Sunday, May 11, 2014

Stories from My Mission: How I Knew the Book of Mormon Was True

I grew up in the Church which means I always remember going to church and hearing about the Book of Mormon. My family also had daily scripture study which mean that we would all sit together as a family and read at least a verse from the Book of Mormon. I learned about it in Sunday School and Seminary and it never entered my mind to ask whether or not the Book of Mormon was true. I never doubted that it was true or that it was anything other than it claimed to be so it never occurred to me to pray and ask if it were true. I might as well prayed to know if the sun was shining (considering I grew up in Arizona it is not something I would ever doubt).

For a good portion of my time growing up I got to hear the experiences and testimonies of young men and women who left on missions and then came back. I think there was a period of time when we averaged four or five mission farewells or homecomings every month. There were many, many return missionaries who talked about how they learned that the Book of Mormon was true. Some had very powerful life changing experiences that they related to us. Some had experiences that lasted an entire night. Others told how it happened very suddenly and could point to a specific time when they "knew".

Despite all of these stories I never had had a similar experience nor had a specifically looked for it to happen. I never thought about it because why would I ask about something that was as obvious as the sun?

When it came time for me to put in my mission papers I was just starting at BYU. I had had plenty of spiritual experiences in my life. There was a lot that I knew as a matter of fact and faith, but I had never attempted to pray to ask if the Book of Mormon was true.

After I entered the MTC I was submersed in a climate of faith and spirituality. It permeated everything we did. Everything we did became an extension of our faith. Everything, from our meals, to our sleep, to our service, to our exercise, to our learning was focused on faith and spiritual knowledge. We spoke it, we cried, we bore testimony. There was nothing that we did that was not infused with the spirit. It was at that time that many of the missionaries around me began to talk about how they had prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true and had received an answer. It was something mentioned in our language classes. It was mentioned in church, in testimony meetings, in devotionals, in choir practice. Everywhere we were reminded that we were to bear testimony of the the Book of Mormon and that we could not do that if we did not have a testimony ourselves of whether or not it was true.

I think at the time there were several Elders in my district who had had powerful experiences while in the MTC and told the rest of us about their experiences. Even though I participated in the testimony meetings and added my voice to theirs in witnessing that the Book of Mormon was true I had never prayed to know if it was true. I had never had a powerful experience confirming the truth of the Book of Mormon to me. I had never had my "Alma moment" as it were.

The more I thought about it the more I thought that I should ask God whether or not the Book of Mormon was true. But why would I ask about something that seemed so obvious? I wrestled with this uncertainty for a while (about two days, I tend to be indecisive) before one night I decided to pray to ask God if the Book of Mormon was true. I knew the pattern, I had to read it (check). I had to ponder about it (check). I had to remember how merciful the Lord had been (check). And then I had to ask.

After reviewing Moroni 10:3-5 again I knelt down and prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true. Immediately I got my answer. God said, "What are you asking me for?!? You already know it is true!!

Immediately I felt silly for giving in to the "need to ask" mentality. I had always known it to be true so I never had to ask. I did not have to ask about something that I never doubted.

Since then the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon has been demonstrated to me in a multitude of ways. I have learned more than I ever thought I could and I learned things that I was not even aware that I did not know or understand. What God was trying to teach me is that I do not have to return to the same things that I already know but that He wants me to inquire after things that I don't know so that He can teach me. Line upon line, precept upon precept. I also learned that when we pray God will answer us in the language that we understand. He knows us so well that He can answer us in the way that will have the most impact and meaning to us. He would not say the same thing to others who ask but He said it to me because He knew that I would know and understand. That is the way of God and the voice of the Spirit that we must learn to recognize.

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