Why I love the book of Enos.
Enos is the grandson of Lehi, nephew of Nephi, and son of Jacob. His writings are only one chapter in the entire Book of Mormon. This is probably one of my all-time favorite books of scripture! I love it because it teaches us the process for changing our hearts and we all know that is something that all of us need on a regular basis.
Enos first shares with us that he is out in the forest hunting beasts. This just tells me that he is going about his ‘work’ for the day. While he was going about his daily work, he was pondering the words of his father, who happened to also be a prophet. He says, “…the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart…” This reminds me of any father-child relationship……fathers speak often about those things which are important to them which they want their children to understand. In Enos’ case, it was the words of eternal life and the joy of the saints. This would have been a very gratifying moment for Jacob because Enos says Jacob’s words ‘sunk deep into his heart’.
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Here, the word of the Lord penetrated his heart. They were words he had heard often, not once. When the word of the Lord penetrated his heart, Enos’ soul hungered. The words of the Lord through his prophet/father created a desire for Enos to know his standing before the Lord, so he begins to pray. Here it is interesting to note, that he took time out his daily work to perform this spiritual work. He made time to talk to God, his Heavenly Father. It wasn’t given to him or created. He stopped what he was doing (hunting) to pray. His feelings were so sincere and his desire so great that he ‘prayed all the day long and when the night came, [he] did still raise [his] voice high that it reached the heavens’. This was not a quick prayer. He worked mightily in the Spirit. In verse two, he refers to his experience as ‘the wrestle which I had before God’.
How many of us have a desire so great that we would take 24 hours out to pray to our Father in Heaven that we might know how He feels about us?? Now I know Enos didn’t have kids to pick up from school, a telephone that travels with him, a computer to speak to his friends across the world, a radio in the car or even one that he could take hunting with him and plug into without speaking to anyone else in the hunting party. But, the point is, he made time in his life for God–time for hearing the word, time for pondering the word, time for applying the word, time for prayer and communing with his Father in Heaven. And to hear what the Lord said, it took a lot of time and effort and energy on his part. Do we put that kind of time into our relationship with Heavenly Father?
Then the miracle happens. Revelation. Enos hears the voice of the Lord saying unto him, ‘Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.’ Enos knows how the Lord feels about him. How would you feel if the Lord said that to you and you KNEW it in your soul, that God forgave you for your sins and transgressions? Enos asks, how is it done? How is it possible that I have been forgiven? And the Lord responds, “Because of thy faith in Christ,” because of His atonement and your willingness to exercise your faith in that process, your willingness to repent, change, and to be obedient to what you know……your faith.
This knowledge creates within Enos feelings for the welfare of those around him and he begins to pray for them. He receives further revelation, which induces him to greater and deeper prayer, even for his enemies. He says, ‘And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him with many long strugglings for my brethren, the Lamanites.’ These were not short prayers either. He talks about his many long strugglings and in the next verse, he says, ‘after I had prayed and labored with all diligence’. Maybe his labor was not only spiritual, because he uses the word ‘labor’. I am not sure if he is referring to only spiritual work or if he is including his temporal efforts, but either way, spiritual growth requires work of the mind and heart and often includes our behavior as well. Understanding in your mind and heart is good, but without the change of our behavior, it doesn’t avail us much.
I love Enos’ story because it is the change of his heart. He hears the words of God. He ponders them. Those words create within him the desire to know how God feels about him and a willingness to conform his life to God’s standards. He is willing to repent and through prayer is going about the process. His sincere repentance brings about the influence and enlightenment of the Holy Ghost and Enos thereby receives revelation. He now knows how God feels about him. Having that knowledge creates within his heart charity and love for his fellow men. He wants them to know and feel what he knows and feels. He is then converted and goes about trying to help others.
This pattern of behavior is clearly set forth by Mormon in one of his letters to Moroni. I quote Moroni 8: 24-26:
24 Behold, my son, this thing ought not to be; for repentance is unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law.
25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;
26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.
The first fruit of repentance is baptism. Baptism is the outward sign that repentance is taking place. Repentance and baptism come because you are willing to obey the commandments of God. When you begin to obey, through faith, your sins are remitted. As your sins are remitted, your soul is humbled. This humility brings the Holy Ghost, and revelation, and a hope and love, God’s kind of love, for the welfare of others. The entire cycle endures by diligence (consistent effort) unto (of/in) prayer.
Is it any wonder it is the evil spirit which teaches a man not to pray???? If we pray, we might repent, and be more willing to obey. When that happens, we will receive revelation and love for others. If we continue praying, the cycle will continue. So how does Lucifer keep us from loving others and receiving revelation? Just make us too busy and too distracted for prayer. Does that sound like our society today?? And have you seen the violence that is being perpetrated?? Do you see the connection???
Will you make time for prayer today?? You never know what revelations you may be missing or whose answer to prayer you may be providing through your service.
And that is why I LOVE the book of Enos—short and sweet and to the point!