Monday, July 6, 2009

Zenos and the Prayer of Enos

That Jacob seems to have an affinity for the prophet Zenos is evident in his quotation of that prophet's allegory (Jacob chapter five) and his own explanation and application of it (chapter six). One even wonders whether his son Enos is named after Zenos in some fashion. Aside from the parable in Jacob 5, however, we also have portions of his text as cited from other Book of Mormon authors. For example, Alma, in response to questions from the poor among the Zoramites, quotes Zenos as talking about worship in prayer in multiple locations. Part of the text reads as follows:

Alma 33:3–4, 11
3 Do ye remember to have read what Zenos, the prophet of old, has said concerning prayer or worship?
4 For he said: Thou art merciful, O God, for thou hast heard my prayer, even when I was in the wilderness; yea, thou wast merciful when I prayed concerning those who were mine enemies, and thou didst turn them to me.
11 And thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity; and it is because of thy Son that thou hast been thus merciful unto me, therefore I will cry unto thee in all mine afflictions, for in thee is my joy; for thou hast turned thy judgments away from me, because of thy Son.

While the idea of praying in the wilderness would be consistent with multiple protagonists in the Book of Mormon, the words of Zenos seem to particularly fit the way Enos articulates his own experience. He is in the wilderness and prays to be forgiven of his sins. He is forgiven because of the Son, after which he prays for his brethren as well as his enemies:

Enos 3–8, 11
3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.
7 And I said: Lord, how is it done?
8 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.
11 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.

Enos' story of how he is forgiven of his sins because of the Son through prayer in the wilderness is similar to the words of Zenos about prayer. We cannot know if Enos had these verses in mind when he went to pray, similar to the way James 1:5 influenced Joseph's prayer in 1820. But we do know that he would have been familiar with Zenos' words. His father, Jacob, loved the writings of Zenos and applied them to his people's condition, and it is possible that Enos is in fact named after him. The possibility that Zenos' words helped inspire Enos that day is intriguing.

1 comment:

Michaela Stephens said...

What an intriquing line of thought! I love this!