If you’re trying to find out if the Mormon Church is true, you will find your Mormon friends and the missionaries asking you to pray about it. Mormons don’t want people to join their church based on the beliefs of another human being. They want you to have your own personal testimony from God.
However, sometimes we pray and wait quietly for an answer but nothing happens. This happened to David O. McKay, who later became a Mormon prophet. He grew up on a farm and one day while he was herding cattle he decided to find out if the Mormon Church was true. Now, David was born into the Mormon Church and had been active in it all his life, but the Mormons teach their teenagers to prove the truthfulness of the church to themselves by praying just as if they weren’t Mormons. However, nothing happened. He got off his knees disappointed because he felt he was just the same person he had been when he knelt to pray.
Many years later, having stayed active in the Church in spite of not getting an answer, he set off to serve as a missionary for the church. While in Scotland on his mission, he again prayed for a testimony and this time he got an answer that was very clear and left him with no doubts at all. He said he learned that prayers are answered—in God’s time, not ours.
While we all hope for an instant answer, the truth is we don’t always get one. In fact, it’s pretty uncommon to get a full answer all at once. Usually, we just get small pieces of our answer at a time. Then we take that small piece, work with it, and grow from it. When we’re ready, God gives us more. It can be pretty overwhelming to get a big gigantic answer all at once and answers come with responsibility. When God tells us a truth, we’re accountable for what we know. By getting just one part of our answer first and learning to use that part responsibly before getting another part, God lets us grow in the gospel the same way we grow in real life, with gradually increasing responsibility. Remember, God is our Father, and being a perfect Father, He understands how to help His children be successful.
So, Mormons talk about learning “line upon line,” which means a little at a time. When I prayed to find out if the church was true before deciding to convert, I didn’t get an answer at all. I was like David O. McKay, feeling nothing had happened. After a few weeks, I decided to just ask God if He wanted me to join the Church. That time I did get an answer, so I joined. I kind of assumed God wouldn’t want me to join a false church, but I didn’t have a clear answer on that, so I was joining because I trusted God, not because of the Church itself.
At that point, if anyone had asked me if the Mormon Church was true, my honest answer would have been, “I hope it is.” I might even have been able to say I thought it was true, but that was about all. I got baptized, kept going to classes, studying, and praying. Pretty soon I got better at praying and recognizing answers. Like any other skill, it takes practice. Soon I was able to say I believed it was true. After about a year, I finally got the answer I had been waiting for and knew it was true.
During that year of waiting, I learned and grew a lot. I took on church service opportunities that helped me learn more about God and the Church. I prayed several times a day and became better at knowing how to tell when God was talking to me and when I was just talking to myself. I read more of the Bible and Book of Mormon so I knew more. I practiced living my new religion and was able to put it to a test. When I did things the church said to do I felt the peacefulness that only God can bring. When I disobeyed commandments, I felt sad and uncomfortable in my heart, a clear warning that God was disappointed. It became clear to me that true joy and peace came when I kept the commandments I was being taught.
All of these experiences helped prepare me to receive a full testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My prayers improved with practice and when I received my answer, there was no doubt as to where the answer was coming from. I had learned that only God’s answers being a feeling of complete peace to my heart. Satan is not capable of bringing peace and joy.
So, if you’re praying for a testimony, don’t expect it to come instantly. It might, but it usually won’t. You’ll need to stay on your knees for a while after each prayer, waiting for an answer. If you finally arise feeling no different, you’ll need to trust God to give you an answer in His own time, when He knows you are ready for the responsibility. In the meantime, continue learning about the Mormons, practicing the religion you are learning, and read your scriptures. Continue to pray every day and to improve your relationship with God. Remember, if you were in danger, God would tell you so right away, so no answer at all just means you’re not ready. Keep working at it and one day God will give you a wonderful answer that is just right for you and in just the right time for you.