I suggest that we consider the meaning of the word “prosper” in our discussion today. Many people, including myself, connect the word “prosper” to the word “prosperity” and believe that prospering means to grow rich. Google tends to give that impression because it defines prosper as to “succeed in material terms; to be financially successful.” However, it gives a secondary definition as to “flourish physically; grow strong and healthy.”
I learned in a recent scripture study experience that God’s promise to “prosper” us is much more than helping us to become wealthy. Variations of the word “prosper” is found in many scriptures. Here are a few of the scriptural uses of prosper, prospered, etc.
O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer (Nehemiah 1:11).
And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan (Judges 4:24).
31 And now, my brethren, I would that ye should do as ye have hitherto done. As ye have kept my commandments, and also the commandments of my father, and have prospered, and have been kept from falling into the hands of your enemies, even so if ye shall keep the commandments of my son, or the commandments of God which shall be delivered unto you by him, ye shall prosper in the land, and our enemies shall have no power over you.
36 And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye shall transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 2:31, 36).
These scriptures and many others make it plain that God can prosper us in many ways if we will keep His commandments and follow His guidance through the power of the Holy Ghost. He can bless or prosper us in good health, power over our enemies, and in many other ways. I forget the reference of the scripture to which I was listening when I suddenly had this “a hah” moment, but I remember the power with which the message came to me. With this new understanding, it is only natural that I should be drawn to some remarks made by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during commencement exercises at Brigham Young University-Hawaii on December 15, 2017.
Elder Rasband focused on “prospering in the Lord’s way” in his remarks. “What the Lord makes clear is that we prosper when we live the commandments of God.”
So, when we are keeping the commandments, what does it mean to “prosper?” Is it the measure of how much money you are going to make? How many children we have? How many cars and trucks are sitting in our driveway? What positions we fill in our employment? Or even in this Church?
I believe the Lord needs each one of us to prosper on the front lines of our professions, our community involvement – which includes actively working to keep our freedom of religion and religious liberties; keeping up with our responsibilities as honest, compassionate, fair-minded citizens, and as leaders in our families and in our faith. The Lord needs us “to wax strong in the knowledge of the truth” and to be examples of how living the gospel of Jesus Christ brings peace, fulfillment and happiness.
Elder Rasband then shared three ways that a person may prosper in the Lord’s way.
(1) A “person must have faithful family, friends and mentors in relationships that lift, guide and prompt a person to do the same for others.” (2) “Turn to Heavenly Father in prayer, making Him an important part of decisions and direction.” (3) Keep the commandments to receive God’s blessings, including frequent and regular temple attendance.
By following Elder Rasband’s counsel, we can prosper in the Lord’s way. He made it clear that prosperity in this sense does not mean having an enormous house or many cars in the driveway. It does mean having knowledge of the truth and strengthening our families and communities.