In President Thomas S. Monson’s final conference address, he implored the Saints to take the necessary steps to gain a firm testimony of The Book of Mormon. He said, “It is essential for you to have your own testimony in these difficult times, for the testimonies of others will carry you only so far.”
In a BYU-Idaho devotional, former area seventy, author, and Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen spoke on the major decisions in his life for which he was grateful, where he shared his powerful experience of discovering the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
If you have never known if the Book of Mormon is true, or if you feel you need to re-learn, here are a few tips to take from Elder Christensen’s touching experience.
1. Consider your motives
After graduating with his B.A. in Economics from BYU, Elder Christensen attended Oxford University as a Rhode’s Scholar to study applied econometrics.
He says, “When I arrived at Oxford it was very clear that it was going to be inconvenient to be a Mormon in Oxford... I realized, as I thought through the extent to which I wanted to be involved in the church, that, you know, I didn’t even know that the Book of Mormon was true.”
Despite having read it seven times, and serving a mission in Korea, Christensen claims that every time he had read the Book of Mormon and asked in prayer if it was true that he received no answer.
He says, “…I realized, as I thought through why I hadn’t gotten an answer, that each of the previous seven times, I had read it on an assignment, either from my parents or a BYU instructor or my mission president or a seminary teacher, and my objective was to finish the book… But finally when I arrived at Oxford, for the first time in my life I just desperately needed to know if it was true.”
2. Be diligent and consistent
To find out if the Book of Mormon was true, Christensen decided he would “commit every evening from 11 to 12 o’clock to reading...”
He admits, “I wondered if I dared spend that much time… but nonetheless I did, and began at 11:00 by kneeling in prayer by the chair by [my] heater, and I prayed out loud.”
Young Christensen told God he was desperate and that if “He would reveal to me that it was true, that I then intended to dedicate my life to building this kingdom. And I told Him if it wasn’t true that I needed to know that for certain, too, because then I would dedicate my life to finding out what was true…”
“…I [sat] in the chair, and I read the first page of the Book of Mormon.. then I put the book down and knelt in prayer and verbally asked God, “Please tell me if this is a true book.” I would sit in the chair and pick up the book and turn the page and read another page, pause at the bottom, and do the same thing. I did this for an hour every night, night after night in that cold, damp room, at the Queen’s College Oxford.”
3. Be open to the revelation
It wasn’t until Elder Christensen got to the end of 2nd Nephi that he received his answer.
He says that one night while reading, “all of a sudden there came into that room a beautiful, warm, loving spirit that just surrounded me and permeated my soul, and enveloped me in a feeling of love that I just had not imagined I could feel...”
“…And I began to cry, and I didn’t want to stop crying because as I looked through my tears at the words in the Book of Mormon, I could see [the] truth in those words that I never imagined I could comprehend before. I could see the glories of eternity and I could see what God had in store for me as one of His sons, and I didn’t want to stop crying. That spirit stayed with me the whole hour, and then every evening as I prayed and sat with the Book of Mormon by the fireplace in my room, that same spirit returned and it changed my heart and my life forever.“
4. Prioritize your study of the Book of Mormon
Elder Christensen promises that finding out if the Book of Mormon is true and continuously deepening your testimony of the book is essential to living a happy life.
He says, “I look back [at] the conflict that I experienced, wondering whether I could afford to spend an hour every day apart from the study of applied econometrics to find if the Book of Mormon was true, and you know, I use applied econometrics maybe once a year, but I use my knowledge that the Book of Mormon is the word of God many times every day of my life. In all of the education that I have pursued, that is the single most useful piece of knowledge that I ever gained.“
Take the Challenge
Christensen challenged the congregation to “…set aside an hour every day and find out for yourself if this is true because it will change your heart as it has changed mine. Someday you’ll be able to go to the place where you lived at the time that God revealed this to you, and point at it to your children and your spouse, and say “That’s a sacred place because that’s where I learned that Jesus is the Christ.“
In Moroni 10:3-5, the prophet Moroni promises that if any reader of the Book of Mormon “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.”
Elder Christensen’s experience proves Moroni’s promise to be true. He shows that with diligence and a sincere desire to know, the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon can be made known unto anyone.