Jesus Christ Teaches the Nephites to Pray
- Items needed: chalk and eraser, several small popsicle sticks broken in half (or cut pieces of cardboard), tape, sticky wax, and one cardstock page. Optional: two small toy cars, one poster board.
- Print the story pictures (or use a laptop or tablet to display the pictures at the appropriate times). Number the pictures in the order they were printed.
- Print the neighborhood pictures. Cut out the cul-de-sac and the one-way road.
- Before class starts, post the neighborhood pictures on the board or on a poster board (see the picture above for how they should be posted). The spaces between the pictures are the roads, but you may want to draw in cross walks, train tracks, etc.
- Print and cut out the road signs, the warning signs, cars, and the boy figure. Glue or tape each road sign to a popsicle stick half. Using sticky wax, attach the road signs to the map in the locations indicated. Attach the red warning signs to a piece of card stock with sticky wax. Glue the matching cars together, back to back. Attach stick wax to each car.
Show the children the neighborhood map. Point out the street signs, and ask what would happen if someone didn’t obey those directions. Demonstrate what might happen using the toy cars or the car pictures. Be sure to point out the dangers and the safety issues, and point out the benefits of observing and obeying street signs. Explain that just as road signs warn us of physical danger, help keep us safe, and help direct us towards the right ways to go, we have been given a special gift in our lives that gives us guidance and direction and helps keep us spiritually safe.
- What is the special gift we have been given that warns us of spiritual danger and guides us towards the right ways to go so we can return safely home to Heavenly Father? ( The gift of the Holy Ghost ) (You may wish to relate the Holy Ghost promptings to some of the street signs such as “wrong way,” “stop,” “do not enter,” etc.)
- What could happen if we don’t listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost? Just like ignoring road signs may put us in harm’s way, if we ignore the Holy Ghost we may find ourselves in spiritual danger.
Explain that in today’s lesson they will learn about the importance of seeking for and obeying the promptings of the Holy Ghost in order to be directed safely back to our heavenly home.
(Using the visual aids, tell the following story.)
After the Savior completed his first visit to the Nephites, the news of his visit spread among the people all that night. (Point out that the events discussed in previous lessons about the Savior visiting the Nephites all took place during one day.) Before leaving, Jesus had told the Nephites he would return and visit again the following day. Many people strove through the night to be at the place that he would appear (picture #1). Because the group that had gathered was so large, the twelve disciples divided the multitude into twelve groups. They taught the people to kneel down and pray to the Father in the name of the Son (picture #2). After praying, the disciples taught the people the words Jesus had spoken the day before. After instructing the people, they knelt again and prayed to the Father in the name of the Jesus.
Point out that the disciples (the twelve apostles Jesus had selected) prayed before the instruction and after it. Ask the children to think about why the disciples did that as they listen to the next part of the lesson.
Invite a child to read 3 Nephi 19:9 aloud as the class follows along. Tell the children to look for what the disciples prayed for. (The Holy Ghost)
- Why did you think the disciples sought to be blessed with the Holy Ghost? The disciples knew the Holy Ghost could guide them and help them in their ministry. The Holy Ghost could also touch the hearts of the people they taught and help the people receive a witness of the truth of the disciple’s teachings.
After the disciples had prayed, they went down to the water’s edge and the multitude followed them. Nephi went into the water and was baptized. When he came out of the water he baptized the other disciples that Jesus had chosen (picture #3). (See lesson 33 for why they were baptized even though they had already received that ordinance sometime prior to Jesus’s visit.) After they were baptized, the Holy Ghost fell upon them and they were filled with the Spirit and with fire. (3 Nephi 19:13–14)
Explain that the phrase “filled … with fire” is symbolic. The influence of the Holy Ghost can change the heart, purifying it by “burning away” the desire to do evil and filling it with a burning desire to do good.
After they received the Holy Ghost, the twelve disciples were encircled about as if by fire that came down from heaven. Angels came down also and did minister to them (picture #4). Then Jesus came and stood in the midst of them and ministered to them (picture #5).
Have the children look up and read 3 Nephi 19:16-17 and ask them to look for what Jesus’s first instructions to the people were after he ministered to the disciples. (He commanded the people to kneel on the earth, and then he commanded the disciples to pray (picture #6).)
- Why do you think it is it important to pray before receiving spiritual instruction? One reason is to seek to feel the Spirit during the meeting. When we are taught by the Spirit we may gain an increased understanding and testimony about particular gospel truths, or we may get inspiration concerning a problem we are having.
As the disciples prayed, Jesus went out of the midst of them a little way off and bowed himself to the earth and thanked the Father for giving his disciples the Holy Ghost (picture #7). Jesus asked that the Holy Ghost be given to all who believed in his disciple’s words. (3 Nephi 19:19-21)
Jesus’s prayer teaches that not only should we express gratitude to Heavenly Father for our blessings, but we should also ask Heavenly Father to bless us and others with the Spirit. When we are baptized we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost, but it is up to us to invite the Spirit into our lives.
- How do we invite the Holy Ghost into our lives? We can pray for the Spirit’s guidance. We can put effort into listening for and feeling his influence and guiding touch. We can follow his promptings.
As we prayerfully invite the Holy Ghost into all aspects of our life, he can guide us and help us avoid the things that are spiritually harmful– those things that will cause us pain and misery.
Jesus taught, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him…for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.”(3 Nephi18:18)
- How can we pray always? To pray always means we can have a prayer in our hearts at any time or place. (3 Nephi 20:1)
- What do you think the phrase “Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat” means? Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained these words: “This is an… expression which was clear to the people in that day, more so than to people in our day. In essence… Jesus is saying… Satan wants you in his harvest. He wants to harvest your soul, and bring you into his granary.” He wants us to be under his control and influence.
Jesus said that if we are watchful (on guard or spiritually alert) and keep a prayer in our hearts, we can avoid getting drawn into the traps of Satan.
- How can we be watchful? If we are familiar with the word of God that is found in the scriptures and in the words of the prophets, then we will know what is right and we will know what things to watch out for. We can also be spiritually alert in listening for the promptings of the Spirit. The Spirit can warn us through thoughts or feelings if something is not right and is something we should not do. The Spirit can also help bring to remembrance those things we have learned in the scriptures about what is right.
Do the following activity to help the children see how the Holy Ghost can bring to remembrance scriptures we have read in order to help guide us and warn us.
Remind the children of the map activity at the beginning of the lesson. Explain that you are going to tell them a story using the map. Show the children the signs and explain that they will be choosing a sign at certain points in the story. The signs represent warnings or guidance the Holy Ghost may give to help us go in the right directions.
(Put the figure of the boy on the board at “Jonathon’s house,” and move the figure during the story to each new location.)
Jonathon began his day as usual by reading his scriptures and saying his prayers. He asked Heavenly Father to help him to not make wrong choices.
During breakfast, Jonathon’s sister took the last piece of bacon that he had been reaching for, and she had already had more than him.
- Which sign represents guidance the Holy Ghost my prompt Jonathon with? (Avoid contention) Jonathon remembered his prayer and a scripture he had read that contention is of the devil, and he didn’t lose his temper with his sister like he usually would have. The Holy Ghost helped him remember his prayer and the scripture he had read.
After breakfast, Jonathon took the bus to school. When he arrived he sat at his desk next to his friend Stewart. The teacher started the day by handing them their graded tests. Stuart asked Jonathon what he had gotten on the test. Jonathon hadn’t studied very hard for the test, and his low score reflected that. He was embarrassed to tell Stuart what his score was. He said a prayer in his heart to help him know what to say.
- Which sign represents something the Holy Ghost might prompt Jonathan with? (honesty) Jonathon was honest and told Stuart he hadn’t done very well, but that he planned to study hard and do better on the next test.
The rest of the school day Jonathon continued to be watchful and to be careful to choose the right. After school, Jonathon went to play at Jared’s house. Jared’s mom wasn’t at home. Jared showed Jonathan his parent’s liquor cabinet and then said they should try a sip just to see what it tastes like.
- Which sign represents something the Holy Ghost might prompt Jonathon with? (Avoid strong drink) Jonathon remembered a lesson and a scripture he had heard in Primary about the Word of Wisdom. He explained to Jared that he did not want to drink alcohol, and he explained why, and then he suggested something else they could do instead.
After playing at Jarod’s house, Jonathon went with his mom to the library to get some books. His favorite books were action adventure stories. He found a book that looked interesting, but when he flipped through some of the pages he realized it had some inappropriate language in it.
- Which sign represents guidance the Holy Ghost my prompt Jonathon with? (Swear not) Jonathon felt yucky when he read the words in the book. He knew that reading the book would not be a good choice because he didn’t want those types of words in his thoughts, so he picked out some other books instead. The Holy Ghost had warned him through his feelings and thoughts.
After the library, Jonathan and his mom stopped by the neighborhood market to pick up some things for dinner. At the market, Jonathon asked his mom if he could get some cookies. She said no, but Jonathon thought that if he put them in the cart maybe his mom might go ahead and get them.
- Which sign represents the warning the Holy Ghost my prompt Jonathon with? (obey parents) Jonathan realized that Satan was trying to tempt him to be disobedient, so he put the cookies back on the shelf.
Jonathon’s day had been full of times when Satan had tempted him, but he had been prayerful, watchful, and on guard against temptation, and because he listened to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, he was able to avoid going in wrong directions that would have led to spiritual harm and unhappiness.
Prayer was one of the safeguards Jonathon took. He said a prayer in the morning and he said a prayer in his heart and mind during the day when he needed additional help with specific problems. As we continue with the next part of the scripture story we learn about something important that should be included in our prayers.
Scripture Account Continued
When Jesus had finished his prayer, he went to the disciples and he found them praying without ceasing. In 3 Nephi 19:24 it says: “they did not multiply many words for it was given unto them what they should pray.”
- What does this scripture mean? Elder Bruce R. McConkie explains: “Perfect prayers are those which are inspired, in which the Spirit reveals the words which should be used.” The Holy Ghost can guide us to what we should pray for.
- How can this help us resist temptation? The Holy Ghost can help us see areas in our life that need improving, areas where we are weak. He can help us know what to pray for, such as for help with changes we need to make and help to know how to strengthen our defenses.
When Jesus saw his disciples praying with the Spirit, “his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus.” (3 Nephi 19:25) The word countenance refers to a person’s behavior or to the way a person’s face expresses his or her character.
Jesus went a little way off and bowed himself to the earth again (picture #8) and thanked the Father for purifying his disciples, and he prayed for them and for those who would believe in their words that they would also be purified through their faith. (3 Nephi 19:28)
As we pray in faith and seek for and obey the promptings of the Holy Ghost, our lives can be purified, and we will be able to return safely home to our Heavenly Father.
Weekly Reading Assignment
Remind the children to do their scripture reading assignment for this week: 3 Nephi 18:18–25, 3 Nephi 19:1-36, and Alma 13:28–29
***(Note: Be prepared to explain the scripture 3 Nephi 19:18 if needed: “After Jesus had commanded the Nephites to kneel and pray, they prayed to Jesus calling him their Lord and their God.”)
Jesus had specifically taught the people the day before to pray to the Father in Jesus’s name, but in this unique instance the disciples prayed to Jesus Christ because he was with them in person as a representative of the Father (see 3 Nephi 19:22)
(The neighborhood pictures are based off a coloring page from the Crayola website.)