“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Primary children are taught about this promise early in their youth. Investigators are presented with this challenge as part of their discussions with the missionaries. It is the subject of countless discourses in General Conference as well as lessons in Sunday School, Seminary and Institute.
The best online source to explain this promise that I have found is on lds.org. The church has done a wonderful job of expanding on how we can know for ourselves if the things that are taught by the missionaries and from official LDS sources like lds.org contain God’s truth. To quote:
How we can know for ourselves
“Your Heavenly Father is the source of all truth. He loves you and wants to answer your questions. Therefore, He will help you recognize the truth as you sincerely seek it and ask Him for guidance. You can know if the things you are learning are true if you ask your Heavenly Father in prayer. He desires for you to know the truth, and you can receive an answer from Him through the Holy Ghost.
“As taught in the Bible, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance” (Galatians 5:22–23). These feelings from the Holy Ghost are personal revelation to you that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true. You will then need to choose whether you will live in harmony with the knowledge you have received.
“As the Savior taught in the Bible, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matthew 7:7). Feelings from the Holy Ghost are personal revelation to you that confirm the truth of the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.”
The opposing viewpoint
A simple Google search reveals dozens of sites you can visit that present persuasive arguments why this is not a good way to ascertain truth for yourself. They offer their opinion that, “It is not a good idea to rely on our feelings.” Well, if you can’t trust your feelings, what can you trust?
Their response is that we should only trust the Bible and they then go on to quote a few Old Testament scriptures in an attempt to prove that the heart of man is unreliable and should not be trusted. That’s a very sad approach to life. I act upon my own feelings above anything else.
They also suggest that it is a bad idea to pray about the Book of Mormon by asking, “should you pray about robbing a bank or murdering someone?” They answer that you should not because it is just common sense that we don’t do those things. Sorry, that’s simply a bad analogy to me.
My personal experience
In the Fall of 1961 our family was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through the example of a co-worker. My mother was a schoolteacher in Glendora, California and the school principal was a member of the LDS Church. He was not obnoxious about it.
When a little girl in her class sharing time told about dressing in white and being baptized into the Mormon Church, mother asked the only LDS person she knew, her principal Bob Walker. She trusted him because he had always been fair and honest in dealing with her on other issues.
He asked if the Stake Missionaries could visit us and explain more. Mother agreed. They taught us the lessons and most of the family were soon baptized members of the church. I had to wait a few years until I turned eight years old. I started attending Primary and Sunday School.
Reading from the Book of Mormon
As part of our family tradition, mother read to me or had me read to her every night at bedtime. I have fond memories of Peter Rabbit and many other children’s books. About this time mother started reading the Book of Mormon in earnest and asked if I would like to read it with her.
Although I was only five years old in 1962, I remember reading the Book of Mormon with her every night for many months. We would alternate chapters. She would mark difficult words and the dates we read. I wish I still had that old copy of the Book of Mormon in the brown cover.
We would then have our nightly prayer together. I specifically remember the warm, sweet comfortable feelings I had as we read and prayed. Now you may say that I was just feeling the love of my mother, but I contest that it was the Spirit of the Lord that I was feeling.
Witnesses in my youth
We studied the Book of Mormon my first year in seminary during my High School years. I was the class president. The teacher challenged the students to put Moroni’s challenge to the test. I remember thinking I did not have to because I already knew the Book of Mormon was true.
Nevertheless, I recall kneeling in prayer one night after finishing my reading assignment. I thanked Heavenly Father for my seminary teacher and told him about the challenge. I then asked, “Is the Book of Mormon true?” The answer was immediate, but then I already knew.
I had the same experience in later years at college which I have written about previously. This revelatory experience was much more powerful and long-lasting. It was coupled with a burning desire to know my standing before the Lord and to know his will for me in my life.
Personal revelation is real
I wish that Google searches revealed more personal stories of other members of the LDS Church who have shared how they have felt the burning of the bosom in their lives. The experience is not unusual and, in fact is very common. The Holy Ghost can be our constant companion.
Yes, I know there are those members of the church who say they have never felt the burning of the bosom. Some of them have written about it extensively on the ex-Mormon sites. I do not doubt that some of their testimonies are real to them. Mine is real to me. I have felt it.
Sometimes we forget about the rest of the promise as found in Moroni 10:5 – “And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.” I find that to be one of the best parts of the promise. We can ask God to confirm any truth to us, not just the Book of Mormon.
Summary and conclusion
To Babs, who wrote in the comments on my post on Multiple versions of the First Vision, “…you better be finding something more than a ‘burning in the bosom’ on which to hang your trust,” I say, sorry. I trust this burning in the bosom more than I trust anything else in my life.
The Holy Ghost is a wonderful guide. I am so grateful for this marvelous gift of the Holy Ghost that is promised to those who are baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This gift helps me to walk in the light, even in this sometimes cold and dark world.
I know the burning of the bosom is real. I have felt it many times. It is more than just a feeling. It is often accompanied by enlightenment and illumination. There is no doubt in my mind that God’s promises are real. This one as found in Moroni 10:4 is one of the best and sweetest.