Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How I Know Joseph Smith is a Prophet Pt. 3: The Book of Mormon

So last time we talked about how Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ in a grove of trees in 1820, how they told him that none of the churches on the earth were correct, and that he would be called as a prophet to restore the church that Jesus Christ originally founded in the meridian of time. Well, all that sounds great, right? But how can we know if that really happened?

Short answer: The Book of Mormon.

Have you ever wondered why Mormons have that book anyway? Why do they read it? Where did it come from? What's in it? Why would we need another book from God? Doesn't the Bible have everything we need?

Lemme 'splain. A few years after the incredible vision that Joseph Smith had on that spring morning in 1820, he was told by an angel (named Moroni) that "there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fullness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants."

So that means that Joseph was told where this book had been hidden by Moroni himself 1400 years ago, and that this book was the religious history of the people who had once inhabited the ancient Americas. Naturally, Joseph was excited to go and get this book of books. When the time was right, Joseph was told to go retrieve the plates, keep them safe, and to go about translating them.

Translating the Book of MormonSo the question is this: How does an uneducated farmboy, who hasn't even reached his twenty-second year go a translate a book that is written in a language that had long-since died? Answer: With God's help. Joseph was given the ability to translate the record word for word from the original language, which was a type of reformed Egyptian. Obviously, the task would have been impossible to accomplish unless he had been inspired by the Almighty, and given the necessary tools to do so. With the help of several scribes, Joseph translated the book in a very short period of time and had the book published as The Book of Mormon (named after one of the principle characters in the book).

So what does the book talk about? Lemme sum up: Around 600 B.C., a family leaves Jerusalem because they were warned by God that the city would be destroyed (and it later was). They go to the sea, build a ship (God tells them how) and they cross the ocean, landing somewhere in the Americas (probably Central/South America). When they get there, the family splits up, creating two different nations or civilizations, called the Nephites and the Lamanites. The rest of the book is a history of those two peoples, focusing heavily on the teachings, prophecies, writings, sermons, and actions of their prophets. The book itself is a summary that was created by a prophet/historian/warrior named Mormon (that's why it has his name), but the concluding chapters were written by his son, Moroni (the same one who came to Joseph Smith as an angel and told him where the book was. He knew where it was because he put it there). By the end of the book, only the Lamanites remain, and they become the principle ancestors of the the American natives who were living here when the Europeans came over a thousand years later.

The Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus ChristOkay, so that's the brief summary. Next question: why the heck do we need to know about all of that? Well, God knew that many would doubt the veracity of Joseph's claim that he had been called by God to restore the primitive church of Jesus Christ. Even more would doubt that he had actually seen the Father and the Son face to face. So He brought forth this book as spiritual evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet and His chosen servant. One can know that the message of the Restoration is true if he will read the Book of Mormon and pray to know that it is true. As the introduction of the book says, "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.) Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah."

And that's why it is here. To show the entire world that God still talks to His children through ordained prophets, that the fullness of the Gospel is once again available to all mankind, and that the Church of Jesus Christ has been reestablished in its pure form in the latter days. That is our message. That is why Mormons try so hard to talk about the Book of Mormon, because it is the only way to know if this message if true. And if the book is true, everything else (Joseph Smith, the priesthood, ordinances such as baptism, etc.) would also be true. So my invitation to everyone who may read my blog is to go and read the Book of Mormon, and then ask God in prayer if it is true. He will answer you. He answered me.
And here is the testimony of one of the modern apostles of Jesus Christ as he testifies of the Book of Mormon. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How I Know That Joseph Smith Is A Prophet Pt. 2: The First Vision

Okay, so let's recap a little bit. Joseph is confused, wants to know which church is right, doesn't know where to go because the world is in an apostasy, there aren't any prophets or apostles, ordinances have changed, doctrines vary from church to church, and to top it all off, everybody is fighting about it, but nobody is right. Whew! That's a bleak way to start off a search for the truth, isn't it?

So like I said before, Joseph talks to as many people he can, but they just make him more confused. He writes, "In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?" But he seems to find the best source of knowledge to be the scriptures. One day he found this gem of a scripture, in James 1:5, which states, "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."

"Alright," he says to himself (I'm taking artistic liberty, I'm not actually privy to his thoughts), "this here scripture says that if I don't know something, I should go ask the Person that knows everything. I guess that makes sense."

This scripture really opened up his eyes, apparently, because he says that, "Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine." Not only that, but he couldn't stop thinking about it. It came into his mind over and over again, each time with "great force," prompting him to go and ask God. And so (and I think that there is a great lesson to be learned here) as he pondered the scriptures, his desire to act on what he had learned increased dramatically. It led him to actually apply what James had told him (ask of God), which probably would have been a frightening prospect for a boy so young asking a Being so great, especially since "it was the first time in [his] life that [he] had made such an attempt, for amidst all [his] anxieties [he] had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally." But trusting in God, he made his venture.

He tells us that it was a spring morning in 1820. I imagine that New York at that time and season would be beautiful, the perfect setting for a humble prayer, a quiet attempt to communicate with the Almighty. Joseph went into the woods nearby his home to a place that he had already chosen, where he knew he would not be interrupted....where he could be completely alone, with no distractions to interfere with his attempt to talk with God. He found a spot, knelled, and began to pray.

What happened next was something that Joseph did not expect. As he began to pray, he tells us that he was "seized upon by some power," that tried to keep him from praying. Satan, the enemy of God and of all mankind, was very upset with the Smith boy, and launched a full assault him. Using all of his dark powers, he tried to stop Joseph by stopping his prayer. Why would he do that? Why would the devil be so afraid of a 14 year-old boy that he would attack him in broad daylight? Because about 1800 years ago, Satan had accomplished one of his most devastating victories...the Great Apostasy. Remember what we talked about in the last blog post? Satan had meticulously driven the righteous saints of the primitive church to obscurity through internal corruption and external persecution. The church of Jesus Christ had lost its priesthood authority, the ordinances had been changed, the organization was left in ruin, and mankind slowly "turn[ed] away their ears from the truth, and...turned unto fables." (2 Timothy 4:4). Satan had already rid himself of the Church of the Lamb of God, and he had been spreading his darkness and confusion over the earth for the last 1800 years. That is why he tried in that moment to stop a humble farmboy from praying. That is why what happened next is even more glorious.

I would spoil it with my own words, so I am going to let Joseph describe exactly what happened:

"...Exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction....at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

For the first time, after almost two thousand years of apostasy and darkness...the heavens were once again opened....and God the Father, with His Beloved Son Jesus Christ at His right hand, came to the earth that They created and literally talked with the boy Joseph face to face. Can you see how glorious an event that was? Can you imagine how intense and wonderful the scene would have been? Can you imagine the millions of angels shouting for joy as light once again entered the earth that had been in darkness and suffering for so long? That is why this event was so important. When Joseph came from the woods later that afternoon and told the world what had happened, he wasn't just telling a story of something cool that had happened. He was reporting to the entire human race that truth, light, and revelation had once again penetrated the darkness, and that God had once again reached out to His children and offered them hope....hope that was so desperately needed in a world that had been on its knees and suffering.

So what did They tell Joseph? In short, They told him that none of the churches that were currently on the earth were correct, but that Joseph would be called to be the prophet that would restore the Church of Jesus Christ, exactly the way that it was before. And Jesus Christ Himself would lead it. Gone were the days of spiritual darkness, gone were the days without priesthood authority, gone were the days of mankind struggling in vain to know the will of God. For the last time, God had reestablished His kingdom on the earth, never again to be taken away until the Second Coming of the Messiah, when He will reign personally over the whole earth.

That is what Joseph learned that spring morning in 1820. Pretty cool, huh?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How I Know Joseph Smith is a Prophet Pt. 1: The Great Apostasy

Since his boyhood in the early nineteenth century, the life of Joseph Smith has been one of the most studied, controversial, and misrepresented stories in modern religious history. I would like to take the time right now to explain a little about his life in easy terms, in addition to sharing with all who read this blog how I know that he was a prophet of God.

Joseph was a young boy who was very confused. He wanted to know about God, who He was, how to please Him, what to do to keep His commandments, etc., but he had no idea how to go about doing any of that. It seemed to him (Joseph) that God is a God of order, who has a set standard and plan for each of us, and that He would not be divided against Himself. But Joseph would look around himself and see preacher against preacher, layman against layman, and family member against family member. Joseph probably thought to himself (as many in the world probably still do), "Wait....that doesn't make sense. I thought God sent His Son Jesus to unify everyone in the true faith. But everybody keeps arguing about what the true faith is, and nobody can seem to agree. Shouldn't we all be together in this? But how am I supposed to know who is right? Where do I even start?"

Have you ever asked yourself those questions? Try putting yourself in his position. You are young, barely educated, but with a great desire to know the truth and the mysteries of God. You've tried talking to your parents, but they are just as confused as you. You've tried talking to the preachers, but they just make you feel even more confused, in addition to pressuring you to accept their church and deny the rest. But your whole life you have been taught that God is the Father of every human, that He sent His Son to save the world (John 3:16). But there are so many divisions amongst the churches, even though the Bible states that there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5). So Joseph eventually came to the conclusion that God is not the Author of confusion. Which means that He must have only one church; and Joseph was determined to find out which one it was.

With his limited knowledge, Joseph's conclusion is pretty commendable, especially at his age. But what Joseph didn't know is that religious confusion had enveloped the world for the last 1800 years (roughly). The world that Joseph Smith lived in had been in a state of apostasy for thousands of years. An apostasy is a time of spiritual darkness, when there are no authorized representatives of God (apostles and prophets).  The Bible states that these ordained servants are necessary for the Church of Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 4:11-15). After the death of Jesus Christ, the apostles began to spread the Gospel all over the earth (just read the book of Acts, that'll give you a good feel of the missionary efforts in those days), but eventually, all of those special witnesses were murdered or exiled, leaving the church without approved leadership.

So what does that mean for us?

We as children of God are dependent on the revelation that He gives to His prophets. Revelation is the process by which God makes known His will; divine information, as it were. But when there are no prophets to receive general revelation, we are lost. Sure, we can make guesses as to what God wants us to do, or how to worship Him, but it would be no more than that...a guess.

Imagine a school of elementary aged children. They go to class, they learn from the teacher, and all is fine and peachy. But then one day, the kids decide that they don't want to have a teacher any more. So they get rid of him. The children are left to themselves, to learn on their own. They have the books to help them, but how much can they actually teach themselves? Will they really learn how to add and subtract? What about deriving maximums and minimums and integrating parabolic equations? Highly unlikely. Not only will they not learn the truth, but they will also introduce concepts that are just plain wrong. Even if they all decide that 2+2=5, the plain fact of the matter is that they are wrong.

That is what the Apostasy did to the entire world. After they rejected the apostles (after they kicked out the teacher), men were left to themselves spiritually. They were not able to learn all that they could because they were restricted to their own juvenile capacities. Wrong ideas also crept into the one-time simple doctrine of Christ. But then some of the children didn't agree with the other children, and they decided to start their own school. Repeat that process about a thousand times.....and now look at where we are: A world filled with confusion, thousands of different opinions, thousands of different organizations....and the poor boy Joseph Smith trying to figure out which one is correct.

Well, maybe now you can imagine a little bit of the confusion that Joseph felt at the time. Now we are ready to talk about what he did next to figure out the truth. But alas, this post is long, and I will continue another day with the story of the First Vision.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Worship with Us!

If you have ever wondered what Mormons do at their church services, check out this video! If you are a Mormon, share this with a friend! It may be easier for you than trying to explain it yourself.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Yellow Shirts and Lamb's Blood

Well, I've neglected this blog for a little while now, haven't I? For those who don't know, I'm Elder Hatch. And I'm a missionary. And I'm in Fairfield, serving with Elder Eaton, the best greenie in the world.

When I was transferred to Fairfield, I was told that I would be white-washing in (a white-wash is when both missionaries in the companionship come into an area at the same time, with no previous knowledge of the area). When I found out that I would be white-washing into Fairfield, I was really excited. It was my third time to do so, and each time has been miraculous, because I have been forced to humble myself and rely on the Lord. And the results are always positive.

But as excited as I was to white-wash, I was even more excited to train my new missionary. It takes a lot of work to train a missionary, but I absolutely love it. Because, once again, tons of work and lots of faith leads to very positive results.
But man, it has been HOT here in Fairfield. Very rarely has it been less than 90 degrees on any given day. I haven't sweat this much since the very first transfer of my mission. My shirts are....well....I'll make it to the end of my mission. But that's about it. It's pretty funny because Elder Eaton bought the exact same shirts as me, the very same ones. The Mr. Mac special. But it is very easy to tell whose are whose when we pull them out of the wash. But I guess that's the way that its supposed to be right? I've worn nothing but the same seven shirts every day for the last 22 months, they are bound to get a little yellow and thin.

I was thinking a lot about that this morning, actually, as we were washing our clothes. I thought of my yellow-ish shirts and how they have become tattered and worn, just by virtue of having been around so long. And then I thought of the soul of a man, and how it can become worn, yellowed, tattered, and torn, far-gone from its original luster and beauty, just by virtue of having been in an imperfect world. We all get worn out. We all get some stains. We all make mistakes and "come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). But unlike the shirts, which will probably just get thrown away in a few weeks, we know that "the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10). He will never throw us away. He will never send us to the recycle bin, nor give us away to the nearest thrift store. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands" (Isaiah 49:15-16). Even though we come up short, even though we keep getting all messy and worn, our Father loves us. He will never throw us away.

But, like any loving parent would, he has provided us with the means to be clean. When a baby celebrates its first birthday, and gets the cake all over his face and clothes and table and chair and floor, does the father get angry? No. He smiles, cleans up the mess, washes his face, gives him new clothes, and then rocks him to sleep, all the while singing a lullaby full of love and kissing his son's forehead. He continues the pattern until his son can take care of himself. I imagine that our Heavenly Parent is the same. He is patient, He helps us, He encourages us, and tells us that He loves us. But even still, He wants us and expects us to be clean. So He teaches us how.

I was reading this morning while the laundry was going in the book of Revelation, when I read this:

 "13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." (Revelation 7:13-17)

I know that we can be clean. I know with certainty that "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18). As I come to the end of my mission, I hope and pray that I have been a faithful servant, so that my garments may shine with a perfect whiteness, that I will be able to help my friends and future family maintain their own whiteness. I will do so by teaching them to come unto Christ, for "no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end." (3 Nephi 27:19).

And so, I would like to lovingly invite all who read this to repent. Come to the Lamb of God and offer to Him your penitence. "Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price." (2 Nephi 9:50). It may seem hard, but it is always worth it. If you don't know how to repent, start with these simple steps:

1. Have faith in Jesus Christ. Believe that He can clean you of your transgressions.

2. Feel sorrow for the sin, but avoid excessive depression. Let faith replace fear, let hope replace despair.

3. Confess the sin to Heavenly Father through prayer. Lay everything on the table and counsel with Him as to how to go about fixing the mistake.

4. Abandon the sin. Leave it behind.

5. Make amends. Do what is necessary to enact restitution.

6. Continue on with a firm faith in Christ, living righteously and delighting in the opportunity to live God's commandments.

Repentance is real, and it is beautiful. I am so grateful for the Atonement, for the blood of Christ, the ultimate detergent. I know with a surety that we can all be brand new....white....clean....and fresh. Not like my poor shirts. I love this Gospel. It is true. I know it. The Holy Ghost has told me so. Make it a great week! And check out this talk from Elder Christofferson. He says it so much better than I can:


Sunday, April 8, 2012

God's Love

Today I wanted to take a break from my previous blogs about personal revelation. Maybe I'll get back to it one day, but I feel like there is something more important to talk about right now. I want to specifically address this blog to the youth of the Bloomfield New Mexico stake.

I first want to say that I love each and every one of you. I spent my entire life in the Bloomfield stake and many of you are close friends. Many of you I have never met before. Either way, I love you as a brother in Christ. I know that we are all precious children of our mutual Heavenly Father, and that He personally knows each of us by name. "For behold, I know my sheep, and they are numbered" (3 Nephi 18:31).

I want to share my simple testimony with all of you; I pray that the Spirit can be with me as I share with you what I have come to know about our merciful Father and our loving Savior.

I was recently informed about the tragedy that has affected Bloomfield. Although I was not a close friend of Daniel Gosar, I do remember him and I know that he was a great young man. A true friend to all. I was grieved to hear the news, and I know that there are so many more of you that have been spiritually shaken. I first want to say that my heart goes out to all of you, especially Brother and Sister Gosar. You have been in my prayers for many days, and will continue to be. I have spent many nights praying for your welfare.

This tragedy has caused me to reflect on the Plan of Happiness that was created by Father long before we ever came to this world. It is the Plan that provides for our eternal salvation and endless happiness. I know without a shadow of a doubt that this Plan is real and is in place, as we presently take part in it. We are currently on earth, where we are subject to pain, guilt, remorse, heartache, distress, and death. But we have hope in our Brother Jesus Christ.

Being mortal and imperfect, we are unable to return to the presence of our Father by virtue of our own merits (Romans 3:23); but our merciful Father, "knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth" (D&C 1:17), provided a Savior to atone for the sins of the world, and to bring to pass resurrection from physical death. This is the hope of every Christian, that we may be rescued from spiritual and physical death. 

And so, youth of the Bloomfield stake, however you may have been affected by this event, remember that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. "We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel" (Article of Faith #3). This applies to all people, everywhere. There is not a single soul who is beyond the grace of our Lord and Savior. I know that this is true doctrine, for the Spirit itself has born witness to my spirit that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real and is central to the Plan of Happiness. Because of it, every single member of the human family will be resurrected. "Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtained a good hope of glory in him before he manifesteth himself in the flesh" (Jacob 4:11). The resurrection brings me so much peace and comfort, and I know that because He conquered death, we will all live again.

Now, many of you also know and have testimonies of these doctrines; but sometimes the heartache remains. Sometimes we just don't understand. Sometimes it doesn't seem fair. Sometimes the pain that we face is almost too much to bear. To those who are emotionally struggling, remember that the Atonement can heal all afflictions. "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities" (Alma 7:11-12). Christ felt every single human emotion, quantitatively, on that night in the Garden of Gethsemane. He did so in order to be able to relieve the pains of mortality from those who seek Him. He has perfect empathy for you; He has already been through it. Cast your burdens on His shoulders, "for [His] yoke is easy, and [His] burden light" (Matthew 11:30). Spend some serious time with your Father in prayer. Talk to Him. Cry with Him. Listen to Him respond and comfort you. I testify that He will. "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).

Lastly, never lose hope. No one is forgotten to the Good Shepard, and He will never abandon a single child. There have been times in my life that I have felt alone, or forgotten. I spent years in the Navy, far from home, lonely, confused, and struggling, with literally no one to physically turn to for support. During those times, my loving and merciful Father sent me the Holy Ghost, and I was comforted. Not that the problems went away, but that my capacity to deal with them was increased. I promise that it will be the same for all of you, for "thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him" (Mosiah 29:20). "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands..." (Isaiah 49:15-16). 

You are never forgotten to your Creator. "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). 

I love you all. My heart goes out to all of you, and you are constantly in my prayers. I have a firm testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and I know that we will all see Daniel again. There will indeed come a time, when we will all be able to gather around and hug him. It will be a joyous occasion, and I look forward to it. I am grateful for this Easter season to remember His sacrifice and His love. Christ lives. I know it.  In His name I testify, Amen. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Personal Revelation Pt.4--Desire and Preparation

Alright, sorry, its been a brace of fortnights since I've updated this blog, I think. Anyway, I was talking about revelation, why its important, etc. Today I wanted to talk a little bit about how to prepare oneself to receive personal revelation.

First of all, one must desire to receive divine direction. Revelation is serious information, and it will always relate to your personal salvation or exaltation, for "I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal..." (D&C 29:34). So if you really want an answer from God....you gotta really want it. I love the example of Enos in the Book of Mormon. He is one of my favorite characters in all of scripture because he is a man who realized that something was missing in his life. He recognized that something just wasn't quite right, and he decided to consult with the Lord and change it. But Enos did not just casually offer a trite, offhand prayer. He didn't assume that the Lord would reward a mediocre effort with an astounding solution to his problem.

His soul hungered.

"And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens." (Enos 1:4)

Earlier in the chapter, Enos tells us that he had a "wrestle" with the Lord. If we really want to receive answers to our prayers, we have to be willing to sweat a little bit. We have to be willing to get a little uncomfortable. We can't wrap ourselves up in a protective covering of half-truths when we talk with God. We must go to Him with our souls bared, in complete honesty and humility. And we need to wrestle for the answer.

"Prayer is so essential a part of revelation that without it the veil may remain closed to you. Learn to pray. Pray often. Pray in your mind, in your heart. Pray on your knees....Prayer is your personal key to heaven. The lock is on your side of the veil." (Boyd K. Packer, Oct. 1994).

So desire is step #1.

Next is preparation. And it starts with worthiness. A person cannot receive revelation without first being clean. Thankfully, we have the Atonement of Jesus Christ in order to repent of our sins and become clean by making and keeping our baptismal covenants. But in order to have the constant companionship of the Spirit, we have to live worthy of our covenants. I have noticed in my own life that when I am being exactly obedient to the commandments (Word of Wisdom, chastity, tithing, daily scripture study, frequent prayer, church attendance, etc.) I am exponentially more sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. And the Spirit is the medium by which our prayers are most often answered. So in short, if you want to receive an answer, repent.

Another thing one must do to prepare himself for revelation is to study and ponder. When Nephi desired to have the vision of the tree of life explained to him, he knew that he needed to do his homework beforehand. "For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord..." (1 Nephi 11:1).

The incredible vision of the degrees of glory that was given to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon did not come until after much study and prayer. "And while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened." (D&C 76:19).

And once again, when Oliver Cowdery failed to receive the spiritual gift that he was seeking, the Lord bluntly told him, "Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right" (D&C 9:7-8).

To sum up, I would like to bear my testimony that the Lord recognizes and honors the efforts of those who prepare themselves to receive answers to their prayers. I have made the mistake in my life of offering quick, cheap prayers that have had no previous preparation. They usually never work. I have learned that as I put in my own sweat and bookwork beforehand, the experience of searching is a lot more....well, spiritual. I know that as you and I desire revelation and prepare ourselves to receive it, Heavenly Father will give it to us. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8).