I have never had any reason to doubt those who talk of miraculous manifestations about the Book of Mormon. Those things have just never happened to me. In my younger years I used to wonder if there were something wrong with me, because when I prayed about the book nothing noticeable happened. I suppose the real reason nothing ever happened is that I have always had faith in the Book of Mormon and simply felt that when I understood all there was to understand about it all the questions that other people ask about it would be answered and the book would still remain valid.
As a result, I cannot say, as so many are able to do, that when I arose from praying about the book I had a burning that said, “That book is true.” I accept that fact, and I have to think there are a lot of us in the Church who are in a situation similar to mine. But what I would like to emphasize here is that even without a spectacular spiritual manifestation to tell me the Book of Mormon is true, I have spent a good deal of time throughout my life studying it and its coming forth and the various evidences that exist. I cannot claim to have pondered all the questions that disturb some people, but I have a simple understanding that when we know everything there is to know about the book it will still stand firm as the anchor to our faith that it has always been for me. I suppose what I am saying is that even without a spectacular witness, it still blesses me and my family greatly.
Let me give some examples of how it has blessed me.
1) When I went on my mission to Switzerland in 1950, I had studied the German language in both high school and university for a total of three years. I thought I was well prepared to be a missionary, even though at that time I had not read all of the Book of Mormon. But when I heard the everyday language of the Swiss people and their dialect forms, I was overwhelmed. It became very difficult to apply what I had learned. My companion and I read aloud to each other for an hour each morning from the Max Zimmer German translation of the Book of Mormon, which was written in the old German script. It was difficult at first, but through that reading of the Book of Mormon in German, the rhythm and flow of the language came easier for me and I was soon able to better communicate with the people.
That early morning reading also helped me through the Isaiah chapters of Second Nephi, which can be difficult to understand. In the process, I was introduced to the intriguing and beautiful poetry of Isaiah, to the vision he had of the whole history of man, and to his strong concern for the poor and the widows. It began a life-long study of the whole book of Isaiah, which has been a blessing at many times of spiritual need or of spiritual high points. That reading also opened up to me the way the prophets have of placing things of our life into a perspective that gives them their true meaning in eternity. These openings and beginnings have continued to enrich my understanding of the gospel, of the plan of salvation, of my values and goals, of the meaning of my own life. This all began with that hour my companion and I spent together reading the Book of Mormon to each other in the early mornings in an attic room in Bern, Switzerland. It was not just the language, but also the beginnings of an understanding of the beauty and importance of all scripture that came to me through that experience.
2) At Brigham Young University a few years ago I attended a seminar to prepare faculty to teach the Book of Mormon classes for first year students. During that six-week period I read the Book of Mormon through twice, outlining and pondering meanings as I went, savoring especially beautiful passages and doctrines. That marked another step in my love for the book. I was able to get much closer to it and to pursue subjects and themes that attracted my interest. Again, I could not say that I had received any special manifestation or witness. That was not a part of my relation to the book. Rather I gained a heightened awareness of the beauty of its message and the importance of its warnings for people living in our time. This awareness was increased as I taught the Book of Mormon in the Gospel Doctrine class. I have come to identify with the problems that men like Alma and Mormon had and to understand their deep concerns for people like me. I have learned that many of the details that are objected to by critics of the book are of no importance when compared to the magnificent and intense love that Christ shows in the preservation of the book so that we could have it to help us.
3) We have read the scriptures often in my family—I would not claim to be as regular at this as we are encouraged to be, but probably more than half of the time we have spent together reading the scriptures has been spent reading the Book of Mormon. We have enjoyed those times together very much. The older children have fond memories of them. As five missionaries have gone out from our family, they have been prepared about the same as I had been prepared: They accepted the book as true even though they had not read all of it many times nor had had some dramatic witness concerning it. Yet even without spectacular spiritual experiences, the Book of Mormon is an anchor to our family, to our faith, to our whole way of life. It is the keystone of our religion and gives meaning to it. When I think of the significance of the Book of Mormon to us, I wonder if any manifestation could be more important than that.
The Holy Ghost is not always obvious or direct in His workings with us. But through small things happening over a lifetime he creates a foundation upon which we can build good and happy lives, lives that are productive and firm in the Kingdom of God on earth. The Book of Mormon is part of that foundation for me and its significance continues to increase for me. I am grateful to the Lord for its blessing.