14 And it came to pass that my father did speak unto them in the valley of Lemuel, with power, being filled with the Spirit, until their frames did shake before him. And he did confound them, that they durst not utter against him; wherefore, they did as he commanded them.
15 And my father dwelt in a tent.
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.
17 And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit. And it came to pass that he believed in my words.
18 But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them.
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I wonder what Nephi meant by 'being large in stature'? Nephi had great desires to know the mysteries of God so he prayed. I wonder if crying unto the Lord is the same as praying or if it has a deeper meaning. The pattern is there though, have great desire and pray.
If you have great desire and pray then the Lord will visit you and soften your heart and help you believe.
I think Nephi and Joseph Smith are good examples of this. They both had great desires. Nephi doesn't go into a lot of details but we know from Joseph Smith's account that he was confused by so many different ideas about God going around. He studied the scriptures and wanted to know what he should do, he wanted to make sense of it. So he didn't just wonder about something, he thought about it, studied the Bible, and tried to find answers. When he couldn't find answers it began to really weigh on him so he went to the woods to pray out alone, out loud, to be alone and commune with God. And the Lord certainly did visit him.
Nephi might have had a similar thing happen, he might have been confused about life in Jerusalem and why they had to leave. I imagine Nephi studied it out in his mind and read what scriptures of sought what help he could. Then he prayed for help and the Lord helped him know the truth.
Its the same pattern with missionary work. The missionaries find someone to teach and they introduce a lot of new ideas, read scriptures and cause the investigator to question things. Studying it out the investigator goes to the Lord in prayer and finds answers. So I imagine it took more then a casual 'I wonder' from Nephi to be visited by the Holy Ghost. Then Nephi did the natural thing, like his father and so many before and after him he shared his new found testimony with those around him. I imagine him brimming with new found faith and a glow, full of the Holy Spirit as he told Sam and his brothers about his experience. When Laman and Lemuel rejected the message and his experience the pain must have been great. Similar to when I tried to tell my family of my new found faith and testimony of the restored gospel.