Strengthening Our Small Army (Alma 58)
In Alma 58, Helaman laments throughout the chapter about how small the Nephite army is. He describes their efforts in reaching out to the government for reinforcements and supplies, but the response is limited. Finally, at their moment of greatest despair, they reach out to the greatest source of strength:
"Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies…Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him" (Alma 58:10-11)
There are many examples in the scriptures of an exceedingly small number of people — even just one person at times — prevailing over overwhelming opposition due to receiving strength from God. Here are a few examples:
- Perhaps the most famous example is the battle between David and Goliath. As young David faced the large Philistine warrior, he bravely said, "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts…this day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee…for the battle is the Lord's" (1 Samuel 17:45-47). The strength of the Lord was sufficient for David to win the battle.
- The prophet Elijah took on 450 "prophets" of Baal in an effort to demonstrate which of them represented the true God. The 450 men prayed all day and nothing happened. When Elijah prayed, fire came down from the sky and consumed his sacrifice as well as the Baal sacrifice. Elijah obviously was not alone in this — he and God were more than a match for the 450 men. See 1 Kings 18:19-39 for the full account.
- In Judges 7, the army of Gideon numbered 32,000 men, but God told Gideon the army was too large and needed to be reduced. After several iterations, the army was reduced all the way down to just 300 men. That tiny army went forth with the power of God and won the battle.
As a church, we may at times become discouraged when our numbers start to dwindle. We should, of course, do whatever we can to grow the church — both for the sake of offering salvation to all mankind as well as providing further strength for the army of God. However, let's make sure we remember to access the greatest source of strength — petitioning God in prayer and depending on Him to provide His power as a demonstration to the world that He is with us.
It may be necessary to do as the Nephites did and "pour out our souls in prayer to God," but if we want to reach the throne of God, we should be willing to dig deeper — even fasting and praying — in order to make that connection. As demonstrated in the examples above, God is more than able to win the battle with a very small number of people, but He does need to be with us in order for that to happen.
Also, as individuals, we don't need to feel alone if God is with us. Whatever we are facing in life, let's again pour out our souls to God for strength to get through it. He will strengthen us as individuals and help us to win our own personal battles. We just need to make sure we are fighting the battle for Him, and then He will strengthen our small army.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.