Sitting in the back of the chapel during Fast and Testimony meeting feels like a safe bet--until we get the spiritual prompting to stand up and bear our testimonies. For several minutes, we struggle with whether or not we really should. We rationalize. We're teaching Gospel Doctrine this week. We just bore our testimony last year, right? We don't have anything special to say. We're scared.
Unlike a talk, which is usually prepared in advance, testimonies are usually given spur of the moment, and that makes them a whole different kind of difficult. But a personal testimony, accompanied by the Spirit, is one of the more powerful teaching tools we have. When we testify of truths, even ineloquently, others' spirits can recognize that they've heard this truth before. Bearing testimony is foundational to our faith.
So the next time you feel prompted to share your testimony--we hope next fast Sunday!--don't panic, and remember these guidelines and tips shared by members of the Brethren:
There is a reason fast meetings are also testimony meetings. When we are planning to bear testimony, either in sacrament meeting, in a lesson, or another setting, fasting helps bring us closer to the spirit, who witnesses of the truths we testify about.
As an Elder, President Eyring taught: "The fast helps us to feel humble and meek so that the Holy Ghost may more easily be our companion. By our fast, we both keep our covenant to care for others and we prepare to keep our covenant to bear testimony.
"Those who have prepared carefully for the fast and testimony meeting won’t need to be reminded how to bear testimony should they feel impressed to do it in the meeting."
2. Keep it simple
A testimony is made up of simple statements of truth; pure testimony does not involve entertaining the congregation with humor, giving a "travel log," or sharing a talk-like sermon.
In his most recent conference address, Elder Scott gave this advice about bearing testimonies: "Share principles that help those you love to press forward along the path to eternal life. Remember, we all grow line upon line. You have followed that same pattern in your understanding of the gospel. Keep your sharing of the gospel simple" (emphasis added).
3. Use "I know" statements
A testimony is most simply and most powerfully shared in "I know" statements. As Elder Ballard explains, "My experience throughout the Church leads me to worry that too many of our members’ testimonies linger on 'I am thankful' and 'I love,' and too few are able to say with humble but sincere clarity, 'I know.'"
When we bear our testimonies of principles we have come to know are true, he says, our meetings will have "the testimony-rich, spiritual underpinnings that stir the soul and have meaningful, positive impact on the lives of all those who hear them."
4. Include these truths
We can have testimonies of every aspect of the gospel--from tithing to Sunday School to reading the scriptures. However, as President Uchtdorf explains, "A testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will always include these clear and simple truths:
• God lives. He is our loving Father in Heaven, and we are His children.
• Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and the Savior of the world.
• Joseph Smith is the prophet of God through whom the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in the latter days.
• The Book of Mormon is the word of God.
• President [Thomas S. Monson], his counselors, and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are the prophets, seers, and revelators in our day."
No matter what we're bearing testimony of, the truth of the Church and all its teachings are rooted in these five points of doctrine. Sharing our testimonies, along with the foundational truths it is based on, will increase the power of our words.
5. Bear testimony often
Whether someone's testimony is deeply-rooted or just starting to grow, bearing testimony strengthens it. President Packer declared, "Oh, if I could teach you this one principle: a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it!"
The most critical thing we can do to strengthen our testimonies and to share it more powerfully is to bear it--often! Share it not just in sacrament meeting, but also at home and with friends, online or in person. Share it in whatever words come. Share it knowing that the spirit will testify of truth to the hearts of those listening. And that, in the end, is really what will make your testimony powerful.
Bolster your testimony with these uplifting resources:
The Testimony Glove
Help your children learn the basic truths of a testimony!
Based on the true experience of Susan L. Warner, former counselor in the Primary general presidency, this children's picture book tells the story of a girl who learns about testimonies from her father. To help her understand how to express her testimony, he uses his hand to teach her the five parts of a testimony in a way she can remember.
Along with the story, the book invites young Latter-day Saints to practice sharing their testimonies using an enclosed glove with pictures that attach to each finger.
Young members of the Church often ask, "How can I gain a testimony?" John Bytheway suggests that perhaps a better way to ask the question is, "How do I grow a testimony?" Using the New Testament parable of the sower as a metaphor, he divides the process of growing our testimony into four parts: the soil, the seed, the season, and the supper. He also shows that in order to grow the things we want, we have to weed out the things we don't. Using humor, scriptural examples, and quotations from Church leaders, Brother Bytheway gives a workable plan for growing our testimonies.
Filling Your Testimony Tank
Brad Wilcox maintains that young people who struggle with the gospel and claim that they don't have a testimony or have "lost" it, really do have a testimony even though their "testimony tank" may not be completely full. He explains in this fireside to LDS youth that members of the Church have testimonies at different levels, but adding to these 'testimony tanks' often is part of living the gospel — constantly finding ways to strengthen our testimonies, or "fill" them. In his typically enthusiastic way, Brad discusses what it means to have a testimony tank gauge indicating these various levels and how to keep your tank at full.
Testimonies of the Book of Mormon Witnesses
The sharing of testimony is confirmed in our hearts as the Spirit bears witness of truth. The testimonies of those witnesses of the Book of Mormon in this book can burn in our hearts, strengthen our faith and fortify our minds – and we can know for ourselves that their words are true.
Chapters include sections on Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Samuel H. Smith, Lucy Mack Smith, the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, and additional testimonies by witnesses of the plates.