For many investigators, one challenge that delays baptism is the . In order to be baptized, you must have given up coffee, tea, and alcohol and you may not smoke or use illegal drugs. While you may have tried in the past to do these things without success, you now have the gospel to help you do them.

The first step is to understand what the Word of Wisdom is. It can be found in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 89.

Mormon First VisionThe Lord told Joseph Smith it was a “principle with a promise. The promise can be found in the last four verses of the section:

18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

These are wonderful promises, and well worth the struggle you might face to earn them. Keep in mind that the Word of Wisdom is a starting place. For instance, illegal drugs are not mentioned, but are part of the requirement. Essentially, you’re being asked to keep your body and mind in good health and free of addiction.

Some prospective church members are able to give up these substances on their own. Prayer is a good starting point, because you will need Heavenly Father’s help to give up addictive substances. Prayer can give you strength to overcome the need for anything God doesn’t want you to have.

If you find you are unable to change without help, the church has programs you may be able to use. You can learn more about them in the Addiction Recovery section of Provident Living. On this page, you’ll also find a free online book you can read that will help you go through the process on your own if you’re unable to attend classes. The guide is based on the Twelve Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, but has been adapted to fit into LDS teachings.

Over time, you’ll find yourself just as happy with hot cocoa in the morning instead of coffee, and other changes will also come to seem natural. One way to make the process of removing alcohol and coffee from your life is to spend time finding exciting new drinks to put in their place. There are many wonderful and healthy recipes for drinks that will help you feel you’re enjoying your meal far more than you did in the past.

Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a former doctor, offered a “prescription” for recovery from addiction:

• Choose to Be Alive
• Choose to Believe
• Choose to Change
• Choose to Be Different
• Choose to Exercise
• Choose to Be Free
(Russell M. Nelson, “Addiction or Freedom” Ensign, Nov 1988, 6)

The challenges involved in learning to live the Word of Wisdom may seem daunting, but keep the goal in mind. Post a picture of someone being baptized in a prominent place, and remove from your home, if you are able to do so, anything that might prove tempting. Church membership and eternal salvation are far greater blessings than any small pleasure that might have come from your previous addictions, and are worth the sacrifice.

About 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.

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