O Lord, give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound


The following scripture has always perplexed me:

And it came to pass that when I, Nephi, had spoken these words unto my brethren, they were angry with me.

And it came to pass that they did lay their hands upon me, for behold, they were exceedingly wroth, and they did bind me with cords, for they sought to take away my life, that they might leave me in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts.

But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying:

O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound.

And it came to pass that when I had said these words, behold, the bands were loosed from off my hands and feet, and I stood before my brethren, and I spake unto them again.  (1 Nephi 7:16-18)

I’ve always wondered, “Why didn’t the bands burst as he prayed?  Why were they loosed, instead?”  I finally understand this scripture, and my understanding comes from personal experience.

Two weeks of miracles

During the past two weeks I have been experimenting with the various gifts I have, and I have been able to work ten miracles—four during the first week, and six during the second week.  Now, these weren’t mighty miracles, meaning unexplainable miracles of power, but the type of miracles that skeptics can say were mere coincidences.  Of course, all miracles are wrought by the miraculous power of God, but I differentiate between mighty miracles (unexplainable miracles of power) and coincidental miracles (explainable miracles of power.)  Here is a breakdown of the list:

Week one

1)  Gift: Working of Miracles.  What I asked for: I asked for one thing specific to happen on a specific day, to solve a specific problem.  I also asked for a second specific thing to happen at that same time.  Result: within 24 hours of asking, my problem was solved, the first specific thing was given, as well as the second specific thing, at the very last minute.  Both things asked for were unlikely to happen, and the first hadn’t happened for many months and the second hadn’t happened in over a year’s time.  I asked emphatically, for it was a bit of an emergency.

2)  Gift: Faith to be Healed.  What I asked for: I asked for a specific healing to address an annoying problem.  Result: within 24 hours of asking, my problem was solved.  I do not know whether the healing I asked for is occurring or not.

3) Gift: Working of Miracles.  What I asked for: I asked for a specific alteration of the weather, to address an annoying problem.  Result: The weather was altered precisely as I asked, all day long, except at the very end of the day the weather started to resume its normal course, but I sent up another prayer and it instantly changed again to the precise thing I had asked for.

4) Gift: Working of Miracles.  What I asked for: I asked for a specific thing that was impossible to happen, requiring a bona fide miracle of power.  This was to address a specific problem that I had.  I asked emphatically.  Result: the specific problem was resolved in a non-miraculous way, unexpectedly.

Week two

5) Gift: Word of Wisdom.  What I asked for: a life and death situation presented itself, and my mind went a mile a minute trying to figure out how to get out of it, but I could find no solution, and I needed one fast.  Panicking, I turned my attention to the 14 best gifts and decided that the gift of the word of wisdom could get me out of my danger. I then quickly cried to the Lord to empower my gift and give me wisdom to know what to do.  Result: Instantly, upon saying the prayer, an image of an object I possessed popped into my mind and then an image of a second object I possessed popped in, and I immediately saw that by using the two objects together in a certain way, the danger would be averted.  I offered up a prayer of thanks and then went to work, saving the day.  Needless to say, I was astounded by the operation of this gift and praised the Lord for days afterward.

6) Gift: Working of Miracles.  What I asked for: I needed a specific and better object, to replace an object that I had, and so I asked for it.  Result:  Later that same day, it simply appeared in my way, just for the taking.  It was perfect except it was the wrong size, so I did not take it.

7) Gift: Working of Miracles.  What I asked for: Again I asked for a specific thing to be given to me on a specific day, and also the second thing, just as I had done the week before.  But this time I didn’t ask quite so emphatically as before.  Result: The first specific thing was again given, but the second thing was not.  But it didn’t matter, because my problem was solved by the first thing anyway.

8) Gift: Working of Miracles.  What I asked for: Again I asked for the weather to be altered.  Result: Again it was altered according to my prayer.

9) Gift: Working of Miracles.  What I asked for: I needed a better item to replace an item that I had been using.  So I asked for it, being very specific as to what I wanted.  Result: That same day a similar item appeared in my way, merely for the taking.  In fact, not just one item, but three of the same item appeared.  But these things were much too big, and also, they weren’t precisely what I asked for, nevertheless, they were quite similar to what I had in mind.  So, I left them alone and did not take any.

10) Gift: Working of Miracles.  What I asked for:  My means of transporting lots of heavy things decided to self-destruct mid-trip, and I found myself having to figure out how to get to my destination and carry everything by hand, using brute strength.  After getting everything loaded onto me, I realized that the load was much too heavy for me and I’d have to stop every so many steps to catch my breath and my quick trip would take hours now.  So, I cried to God for the strength of the Lord, so that I could bear all these heavy items easily, and I continued my cries as I trudged along.  Result: A few minutes later, two seemingly brand new metal carts appeared in my way, for the taking.  I put everything into one of the carts, and went my way with ease, my problem having been solved.

All of these answers to my prayers were remarkable because instead of requiring lots of prayer, they required but one prayer or just continual prayer for a few minutes.  The answers typically came within 24 hours, or within minutes or even instantly (in the case of the word of wisdom miracle) and, in the case of the weather alterations, the miracles lasted all day long.

Slow to hear

Historically, it has taken me an astounding amount of prayer to get anything out of the Lord.

And now the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage.  (Mosiah 21:15)

Yea, and it shall come to pass that when they shall cry unto me I will be slow to hear their cries; yea, and I will suffer them that they be smitten by their enemies.  (Mosiah 11:24)

The above “slow to hear” curse, put upon the wicked, has been my curse from the very beginning.  To give some examples, I prayed for over a year to get the Lord to give me the woman I ended up marrying, and this was even before I began pursuing her.  (I don’t “fish” for women, nor do I use the “spear gun approach.”  I always opt for the miraculous guaranteed approach, in which I pray for the biggest fish I can find, and at the appropriate time, she jumps out of the water, into my boat.)  Another example was when I went on my mission.  I never studied the language.  No, not one bit.  Not in the MTC, nor on the mission.  The book they gave me to study the language while in the field, I thumbed through once, and then threw it away.  After I got in the field, in my first area, I said to the Lord, “I am not going to study this language, so if you want me to preach to these people, you are going to have to give me the gifts of tongues and interpretation, and then I’ll preach.  But I’m not going to lift a finger to learn this language, because I don’t like this language.  But I will pray for these gifts, and that is all I will do, until you give me ability to preach in this language, and then, and only then, will I preach.”  And so I continued to pray for the gifts all through the months of my first area.  When I got to my second area, suddenly I could preach in the language, and that is the only ability the Lord gave me to do (to preach), for that is all I asked for.  In other words, I couldn’t talk of other topics, but I could preach in the language, and that was fine with me, because that is all I wanted.  And so I stopped praying for tongues and interpretation and started preaching, but it took me months of prayer to make it happen.

But, in the past two weeks, this “curse” seems to be finally lifting, and now an emphatic prayer can get the Lord to act instantly, or quite rapidly, in my behalf.  Which leads me to the scripture about Nephi.

Imperfect or weak faith

From the experience I have gained in the past two weeks, it seems apparent that God must respond to any level of faith, whatsoever, in some way, even if the faith is weak or imperfect.  As long as there is faith, there will be a miracle of some kind.  The ten miracles I worked were not demonstrations of perfect or strong faith, except in the case of the word of wisdom miracle, and also the altering of the weather miracles.  But for the others, I didn’t get exactly what I asked for, just as Nephi didn’t get exactly what he asked for.  Nevertheless, I had exercised a measure of faith, however imperfect and weak, and because of it, God had to supply something, to help alleviate my situation, just as he had to supply something to Nephi, to alleviate his situation. This then, is the reason why the bands were loosed from off of Nephi, and not broken by his “strength of the Lord” strength.  It wasn’t that he had prayed “amiss.”  It was simply that his faith wasn’t perfect or strong enough in that moment for that specific miracle to happen precisely as asked.  Nevertheless, the very fact that the bands were loosed, in other words, the very fact that something happened as a result of his prayer, bespeaks that he had, in very deed, prayed in faith.

And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.  (Alma 37:40)

Later, of course, Nephi’s faith was made strong, even unshaken, for all these daily witnesses (miracles) of imperfect or weak faith tend to make one’s faith stronger and stronger as time goes on, so that later, when Nephi prayed, God performed the miracle exactly as he asked for it.

Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.  (Jacob 4:6)

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4 Comments

  1. (1 Nephi 7:16-18) this text was great as LDSA’s latest post because it confirms and rebuilds my former belief on prayer before i discovered ldsa blog…but ldsa posts on prayer are good foundations anyway>>><<<….

  2. Interesting the Mormon worldview. Weather, which affects thousands of people and for which thousands of people pray, is believed to be changed for one person’s purposes. I’ve very much enjoyed this blog but this post has nearly driven me away for its conceitedness.

    Contemplate your other so-called miracles and then consider the possibility that the solutions you found were there solely due to the fact that you are on earth, a place that constantly offers an abundance of solutions to an abundance of problems. If you had these same problems on another planet you likely would not have found a solution or it would have been much more difficult bacause the choices would have been fewer. Earth often makes solutions easy and many ignore this and confuse probabilities with miracles. The brain is exceptional at connecting dots that confirm the narrative we want for ourselves. How many problems have you had where you didn’t find a solution? Probably very few bacause either you solve a problem or the problem changes. If this isn’t true then you should have a great many solutionless problems still plaguing you. You probably just have a few that follow you and without a sulotion you cope. If it happens to be a big problem that can’t be solved you die. And lots of people die. Probabilities and self-appointed narratives equal conceited worldviews.

  3. Great to have you visit, T. You might also want to read my post, Intellectuals, if you haven’t done so already.

    Earth often makes solutions easy and many ignore this and confuse probabilities with miracles.

    I wrote in the post:

    Now, these weren’t mighty miracles, meaning unexplainable miracles of power, but the type of miracles that skeptics can say were mere coincidences. Of course, all miracles are wrought by the miraculous power of God, but I differentiate between mighty miracles (unexplainable miracles of power) and coincidental miracles (explainable miracles of power.)

    The reason why I used the scripture in the Book of Mormon, of Nephi asking for strength to burst his bounds, is because they didn’t burst, but were instead loosed. When he got to Laman and Lemuel, they could have simply said that they didn’t tie the knots tight enough. In other words, there is no miracle here. It is merely a matter of coincidence, or of probability, as you might put it.

    Nevertheless, Nephi put the incident in the narrative because Nephi recognized, and I also recognize, that there are two types of miracles: mighty and coincidental. People will claim that every little thing that goes their way is a miracle of God, subscribing all sorts of explainable things of varying probability to the power of God. There are those who think all of this is nonsense, that none of that can be ascribed to God, but God, does, in fact, use such means, in other words, altering probability statistics, so that now, according to the prayer of the individual, what was once a very low probability becomes an extremely high probability, so much so, in fact, that it comes to pass.

    Everything I asked for had extremely low probability of coming to pass. And more especially coming to pass in exactly the way I asked for them to come to pass. So, that the probability became altered by my prayers was noted, by me. Now, you may say, “Ah, but you don’t know the exact probability statistics of each of these events!” And that’s true, but NEITHER DO YOU. My vantage point, though, was better than your vantage point, because I was aware of all the facts of the matter, which I DID NOT reveal in the post. My assessment, then, of these situations, is superior to yours.

    The brain is exceptional at connecting dots that confirm the narrative we want for ourselves.

    Very true, indeed. But there are two brain lobes, and the rational brain is only half of the process. To consider only the rational in all things is lopsided thinking. For example, you likely think that the word of wisdom event I mentioned was merely my brain “connecting the dots.” Yet I am quite aware of how my brain operates, both normally and under pressure, and my brain DID NOT operate as it normally did that time.

    (And just as a background, since I am now talking of brains, I will say this: on this blog I speak almost exclusively of spiritual things and leave off rational things altogether, but in real life, those who know me have always thought of me as a “brainac,” and no one ever has liked to engage me in any match of wits, whether in rational thinking, or in spiritual thinking, because I have always intimidated everyone around me, regardless of what the topic is, and even those who begin thinking of themselves as my intellectual better get pissed off that I am equally adept at matching my brain power to theirs, as I am at matchimg my spiritual experience to theirs. I don’t say this to brag, just to say that on this blog I might come off as a spiritual-only person, incapable of rational thought, or weak-minded, in the sense that I don’t seem to rely upon my rational thought processes, at all, but the truth of the matter is that I will hit everyone with both brain barrels, including the full rational side, as well as the irrational side, in any challenge, and this brain barrage doesn’t make people feel too good, for people are used to relying on only one side, not both, to bolster an argument. But I am capable of using the rational as well as the irrational to show that there is a God that has spoken to me. My brain power is essentially, then, double that of any other person, unless they also do the same thing that I do. And thus, people are often intimidated by my brain.)

    Anyway, back to my knowledge of how my brain operates. When the word of wisdom first came upon me, in the latter half of 1999, it came along with a mighty manifestation of the Holy Ghost, in which the Spirit announced via the manifestation, that the gift of the word of wisdom was now here, like a trumpet sounding. The word of wisdom came in this manner, different than the arrival of the other gifts, because it is the king of the best spiritual gifts of God. That first time, it manifested as a word of wisdom, in which I thought the wise thought, a thought altogether foreign, hearing the word in my mind, and simultaneously got the accompanying manifestation, which caused me to exclaim out loud, “Holy freakin’ cow! It is the gift of the word of wisdom!” I had expected its arrival for many, many years, and now I finally had it. But on the night in question, in the post, the word of wisdom manifestated not in word, but in vision, for I was shown wisdom.

    The three images that were planted in my mind after I had prayed fervently in faith were not my mind “connecting the dots,” as you put it, but were images instantly and suddenly put in my mind in perfect clarity, held there for exactly long enough for me to see what the image was of, then replaced by the next image, which again was held there for exactly long enough for me to see what the image was of, then that second image was replaced by a third image, which image showed how to put both the first and second image items together in a certain way to solve my problem, then that third image was taken out of my mind after I had comprehended the third image. In other words, this wasn’t my mind “connecting the dots,” but an external entity putting the images in my brain and, flash-card like, flashing the card images for precisely long enough for comprehension, before moving to the next card. So, I was taught, via images, wisdom. In other words, I was shown wisdom by vision. All the while this process happened, my mind was still, for I was engaged not in thinking, but in observing the images and their meaning, fully understanding that this was the almighty power of God showing wisdom to me.

    Now, my brain DOES NOT operate after this fashion. I can synthesize along with the best of them, and think my way out of situations, and often when you don’t think, then a solution will enter the brain, but solutions don’t come in this flash card visionary manner. Solutions come as, Ah-hah! moments, in which synthesis takes place behind the brain scenes. This wasn’t, at all, synthesis. It was, instead, a sort of classroom event, in which I was taught wisdom via flash cards. And the whole thing was absolute perfection. By that I mean that the images weren’t just perfect (not like memories), but the time they were shown was of a perfect length, just long enough for me to comprehend the meaning, and then taken away and replaced the very next instant with the next image. THe instantaneous and sudden nature of it is a signature of the operation of the Divine, and because I am fully aware of this divine signature, I took immediate note of it:

    For I am the Lord thy God; I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool; I stretch my hand over the sea, and it obeys my voice; I cause the wind and the fire to be my chariot; I say to the mountains—Depart hence—and behold, they are taken away by a whirlwind, in an instant, suddenly. (Abraham 2:7)

    This is how the gifts of tongues and interpretation first came upon me: in an instant, suddenly; and how all the other gifts also manifested in my life. It is how God operates.

    How many problems have you had where you didn’t find a solution?

    I have had endless problems without solutions. And they are still in my life.

    If this isn’t true then you should have a great many solutionless problems still plaguing you.

    Plaguing me is the right way to speak of these many problems in my life, which have no solution. So I send up prayers of faith to solve these unsolvable problems and am assured they will be solved at some point, in the due time of the Lord.

    You probably just have a few that follow you and without a sulotion you cope. If it happens to be a big problem that can’t be solved you die. And lots of people die. Probabilities and self-appointed narratives equal conceited worldviews.

    But see, that’s just it. My problems have NO solutions. Anybody else in my shoes would just give up and die, or cope in some manner, but I know that God has all power to perform all manner of miracles, so there is NEVER NO SOLUTION, because God can get a person out of ANY jam, no matter how big, as long as faith is exercised in His Son. I rely upon my spiritual gifts, and in particular, my gift of faith, to give me solutions that otherwise would not be available. If that makes me conceited, well then, I guess I am guilty as charged. (This would not be news to people who know me, since everyone thinks I’ve got the biggest ego they’ve ever seen. And I would agree with that assessment. I also think I’ve got the biggest ego I’ve ever seen.)

  4. LDSA, I rejoice in your gifts. Thanks for sharing.


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