What is a testimony?
A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. The foundation of a testimony is the knowledge that Heavenly Father lives and loves His children; that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Son of God, and that He carried out the infinite Atonement; that Joseph Smith is the prophet of God who was called to restore the gospel; that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior's true Church on the earth; and that the Church is led by a living prophet today. With this foundation, a testimony grows to include all principles of the gospel.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the sacred opportunity and responsibility to obtain their own testimonies. Having obtained a testimony, each member has a duty to nurture it throughout life. Happiness in this life and throughout eternity depends largely on whether individuals are “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” (D&C 76:79; see also D&C 76:51, 74, 101). Testimony grows through the application of the following principles.
The quest for a testimony begins with a righteous, sincere desire. Speaking to a group of people who did not yet have testimonies of the gospel, Alma taught: “If ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words” (Alma 32:27).
Testimony comes through the quiet influence of the Holy Ghost. The results of a testimony can be miraculous and life changing, but the gift of testimony usually comes as a quiet assurance, without spectacular displays of God's power. Even Alma, who had been visited by an angel and had seen God sitting on His throne, needed to fast and pray so he could receive a testimony through the power of the Holy Ghost (see Alma 5:45-46; 36:8, 22).
Testimony grows gradually through experiences. No one receives a complete testimony all at once. It grows as individuals show willingness to serve in the Church and to study, pray, and learn. It increases as individuals obey God's commandments.
Part of a testimony's development comes when it is shared. In the Church testimony is shared often in fast and testimony meetings, in Church classes, and in conversations with family members and friends.