Exercising faith

"Despite all of the negative challenges we have in life, 
we must take time to actively exercise our faith."
-Richard G. Scott-

"Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." (James 2:17)

Growing up in the church, I was taught about faith quite often; such as, "if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains." I had this misconception in my mind that, if I prayed to my Heavenly Father; and believed in Him, then I automatically would get what I prayed for. Whether that was an instant testimony of the gospel, of Jesus Christ; or something more trivial such as my mom stopping to get me ice cream.

"Dear Heavenly Father, please let my mom stop and get me an ice cream cone on her way home from work!"

I was young and didn't understand the way prayer and faith worked; or more specifically, how we have to work in order to receive God's help in obtaining those things that are appropriate (ice cream not being one of them 😂).

As I grew older, I gained the understanding that if we seek after righteous things and ask our Heavenly Father for help and guidance, we must act towards obtaining those things ourselves, with faith. As we act, Heavenly Father will help us. It might not be in the way we are expecting; it might not be a crystal clear answer, or an angel appearing before you, or even something you notice at all. But if you are doing the things you need to do to exercise and strengthen your faith, He is with you and is helping you.

Do you remember being in seminary and being asked "What can we do to strengthen our faith in the gospel?" You let out a big sigh, roll your eyes, and recite the "list".

"Pray, go to church, read the scriptures, attend the temple often..."

I used to say the list, but I never really took it to heart and never realized that, if I righteously did those things, having faith in them, my faith and my testimony would grow. But this isn't a one time thing; we must constantly be doing those things on the "list" while we are in this mortal life. That list acts as armor against the adversary, who would seek to destroy your faith, plant doubts in your mind and lead you away from the gospel path.

I would like to touch on a few of the items on that list, in terms of faith:

1) Prayer: This is a tool we've been given in this mortal life that is seriously so important. It is a direct line of communication with our Father in Heaven. Whether we're sad, angry, happy, depressed, thankful, doubtful; our Heavenly Father is waiting for us to speak to Him and lay our hearts out to Him. Powerful blessings come from simply exercising this tool and your heart will be filled with peace.

"That peace will focus an eternal light on your struggles. It will help you to manage those challenges from an eternal perspective." (Richard G. Scott)

As we move through this mortal journey and most of us become parents, it is our duty as parents to also teach our children how to utilize these tools. Prayer will act as a shield for your children from the evils of the world. Praying as a family should be one of the top priorities every day. 

2) Scripture Study: My eyes have finally been opened to the importance of this. While studying the scriptures, you will find answers to help guide you through the trials you're experiencing, to questions you've asked Heavenly Father; and, in my experience, answers to questions you didn't even know you had.

"Don't yield to Satan's lie that you don't have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganized your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!" (Richard G. Scott)

When I was a teenager, scripture study was low on the totem pole of priorities in my life. I literally would jump at the chance to do something else... ANYTHING else. Well, except maybe homework.
But as I've grown older, I have realized that studying the scriptures is a way of exercising faith. And as you make a habit of it, as you make it a priority in your life; you'll be immensely blessed and your testimony will grow exponentially.

"As you dedicate time every day, personally and with your family, to the study of God's word, peace will prevail in your life. That peace won't come from the outside world. It will come from within your home, from within your family, from within your own heart. It will be a gift of the Spirit. It will radiate out from you to influence others in the world around you. You will be doing something very significant to add to the cumulative peace in the world." (Richard G. Scott)

3) Temple attendance: I'm guilty on this one. Temple attendance has always been something I struggle with. I live 4 hours away from the nearest temple and it's always easy to find an excuse for not being able to drive that far on a Saturday. But one of my goals for 2019 is to put aside those excuses and to make it to the temple, at minimum, 4 times this year (whereas I average 1-2 visits a year). The temple is the House of God, where we participate in sacred ordinances. It is the closest we'll get to being with Him again here on earth. Whenever you are having any difficulties in life, I highly encourage you to make a trip to your nearest temple and to go to the celestial room to pray.

"I promise you that, with increased attendance in the temples of our God, you shall receive increased personal revelation to bless your life as you bless those who have died." (Ezra Taft Benson)

Countless are the stories of faithful members who try to go to the temple and hit roadblocks; such as flat tires, car trouble, bad weather. Satan knows that by us exercising our faith and making temple attendance a priority, that we will become stronger in faith, in testimony, in spirit. He will always try to influence us away from the things we should be doing, especially attending the temple. But by exercising faith and not allowing these things to sway you from making it a priority, Satan's ability to influence and impact our lives in a negative manner will become less and less.

The 3 things listed above are only a few of the things we should do in exercising our faith. My purpose of writing this wasn't to list every little thing out, but to give a general idea of the things that should be prioritized in our every day lives.

"I am not suggesting that all of life's struggles will disappear as you do these things. We came to mortal life precisely to grow from trials and testing. Challenges help us become more like our Father in Heaven, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible to endure those challenges. I testify that as we actively come unto Him, we can endure every temptation, every heartache, every challenge we face.." (Richard G. Scott)

Faith, without work on our part, is dead. It is nothing but a word at that point. For it to become what God speaks of, we must put in the work.

I don't know about you, but I plan on doing so. 

Alma 22:16 - ...If thou desirest this this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.

Ether 12:12 - For if there is no faith among the children of men, God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.

D&C 8:10 - Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith. Trifle not with these things; do not ask for that which you ought not.


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