Enos is Changed by Prayer

by Autumn Dickson

When I was younger, I remember reading the exchange between Enos and the Lord and finding some of the comments kinda interesting. Enos prays for forgiveness and for his people, and it’s beautiful, but the prayer doesn’t end there. As part of his exchange with the Lord, Enos also prays for this:

Enos 1:13 And now behold, this was the desire which I desired of him—that if it should so be, that my people, the Nephites, should fall into transgression, and by any means be destroyed, and the Lamanites should not be destroyed, that the Lord God would preserve a record of my people, the Nephites; even if it so be by the power of his holy arm, that it might be brought forth at some future day unto the Lamanites, that, perhaps, they might be brought unto salvation

Enos prays very specifically that if the Nephites fall into transgression, He wants the Lord to preserve the Nephite records and bring them forth unto the Lamanites. The Lord answers with, “I will do this at the right time,” and so Enos is like, “Cool. Great. Thanks.” Then the Lord adds on, “Actually, I already told your dad I was going to do this.” In some ways, this all could seem a bit odd. Let’s talk about Enos’ prayer in general and then cycle back around to this specific verse in the context of the whole prayer.

Following Enos’ process

I think it’s important to note that Enos prayed all day and night. What does this mean? It means that we have an extremely tiny portion of the conversation he actually had with the Lord. He didn’t record the entire prayer. This makes sense because it was apparently really difficult to engraven things upon the plates. So what do we learn from the portion that Enos engraved upon the plates? What do we learn from the fact that not all of it is there?

One of the reasons I love this chapter so much is because I write my prayers down too. My process for writing these prayers has given me potential insight into Enos and his prayer. At least once a day, I write my prayer. Usually my process entails opening up a note on the computer and typing everything. It helps me focus at a time in my life where interruptions are frequent. The next day, I erase the whole thing and type a new prayer. Otherwise, my computer would fill up fast. However, if I feel guided by the Lord to pray for something specific that I haven’t prayed before, then I move over to my journal and record it in my journal instead. I keep the significant parts in a place where they’re more permanent.

There have been times where I’ve been telling Him what I’m grateful for, and He will open my eyes to a very significant way that He stepped in and coordinated something perfectly for my family. I want to remember those moments so I record them in my journal where they can be kept. There have been times where I’ve been praying for something we need, and I feel guided to pray about something specific that seems to hint at what may be coming for my family. I likewise record that in my journal where I can refer back to it.

Enos prayed all day, and then he went and recorded the most significant parts. By observing Enos’ prayer, both the recorded AND unrecorded portions, we can explore what prayer was always meant to look like.

Most of us have had lessons on prayer and its true purposes: change, conversion, communion. We all know that prayer is supposed to be a process in which our visions are lifted higher and we change ourselves accordingly. And yet, despite this, we still persist in praying like our Father is a vending machine. Sometimes there isn’t much connection between what we’re putting in and what we’re receiving. Prayer was always meant to be more of a phone call, a communion, where we’re hearing Him and talking and discussing so we can better understand the realities around us and change accordingly.

Enos changed during his prayer. We can see it happen. Let’s point out pivotal moments that can help us watch what prayer is really supposed to look like.

Two influences

As we go through Enos’ prayer, I want to be focusing on the change that’s occurring in Enos. We’ll point out the actual changes that are recorded, and then we’ll delve a little deeper and try to observe some of the influences that led towards that change. Though there are likely many influences that change us while we pray, there are two that I observed regularly through Enos’ prayer as well as my own. The first influence is a given: namely, the direct revelation you’re receiving from Heavenly Father. As you hear from Him, it’s kinda easy to see why it would change you. The second influence is more subtle: it’s when Enos brings in knowledge that he has already received about his Heavenly Father. We’ll point out direct examples of this and why it’s significant.

So let’s just look at Enos’ prayer in order and specifically observe the changes he undergoes as these two influences play upon him.

In the first part of the prayer, Enos prays for forgiveness and receives it. This is the first time we can easily see Enos change. When he is forgiven, Enos responds with the fact that he knows that God cannot lie. Because of his communication with heaven as well as reflecting on what he already knew about God (specifically God’s unblemished honesty), Enos is changed. More specifically, his guilt is swept away and that is a mighty change.

Next, Enos prays for his brethren the Nephites. He describes his prayer as a pouring out of his soul and a struggling in the spirit. That seems like a lot to skip over. What are we potentially missing in all of this pouring and struggling? We can’t know for sure because he didn’t include it; I fully acknowledge that this is all conjecture. However, it still teaches the principle so I’m going to share my conjecture anyway.

Enos was praying for the Nephites to be saved. They were his posterity. They were his brethren. They were close to his heart. They were his children and grandchildren. He prayed for their hearts and righteousness. He wanted them to find the Lord and stay with Him, and that’s probably what he was praying about; that was the struggling and pouring. Maybe he didn’t record every detail about it, but he did record what he received from the Lord. The Lord answered him by essentially saying that He would bless the Nephites to possess the land as long as they were righteous.

We find two changes that come over Enos after this portion of prayer is over.

The first change is that his faith began to be unshaken. This is interesting to me because the Lord’s answer seems to imply that the Nephites will eventually succumb to temptation and be swept off the land (Enos actually does recognize this implication of destruction and we’ll talk about that in a second). You would think that the change that overcomes Enos would be depression. He has just been taught that the Lord will only be able to protect his people for so long, and yet, Enos feels his faith grow stronger.

How? How did Enos feel his faith grow stronger instead of just making him sad? I cannot tell you the mechanism. I can merely bear witness that this is a thing. I have had enough experiences where the Lord has seemed to imply that bad news was coming, and yet, I was filled with stronger faith and less fear than when I began praying. I remember one instance in particular. I was praying for deliverance from some people who were trying to hurt our family. The Lord stopped me from praying for this, and it was at that moment that I “knew” that these people would “win” to an extent. And yet, that experience stayed with me and strengthened me for years afterwards. Even as things got crazier and crazier, I knew that He knew where we were, that He needed to act according to His plan and allow for agency and judgment. I knew that He would support us and that we could never really lose. What should have been bad news somehow pushed me closer to the Lord.

The second way that Enos changes is what he prays for; this actually leads us to the next section of prayer, a portion that I mentioned in the beginning of the post. Enos prays that if the Nephites are destroyed, he wants the Nephite records to go to the posterity of the Lamanites. Enos had felt what the Lord had implied. He wasn’t sure. There didn’t seem to be any sort of vision of the Nephites being destroyed, but the implication of Nephite destruction affected him enough that his prayers altered.

Now here is where we see that interplay of the two influences again. Enos changed his prayer according to what he received from the Lord, namely the implication that the Lord would not always be able to protect the Nephites. But what about the second influence? The knowledge he had previously received?

Once again, this is all conjecture, and I know that. But it can still teach us righteous principles.

In the beginning of the chapter, we learn that Enos was taught in the language of his father. This could mean a couple of things, but some historians believe that Enos was saying that his father taught him how to write. This makes a lot of sense considering the fact that Jacob left the records to Enos. This would also likely imply that Jacob taught Enos the deep importance of the records. He taught Enos how important it was to record something on the plates so that the records would last a very long time. Here is the previous knowledge at play.

Enos didn’t just pray that if the Nephites were destroyed, the Lamanites would eventually find the gospel. No. Enos specifically prayed that The Book of Mormon would be brought forth to the Lamanites. I could be totally crazy, but I feel like there was a moment where Enos’ eyes were opened. There must have been a moment where he was like, “Oh. That’s why we’re doing this. That’s why I need to write on these difficult plates. It’s not for the Nephites. Maybe it’s for the Lamanites.” In verse 15, Enos acknowledges that the Lord can preserve the Nephite records (there is that previous knowledge coming again). He was also alerted to the idea that the Nephites might not be around forever; it changed what he prayed for.

What prayer should look like

We can’t pray every day all day like Enos did in this particular instance, at least not in this manner. And the revelation we receive will not always look like this either. I’ve had many prayers where I have reached out looking for something with all of the elements we’ve talked about, but the Lord has remained silent for His own purposes. It’s not because we’re doing anything wrong; The Lord has His reasons so trust Him.

Oh, but the times when we have these kinds of experiences are so powerful. The times when I’ve been praying and felt guided to pray for something new or my eyes have been opened to something I didn’t see before, when everything clicks into place and I see that He is controlling all the details so perfectly, it has changed me.

Interestingly enough, in some cases, I believe that the Lord would have still manipulated all of those details to make things come together. And yet, because I was praying about it, I was able to see His hand before it happened, and it changed me. I would not have changed nearly as much if I hadn’t been praying about it. The Lord would have brought forth The Book of Mormon without Enos’ prayer, but Enos was changed because he was praying about it.

Do not get discouraged if you feel like your prayers don’t look like Enos’ every time you pray. Go back to the purpose of prayer: change, conversion, communion.

The most intense, eye-opening experiences that I have often occur in the middle of the day during nap time when I have a few less interruptions. They don’t happen every day, or every week, or even every month. But if they’re going to happen, this is usually when they happen because this is when I’m capable of investing the spiritual energy that requires some of those big answers, and Heavenly Father knows this is when He is going to be able to reach me.

At night, my prayers are much smaller, but no less important. I have received a personal witness from my Heavenly Father that He doesn’t begrudge me my weak, tired, mortal body that has been looking after kids all day. He understands. So my prayers look a lot less like spiritual strugglings and much more like an acknowledgment of our relationship, some gratitude, and a mental goodnight hug. And even though these are far more simple prayers, they still change me. They still make me feel close to a Father who loves me.

If you’re worried about your prayers, reflect on the purpose of prayer. What is going to make you feel close to God as your Father so you can feel changed? What has He already taught you about Himself that you can acknowledge? There are a great many beautiful ways to pray. Enos gave us a really fantastic, drawn out version that can help us study, but his prayer is not the only right way to pray.

There are so many good ways to change which would imply the fact that there are so many good ways to pray.

I am grateful for a Father in Heaven who has enabled me to speak to Him whenever I need. I’m grateful that He has described Himself as a Father so that I can understand my relationship with Him, so I can understand how He expects to be approached. I’m grateful for a Savior who paid the price so I could have a communion with Him every day.


Autumn Dickson was born and raised in a small town in Texas. She served a mission in the Indianapolis Indiana mission. She studied elementary education but has found a particular passion in teaching the gospel. Her desire for her content is to inspire people to feel confident, peaceful, and joyful about their relationship with Jesus Christ and to allow that relationship to touch every aspect of their lives.

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