- When we raise our hands to sustain the prophet, it is important for each of us to have a personal testimony that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ, who leads his Church today through the prophet he has chosen.
- Our testimony comes by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. The testimony received and carried within us enables us to hold a steady course in times of prosperity and to overcome doubt and fear in times of adversity. Each of us needs to know what a testimony is, how we can get it, and what our responsibilities are once we have received a testimony.
He shares that testimonies are individual and we need to have a testimony of light and truth from the Holy Ghost.
- Individual testimonies are the foundation and strength of the Church. Our testimony provides a guiding light that leads to a commitment which directs our conduct and our way of life. Our testimony is true north on a spiritual compass. It is a moving force that cannot be seen but can truly be felt. It is a burning within that tells us what is right. It is when “your heart tells you things your mind doesn’t know”
- Our testimony is a measurement of our faith. Faith is testimony; testimony is faith. Having a strong testimony allows us to help others in their search for truth. Our testimony is a gift from God. It should be shared, but we do not have the authority to bestow a testimony upon someone else, because a personal testimony is granted by the Holy Ghost. It can aid others in gaining knowledge for themselves—a knowledge abiding in the heart that leaves no room for doubt.
Elder Hales shares that although testimonies are personal, there are some things that help all of us gain a testimony. These things help the Spirit be more present in our lives, allowing the Spirit to speak truth and understanding to our hearts.
- While there seems to be no exact formula by which each of us receives a testimony, there does seem to be a discernable pattern. Though prayer is important in gaining a testimony, we cannot merely ask in prayer for a testimony and expect it to be given immediately to us. Generally, testimony emerges over time and through life’s experiences. We can compare testimony to the process of watching a photograph develop. Powerful impressions of the Spirit come like flashes of light on receptive photographic film. Like the chemicals needed to develop the picture, certain spiritual conditions and experiences are needed in our lives for our personal testimony to develop into a certain truth and knowledge. And like a photograph, a testimony, if not carefully preserved, will fade with time.
- Testimonies often come when there is willingness to serve where we are called. They come when a decision is made to strive to be obedient. Testimonies come during efforts to help, lift, and strengthen others. They come from prayer and from studying the scriptures and applying them in our lives. Whatever our circumstances, there seem to be moments in each of our lives when we can be given the knowledge that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. There is no greater search in life that we can embark upon than the quest to gain a testimony of the truth.
Elder Hales gives us several suggestions on building and strengthening our testimonies.
- Have a sincere desire to know the truth and express that desire in humble prayer to our Heavenly Father. “If ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you” (Alma 32:27).
- Search the scriptures. Continue to pray. The scriptures are filled with the testimonies of those who have gone before. Even they, though long dead, can reach your heart and bring peace to your mind and direction to your life.
- Search and ponder upon the truths you are learning about gospel principles. Think about them. Test them with further prayer. Relate them to what you know and feel. All the truths you will learn can eventually fit together into a fervent, undoubting testimony.
- Be humble and receptive. Have ears to hear when Heavenly Father leads us to someone who can teach us about the gospel of Jesus Christ. This may be a teacher, family member, neighbor, friend, or acquaintance. It might be a missionary who contacts us through tracting or referral. But know that once we pray, study, and have faith with a desire to learn spiritual matters, the Lord will provide a way for us to gain further light and knowledge.
- Live our testimony. We must obediently follow the Savior’s teachings and the prophets’ examples. Our testimony and example will assist others who are searching for the truth.
- Share our testimony. “O that I were an angel,” proclaimed Alma, “and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God” (Alma 29:1). Let others know that you know. Bear your testimony in fast meeting. Tell your family; tell your friends. You will find when you share your testimony it becomes stronger, and there are many others around you who also want to embrace the truth.
- Be willing to endure the test of time. Do not think that it is easy to maintain a testimony. Others will test you. Sometimes they will point the finger of mockery and scorn. Sometimes they may persecute you openly. Be prepared. Know in advance that the best of God’s children have had the courage of true conviction and were willing to suffer ridicule, deprivation, and even death for the sake of true testimony. Is each of us willing to do likewise?
He concludes with counsel to those that have doubts and are sincerely trying to resolve those concerns in their lives.
- We should not let others determine our faithfulness and affect our testimony and ultimately our eternal salvation. Doubts about matters of religion that arise from a lack of knowledge can be constructively resolved. The solutions are instruction, study, and prayer, which result in increased testimony, which drives out further doubts.
We can rely on other peoples testimonies up to a certain point in our lives. Children rely on their parents testimony as they are young. That desire to have a seed planted in our hearts starts with knowing good people and relying on their faith to test and build our own. How grateful I am for people that live the gospel and are examples to me. I am glad that I have been blessed to have strong and memorable impressions that have strengthened my testimony throughout my life. My challenge now is learning to help others gain their own testimony that will sustain them through the challenges that life will bring their way.