Latter-day Saint Life

What We Learn from Joseph Smith about Hastening the Work by Slowing Down


Editor's note: The Power of Stillness is the LDS Living Book Club's book of the month. Join the conversation on the LDS Living Book Club's Instagram

As we look out at a world increasingly in commotion, we who identify as Saints feel a natural urgency to tend to the needs of others. And so, we rightfully roll up our sleeves and get to work—seeking ways to comfort hearts, lift heads, and serve others as we share the hope of the gospel.

As part of that hope, and part of that joy, we would encourage Saints as a community to also share this mindful dimension of what the scriptures call the “rest of the Lord” (Alma 13:16). As the great ancient prophet once taught, “In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). How we need that strength right now!

Thus we see (as the ancient man of solitude Moroni might say today) how great is the wisdom of slowing down a bit—not just to smell the roses but to ponder important questions, to receive His tenderness, and to care for those around us in ways that can happen only with increased attention, gentleness, and quietude.

Discovering Our Own Sacred Groves

To be prepared for a historic rebirth of ancient Christianity, Joseph Smith had first thoughtfully observed the limitations of his spiritual understanding. He had earnestly engaged the scriptures by quietly pondering and internalizing prophetic words. He had heard and heeded the soft whisperings of the Spirit prompting him to ask more. He had carved out time for solitary retreat by preparing his physical space and heart for communion in prayer. He then endured the surprisingly ferocious resistance and fear that unexpectedly emerged. And he subsequently relished the brilliance of a tender encounter with his Father and Brother.

Getting to this moment of sitting at the Savior’s feet, ready to learn, was a journey in the power of stillness.

And even that was just the beginning.

The same journey continues for all of us in a world increasingly agitated by an accelerating “war of words and tumult of opinions” and an expanding “scene of great confusion and bad feeling” (Joseph Smith—History 1:10, 6). Within such a world, it has become no simple matter to figure out how to make enough space for our own opportunities to sit quietly at the Savior’s feet.

Like a fourteen-year-old child gazing into the heavens, our vision of what the Lord has in mind for us no doubt remains incredibly limited as well. But as President Russell M. Nelson has increasingly reminded us—and pleaded with us to see—the Lord is eager to teach us, to stretch us, to love us, and to meet us as we “stretch beyond [our] current spiritual ability”1 and “beyond anything [we] have ever done before”2 to receive His revelation and power.

Nephi anciently saw “the power of the Lamb of God . . . descend[ing] upon the saints” in our day and “upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth.” Are we ready to receive that “power of God in great glory” anticipated by both ancient and modern prophets? (1 Nephi 14:14).

Doing so might involve something harder than just doing more. After we have “cheerfully [done] all things that lie in our power,” the Lord might be inviting us to a task even more difficult than increasing our efforts: namely, to “stand still” (D&C 123:17). “Be still,” He says, “and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Far beyond mere passivity or resignation, stillness can help give birth to new depths of power and comfort. In the space of a refreshing Sabbath, the quiet of communing prayer, and the stillness of temple retreat, something beautiful can happen.

This is our greatest desire and hope for our brothers and sisters around the world. Let us happily do all we can to align ourselves with God’s will. But then, let us pause . . . and wait . . . and watch, in a place of quiet stillness, for the mighty arm of our gentle Lord to “do wonders among [us]” (Joshua 3:5).

Latter-day Saints are great at getting things done. But sometimes an excessive focus on "doing more" can take us to a place where we're mostly going through the motions—and missing the deep, rich spiritual power that can come from being still. Using Latter-day Saint vernacular and examples, The Power of Stillness explores ways in which mindfulness can help deepen our conversion to the gospel. Available now at

1. Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018.

2. Russell M. Nelson, “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2017.

Lead image: Shutterstock

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