When My mother was a young girl, she prayed to know if the church was true and she received her answer in an almost miraculous way. She remembers feeling enveloped in a warm hug and feeling the most wonderful feeling of warmth and peace surrounding her to the point that she didn’t want it to end. She could hear God’s voice reassuring her and giving her the knowledge she requested
I always assumed that that was the way most people received their testimony and I looked forward to feeling that. However, for me it was different and almost disappointing. When I prayed to gain my testimony, I felt absolutely nothing. I waited and listened but nothing happened.
It wasn’t until years later, and after going through many difficult challenges that I knew in my heart that I knew the Gospel was true and that Christ lives and loves me. It still didn’t come in an overwhelming or miraculous way but It came just as words forming in my head “You know it’s true!”
As I was preparing for my talk I came across a talk given by Robert D Hales, on the day that Howard W Hunter was sustained as prophet. At first I wasn’t going to use the talk because it was given so long ago and I wanted something more recent but as I read and listened to the talk I realized that it was exactly what I wanted to say.
In this talk, Elder Hales, shares the following story about David O McKay: He says ”
President David O. McKay was the ninth President of the Church. In his boyhood he desired to know, as Joseph Smith had known, of the reality of God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. One day while herding cattle in the foothills near his home, he sought a testimony through prayer. He said:
“I dismounted, threw my reins over my horse’s head, and there under a serviceberry bush I prayed that God would declare to me the truth of his revelation to Joseph Smith” (New Era, Jan. 1972, p. 56).
He prayed fervently and sincerely with as much faith as he could find within him. When he finished his prayer, he waited for an answer. Nothing seemed to happen. Disappointed, he rode slowly on, saying to himself at the time, “No spiritual manifestation has come to me. If I am true to myself, I must say I am just the same ‘old boy’ that I was before I prayed” (ibid.).
A direct answer to this prayer was many years in coming. While serving a mission in Scotland, Elder McKay received a powerful spiritual manifestation. He later commented, “Never before had I experienced such an emotion. … It was a manifestation for which as a doubting youth I had secretly prayed most earnestly on hillside and in meadow. It was an assurance to me that sincere prayer is answered ‘sometime, somewhere.’” (Francis M. Gibbons, David O. McKay, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986, p. 50).
So what is a testimony and how do we receive one? Elder Hales goes on to say this ”
Our testimony is a measurement of our faith. Faith is testimony; testimony is faith. Having a strong testimony allows us to help others in their search for truth. Our testimony is a gift from God. It should be shared, but we do not have the authority to bestow a testimony upon someone else, because a personal testimony is granted by the Holy Ghost. It can aid others in gaining knowledge for themselves—a knowledge abiding in the heart that leaves no room for doubt.
Our testimony is a knowledge of who we are—a child of God,
where we came from—the presence of our Heavenly Father, and where we are going eternally if we are faithful—back into the presence of our Heavenly Father. We must each gain such a testimony if we are to withstand the trials and adversities of mortality and go on to the glorious eternal future we all desire.”
He also says this ”
People often ask me, “How do you know?“ “How can you know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ?” While there seems to be no exact formula by which each of us receives a testimony, there does seem to be a discernable pattern. Though prayer is important in gaining a testimony, we cannot merely ask in prayer for a testimony and expect it to be given immediately to us.
Generally, testimony emerges over time and through life’s experiences. We can compare testimony to the process of watching a photograph develop. Powerful impressions of the Spirit come like flashes of light on receptive photographic film. Like the chemicals needed to develop the picture, certain spiritual conditions and experiences are needed in our lives for our personal testimony to develop into a certain truth and knowledge. And like a photograph, a testimony, if not carefully preserved, will fade with time.
Some of the ways that Elder Hales says can aid us in receiving a testimony are as follows:
Have a sincere desire to know the truth and express that desire in humble prayer to our Heavenly Father. “If ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you” (Alma 32:27).
Search the scriptures. Continue to pray. The scriptures are filled with the testimonies of those who have gone before. Even they, though long dead, can reach your heart and bring peace to your mind and direction to your life.
Search and ponder upon the truths you are learning about gospel principles. Think about them. Test them with further prayer. Relate them to what you know and feel. All the truths you will learn can eventually fit together into a fervent, undoubting testimony.
Be humble and receptive sometimes the Lord wants us t study it out in our minds and come up with our own ideas This was the case with the Brother of Jared when he was building vessles to take his family to the promised land:
“These vessels had no light. This concerned the brother of Jared. He did not want his family to make their journey in darkness; and so, rather than waiting to be commanded, he took his concern to the Lord. ‘And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?’ [Ether 2:23].
“The brother of Jared’s answer to this question required diligent effort on his part. He climbed Mount Shelem ‘and did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones’ [Ether 3:1]. He then asked the Lord to touch those stones so that they would bring forth light.
Live our testimony. We must obediently follow the Savior’s teachings and the prophets’ examples. Our testimony and example will assist others who are searching for the truth.
Share our testimony. “O that I were an angel,” proclaimed Alma, “and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God” (Alma 29:1). Let others know that you know. Bear your testimony in fast meeting. Tell your family; tell your friends. You will find when you share your testimony it becomes stronger, and there are many others around you who also want to embrace the truth.
People show their testimonies by the way they act, speak, dress and live. We need to live pour testimonies and be a light to the world (Share work experience)
Be willing to endure the test of time. Do not think that it is easy to maintain a testimony. Others will test you. Sometimes they will point the finger of mockery and scorn. Sometimes they may persecute you openly. Be prepared. Know in advance that the best of God’s children have had the courage of true conviction and were willing to suffer ridicule, deprivation, and even death for the sake of true testimony. Is each of us willing to do likewise?”
We are all different and receive our testimonies in different way very few of us will see Heavenly Father and Jesus when we pray to know the truth and most of us will not receive that manifestation the first time we ask but through trials and experiences and continues prayer we will find the truth out for ourselves through the holy ghost.
In an October 2012 Conference address, David A Bednar said that a testimony goes hand in hand with conversion. He said this “I promise that as we come to a knowledge of the truth and are converted unto the Lord, we will remain firm and steadfast and never fall away. Eagerly we will set aside our weapons of rebellion. We will be blessed with bright light from our lamps of testimony and an ample supply of the oil of conversion. And as each of us becomes more fully converted, we will strengthen our families, our friends, and our associates.” Just as we need light in order to live physically, we need our testimonies in order to live spiritually. That light is given to us as a gift from Heavenly Father through the spirit
So many times in my life I have relied on my testimony to get through challenges and trials.
It is the knowledge that God lives and loves me and will never leave me that gets me through some of the toughest times in my life.