Friday, April 15, 2011

Nurturing Faith

The blessings that come from faith are enormous. Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20; emphasis added). A mustard seed is very small, but it grows into a bush larger than a person. Mormon taught: “The reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief…” (Mormon 9:20). The question isn’t whether miracles come through faith but do we have the faith to see miracles.

Faith can’t be static; either it is increasing or it is dwindling. How do we ensure that our faith is always growing? Alma used the example of planting a seed to answer this question and teach about strengthening our faith. He said,  

Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.  Now behold, would not this increase your faith?” (Alma 32:28-29)

Allegorically, the seed represents the steps we take to strengthen and nourish our faith. Just as we care for a seedling and watch it grow into a mature tree, so too we should carefully nurture our faith until it becomes strong enough to lead us to the greatest of all miracles—Eternal Life (Alma 32:28, 1 Nephi 15:36).

What must we do to nurture our faith? The scriptures teach us that we must:

Pray for the gift of faith. Faith is a gift of the Spirit (Doctrine and Covenants 46:14) that we should earnestly seek (1 Corinthians 12:31). We need to pray to Heavenly Father asking Him to grant us a greater measure of this precious gift.

Study the scriptures. Studying the words of the prophets leads to “firm and steadfast faith” (Helaman 15:7-8). Nephi tells us to “feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3). Feasting means more than hurriedly or casually reading the scriptures. It means to cherish the word of God, to liken the scriptures to our lives, and to ponder the meaning of the verses. By doing this, the scriptures come to life and show us the way to the Savior.

Hearken  to the word of God. Faith comes from hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). Alma felt that, “The preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just” (Alma 31:5) because the word of God, humbly received, will build faith and faith will lead to changed hearts (Mosiah 5:2-5). But it must be more than hearing. To hearken means to hear and do. Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). Faith grows when we hear and then do. This is what Alma meant when he taught that we should “experiment upon my words” (Alma 32:27). James also taught, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17).

The blessings of faith are so great that it is worth expending the effort to strengthen it.

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