What does it mean to have faith? Alma says that “if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21). We have faith when we believe and trust in something that is real and true even though we have not seen it for ourselves.
Joseph Smith wanted to know which church he should join. One evening when he was reading the Bible, he read in James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth [scold or criticize] not; and it shall be given him.”
Joseph believed this scripture and planted its truth in his heart. He trusted that the Lord would answer his prayer, even though he had never prayed out loud before. Joseph prayed in faith, and he received a wonderful answer.
What does it mean to have faith in Jesus Christ? To have faith in Jesus Christ means that although we have not seen Him, we believe that He lives and loves us and that we trust Him. When we read the scriptures, we can learn about Him. When we listen to the prophets, we can understand what we can do to follow Him. When we pray in faith for help to choose the right, we can know that our prayers will be answered. When we listen to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, we can feel Him close to us and know that He loves us.
How does our faith in Jesus Christ grow? Alma tells us that the word of God is like a seed. We show our faith when we plant a seed in the earth. We then nurture it by keeping the weeds away, by giving it water and plant food, and by making sure that it has sunshine. If it is a good seed, it will begin to swell and grow.
When we believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, we plant true words of God in our hearts. We nurture this kind of seed by praying, by listening to the prophets, by keeping the commandments, and by responding to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. As we do this, the seed of truth will grow within our hearts. Then we will know that Jesus Christ is happy with our efforts.
Alma says that if we continue to nourish the word of God by our faith, it will grow as large as a tree and bring forth fruit. This means that our faith in Jesus Christ will grow strong and bring blessings for us and for others. What joy that brings! We have faith in Jesus Christ when we believe Him, trust Him, obey Him, and follow Him.
To make a book to remind you that the word of God is like a seed, mount page 15 on heavy paper. Cut out the four large panels, and punch or cut holes where indicated. Arrange the pages so that the seed is planted and grows into a tree. Fasten the pages together with yarn or string.
To watch the seed grow, cut out the long panels and the heart box. Cut along the broken lines in the heart. Form one long strip by gluing the long panels together where indicated. Thread the strip up through the bottom slit in the heart and down through the top slit. Pull the strip through the heart, and watch the seed grow.
Activity 1: The Word of God Is like a Seed
The Word of God Is like a Seed
(See Alma 32:27–43.)
Plant it: Believe.
Nurture it: Read the scriptures. Listen to the prophets. Keep the commandments.
Tend it: Pray. Listen and respond to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
And it will grow.
If ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life (Alma 32:41).
(Note: CS = Children’s Songbook)
1. Help the children memorize Alma 32:21. Then have them follow along in their scriptures as you read or tell Alma 32:27–43. Discuss the importance of planting the word of God in our hearts. Assemble some gardening aids (small bag of fertilizer, trowel, watering can, picture of sun, etc.), and put them into a box or bag. Have children pick an item and tell one thing we can do to nurture the word of God by our faith in Jesus Christ (believe, keep the commandments, pray, etc.). Label each item with a word suggested by the child. Display pictures of trees in various stages. Help the children realize that this is an ongoing process. Let them each plant a real seed either individually or as a Primary that they can tend and watch grow. Sing “Faith” (CS, pp. 96–97).
2. Write F, A, I, T, and H on separate sheets of paper. On the reverse side of each paper, attach a picture with its scripture reference that demonstrates the results of faith in the Savior. Possibilities: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refuse to worship the king’s golden image and survive the fiery furnace (Dan. 3); Jesus heals the centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5–10, 13); Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:21–24, 35–43); Jesus heals blind Bartimæus (Mark 10:46–52); Alma and Amulek cause the prison walls to tumble (Alma 14:18–28); Nephi and Lehi are encircled by fire in prison (Hel. 5:20–23, 44–50); the brother of Jared sees the finger of the Lord (Ether 3:1–16); Joseph Smith prays in the Sacred Grove (JS—H 1:11–17). Display the letters randomly. Have the children choose a letter by class or individually, look up the reference, and share the story with the Primary. Post the letters to spell the word correctly.
3. Hebrews 11 [Heb. 11] contains a recounting of many stories of faith. Write the following verse numbers on slips of paper: 5, 7, 8, 11, 17, 22, 23, 24–25, 29, 30, 32–34 (use pictures for younger children). Have the children sit in a circle with their scriptures open to Hebrews 11 [Heb. 11]. Pass a beanbag around while the children sing “Faith” (CS, p. 96–97). When the music stops, the child with the beanbag selects a slip of paper and reads the verse it refers to. Repeat as time allows. Point out that all these people had their faith centered in Jesus Christ, the Jehovah of the Old Testament. We can gain strength from learning of the faith-promoting experiences of others. Share an experience where your faith was strengthened.
4. Study (in advance) John 10:1–18. Tell the children to sit anywhere in the Primary room. Explain that the room is like a sheepfold and their teacher is their “shepherd.” If they will listen and follow their shepherd’s voice, they will learn a lot this year. Have each shepherd call out his/her class by each child’s name. Then have the children follow their shepherd along a path of “danger spots,” such as pictures of cliffs, swift water, a desert, a ravine, wild animals, a wrong path, poisonous weeds. At each spot, ask them to name and discuss a danger spot in their lives today, or list a problem on the reverse side of each picture. Examples: dishonesty, Word of Wisdom problems, lack of reverence for sacred things, violence, profanity, problems in the media. When everyone has completed the path, discuss John 10:1–18. For additional help, see the following from the Friend: “The Good Shepherd,” Sept. 1995, pp. 48–IBC, and “His Little Lamb,” Dec. 1997, p. 18.
5. For additional resources on faith in Jesus Christ, see the following from the Friend: “Rescue,” Mar. 1994, IFC; “Friend to Friend,” June 1995, pp. 6–7 and May 1996, pp. 6–7; “Intents of Your Heart,” Sept. 1997, IFC.