Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are taught the process of gaining a testimony. First, you read the scriptures, ponder them, and then pray. Finally, you feel a spiritual witness telling you that what you have learned is true. We know from the scriptures and from the words of the prophets that if we ask, seek, and knock, we will receive an answer (Luke 11:9; Matthew 7:7; 3 Nephi 14:7). Asking is a true and correct principle.
The adversary would like us to believe that obtaining a witness of the truth requires big and impressive experiences. The Pharisees in the New Testament (Matthew 12:38-39) and Korihor in the Book of Mormon (Alma 30:43-45; see also David P. Homer, “Hearing His Voice,” Ensign, May 2019) would only believe God’s word if they received a great sign. This caused them to miss the powerful but much quieter voice of the Spirit.
Even though Peter walked on water, saw Christ multiply food, and witnessed the dead brought to life, his testimony came by revelation. After Peter declared, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the the living God,” Jesus said to him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:16-17). Peter received his witness not just from the great miracles he witnessed but also from the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.
A Testimony of Jesus Christ Grows Daily
I have learned that gaining a testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is not limited to special spiritual experiences. Small precious moments can happen every day. In my experience, a testimony grows gradually with everyday cultivation.
Elder David A. Bednar explains, “We as members of the Church tend to emphasize marvelous and dramatic spiritual manifestations so much that we may fail to appreciate and may even overlook the customary pattern by which the Holy Ghost accomplishes His work. The very ‘simpleness of the way’ (1 Nephi 17:41) of receiving small and incremental spiritual impressions that over time and in totality constitute a desired answer or the direction we need may cause us to look ‘beyond the mark’ (Jacob 4:14)” (“The Spirit of Revelation,” Ensign, May 2011).
This pattern of giving us “small and incremental spiritual impressions” is a very important part of the Lord’s plan for our growth. In the long run, it has the ability to be much more powerful than the big, impressive experiences. We may think, “If I could have an experience like Enos, or Alma, or King Lamoni, it would be so much easier for me to believe.” If our testimony is built only on a few instances of great personal revelation, Satan only needs to destroy our confidence in those few events. On the other hand, if those powerful spiritual experiences are fortified with a foundation of hundreds of little spiritual impressions, our faith is more secure.
The Holy Ghost Teaches All Truth
As a missionary, I have invited people many times to read and act on what we call “Moroni’s Promise” in Moroni 10:4-5. The most important sentence comes at the very end: “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5; italics added). Notice that Moroni does not say “the truth of these things,” but rather “the truth of all things.” The mission and purpose of the Holy Ghost is to testify of all truth. Those who seek to live worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and listen to and understand His voice can feel Him testify of truth. As President Henry B. Eyring states, “We can, if we live worthy of it, have the blessing of the Spirit to be with us, not only now and then, as in such remarkable experiences as we’ve had today, but always” (“The Holy Ghost as Your Companion,” Ensign, Nov. 2015).
When we are asked to describe how the influence of the Spirit feels, we tend to respond with words like warmth, happiness, joy, peace, and love. These are all accurate descriptions of the “fruit[s] of the Spirit” (Galations 5:22). But that does not mean that the Spirit only testifies of truth in ways that touch our emotions. In Doctrine and Covenants 8:2 we read, “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.” The Holy Ghost is not limited to operating only in our hearts but also in our minds.
Listening to the Spirit with Our Hearts and Minds
There have been many times when I have read the scriptures and felt no emotions, especially if it is a passage that I have read many times. If I stop and pay attention, though, I realize that “my brain” is telling me very simply that what I just read is true. When I read the scriptural admonition “love one another” (John 13:34), my thoughts are: “That’s a good thing to do. If we love others, it makes us feel good, and it makes others feel good. Everyone wins.” The more I think about it, I start to imagine what it would be like if we all showed love for each other. Those thoughts are uplifting and enlightening. We could call that moment a combination of “logical thinking” and “daydreaming”. What is really happening is the Spirit testifying of truth. When we recognize the constant, small trickle of impressions that the Spirit gives us, we will feel closer to our Heavenly Father. As we continue to ask, seek, and knock, that small trickle can be turned into a stream, and eventually a flood of personal revelation. A testimony is not defined by a one-time event but is powered by an ongoing connection to the Holy Ghost.
President Russell M. Nelson explains, “Does God really want to speak to you? Yes! …Oh, there is so much more that your Father in Heaven wants you to know. …Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation or Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018).
If we will strive to open our minds and our hearts to the influence of the Spirit, God will lovingly sustain us every day and give us His peace (John 14:27). He wants to lead us, guide us, and walk beside us (“I Am a Child of God,” Children’s Songbook, 2).
My testimony is certainly not done growing. I have learned that when we are in tune with the Holy Ghost, our testimonies can grow and our faith can become earth-shaking. Gaining a testimony is not an ability limited to missionaries, bishops, stake presidents, or the President of the Church. It is readily available to every single one of God’s children.