A lesson I gave last summer on “The Power of the Book of Mormon” by Thomas S. Monson.
We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety.
President Monson says that reading the Book of Mormon daily will help build and maintain our testimony of our Savior and His gospel.
How does our study of the Book of Mormon help us in this cause?
For one thing, we are taking this time as a ritual, if you will, to give our attention and hopefully our heart and minds to focusing on the gospel and all this book teaches about Jesus. The Book of Mormon’s subtitle is indeed to be another testament of Jesus Christ. We are far from the only religion that encourages its followers to daily read the scriptures, but we are blessed to have further teachings of Jesus Christ.
When we read the Book of Mormon daily, we are adding one more way to remember Jesus Christ, one more way to continually learn more of His gospel. By making this a habit, we sidestep the all-too-often problem of our main spiritual nourishment coming from weekly search, or biannually general conference. In conjunction with prayer, we can steady and calm our minds, hearts, and spirits with this daily opportunity to reach out to our Savior. We can make a time of sacredness in our daily lives.
But please keep in mind that reading the Book of Mormon goes beyond a few minutes of peace. I can practice yoga or meditate or take a nice bubble bath or even read other great books written by prophets and apostles. There is something very specific to this instruction to read the Book of Mormon that goes far beyond this being just a nice book that makes us feel good.
Gordon B. Hinckley said the following of the Book of Mormon: “Its appeal is as timeless as truth, as universal as mankind. It is the only book that contains within its covers a promise that by divine power the reader may know with certainty of its truth.
“Its origin is miraculous; when the story of that origin is first told to one unfamiliar with it, it is almost unbelievable. But the book is here to be felt and handled and read. No one can dispute its presence. …
“No other written testament so clearly illustrates the fact that when men [and women] and nations walk in the fear of God and in obedience to His commandments, they prosper and grow, but when they disregard Him and His word, there comes a decay that, unless arrested by righteousness, leads to impotence and death”
- Tom Perry said “Why is the reading of the Book of Mormon so important to us today? It is because the major writers of the Book of Mormon fully understood that their writings were primarily for the people of a future generation rather than for the people of their own generation. Moroni wrote to our generation, “I speak unto you as if ye were present””
The Book of Mormon was in so many ways not only intended for those of its day but also, perhaps even more so, for us in this new dispensation of the gospel. Ezra Taft Benson said “Each time we read the book we should probably ask ourselves: “Why did these writers choose these particular stories or events to include in the record? What value are they for us today?” The Book of Mormon is indeed timeless and offers specific wisdom and truths for us. When we think of the trials of this world, the Book of Mormon reminds us of the gospel given to us, the commandments and truths that can help us in our struggles.
We read the Book of Mormon every day because it is applicable and inspirational to us.
Of course, when we read the Book of Mormon, it should be with great intention. So much of President Monson’s talk is urging us to think of the power of the Book of Mormon. While I’m sure we all have had those moments where we slip into monotony and routine, we should strive to make reading the Book of Mormon intentional and mindful. For it is not enough to just read it, but to internalize it and build up a testimony of the Book of Mormon.
Any thoughts or ideas on how we can build that bridge between simply reading the Book of Mormon and developing our testimony of it?
Marion G. Romney has told the story of his ancestor Mary Elizabeth Rollins who as a child heard missionaries speaking of the Book of Mormon. John Whitmer gave the local church leader, Isaac Morley, a copy of the book. Mary was so intent upon reading the book that she begged to borrow it. Finally, Morley said she could read the book if she promised to bring it back before breakfast the following morning, probably sure she would either not read the book or if she did be unable to properly comprehend it. Mary stayed up all night reading and was even able to recite stories from it the next morning. Isaac Morley was so astonished he returned the book to her to finish.
It is stories like this that exemplify that passion and willingness to gain a testimony. If establishing a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon is so important, than surely reading the Book of Mormon regularly and with a willingness to learn and grow from it is essential to gaining that testimony.
President Monson says If you will read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true—and I solemnly testify that it is—then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
It seems in some circles these days to dismiss the Book of Mormon as no more than nice fairy tales that are inconsequential to being in the Church, or being a good person, or living a good life. Some people even try to distance themselves away from the truth of the Book of Mormon, but President Monson is absolutely correct in this regard. To be blunt, if the Book of Mormon is not true, than what did Joseph Smith experience? We need to read the Book of Mormon and study and pray about it for a verification of its truth, those being absolutely necessary to building a testimony.
While we are reminded that we cannot slide by on the testimony of others, we can use them to help build our testimony. When we surround ourselves with people and ideas that encourage us, I feel it can create a good support for a testimony. Speak to your friends and family who have testimonies. Study books and talks that support the Book of Mormon. But always, always do this with the goal of knowing for yourself the Book of Mormon is true.
President Monson then encourages us to maintain our testimonies, whether that be a testimony we have recently worked to build, are building, or maybe have even had for a long time. Testimonies do need to be cared for and maintained.
What can we do to continue to preserve our testimonies? This is the essence of why we have the Book of Mormon, of why we read it. Please, study and ponder and pray about it, that you can use this book to strengthen your testimony.