“Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” (Alma 37:6-7)
The use of small and simple things is a pattern used by the Lord throughout history in his dealings with us.
Where I work during the day, a retail store, one of my minor daily duties is to turn on the sound equipment each morning and to select and start up the background music for the day. Occasionally, we will be working away and suddenly notice that something is missing .. oh, we forgot to turn on the music! My family attended a wedding reception the other day where a young man had been hired to play the piano in the background as guests mingled and visited. When he took his break, we noticed a different atmosphere in the reception hall. When you came into this meeting today, soft prelude music was playing here in the chapel. It may seem a small and simple thing, but imagine what the meeting would be without any prelude or postlude music! Imagine what our meetings might be like without any opening or intermediate or closing hymns! Contained in each of those hymns is a wonderful sermon or prayer, a message waiting to be given. I told my wife the other day that I must be a great high council speaker because I have never fallen asleep in any of the talks I have given. However, if you ever find yourself about to nod off, you can just pick up the hymnal and turn to almost any page and have yourself a wonderful personal sermon.
In the Book of Mormon, when Alma the Younger was passing the Nephite records on to his son Helaman, he wrote: “Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” (Alma 37:6-7)
The use of small and simple things is a pattern used by the Lord throughout history in his dealings with us. As Nephi explained: “And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err. And as the Lord God liveth that brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and gave unto Moses power that he should heal the nations after they had been bitten by the poisonous serpents, if they would cast their eyes unto the serpent which he did raise up before them, and also gave him power that he should smite the rock and the water should come forth; yea, behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved.” (2 Nephi 25:20). Back then, all they needed to do was to look to the brass serpent to be saved physically from pain and death. Today, all we need to do is to look to the Saviour and follow the small and simple things taught by Him through our current modern day prophets to be saved from spiritual pain and death. “This pattern of small and simple things is repeated throughout the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets. There was and is a plan. From the beginning, this world we live in and all that it contains was designed and created from from a spiritual pattern.” Modern scripture teaches: “For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal — First spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work —“ (D&C 29:31-32). This world did not come to be by accident – it was created physically from a wonderful premortal spiritual plan. In a like manner, if we are to achieve our desired spiritual goals, we must plan and act now in this temporal world to learn of Him and to live His commandments now. Faith, prayer, pondering scripture, reverence for God and His sabbath day are but few of the small and simple things that will bring to pass the great things we desire.
Elder Bednar (in a talk given Apr 2011 ) taught that vital spiritual patterns are evident in the life of the Savior, in the scriptures, and in the teachings of living prophets and apostles. “These spiritual patterns are now and always have been important aids to discernment and sources of direction and protection for faithful Latter-day Saints. He identified that among the powerful patterns the Lord uses to advance His work is the pattern taught in Alma 37:6, ‘By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.’”
Marvin J. Ashton (in Oct 1990 ) said: “We must, if we will have happiness, follow the straight and prescribed paths. [the scripture that states:] ‘I will give you a pattern in all things’ is one of the Lord’s greatest gifts and promises. Today it comes from him and his prophets. Keeping one’s mind occupied with constructive, useful things on a constant basis prevents Satan from having success in idle minds. Good music, art, literature, recreation, and other worthy pastimes can help establish proper patterns in one’s mind and conduct. Happiness is a by-product of righteous living and sharing within the framework of lofty patterns. [..] Besides patterns for prayer, we have direction for pondering, procedure, patience, action, and integrity. There are patterns for all worthy things, if we will search for them. ‘And behold, it must be done according to the pattern which I have given unto you.’ (D&C 94:2) There is no other proven way.”
This idea continues from Elder Bednar’s talk: “Many people in our contemporary world are drawn to promises of big results that occur quickly and all at once, [..] consider, for example, all of the money spent on lottery tickets. Recall the claims of advertising messages you have received that pledge immediate weight loss, instant health, fast hair growth, and a more youthful appearance in just 14 days. We are bombarded constantly with messages from a multiplicity of sources promoting [a perfect body, ..] instant gratification, and outstanding performance that will impress our families and friends.”
He continues: “The adversary made ‘impressive assertions about big results’ in similar ways in premortality. In contrast to Satan’s method and the methods of the world, the Lord typically ministers ‘one by one,’ (3 Nephi 11:15). He enables us to learn ‘line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little’ (2 Nephi 28:30). And He accomplishes His work by bringing to pass great things through small and simple means. [..] He then concludes saying, “Brothers and sisters, we should find great comfort in the fact that ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results.”. We individually, and myself in particular, are but part of His great plan; just small and simple workers going about trying to do what we can with what we now have to give.
Apparently I have not been blessed with a very green thumb. I have a bare spot of ground in my front yard about 3 foot in diameter where a large tree had been removed. This year I decided to make some feeble attempts to encourage some grass to grow there. On my first attempt early in the summer, I grabbed a handful of grass seed from the bin at the hardware store and tossed it here and thereabouts and then left it for a while. After a few weeks, I noticed that nothing much had happened. So I started again. I purchased some actual topsoil, prepared the area, and seeded it again with good quality seed. But still nothing seemed to happen.
Meanwhile I was intrigued by a recent advertisement on TV for a new artificial turf  product – a synthetic grass requiring no mowing, no watering and no maintenance AND with prices starting at only a few dollars per sq. ft. plus installation. I must note here that I make no claims for nor against this particular type of product (I am sure it is a great idea for some), but I was struck by the parallel to the few details we know of the events in our pre-existance from the scriptures. Satan and his followers would have had us obtain eternal salvation with no work, no effort, and no worries for just a small payment of all future glory and honor due to him rather than to the Father. I presume the battle, there being waged before receiving a physical body, must have been more a war of words and ideas – claims and assertions and promises about things to come that we really had no way of understanding yet. Basically: Christ promised us real grass, whereas Satan was selling artificial turf.
And more recently back at home, I decided to read the directions on the back of the seed packaging. Besides quality seed and good soil preparation, it noted that the most critical element in success would be in keeping the soil moist. Regular daily watering with a light mist – a small and simple thing. I have more recently attempted to comply and with some satisfaction I now note that among the weeds and mushrooms, I am starting to see blades of new grass pushing up through the dirt here and there! Yay!
Elder Bednar compared the small and simple spiritual pattern he had been describing to drip or trickle irrigation, in which water is applied in a more focused and frequent way than with other methods, providing “a high moisture level in the soil wherein plants can flourish. In like manner, if you and I are focused and frequent in receiving consistent drops of spiritual nourishment, then gospel roots can sink deep into our soul, can become firmly established and grounded, and can produce extraordinary and delicious fruit. The spiritual pattern of small and simple things bringing forth great things produces firmness and steadfastness, deepening devotion, and more complete conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel.”
Elder Bednar concluded his address with this statement: “In a world of increasing wickedness, in a world where good is called evil and evil is called good, in a world that puts darkness for light and light for darkness (see 2 Nephi 15:20), you can be blessed with ‘the hope of righteousness’ (Galatians 5:5), ‘the light of the Lord’ (Isaiah 2:5), and protection against deception (see 1 Nephi 15:24; Helaman 5:12),”
Faith in Christ
Elder Oaks taught : “The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Without this faith, the prophet Mormon said, we “are not fit to be numbered among the people of his church” (Moro. 7:39).”
(When Faith Endures, Hymns, no. 128): “I will not doubt, I will not fear; God's love and strength are always near. His promised gift helps me to find An inner strength and peace of mind. I give the Father willingly My trust, my prayers, humility. His Spirit guides; his love assures That fear departs when faith endures.”
The Lord instructed the prophet Elijah to travel to a widow’s home in Zarephath. The Lord told Elijah that He had commanded her to feed Elijah. (1 Kings 17:9.) When Elijah approached, the poor widow was preparing to feed herself and her son the last bit of her meager food. Elijah promised her that if she fed him first, her food would last until the famine was over. The widow immediately complied. Just as Elijah promised, her food did last, sufficient to feed not only the widow’s family but also Elijah until the famine was over. (1 Kings 17:12–16.)
Under the leadership of Helaman, the two thousand sons of the Anti-Nephi-Lehites went to battle against the wicked Lamanites. These young warriors are described as “exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. “Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.” (Alma 53:20–21.) Because of the righteousness and integrity that the two thousand young men displayed, the Lord watched over them and kept them safe. They were able to fight for the liberty of their people, and not one of them was killed.
A central point of Alma 32 is that of having faith in the word of God. Alma observed that when the word of God is planted in the fertile soil of the heart, it will begin to swell and grow. Through experimenting upon the word, or nurturing it through obedience, the word of God will bring forth fruit that is most precious, sweet above all that is sweet, white above all that is white, and pure above all that is pure. Neglecting the word of God will result in no such fruit. It is interesting that these teachings on faith come from a prophet who at one time had actively taught against these things. Elder Holland notes : “It is not only the elder Alma who prays when his son is laid helpless and insensible before him, but also the priests and, we might assume, other faithful friends and neighbors. With the support of more private prayers, the priesthood assembled and “began to fast, and to pray to the Lord their God that he would open the mouth of Alma, that he might speak, and also that his limbs might receive their strength—that the eyes of the people might be opened to see and know of the goodness and glory of God.” (Mosiah 27:22.)”
(Come Unto Him, Hymns, no. 114 verse 1): “ I wander through the still of night, When solitude is ev'rywhere-- Alone, beneath the starry light, And yet I know that God is there. I kneel upon the grass and pray; An answer comes without a voice. It takes my burden all away And makes my aching heart rejoice”. Prayer may seem like a small and simple thing, but how wonderful and amazing is it that He can be contacted by each and everyone of His childern at any moment of the day. That each and every prayer is heard and responded to, sometimes even before we utter the words. Guided by the spirit, the humble seeker of truth will pray and then have the missionaries happen upon them.
This thought from Elder Holland (Apr 1977): “The Savior gave us the model for that kind of faith and trust. Remember how he prayed to the Father in the agony of Gethsemane? This was the culminating event of his life, the climactic fulfillment of his mission as our Savior. The gospel of Luke, as corrected in the inspired translation of the Prophet Joseph Smith, describes how he knelt down and prayed: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done” (JST, Luke 22:42).”  These lyrics should be familiar (Joseph Smith's First Prayer, Hymn, no. 26 ): “Oh, how lovely was the morning! Radiant beamed the sun above .. When within the shady woodland Joseph sought the God of love, .. "Joseph, this is my Beloved; Hear him!" Oh, how sweet the word! Joseph's humble prayer was answered, And he listened to the Lord.” The instruction in James 1:5 that inspired the boy prophet Joseph to go to the grove and pray were available to all. It was by the small and simple practice of regular scripture study that those words were able to inspire him that day to ‘go and do’ the will of the Lord. All that followed from that experience, the restoration of the gospel and priesthood power, the coming forth of the Book of Momon, the church we have today with living prophets and all we see around us, started with a young boy deciding to pray as instructed in the scripture.
(As I Search the Holy Scriptures, Hymns, no. 277 verses 2 and 4): “As I search the holy scriptures, Touch my spirit, Lord, I pray. May life's myst'ries be unfolded As I study day by day. As I search the holy scriptures, Help me ponder and obey. In thy word is life eternal; May thy light show me the way.”
It was Nephi who taught: “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. We can read scriptures in our own homes.
This from the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith: “Search the scriptures—search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation. No; for when men receive their instruction from Him that made them, they know how He will save them” .
Reverence for God – A Willing Heart
(On This Day of Joy and Gladness, Hymns, no. 64 verses 2 and 3) read: “Open wide the fount of Zion; Let her richest blessings flow To the Saints who nobly serve thee In the gospel here below. May we labor in the kingdom-- By the prophets long foretold-- Where the children of the promise Shall be gathered in the fold.”
We have father Adam, Nephi and so many others as examples of those with willing hearts who intend to keep all of God’s Commandments, yes, all of them .. Consider “the boy prophet Samuel, [who] was born in answer to his mother’s prayers (1 Sam. 1). As a child he was placed in the care of Eli, the high priest at the tabernacle at Shilo (1 Sam. 2:11; 3:1). The Lord called Samuel at a young age to become a prophet (1 Sam. 3). He responded to the call, hearing his name called at night. After Eli’s death, Samuel became the great prophet and judge of Israel and restored law, order, and regular religious worship in the land (1 Sam. 4:15–18; 7:3–17).”
Reverence for the Sabbath Day
(Sabbath Day, Hymns, no. 148 verse 1): “ In sweet remembrance of thy Son, We gather in thy house as one To join in prayer, to sing thy praise, to worship thee and learn thy ways. Father, on this the Sabbath day, Be with us gathered here, we pray.”
Sister Neill F. Marriott  gave this thought: “The prophet Ezekiel counsels, “Hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God” (Ezekiel 20:20). How do we hallow the Lord’s Sabbath day? [By being] prepared to worship when Sunday arrives, we can bring a new reverence to the environment of the chapel itself. Think how you would feel if you entered a chapel filled with ward members sitting quietly and listening thoughtfully to the prelude music. In such a setting we can concentrate on the purpose of the meeting, feel the Spirit, and receive inspiration. Our hearts are also prepared and our minds taught truth if we attentively sing the sacrament hymn, pondering such lyrics as this from (As Now We Take the Sacrament, Hymns, no. 169.): “As now our minds review the past, we know we must repent; The way to thee is righteousness—the way thy life was spent. Forgiveness is a gift from thee we seek with pure intent. With hands now pledged to do thy work, we take the sacrament.”
Faith, prayer, pondering scripture, reverence for God and His sabbath day are but few of the small and simple things that will bring to pass the great things we desire.
It is my prayer that we continue on doing, and being, the small and simple things that lead back to be with and like our Father. Amen.
 lds.org/general-conference/1990/10/a-pattern-in-all-things?lang=eng talk by Elder Marvin J Ashton
 http://perfectturfgrass.com/index.php TV Advertisement (tell them Roger referred you).
 https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1994/04/faith-in-the-lord-jesus-christ?lang=eng “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Apr 1994
 https://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/03/alma-son-of-alma?lang=eng “Alma, Son of Alma” by Jeffrey R. Holland Apr 1977
 Oaks ibid
 Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 11–12.
 https://www.lds.org/church/news/are-you-ready-for-what-the-sabbath-offers?lang=eng by Neill F Marriot of General Young Womens Presidency, June 2015 Church News