Question Box: Prayer and Salvation

Q. Do mormons believe in salvation? Do they believe in asking God to come into your heart? Who do they pray to?

Yes, Mormons do believe in salvation. We believe that mankind may be saved through Jesus Christ and may live in the presence of God provided that we are prepared for it.

Asking God to come into your heart is a valid request but it must be noted that God has a physical body and so cannot actually dwell in our hearts. Intead, He sends the Holy Ghost to comfort us and accompany us.

Mormons pray to God, the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Service and Spiritual Eyes

I recently gave birth to my second child, a girl. I was and am feeling extremely blessed. Not only for her presence in my life, but because I was the recipient of so much service from others. I am getting gifts and free babysitting from neighbors and friends and family  and starting to feel a little to spoiled. I prayed for opportunities to serve others, but with a newborn and a two year old, I knew I couldn’t go out and clean someone’s house or bring them dinner or anything. I felt that all I could do was sit and wait for the Lord to send me people to help or tasks to fulfill for others.

Then a few weeks ago, sitting in Sunday School, feeling selfish again, the spirit was strong in the meeting and it gave me a deeper insight into my prayer: I had been serving people for the past 2 weeks. I thought of at least 3 instances where I had helped people, (even getting someone a job!), and the important service that I was giving my own children. Without even thinking about serving, or making sacrifices, I had helped plenty of people. It felt so good to have the spirit open my eyes to that realization, I can’t explain it, but it solidified my testimony that the Lord will answer prayers and that He is aware of us in our circumstances. It wasn’t answered the way I thought it would be, but when are they?

My Favorite Book of Mormon Story

My favorite Book of Mormon Story begins in Helaman, chapter 7. I just started reading it again tonight, it is the story of a lone prophet among an influx of unrighteous, proud, and dangerous people. Nephi (the son of Helaman) was praying aloud in his garden about the deplorable state of the people when a crowd noticed and gathered around him. He called them to repentance, warning them that they will be destroyed unless they heed the word of the Lord.

At the end of his preaching, he told the people to go to the judgment seat and there they would find the Chief Judge dead by the hand of his brother. He reveals that these brothers were both members of the infamous Gadianton Robbers.

Immediately, 5 men run from where Nephi is preaching to the judgment seat to verify Nephi’s words, they agreed that if it were true, they would then believe in Nephi as a prophet. Sure enough, when they arrived, they found the Chief Judge lying in a pool of blood.

Meanwhile, the servants who discovered the murdered Chief Judge had gone out and told others about the murder. When a crowd of onlookers arrived, they found these 5 men and assumed they were the ones who had killed him and they were thrown into prison.

Later, at the burial of the Chief Judge, those who had been gathered at Nephi’s garden wondered what happened to the 5 who went to check – when it was discovered that they were the same 5, they were set free. But the people were now suspicious of Nephi, claiming that he was in league with the murderers and Nephi was a false prophet trying to gain power. So they brought him in for questioning. But Nephi was firm, and testified to his accusers that the Lord will destroy this people if they will not repent. Then Nephi gives them further proof, he tells them that if they go to the brother of the Chief Judge and accuse him, they will find blood on his cloak and he would confess.

And they did.

And he did.

And many believed that Nephi was a prophet of God.

I love how dramatic this story is, it reads just as shocking as any blockbuster movie or thriller novel. It shows how powerful prophets can be, when the situation demands it and the trust God gives his prophets. It shows how fickle groups of people can be and warns against governments run by evil and corrupt men/women.

The Standard of God

I have often found in this wide world, that many people don’t understand the Mormon way of living.  This is evident based just on the question, “what can’t Mormons do?” as if restrictions on behavior is something strange.  Well, first off, it isn’t to me.  Not very much.  It isn’t strange to me that I don’t smoke, drink, gamble, cheat, or steal and that I do go to church, pay tithing, read scriptures, stay chaste and so forth.  That is the standard by which I live.  Everybody has a standard, or guidelines by which they make their decisions.  So then, why did I choose my standard?  Let me explain it to you.

First and foremost, God has a standard.  He has a way of living that He wants for us.  He has revealed, and continues to reveal, that way of living to prophets throughout the ages.  Through Moses, He instructed the children of Israel to obey a strict set of laws.  Jesus Christ instructed the Jews a different (and better) way of living that relied more on developing a good heart that dictates good actions.  I don’t doubt that that same Being inspired Buddha, Mohammad or Confucius to teach their respective peoples a better way of living.

Here’s the important part:  God does this so that His own children might be happy.  That’s right; God gives rules for you to be happy.  If He can persuade His children to lift their way of living to a higher level, even on just a single point, it brings Him joy because they are living up to a standard that is naturally better.  It isn’t so much that God will punish those who break commandments; the commandments are there to prevent actions that cause damage.  If I do action “A” then “B” will be a result.  If “B” is good, then God wishes us to do “A,” otherwise He must forbid it.

There are several problems people see with this standard.  First, they don’t see beneficial results from supposedly good actions, nor do they see bad results from bad actions.  Then they wonder why the standards are there in the first place.  Patience.  That’s why we believe in personal revelation.  We can ask our Heavenly Father if such a thing is for us.  After receiving an answer, we trust in that answer and believe that someday, somehow, that trust will be for our good.

Second, many people find themselves not living in harmony with their beliefs.  That is, everybody eventually finds themselves where their actions don’t line up with what they know they should be doing.  They then have a choice.  They could change their actions, or change their beliefs.  Either will relieve the situation and not doing either will always result in misery.  You would be the most wretched person if you constantly wish to be unchaste while acting in celibacy.  Or you could be miserable believing that you ought not to drink alcohol while sitting at the bar getting drunk.  The key is to alter the action that is keeping us from God instead giving up His standard.

Third, when we make a poor decision, we naturally are loathe to accept the consequences for that action.  We would like to get the benefit of something we didn’t do and avoid the penalty for something we did do.  It is true that Christ’s atonement allows us to repent and avoid the dire consequences of our actions, most especially being separated from God, but it is definitely easier to prevent making a mess of our lives than to work through the repentance process.  The time spent destroying spirituality could be spent building it up instead.  God’s standard helps us reap blessings with the time we have and not to spend it in trials and pain.

So in light of all this, it is imperative that each of us keep to the standard of God and stick to it.  The Atonement of Jesus Christ is there for us in our moments of weakness and to pick us up at our worst moments, if we are just willing to accept help.  It will be uncomfortable, there is no doubt there, but growth means growing pains.  The path of least resistance is quite comfortable, but doesn’t lead to the desired end.  We desire a better end, a more excellent way and one that brings a life of real joy and satisfaction.  That is why we do the things we do and try our best to live according to God’s standard.

Simple Inspiration

For school, I had a comprehensive final in Bio-Chemistry.  After months of intense studying, the date of the big test was finally here.  Throughout the semester, my wife and I had been praying that I’d have a clear mind on the day of the test and that I’d remember the things that I had studied.

My test strategy is to go through the whole test and answer all the questions, and then go through again and double check them as I transfer my answers to the scan-tron.    I came to a particular question where I was able to narrow it down to two answers.  Initially I had marked “e” being pretty confident with my choice.  But when I came upon it for the second time, I had a distinct thought, “No, that’s not correct”.  Then I suddenly remember the things I learned when I studied the topic earlier.   I changed my answer to “d” and I got the question right.

I thought about my experience throughout the day.  I know that God does answer our prayers.  We believe to receive answers for our questions, we must do our part.  We must study it in our minds and then ask God if it’s right.  If it is, we will feel that in our hearts and in our minds that it is right. (see D&C 9:8 & Moroni 10:3-5)