The story of the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) began with a scripture about prayer. A fourteen-year-old boy named Joseph Smith had been struggling with the decision of which church to join. He visited many churches, but could not decide how to make a decision when each church claimed to be true, but contradicted each other. While reading the Bible, he came across a scripture that changed history. James 1:5-6 says: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
This has become a guiding principle in our church. We ask people not to take us at our words, but to ask God, as the only person who knows which church is really true. When you have an answer from God, you know you’re being told the truth, and this can keep you safe from slick arguments or moments of weakness.
The Book of Mormon contains a promise that has converted church members for generations.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. –Moroni 10:4
The key, then, to receive an answer to your plea, is to make it a true plea. Read not with the intent to disprove it, but to find out if it’s true. Then settle in your mind that you trust God to tell you the truth and that you love Him enough to act on whatever truth He gives you. Decide for yourself if it’s true or not, and then ask for a confirmation on your decision. If your heart feels warm and at peace, you will know you’ve chosen well.
I’ve heard people warn investigators not to pray about the Book of Mormon because they won’t know if the answer came from God or Satan. The God I worship—and likely the God you worship as well—can do anything, and that includes making sure you can recognize His voice. The better you know God, the easier it is to recognize His voice. Satan never brings a feeling of true peace—he is, after all, the author of confusion.
2 Nephi 32:8-9 warns:
8 And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.
9 But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.
Nowhere in the Bible have I found warnings not to pray. So don’t be afraid to talk to God about anything at all, and most importantly about which church to join. Is any decision more critical to your salvation and eternal happiness than this? If it’s the most important decision, it’s certainly the one God most wants you to consult Him on.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.