As an English major, I am often asked, “What’s your favorite book?” I’ve come up with a few “go-to” favorites: “Oh, I really liked The Kite Runner.” Or, “The Great Gatsby—I really enjoyed that one, too.” In reality, I’ve read so many books, and loved so many of them, that it’s almost impossible for me to narrow it down to just one. However, I have read the Book of Mormon more times than I can count—more than ten, at least. Why? Because the Book of Mormon has a more profound effect on my decisions, my feelings, and my faith than any other great work of literature I’ve ever read.
One of the main reasons the Book of Mormon has such a powerful influence on me is that I believe it is inspired. The Book of Mormon is similar to the Bible: both books were written by inspired prophets of God, and then translated into many languages. This is not to say that other great works of literature are not inspiring, and do not influence me, because they do. However, the Book of Mormon is different. It testifies of Jesus Christ, and was written by His prophets. As I read this inspired book, the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit, brings peace to my heart and testifies to me that the doctrines are true and that the people are real.
Another reason the Book of Mormon increases my faith is its close connection to the Bible. The Book of Mormon explains many of the doctrines of the gospel in clearer terms than we see in the Bible. For example, the Book of Mormon clearly explains that little children are innocent, and do not need to be baptized. (See Moroni 8:11). The Book of Mormon does not contradict the Bible, but rather illuminates it, making doctrines and principles that are present but unclear in the Bible clear for me to easily understand. If the Book of Mormon were to contradict the Bible, my faith would be shaken. But because the two books support each other, my faith in God and His knowledge and omnipotence is strengthened.
How Daily Reading Increases My Faith
The Book of Mormon can only have such a powerful effect and increase my faith if and when I read it every day. I have noticed that when I make an effort to read the Book of Mormon every day, things in my life are smoother. The challenges I face seem less insurmountable, and I feel more at peace with the world and my life. At times, life has become hectic, and I have slowly stopped reading every day. The negative changes in how I felt and viewed the world were so small I didn’t notice them. However, when I went back to reading every day, I was amazed at the positive difference that it made in my day, especially in the small aspects of life. I wondered why I had ever stopped reading in the first place, because everything goes so much better when I do.
Daily reading reminds me of what I believe; of the true doctrines of the gospel. It reminds me of the covenants I made when I was baptized, and gives me strength and encouragement to continue working hard to keep them. It reminds me of the meaning and purpose of life, and helps me keep everything that happens on a daily basis in its proper perspective. Most importantly, it testifies of Jesus Christ, and His role in Heavenly Father’s plan for each of us.
However, it’s not enough for me to just read the Book of Mormon. I have to act on what it says. Joseph Smith, the translator of the Book of Mormon, stated: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, . . . and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon). So it’s great for me to read about faith in Alma chapter 32, but I gain nothing if I don’t do as Alma directed the people and work to increase my faith. (See Alma 32:28).
A Promise from a Prophet
President Gordon B. Hinckley, the 15th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church, made the following promise:
Those who have read [the Book of Mormon] prayerfully, be they rich or poor, learned or unlearned, have grown under its power. . . . Without reservation I promise you that if you will prayerfully read the Book of Mormon, regardless of how many times you have previously read it, there will come into your hearts . . . the Spirit of the Lord. There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to his commandments, and there will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God. (“The Power of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, June 1988, 6).
This promise has had a profound influence on me. President Hinckley is a man whom I respect very much, and believe he was a prophet of the Lord. When he speaks, and makes a promise like this, it will happen if I do what I am supposed do to, just like any other promise a person or group of people receive from the Lord.
I have many favorite books, and many works of great literature have had a profound effect on my opinions and worldview. Many books are inspirational, and motivate me to change and do better. But none is as powerful as the Book of Mormon, my all-time favorite. When I read the Book of Mormon, I have the Spirit in my heart more often and more strongly, I am more committed to following the commandments with exactness, and my testimony of Jesus Christ is strengthened.