CLICK HERE to read 3 Nephi 13.
Compare to Matthew 6.
Jesus taught the people of Nephi the very same way he taught the people of Jerusalem.
He told them to care for the poor, for the sake of the poor (verse 1), and not for our own pride (verse 2-3).
In the same way, pray to Heavenly Father as a way to communicate with Him so your relationship is developed (verse 6), and not for show (verse 5). Family prayers and public prayers are both good and necessary, but the purpose is to collectively submit to our Father – which is different from using it as a platform of arrogance. Our prayers should be sincere, not “vain repetitions” (verse 7). We are talking with our Father, who knows us and knows our needs (verse 8). So we should communicate with Him in a way that acknowledges who He is, while being sincere in who we are and what our needs are. The Savior gave us this pattern (verses 9-13):
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
This is how we should live and pray. We remember who our Father is, and we reverently address Him. We acknowledge His plan for us, the plan to which we have already agreed, and commit to carrying out that plan by doing His will, and not our own, no matter what. We ask forgiveness for our failings in this effort, and claim the atonement to bridge the discrepancy between who He says we are and who we have been thus far. This same atonement meets the demands for justice for those who have harmed us, and so we forgive them just as we are forgiven. We let it go, because the atonement is for all of us. We grant mercy, and grace beyond, through loving the way we have been loved. We ask for help to stay on His path, to living according to His plan, to be led to His light rather than being tempted to stray, and we ask this confidently knowing that He can deliver us. We ask this knowing He can rescue us from this fallen world in which we live, and we ask this knowing He can save us even from ourselves. This is His plan, and we acknowledge it, having faith that our Savior has done what He has promised. We celebrate His dominion over us, His power to govern us, and the glory He receives for doing it so well – knowing that every bit of progress we make (according to His plan, by the power of the atonement, and through the sanctification of the Spirit) does add to His glory, and this is our gift to Him.
We cannot have true faith, or pray (or live) these things sincerely, if we are not doing our part of the plan – which is to become like Him, even by forgiving others (whether they deserve it or not) just as we have been forgiven (and we did not deserve it) (verse 14). If we do not forgive, then it means we have not submitted to His plan, which means we cannot receive our own forgiveness (verse 15).
We cannot receive what we are not willing to give.
We cannot be forgiven if we do not forgive.
We cannot have joy as long as we are bitter.
We cannot have happiness as long as we are resentful.
We cannot have love as long as we are hateful.
We cannot have peace as long as we refuse to offer it.
We also practice these same principles when we are fasting, which should be done quietly and in sincerity (verses 16-18). Even when we collectively fast, whether with our own private issues or the public issues of others (like the economy or for rain), it is discussed only for clarity and focus. But we ought not complain or be miserable in the experience. The hunger pains are our offering, and we cannot give them if we are hanging on to them tightly for ourselves.
Fasting, like prayer, helps us move beyond the temporal and reach the spiritual world. It thins the veil, and grounds us in something bigger than ourselves. It reminds us that our world is not just paying the bills and doing the laundry. There is so much happening around us, and every bit of it is to rescue each of us. Fasting and prayer help clarify our vision, and refocus our efforts on rescuing each other. What are “treasures in heaven” (verse 20)? “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:10). If we are submitted to His plan, which is to rescue those around us, then we have rescued ourselves as well (verse 21).
Everything we do and say should be a part of this Plan, solely focused on this Plan, whether it is rescuing through service or whether it is rescuing through love and play. Everything we do and say, all of our interactions, should in some way make peace or bring happiness. We should be life-giving and strengthening. This effort is an “eye single to His glory” (D&C 82:19), and being aligned with His plan does fill us with Light also as we become like Him (verse 22).
This cannot happen if we are mean, or ugly, or bitter, or un-forgiving. This cannot happen if we are hateful or screaming. This cannot happen if we are arrogant or prideful. This cannot happen as long as we are looking to ourselves and our own needs instead of aligning ourselves with His plan and doing our part to rescue others (and so also bring Him glory by the success of His plan). We are either participating by helping His plan be accomplished, or we are hindering His work (verse 24). This is our choice, every moment of every day.
The Savior said (verses 25-26):
Remember the words which I have spoken. For behold, ye are they whom I have chosen to minister unto this people. Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
The flowers of the field, specifically the lillies, grow because they are flowers. They do not work (verse 28), yet still they are beautiful (verse 29). Heavenly Father will care for us the same way (verse 30), if not more so – even though we can be “unprofitable servants”, though we continue to strive and keep learning and keep trying.
This is beautiful to Him, like the flower, that we be ourselves and keep trying to grow.
He knows what we need in order to grow (verse 32). We should trust Him (and let Him) take care of these things, and we will have sufficient for our needs (verse 34). Instead of worrying about these things (temporally or spiritually), we should have faith in His plan (including that what we need temporally and spiritually will be provided) enough to focus on the task assigned us, which is to keep our covenants, which is to do what will help us become like Him, which is to testify and to rescue others (verse 33).