Recently I’ve felt a stronger desire to gain a more firm testimony of the Book of Mormon. It’s becoming clearer and clearer just how essential it is to receive a personal witness of the validity of this book. Everything I teach as a missionary boils down to whether or not it’s for real. If this book actually is what it claims to be- the word of God, then Joseph Smith really did receive permission and power from God to be able to translate it. If Joseph Smith really had God on his side, then he really was called to be a prophet, a modern day Moses. And if that’s true than Joseph Smith really was given the task of restoring Christ’s church, teachings and power back here on the Earth again. That’s a big deal, something worth investing the time and effort into fully investigating.
I feel like little by little I’m coming to better trust in it and in it’s teachings. Not from sticking "the Book of Mormon" in a google search engine nor by placing stock in it’s reviews, both those of it’s critics and it’s supporters. But by taking up the invitation found in the introduction of the book: "We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of it’s truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost."
I think too often we think that coming to know the Book of Mormon is true is a one time event, a single life changing answer received after a heartfelt prayer and boom you just know it’s true. Maybe a single prayer to find out what’s up works for some people, but that’s not how it’s been for me. The handful of times when I’ve directly asked in prayer, "is the Book of Mormon true?" and then sat and waited to get some kind of immediate, grand answer, nothing has happened. I feel the strongest about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon when I’m sharing with others the effect that it’s had on my life. When I’m studying it and trying to live by the principles it teaches, that’s when I think of what Christ said about how "by the fruits" you can know whether something is good or not.
I’ve still got a ways to go, but the way I feel and think about the Book of Mormon has come a long way from where I was a year ago at in the beginning of the mission. At least now I’ve actually read it enough to know what’s in it! I know it’s a good book that teaches good principles. It talks about Christ (a whole lot) and how we can be happier people. The writings are powerful. Reading it makes me feel at peace and helps me want to change and be a better person.
The last time President Monson addressed the church, he said, "the importance of having a firm testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated." He challenged us all to study and ponder the Book of Mormon everyday, promising that doing so would put us "in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives." Those prophetic promises have motivated me to more diligently study it everyday, to fast and pray to gain a stronger conviction of it’s divine origin and the truthfulness of what’s written on it’s pages.
I want to work harder to know with even more surety because through out my life, I’ve said and heard the words "I know the Book of Mormon is true" many, many, many times. But until now I haven’t actually put all that much thought into what that means and entails. What are we trying to say, that what we learn from it is true? That it’s a true historical record of the people in ancient america? That the story of how it was obtained is true? All of the above and more? I think having a clearer understanding of what saying "the Book of Mormon is true" actually means, will help it to be more than just words repeated. As we put a little more thought and effort into it, as we take action and put the challenges to practice, as we study the Book of Mormon, pray about it, test out the principles taught and pay attention to what we feel and think through out the process, that is when clarity is obtained, surety is achieved and truth is revealed.
Try it. If there’s one thing I do know, it’s that there is infinitely more to gain than to lose by reading this book. Any sacrifice made will be outweighed by the worth of the prize won. Because of the Book of Mormon I’ve come to better know who my Savior is and what He did for me. I’ve felt an increased measure of His love. I’ve been comforted in times of sadness, lifted in times of discouragement, reassured in times of doubt, guided in times of confusion and enlightened in times of searching. I don’t have all the answers I’d like to have, but I know enough to leave the rest to faith. The Book of Mormon has deeply impacted my life for the better and it can do the same for anyone that is willing to make room for it in their lives. You don’t have to take my word for it, read it. See what it can do for you.