3 Nephi 18: 21-23:
“Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed. And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not; But ye shall pray for them, and shall not cast them out; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name.”
Interesting that the admonition to “pray in your families” is so “that your wives and your children may be blessed.” This puts the burden on whom to pray? For whom are blessings sought? Why?
What does it mean to “meet together oft?” Is that weekly? If so, then why didn’t the Lord say “each Sabbath” instead of “oft?” What does meeting “oft” suggest?
Why would you be told to “not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together?” What kind of meeting is it? What kinds of meetings are open to the public? Is it appropriate to close some meetings from the public? If so, what distinguishes between those meetings which are to occur “oft” and anyone is invited, and other meetings which are to be private?
What does it mean to “suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not?” Why would you be admonished to keep the meetings open for public participation? Why would anyone want to “forbid” others from meeting with them?
Why would you be told to “pray for them, and shall not cast them out” for those who are not part of your group?
Why does the Lord phrase it: “and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name?” Does this suggest that you don’t pray for them until they have “come unto you oft?” Why would that be the condition established before you “pray unto the Father” for them?
This is an interesting passage involving an interesting process. Essentially it deals with the un-baptized, the unrepentant, and the unprepared. They are to be welcomed. They are not to be excluded. If they are persistent enough to return frequently, then you have an obligation to pray to the Father for them. Once they have seen the manner of worship, if they remain interested, they are to be prayed for, and perhaps brought in to the group. Not in a frantic, “we-need-another-baptism-today” kind of way. No rush. Instead, they need to “come unto you oft” of their own free will. They must be interested. They must be motivated by their own desire to know more. They should not be force-fed and “converted” by argument, persuasion, or aggressive marketing. They should be gently brought to see the truth of the Lord in the worship they observe first.
This is an interesting concept. This is inviting to come to the light by the light the believers possess. It is meekness, gentleness and ultimately love unfeigned. It is quite Christ-like.
I suppose a convert who came to believe in this manner would have thought it through before joining with the believers. Such a person would be unlikely to ever depart from the way. They would have ample opportunity to know beforehand whether they find it enticing, inviting, and desirable. Good fruit, so to speak. Something they want to have for themselves.
The Lord’s ways are indeed interesting to contemplate. This great God of heaven proceeds in meekness in all that He does. He teaches meekness to those who will follow Him, as well