“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death…By faith Noah…prepared an ark to the saving of his house… and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith…By faith the Israelites passed through the Red sea as by dry land…And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell…of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions…Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, [and] turned to flight…” (Hebrews 11) “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Mathew 17:20) By faith we can do anything but we cannot do the lords work without it.
What did Jesus Christ mean when he said if ye have faith as a mustard seed ye could move mountains? Knowing that a mustard seed is very small one might interpret it to mean that not very much faith is required to perform miracles. You might ask “Then why can’t I move a mountain? I have faith” and I have wondered that myself.
Alma’s analogy of the seed helps us further understand the Savior’s words. “If ye will … exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you…Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; … And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.”
What the Savior meant is that if you have the slightest amount of faith (even a desire to believe) and nourish it, it can become mighty like a mustard tree and work miracles.
Faith is not a delusional attitude of optimism, it is a spiritual gift that needs to be sought diligently by prayer! In D&C 8:10 The Lord Says “Remember that without faith you can do nothing” Any time that we fall short, give up, or give into temptation it is ultimately a result of a lack of faith. This may sound offensive but it just means that we need to pray earnestly for more faith. When was the last time that you prayed for faith? How often do you hear others praying for faith? It is a strange because faith is of such immense importance in our lives but I very seldom hear any mention of praying for it.
Moroni clearly taught that faith is a spiritual gift when he said “And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them. For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom; And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; And to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; And again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles; And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things; And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits; And again, to another, all kinds of tongues; And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues. And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.” (Moroni 10)
We learn about the importance of petitioning the Lord for spiritual gifts through prayer from Moroni’s words about charity in the last verse of chapter 7 ” Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.” Prayer is defined in the bible dictionary as “a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings” and the gift of faith is certainly one of God’s greatest blessings.
D&C 46:28-33 sheds more light on the subject of praying for spiritual gifts: “And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit; That unto some it may be given to have all those gifts, that there may be a head, in order that every member may be profited thereby. He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh. And again, I say unto you, all things must be done in the name of Christ, whatsoever you do in the Spirit; And ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with. And ye must practice virtue and holiness before me continually. Even so. Amen.”
“The gifts of the Spirit are available to all who pay the price, which includes entering into a covenant relationship with the Lord, obeying the commandments, and seeking perfection with all one’s heart. The gifts will be the greatest to those who seek most earnestly, but they are available to all” (Doctrine and covenants manual)
George Q Cannon taught us the importance of seeking spiritual gifts “How many of you … are seeking for these gifts that God has promised to bestow? How many of you, when you bow before your Heavenly Father in your family circle or in your secret places contend for these gifts to be bestowed upon you? How many of you ask the Father, in the name of Jesus, to manifest Himself to you through these powers and these gifts? Or do you go along day by day like a door turning on its hinges, without having any feeling upon the subject, without exercising any faith whatever; content to be baptized and be members of the Church, and to rest there, thinking that your salvation is secure because you have done this?…If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections…If a man lack wisdom, it is his duty to ask God for wisdom. The same with everything else. That is the design of God concerning His Church. He wants His Saints to be perfected in the truth. For this purpose He gives these gifts, and bestows them upon those who seek after them, in order that they may be a perfect people upon the face of the earth, notwithstanding their many weaknesses, because God has promised to give the gifts that are necessary for their perfection.” (In Millennial Star, Apr. 1894, pp. 260–61.)
I served in the Utah St George Mission which at the time covered basically the whole southern half of Utah. While I was being trained, I remember my trainer telling me about this little town up north called Ferron where the mission president would send missionaries that he didn’t know what to do with. Apparently, there had never been much success in Ferron, and the missionaries who were sent there kind of considered it like being exiled. We changed mission presidents a few months into my mission and when I was down to my last 9 months I got a call to serve in the Ferron and Castle Dale Stakes. My first reaction was “Oh no! hasn’t President heard about Ferron?” but I soon found out there was a great missionary named Elder Bolokoski there who I would be follow-up training and he had a few people on date. The rumors about Ferron were true. Once, over dinner one family told us stories about how the Elders would come over and play video games with them for family home evening and how they would often come home from school and find the missionaries napping on their couch. I also learned that in the entire stake boundaries of Ferron there were only about 100 nonmembers. However, my companion and I were determined to have success in Ferron. When I got up there our mission had just started a mission wide fast for families, and the Spirit brought to my remembrance something one of the AP’s had mentioned to me early on in my mission. This was the importance of “Developing the Faith to Find”, which is a short little section at the beginning of Chapter 8 in Preach My Gospel. At this point of my mission I had made the connections that I have discussed earlier, and I had determined that what my companion and I really needed to do was pray for the faith to find a family, and the faith to make our goals.
Elder Bolokoski and I worked very hard and strived to be as obedient as possible. Most of our work had been in the Castle Dale Stake where we lived. One morning we scheduled a few appointments in Ferron. Because the Castle Dale and Ferron Stakes were 11 miles apart we tried to group a few appointments or activities together. When our first appointment fell through we had a backup plan to contact people in the area while we waited for the next appointment. When we exhausted that list our only option was to tract, but we didn’t just go randomly knocking on doors. Elder Bolokoski and I prayed together asking the Lord to help us find a family to baptize, and to guide us to them through the Spirit.
After our prayer, we determined we should head for the trailer park, and off we went. On the way, we saw an apartment building and said “Hey lets go knock those doors.” We met a native fellow named Dino, and taught him at the door about how Jesus Christ visited his ancestors in 3 Nephi 11. We prayed with him, invited his family to church, and set a return appointment. We got a little off track on our way to the trailer park and found another apartment building on the opposite side of town. We knocked on the door- it was another native family, and we almost the exact same experience. We were very excited about this. Over the next few weeks we had a difficult time contacting Dino because he had been out of town, but we had the opportunity to give his girlfriend a blessing. We had been teaching the other family and things were going really well until the mother’s drunk boyfriend came back and everything fell apart. I received a new companion, a brand new missionary whom I would be training. Shortly after one of our ward mission leaders told us that a native family showed up to church, and it turned out that the kids in the second family that we had met were Dino’s kids, and that he had just gotten partial custody of them again. We went over and started teaching them again at Dino’s house, and the family of 6 were baptized! How amazing is it that we found this whole family in 2 separate apartments, 3 miles apart, within minutes of each other? My new companion Elder Burt and I set challenging goals and prayed for the faith to meet them. In the month of September 2014 Elder Burt and I baptized 8 people in the infamous Ferron Stake, and another 4 people in the Castle Dale Stake. Faith brings miracles, we need to pray for the faith to do miracles. From my mission, I learned the importance of praying for faith. I prayed for the faith to find my wife when I went to BYUI and within a month and a half I found her, I pray for the faith to get good grades and provide for my family, I continue to pray for faith today.