25950_000_012“We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”—A of F 1:4
It was late at night, and the house was dark and quiet. I knelt beside a fold-out camp cot, my bed while visiting at my sister’s house. My arms rested on the rough woolen blanket of the bed, and I closed my eyes, pouring all my effort into a fervent and determined prayer.
I was there because I had to learn the truth. I needed an answer to my prayers.
My search for the truth had begun almost a year before. At that time, I was a senior in high school, active in my own church, and happy with my family and my life. I didn’t know the Lord had greater things in store for me.
My sister and her husband had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were filled with missionary zeal and had come to visit us, hoping to share the joy they had found. My family and I were not receptive. We were very happy just as we were. But we did agree to accompany them to the Los Angeles Temple Visitors’ Center for a tour.
That was the beginning for me. The story of Joseph Smith and the translation of the Book of Mormon sounded terribly far-fetched, and yet, I thought, “If this is true, what an incredibly wonderful thing!”
So I decided to do a little research. Throughout that year, in my English class, we were assigned to write a series of research essays on a topic of our choice. I decided to compare and contrast my religion with the Latter-day Saint faith. My research included attending several ward meetings, interviewing members of the Church, reading the Book of Mormon, and writing many letters filled with gospel questions to my sister.
Although I was active in my church, I never felt the personal connection with God that the LDS people I met seemed to possess with such ease. As I spoke with them, I realized it was their understanding of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that gave them such profound faith. I felt not envy but a great desire to believe and understand that what they testified to me was true.
After eight months, my sister invited me to visit her during my Easter vacation. I agreed, and we spent a week baking and laughing, cleaning and visiting, and discussing gospel principles. I didn’t realize it then, but the Spirit dwelt in that house. I was amazed at her ease in answering my questions. No matter what I asked, no matter how complex, she gave me a good understanding of that principle. I felt her love for me, and I felt God’s love for me. I did not know whether Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, but I desperately wanted to know.
So there I was, kneeling on the cold, hard floor, my eyes tightly shut, begging the Lord to answer my prayer, to tell me whether Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I felt if I could just know that, then everything else would fall into place. It would follow that he translated the Book of Mormon, that he received the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, and that he helped establish the Lord’s Church on the earth.
As I prayed, I felt loving arms surround me. I felt great warmth and joy flood my heart. And I heard a voice in my mind say, “Yes, Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.”
I wept for joy as I knelt there, feeling infinitely important to my Heavenly Father, important enough that He would listen to my stumbling, pleading prayer and answer me with such tenderness and compassion.
Grateful for the answer to my prayer and rejoicing in the truth I had found, I decided to be baptized. The only snag was that I had not had lessons from the missionaries yet. I contacted the missionaries, and they came immediately to teach me. The doctrines of the gospel were “as the dew from heaven distilling” (see Hymns, no. 149). I had not known of the Savior’s great love for me. I felt unworthy and began fervently to repent of the things I had said and done and thought that were out of harmony with the Lord’s teachings.
The change was gradual, but after six weeks of learning and praying and striving, I was baptized. I felt such overpowering joy, such purity as I came out of the water, that I knew my sins were forgiven, and I was worthy to be given the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Although the night I had prayed so fervently was long ago, because I knelt in faith before the Lord and received an answer from Him, I have a great testimony of prayer and of a loving Father in Heaven, a testimony that our Savior lives and loves us and that the Holy Ghost is always there to guide, strengthen, and comfort all who seek Him.
You can also read these articles at www.lds.org in the Gospel Library: “Finding Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ensign, Nov. 2004), by Elder Robert D. Hales; “Three Choices” (Ensign, Nov. 2003), by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin; and “The Cloven Tongues of Fire” (Ensign, May 2000), by President Boyd K. Packer.
Next month in this series, read how Elder Robert S. Wood of the Seventy explained to ministers and preachers what it means to be called of God.