President Henry B. Eyring discusses what we can do to increase our faith, and then to act on that faith in his talk “The Faith to Ask and Then to Act“. He provides a quote from Nephi in the Book of Mormon that has inspired this blog post.
I love the writings of Nephi, Lehi’s son, in the Book of Mormon. I’ve already talked about one of his formulas in “The Scriptures Convert Us to Christ” and how it can help us when we’re feeling down. The following is another formula for the way in which faith, asking, and receiving works:
Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.2 Nephi 32:3-6
At first glance, this might not look like a formula for faith, ask, receive, and act. Especially since the word “faith” is not found in the verses. However, closer examination shows that faith comes through feasting on the words of Christ. Doing so is what builds our faith. But that is not all we must do.
We must also ask and knock (act) in order to be brought into the light. What does that mean? It means that we come to God in prayer with our questions and do the things that He has asked us to do. His part? He answers our prayers and sends the Holy Ghost to be our companion.
In order for us to have that companionship, we must “receive the Holy Ghost”. We must follow the promptings given and take action on the inspiration and revelation we receive.
What is Faith?
Faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We have faith when we choose to believe in the things written in the scriptures. We have faith when we pray that God is there listening and that He will answer us. We have faith when we keep the commandments that we will be forgiven of our sins and made clean.
Every time we are blessed because we exercise our faith, our faith grows. That in turn gives us a desire to exercise more faith and to keep asking and receiving.
Why Do We Need To Ask?
If our Father “knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8, 3 Nephi 13:8), why do we need to ask? Asking our Father in Heaven is an exercise of our faith in Him. It also shows that we are humble and recognize that He is the one we need to help us overcome trials and tribulations.
Another reason we ask is to find out His will for us. We may not always know what things we need, and asking Him can guide us toward aligning our will with His.
How Do We receive Answers?
How are answers received? The Holy Ghost is responsible for bearing witness to the truth of all things. When we ask about truth, it is the Holy Ghost who will answer. For me, that is usually through a feeling, although sometimes thoughts will enter my mind in answer.
For example, the other night I woke up around 4AM and couldn’t go back to sleep. As I sat there thinking, I was prompted to pray about our son who has some medical issues. We have been trying to find answers to help him and have been frustrated that nothing has been working. As I prayed to find out what God wanted me to know, I had two things happen. First, a feeling of peace came over me and second the thought entered my mind to have patience, not only with Sam but also with the medical personnel helping us. This eased my frustration and before long I was able to go back to sleep.
Is it enough to just have faith, ask, and receive? The answer is no. We must take action on the answers we receive. We must be willing to do the things the Lord has asked us to do. We must follow the two great commandments of loving God and loving our neighbor. It is through our actions that we show our love for God and that we are willing to be instruments in His hands in completing His work.
When we have faith, ask God questions, receive answers, and then go out and act we are blessed by God. This cycle leads us to be strong in the gospel, trustworthy of the Lord, and eventually leads us back to God’s presence.