Testimonies of the Book of Mormon
When I was fourteen, I decided it was time I received my own testimony of the Book of Mormon. I began to read it, but as I read, I was filled with doubt about its truthfulness. I was frightened by my feelings, but I shared them with no one. One day after a particularly distressing day of reading, I decided to go into the willows by the river and pray until God gave me an answer. I begged God to take away the dark feelings and tell me if the Book of Mormon was true. “If you are really there and you love me, you will tell me,” I prayed. For hours I stayed in the willows. Night came on, and yet I continued to pray. This had worked for Enos, so I prayed and prayed. Finally, hungry and cold, I left the willows and went to bed. I heard no voice. I felt no lightening of my load. I received no witness, no calm burning in the heart. I had demanded an answer on my terms, according to my timeline, corresponding to my needs. I had jumped from the pinnacle.
…Eventually I received my answer, and in a way and time that were far more powerful than I could ever have expected. God did not let my foot dash against the stone. I did not remain in doubt and darkness regarding the Book of Mormon. When we need water from the rock, we may ask for it, but we must not require that water as a proof of God’s power or love, for then we are standing on the pinnacle responding to the tempter’s voice that we must jump or forever remain in doubt. Can we not believe, as did Jesus, without casting ourselves down?
I started reading the Book of Mormon. I was only a few verses into the book, in 1 Nephi, when I felt something different. I began to debate between my feelings and my intellect. So I decided to ask God in prayer.
This was the first time in my life that I had prayed on my knees. The experience that followed became one of the most sacred of my life. A feeling of such overwhelming happiness filled me that I knew in my heart that the Book of Mormon was more than just a book. It was a book of divine origin. It had to be the word of God. I later came to understand that the feeling was the Spirit testifying of its truthfulness.
When I was 19, I was captivated with the desire to read the Book of Mormon and obtain a sure witness of its truthfulness. That summer I tucked a copy in my back pocket and, while waiting between irrigation changes and every other time I got a chance, I would read intently. My prayers changed in intensity, and I found myself pleading daily, sometimes within the day that I might receive a revealed testimony of that book.
President Hinckley had been speaking several minutes. He paused and explained that there was another person from the other side of the veil he had not mentioned. In a strong voice filled with emotion and joy, President Hinckley exclaimed, “Welcome, Father Lehi! Oh, how your heart must rejoice!”
Near the end of the project, I read Moroni 10:3–5. I wanted to know the truth, and I had faith to receive it.
I pondered if my testimony of the Church and of Joseph Smith was strong enough to withstand the temptations and enticements of Satan. I realized that it wasn’t. My testimony was weak because I had depended only on the testimonies of Church leaders and members. I promised myself that starting that day, I would seek my own testimony.
I decided to read the Book of Mormon. In the introduction I read, “We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.)” I knew I was personally being invited to read the Book of Mormon. As I continued reading, I felt the warmth of the Holy Ghost testifying of the book’s divinity and truthfulness.
Millions of people have put this promise (Moroni 10:3-5) to the test and have gained a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I am one of those millions. For some, their testimony may have come easily and quickly, but for most of us, it takes time and effort to gain the promised testimony.
For me, it really did require me to remember how merciful Heavenly Father has been to His children from the days of Adam to our time. It required me to read with believing eyes and a believing heart and then to pray with real intent. That means I had to let God know that I was willing to live in accordance with a witness if I received one. It required me to have the commitment to make changes in my life if the answer did come. I did ask of God, and I did receive that witness.
At this point I had reached the original goal to read the Book of Mormon twice. I was surprised to realize that I was no longer interested in the steak dinner—this was becoming too important, too sacred, for such a reward. I was now convinced the Book of Mormon was good and correct, but was it true? To answer that question, I read it for a third time.
Before I read, I said a short prayer, asking, “Father, is what I’m about to read true? If so, please tell me through Thy Spirit.” Then, when I was finished reading for the day, I’d close the book and ask, “Father, is what I have just read true?” I read it through this way the third time, and not long after that, the Spirit bore witness of its truthfulness in an unmistakable manner. I had found out for myself that the promise found in Moroni 10:3–5 really works!
So it was with some apprehension that I picked up the book and read several passages the elders had marked, including the promise in Moroni (see Moroni 10:3–5). To my astonishment, I read with perfect clarity and understanding. I read Moroni’s promise and then reread it. I decided I must “ask God” (Moroni 10:4).
I knew I needed to change somehow. I realized that I did not have a strong testimony. I wasn’t sure if God lived, and I didn’t know if Jesus Christ was my Savior. For several days I grew anxious as I thought about the message in the letter. I didn’t know what to do. Then one morning I remembered something the missionaries had taught me. They had asked me to read Moroni 10:3–5, promising that I could know the truth for myself. I decided that I must pray. If I felt nothing, I could completely forget about the Church and the commandments, and I would never go again. However, if I did receive an answer, as Moroni promised, I would have to repent, embrace the gospel with all my heart, go back to church, and do all I could to follow the commandments.
As I knelt and prayed that morning, I pleaded with Heavenly Father to answer me. “If Thou live—if Thou are real,” I prayed, “please let me know.” I prayed to know if Jesus Christ was my Savior and if the Church was true. As I finished, I suddenly felt something. I was surrounded by a warm feeling, and my heart was filled with joy. I understood the truth: God does live, and Jesus is my Savior. The Lord’s Church was truly restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon is the word of God.
Needless to say, I prayed for forgiveness that very day and resolved to follow the commandments. I returned to church and promised the Lord that I would do whatever it took to remain faithful.
I was taught by great elders. When I heard the message of the Restoration, I had an even greater confirmation that I should be baptized. But I wanted to know for myself the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The elders marked Moroni 10:3–5 in my Book of Mormon and invited me to pray and ask God if it is true.
The next evening I remembered that I had not yet read the Book of Mormon. As I began to read, I felt a very strong spirit. I prayed, and before I was finished, I knew that the Book of Mormon is true. I am grateful to God for having answered my prayer.
Sometime later while in a pharmacy, I noticed an open book on a counter. As I began to read it, I learned about a man named Korihor who insisted on doubting the power of God and was eventually struck dumb. When I reflected on the words I read, I recognized them as being from God.
During this time I had been looking for divine direction. One day I knelt and fervently prayed asking God to show me the true path that would bring me to Him. A few days later our son became ill, so I returned to the pharmacy. When I was about to leave, three young Americans wearing name tags entered. I immediately felt a warmth in my breast, which prompted me to speak with them.
…When I heard about the Prophet Joseph Smith for the first time, I knew my prayer had been answered. Then the missionaries gave me a book. To my astonishment, it was a Book of Mormon—just like the one I had seen in the showcase. I again felt a sweet warmth and became so happy that I was barely able to speak.
The missionaries explained the origin of the book and then asked me to pray and ask God if it was true. I already had an absolute certainty of the divinity of the book, for the Lord had shown it to me—twice. Nevertheless, I examined it in great detail. Upon reading chapter 17 in 3 Nephi, I knew it contained a divine story because it contained the words of Jesus Christ.
The foundation of my testimony is in knowing that the Book of Mormon contains the word of God. It has changed me and continues to change me.
After the sweet, Spirit-filled baptism, Alice held a Book of Mormon as she bore testimony of its truthfulness and expressed gratitude for its teachings, especially its witness of the Savior. In her testimony, she told how the book had come to her. She had been working at a kiosk in a local shopping mall. One day a woman came by and gave the book to her boss. The boss was not interested and put it on a shelf.
A short time later, when the business was leaving the kiosk, the boss told Alice to throw the book away. But Alice was curious, briefly looked at the book, and asked if she could have it.
Alice took the Book of Mormon home, read it within a few weeks, and was convinced of its truth. But she didn’t know what to do. Some months later she found another job, where she worked with a Latter-day Saint. She asked him about the Book of Mormon and the Church, and he and his wife invited her to meet with the missionaries.
Then this sister said she would like to read the testimony written in the front of her Book of Mormon. The testimony was mine. I had placed it there before giving it to Alice’s boss at the kiosk.
The elders broke into delighted smiles. This was the sweetest surprise I had ever experienced in my life! After the baptismal service, my new sister in the gospel rushed to hug me.
My year studying the Book of Mormon in seminary was my happiest year in high school. At the end of the year, I had read the Book of Mormon, and I read Moroni 10:3-5 and prayed to know if it was true. Nothing happened. I didn’t feel anything in particular, but I decided I would be patient and God would speak to me in His own time and in His own way.
A couple of years later as I was approaching mission age, I spent time at a friend’s house and that afternoon I went from there to a youth activity. He saw me holding my scriptures as I was getting ready to leave, and asked me about my scriptures. I tried to give him a brief description of the Book of Mormon, and told him it was a record of ancient Israelites who left their land and came to the Americas. As I was telling him these details, my body felt like it was on fire, and my friend felt the same. I knew at that age what it was like to have intense emotional experiences, but I had never felt anything like that. I made a commitment that afternoon to serve a mission.
After a few minutes, the elders stood up to leave and asked, “Can we come back?” I was going to say no, but before I could, my roommates told them to stop in again when they were in the area. And they did.
During their next visit, something happened within me. I felt an urge to pray and to read from the Book of Mormon. That night I did read, and I got down on my knees to pray. I didn’t even know what I was praying for exactly, but I knew I had to call upon God and ask what I should do.
Although I heard no audible words, I was spoken to in a way that I understood perfectly and plainly. I knew there was indeed a God in the heavens and that He loved me and knew me. From then on, I started gaining a true testimony of the restored gospel and the Prophet Joseph Smith. All of my criticism toward God, and especially toward Mormons, withdrew as if a curtain had been opened in my mind. A sweet feeling of peace entered my soul. Alma’s words in the Book of Mormon about being born of God describe what I was feeling and thinking (see Mosiah 27:28–31).
I’m a lifelong believer. I’ve always been active in church. Well into my adult life, I followed a prompting to understand my covenants better by studying the scriptures, specifically the Book of Mormon.
The results have completely changed my life. I see now that the Book of Mormon is exactly what it claims to be. In addition to providing a powerful witness of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon truly “show[s] unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever.” (Title Page)
Everyone can benefit from studying the scriptures with more regularity and more intent. I know those who seek knowledge through the Spirit will be taught from on high and will receive a witness of the reality of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for the human family.
One day some friends visited and asked what they could do for me. I managed to ask for a Book of Mormon, and they managed to understand me. It came the next morning. I hugged it to me and immediately felt comforted. I still couldn’t see the words, but I kept trying and trying and trying. Hope was growing in my heart.One evening, as the hospital quieted, my vision suddenly cleared and I could see the words! I could not read, for I could not determine left to right or up and down, but a miracle had happened, and I determined to do my part. I would just keep trying.As I did, another miracle happened! It seemed to me as if I were with those I was trying to read about. I seemed to see the faith of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon and the majesty of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I was filled with such joy. Heavenly Father was with me! He had not deserted me. I knew then that no matter how broken we may be—by illness, sin, or actions of others—we are never alone. He is always there! His Son, our Savior, is always there!Healing has come slowly, but it has come. I’ve watched my mind regain all its functionality.
David Dollahite, God’s Tender Mercies:
So, I stayed in the chair and continued reading until I came to some verses that Mrs. Leininger had marked. She had underlined Moroni 10:3–5 in red pen and highlighted them with a yellow highlighter, and had written in the margin in all caps, “VERY IMPORTANT VERSES. READ THESE CAREFULLY!” I carefully read these verses several times and tried to understand what they were suggesting I should do. I came to understand that I should ponder certain things. I pondered about how good the Lord had been to the peoples of the earth and to me personally.
Then it came to me that the verses were suggesting I should pray and ask God if the Book of Mormon was true. In the Episcopal church, whenever we prayed we knelt. So, I knew I should kneel to pray. I knelt at the side of my bed and, with faith in the Jesus Christ that I had read about in the Book of Mormon; I asked God to forgive my sins and asked if the Book of Mormon was true. It is not possible for me even to begin to adequately express in words what then happened. But I must try. I felt the same type of wonderful feelings I had felt since I first began reading the Book of Mormon, but at such an intensified level of power and depth that I cannot describe. I had never felt such power and love before. It was as if a river of pure water rushed through me, washing away all my sins. It was also like a raging fire purged away my old self. I felt completely clean and like an entirely new person.
Along with this came the certain knowledge that the Book of Mormon was true — was the word of God in every way. I knew with perfect certainty that this book was from God. The sure knowledge that the book I had just read was absolutely true in every way was seared in my mind, heart, and soul. No human or earthly power could possibly come close to changing what I felt. In fact, I had the thought that it would not matter if the Pope, Billy Graham, and all the religious people in the world tried to convince me that the Book of Mormon was not true. I knew, for myself, that it was the word of God.
Yvonne Williams, Converted to Christ Through the Book of Mormon:
That night I took the book to bed with me, thinking that if I read in it a little, it would bore me so much that I would fall asleep faster. First I read the Joseph Smith story, then the thirteen Articles of Faith. At the end of the book was a list of commonly asked questions about religion and where to find the answers. They were my most common questions! I started to read the references. It is difficult to describe what happened next. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. These answers made so much sense!
As I read, the tears started rolling down. I couldn’t stop reading and crying. I then felt my mind opening up. I received a very clear vision of what was expected of me, who I was supposed to become. I can’t describe the pain I felt when I realized how far from my potential I was and how much work was needed. I cried out to God to forgive me. I didn’t believe that I could ever become the person He wanted me to be.
That feeling of total despair was soon followed by one of complete love and acceptance. My body seemed too small for my soul. I was loved and accepted by my God! It would take time and effort on my part to grow, but I could do it. He trusted me, and He would be there to help me become what He knew I could become, if I let Him. I couldn’t cry anymore. I just lay there, immersed in that divine love and responding to it.
The morning came very fast. I hadn’t slept at all during the night. I felt very weak and out of breath as I prepared myself for school. I placed the book on a shelf very carefully. I think I was almost afraid to touch it that morning. I knew something incredibly powerful and “out of this world” had happened to me, but I didn’t understand it. God wasn’t supposed to talk to people anymore. . . . How could this happen? Why me? If me, then why not everybody else?
Over a year later, I decided to clean out my seabag. I found the book but no longer had any interest in it, so I threw it away. But sometime later, I grew curious about what was in that blue book with gold lettering. I now believe that this feeling came from the Spirit, “which leadeth to do good” (D&C 11:12).In 2005, a newfound friend invited me to listen to the missionaries. At first, I had questions and doubts about what they taught, but the missionaries were confident and gave answers that made sense to me.
When I realized that these missionaries were like the ones I had met years before, I anxiously asked them, “Do you guys have a blue book with gold lettering?”“Yes, we do!” one of them replied. “It’s called the Book of Mormon!”
I was excited to have the Book of Mormon again. In fact, I was so excited that I read it more than once in less than two weeks! As I read and prayed, I came to know that it is the word of God.
By reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and trusting in the Spirit, I have seen great things come to pass in my life.