“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men—from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things—and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost; and by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.” -Moroni 10:3-5
The above quote is sometimes called “Moroni’s promise.” It is Moroni’s request that we go to God to see for ourselves if the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God. It is a big part of the restoration of all things, and the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it invites us to use the same gift of the Spirit that Joseph Smith Jr. used to translate the Book of Mormon—the spirit of prophecy and revelation.
Being raised in the Latter Day Saint movement, I was always thrown when I heard Protestants say that we should not pray to God about the Book of Mormon because, “praying is how Satan gets you.” I always found this idea of going to God for answers being evil as simply ridiculous. I could never even imagine a Latter Day Saint of any denomination saying such a thing. Yet this is exactly what some Latter Day Saints are now saying about the plates of brass, revelations from prophets and apostles outside their sects, and new scriptures being unearthed by archeologists. Yet if we cannot pray, how can we find truth?
Seek and Ye shall Find
“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
When I want to know the answer to a question, I have found that the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:7 lay out the formula perfectly:
First I will pray, then I will study, then I pray again about what I have found. I do not seek my own understanding. Being a scholar of religion is not a bad thing, yet relying on the flesh when God is readily available seems foolish. By asking God for answers, then seeking out answers, then taking what I have found to the Lord we gain insight and truth. God meets us where we are. God can answer our prayers with the finite understanding we have. The greater our limited understanding, the better our infinite God can increase that understanding until we come to a perfect knowledge of that thing.
The Lord has told us through His prophet, Joseph Smith Jr. “seek ye out of the best books, words of wisdom; seek learning even by study, and also by faith” (Doctrines of the Saints 53c:55). Speaking to Oliver Cowdery, the Lord said, “I say unto you, that ye must study it out in your mind; then ye must ask me if it be right, and if it is right, I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you: therefore, ye shall feel that it is right; but if it be not right, ye shall have no such feelings, but ye shall have a stupor of thought, that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong” (Avahr 20:11-13). Again, this follows the pattern He taught His disciples; ask, seek, knock.
The Power of Prayer
“…man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” -Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4
I will say right now that Satan does not want us to pray. Why? Because prayer is how we build our relationship with the Lord. Communication is the key to every good relationship. If we merely study the scriptures without talking to the Holy Spirit that inspired the authors of those scriptures, how can we ever truly understand them? I know atheists that are well versed in the Bible, yet they do not know the Bible at all. They can quote it, but they are limited in their understanding of it. Why? Because without God it is of no value or use to them.
Yes, Paul taught that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). And I have been told that prayer is not needed, just hearing the Word (the Bible to Protestants) is enough. Yet Paul says we must hear and hear by the word of God. This is two types of hearing, the physical and the spiritual. We cannot merely quote the Bible, we but gain access to the truth of the scriptures by unlocking the key—the spirit of prophecy and revelation. We gain this through prayer. That is why Satan does not want us to pray, because seeking the God of truth will bring the light of God and erase the darkness of his lies.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” -James 4:10
The last thing I will say on this topic is that we should admit our ignorance before God. We do not know all things. We cannot, on our own, know all things. Without prayer, we do not have access to pure knowledge, yet with prayer we have the means to know anything the Lord desires us to know. We must stay humble and look to God in all things. The best way to do this is by confessing that we do not have all the answers. Once we can admit this truth, we can ask, seek, and knock with true intent. And by seeking truth from the God of truth, we will gain truth, real truth.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). We cannot know the truth of the Book of Mormon or anything else by the wisdom of men, or by our own understanding. Therefore, I stand by Moroni’s promise, not merely for the Book of Mormon but all things God has blessed us with. By going to God to seek truth, in the manner laid out for us by Jesus Himself, we will find the truth of all things. I too then would challenge you to go to God in prayer and seek His wisdom, not merely on the Book of Mormon, but everything the Lord sets before us.