether 12:27, write the following phrases on the board:
1. Recognize my weakness
2. Humble myself
3. Exercise faith in Jesus Christ
Invite students to write these phrases in their class notebooks or study journals. Ask them to write under the appropriate phrases (1) a weakness they feel they have, (2) a way they can humble themselves, and (3) a way they can exercise faith in Jesus Christ so they can receive His help, or grace, to overcome the weakness they have listed. (Caution students to not write anything that may be too personal or private.) Testify to students that as they follow through with what they have written, the Lord will “make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
Invite a student to read Ether 12:29 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Moroni responded to this message from the Lord. Invite students to report what they find.
Invite a student to read Ether 12:32–33 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Moroni remembered the Lord had done and said that also brought comfort to Moroni.
What had the Lord done and said that also brought comfort to Moroni?
Summarize Ether 12:34–40 by explaining that Moroni prayed for the Gentiles and was told by the Lord that he had been faithful and would be made strong.
To conclude, read Ether 12:41 aloud to the class. Ask them to follow along, looking for Moroni’s invitation. (Invite students to consider marking the phrase “seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written.”)
Testify of the principles you have discussed today, and invite students to apply these principles in their lives.
Commentary and Background Information
Ether 12:27. “I will show unto them their weakness”
Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that we experience two kinds of weakness in mortality:
“When we read in the scriptures of man’s ‘weakness,’ this term includes the … weakness inherent in the general human condition in which the flesh has such an incessant [or constant] impact upon the spirit (see Ether 12:28–29). Weakness likewise includes, however, our specific, individual weaknesses, which we are expected to overcome (see D&C 66:3; Jacob 4:7). Life has a way of exposing these weaknesses” (Neal A. Maxwell, Lord, Increase Our Faith , 84).
Elder Bruce C. Hafen, who served as a member of the Seventy, indicated that our struggle to overcome weakness is central to our purpose here on earth:
“Our Father’s plan subjects us to temptation and misery in this fallen world. …
“So if you have problems in your life, don’t assume there is something wrong with you. Struggling with those problems is at the very core of life’s purpose. As we draw close to God, He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser, stronger [see Ether 12:27]. If you’re seeing more of your weaknesses, that just might mean you’re moving nearer to God, not farther away” (Bruce C. Hafen, “The Atonement: All for All,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 97).
Supplemental Teaching Idea
Ether 12:27. Overcoming weaknesses
To help students feel the truth and importance of the principle that if we humble ourselves and exercise faith in the Lord, then He will make weak things become strong unto us, read the following true account of a young man who became clean from a pornography addiction:
“I humbly bowed before the Lord in tears and pled for strength beyond my own. Night after night I prayed, and finally I knew I had to talk to my bishop about it. That was the hardest part. …
“It took a lot of time and sincere effort to break bad habits. Eventually I was judged by my priesthood leader as worthy to serve a mission. The best feeling in the world was to go through the temple and know I am clean. The Spirit I wanted to feel … came flooding into my heart and life. I am so thankful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (“Danger Ahead! Avoiding Pornography’s Trap,” New Era, Oct. 2002, 37, 39).