The Apostle Paul taught that "faith is the substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" ( Hebrews 11:1). Alma made a similar statement: "If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true" ( Alma 32:21). Faith is a principle of action and power. Whenever we work toward a worthy goal, we exercise faith. We show our hope for something that we cannot yet see.
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
In order for faith to lead to salvation, it must be centered in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Acts 4:10-12; Mosiah 3:17; Moroni 7:24-26; Articles of Faith 1:4). We can exercise faith in Christ when we have an assurance that He exists, a correct idea of His character, and a knowledge that we are striving to live according to His will.
Having faith in Jesus Christ means relying completely on Him—trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. It includes believing His teachings. It means believing that even though we do not understand all things, He does. Because He has experienced all our pains, afflictions, and infirmities, He knows how to help us rise above our daily difficulties (see Alma 7:11-12; D&C 122:8). He has "overcome the world" ( John 16:33) and prepared the way for us to receive eternal life. He is always ready to help us as we remember His plea: "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not" ( D&C 6:36).
Living by Faith
Faith is much more than passive belief. We express our faith through action—by the way we live.
The Savior promised, "If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me" ( Moroni 7:33). Faith in Jesus Christ can motivate us to follow His perfect example (see John 14:12). Our faith can lead us to do good works, obey the commandments, and repent of our sins (see James 2:18; 1 Nephi 3:7; Alma 34:17). Our faith can help us overcome temptation. Alma counseled his son Helaman, "Teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ" ( Alma 37:33).
The Lord will work mighty miracles in our life according to our faith (see 2 Nephi 26:13). Faith in Jesus Christ helps us receive spiritual and physical healing through His Atonement (see 3 Nephi 9:13-14). When times of trial come, faith can give us strength to press forward and face our hardships with courage. Even when the future seems uncertain, our faith in the Savior can give us peace (see Romans 5:1; Helaman 5:47).
Increasing Our Faith
Faith is a gift from God, but we must nurture our faith to keep it strong. Faith is like a muscle. If exercised, it grows strong. If left immobile, it becomes weak.
We can nurture the gift of faith by praying to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ. As we express our gratitude to our Father and as we plead with Him for blessings that we and others need, we will draw near to Him. We will draw near to the Savior, whose Atonement makes it possible for us to plead for mercy (see Alma 33:11). We will also be receptive to the quiet guidance of the Holy Ghost.
We can strengthen our faith by keeping the commandments. Like all blessings from God, faith is obtained and increased through individual obedience and righteous action. If we desire to enrich our faith to the highest possible degree, we must keep the covenants we have made.
We can also develop faith by studying the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets. The prophet Alma taught that the word of God helps strengthen faith. Comparing the word to a seed, he said that the "desire to believe" can lead us to "give place" for the word to be "planted in [our] heart[s]." Then we will feel that the word is good, for it will begin to enlarge our souls and enlighten our understanding. This will strengthen our faith. As we continually nurture the word in our hearts, "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." (See Alma 32:26-43.)