“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” (James 1:5–6).
A few weeks ago, I taught the priesthood lesson in our teachers quorum. We reviewed this year’s Mutual theme and discussed its importance and one practical way to approach it in our individual lives.
We began our discussion with a question: Out of everything we have in the Church—Young Men and Young Women activities, seminary, scouting, priesthood, Sunday meetings, service projects, temple work, genealogy, tithing, missionary work, etc.—, which is most important? A discussion ensued among the class members around this question until we finally reached the conclusion that Christ is the most important thing in the Church. Without Him, ultimately nothing else matters.
Next, we turned this around and considered the same question from our Savior’s perspective: What is the most important thing to Him? We concluded that it is each one of us as individuals. We matter to Him. In fact, the first great commandment to love the Lord with all of our heart, might, mind and strength is really just a commandment to love God in the same way that He already loves us!
Because the Lord loves us and gives us our agency, we each have a fundamental choice to make as we walk through life. The choice is: do we walk with God or do we walk primarily on our own? He largely leaves that up to us. Walking with God is more than just going to church on Sunday. Like the foolish Zoramites, with their Rameumptom, we can show up to church each week and then get so busy in our lives that we forget about God during the rest of the week (see Alma 31:23).
At its heart, religion is more than a set of standards for conduct. It is largely about our experience and relationship with God. It is about coming to know Him. It is about having our hearts and our very nature changed by Him and by His love and then reflecting that love to His children by serving and loving those around us. Walking with God means we involve Him in our lives, we seek His guidance and direction, and we try to do His will. Walking with God requires us to learn to recognize the Spirit and its promptings. It requires us to spend time in prayer and with the scriptures, seeking the Lord’s direction in our lives. It involves this year’s theme: we need to ask of God.
My invitation to the young men in the quorum that day was to begin to have a relationship with the Lord, to learn to walk with Him. The first step in that process is to want something more than they already have in their lives. To help them get started and to have their own experiences with personal revelation, I gave each young man a 5x7 notecard and invited them all to write down three things. These three things were not shared with the class but were for them to take home and work on during the next week.
1) The first thing was a question that they would take to the Lord. We discussed how asking is necessary for the Lord to answer us. “Ask and ye shall receive” is one of the laws upon which personal revelation from God is predicated (see D&C 130:20-21). The question needed to be something that was important or mattered to them personally. I encouraged them to think carefully about their questions. Sometimes we ask the Lord for things that are too broad or that we aren’t prepared for and then we can’t understand or recognize His answer. So their questions needed to be specific and relevant to their lives. Some examples of possible questions were: “Is the Book of Mormon true?”; “What is one thing I should be doing now to prepare for my future?”; or “What talent or gift would you have me develop in my life?” The boys were invited to pray specifically about their questions and to also ask for the Lord’s help to recognize His answer.
2) The second thing is what they were willing to do to work for an answer. We discussed how Joseph Smith didn’t just simply ask God without taking any further thought or action. He spent time studying the scriptures, attending meetings of various churches, and pondering his question. In other words, he worked and prepared before asking God for the answer. Our youth need to do the same.
3) The final thing they were asked to write down was one thing that they would do to serve someone else. We reviewed the idea that when we are serving our brothers and sisters, we are serving God (see Mosiah 2:17). And that Alma taught if we pray and ask God for blessings, but then don’t remember to serve those around us that we are like dross, which the refiners cast out because it is of no worth (see Alma 34:18-29). We suggested that the young men write down something they would do to serve their families or a person at their school or a member of their quorum or ward. In this way we can serve God and show our gratitude to Him for our blessings.
I am so grateful for the Young Men and Young Women theme this year. It is so crucial for our youth to have experiences with their Father in Heaven, to feel something of His love for them, and to learn to recognize the Spirit in their lives—especially in the world in which they are growing up today.
I wish that I had understood these principles better when I was their age. And I hope and pray that our youth will choose to walk with God throughout their lives. As both President Benson and President Hinckley testified: He will make far more of us than we can ever make of ourselves on our own!
Lead image from Shutterstock
Cory B. Jensen is the author of the recently released book, Preparing For Your Endowment (Cedar Fort, 2017). Using entertaining stories and insightful teachings from the scriptures, Preparing For Your Endowment helps teens and young adults replace their fears and questions about the temple with the faith and confidence necessary to make and keep eternal covenants and to experience all the blessings of temple worship. Available at Deseret Book stores and deseretbook.com.