Alma learned that a group of Nephite dissenters called the Zoramites had strayed from the truth of the gospel. Saddened by these reports of wickedness, Alma took others with him to teach the Zoramites the word of God. They witnessed the apostate worship services and the pride of the Zoramites. Alma prayed earnestly that he and his companions would find comfort and success in bringing the Zoramites back to the Lord.
Alma and his companions preach the word of God to the apostate Zoramites
Imagine that you have a friend or family member who is beginning to stray from the gospel or who is not living the gospel as fully as he or she could. Think about answers to the following questions:
What might you do to help this person return to the Church and desire to keep the commandments?
Who might you turn to for help in dealing with this person’s problems and misunderstandings?
This lesson highlights how Alma and others tried to help a group of people who had strayed from the truths of the gospel. Read Alma 31:1–2. How did Alma feel when he heard about what the Zoramites were doing? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Read Alma 31:3–4, and discover why the Nephites began to fear because of the Zoramites’ actions.
Thinking of what you have learned during your study of the Book of Mormon, what do you think would help encourage the Zoramites to repent and return to the truths of the gospel? Read Alma 31:5, and identify what Alma knew would be the most effective way to reclaim the Zoramites.
In your scripture study journal, write down why you think the word of God is more powerful in helping people to change than using force or anything else.
Ponder the following statement from President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, about the power of the word of God:
“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.
“The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel” (“Little Children,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17).
Based on Alma 31:5 and President Packer’s statement, finish the following principle: As I study the word of God, it will lead me to ____________________________________________________________________________________________________.
Among other possibilities, you could finish the above principle this way: As I study the word of God, it will lead me to do that which is right.
Ponder your experiences with the scriptures and hearing the word of God. Write about a time when the word of God led you, your family, or friends to do what was right.
The Zoramites pray and worship in a false manner
Alma and seven others went to preach the word of God to the Zoramites. When they arrived, they observed the Zoramites worshiping God in an astonishing way. What comes to mind when you think of the word worship?
Worship refers to how we show love, reverence, and devotion for God. Worship often includes actions such as praying, fasting, and attending church services. However, true worship always involves the heart. Read Alma 31:8–11, and identify and mark words and phrases that describe the worship of the Zoramites.
It may be helpful to know that “performances of the church” (Alma 31:10) are related to “ordinances,” such as the sacrifices required at that time as part of the law of Moses or the sacrament in our day. You may want to mark in Alma 31:10 one of the reasons we should worship and pray daily.
Consider writing this principle in the margin of your scriptures next to Alma 31:9–11: Our daily efforts to pray and keep the commandments fortify us against temptation.
Elder Rulon G. Craven, while serving as a member of the Seventy, emphasized the importance of daily personal worship as a protection against temptation and error: “During the past years I have at times been asked by the Brethren to meet with repentant members of the Church and interview them for the restoration of their temple blessings. This has always been a spiritually moving experience to restore the blessings of those wonderful people who have repented. I have asked some of them the question, ‘What happened in your life that caused you to temporarily lose your membership in the Church?’ With tear-filled eyes they answered: ‘I didn’t obey the basic principles of the gospel: prayer, attending church regularly, serving in church and studying the gospel. I then gave in to temptations and lost the guidance of the Holy Spirit’” (“Temptation,” Ensign, May 1996, 76).
How does Elder Craven’s statement support the truth found in Alma 31:9–11?
Read Alma 31:12–23, and imagine what it would be like to hear the Zoramites pray from their tower. Think about answers to the following questions:
What concerns would you have if you heard someone praying in this manner?
What are some false doctrines the Zoramites recited in their prayer?
What was their attitude toward other people? (Notice how many times the words we and us appear in the Zoramites’ prayer.)
After each person had repeated the same prayer, “they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand” (Alma 31:23).
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some dangers of worshipping, praying, and speaking of God only once a week?
What are some ways we can worship God throughout the week?
Our attitude is also important as we worship. Read the following statement from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles about how our attitude affects our worship:
“Worship often includes actions, but true worship always involves a particular attitude of mind.
“The attitude of worship evokes the deepest feelings of allegiance, adoration, and awe. Worship combines love and reverence in a state of devotion that draws our spirits closer to God” (Pure in Heart , 125).
Write in your scripture study journal about how well you believe you are doing in your worship, including your attitude, in the following categories: (a) daily personal prayer, (b) daily personal scripture study, (c) obedience to the commandments, and (d) attending church meetings and partaking of the sacrament weekly. Set a goal to improve your personal, daily worship. You may also want to tell a parent, leader, or friend about your goal so he or she can offer you encouragement throughout the coming weeks.
Alma prays for strength and success for the missionaries in bringing the Zoramites back to the Lord
After witnessing the Zoramites’ apostate worship, Alma prayed to the Lord. Read Alma 31:30–35, and look for how Alma’s prayer differed from the Zoramites’ prayer.
In your scripture study journal, write what you learned about how to pray from comparing Alma’s prayer with the Zoramites’ prayer. Also record how Alma’s example of a righteous prayer can influence your personal prayers.
Read Alma 31:36–38, and look for the blessings that came to Alma and his companions as they received priesthood blessings and preached the gospel. Note that the phrase “he clapped his hands upon all them who were with him” (Alma 30:36) refers to the laying on of hands.
Alma and his companions’ experience teaches the principle: If we pray and act in faith, then we will receive divine help in our trials.
Following his prayer, Alma and his companions demonstrated their faith by going to work and trusting in the Lord to provide for them as they served Him and His children. Look for ways you can follow Alma’s example of praying in faith.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Alma 31 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: