48 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.
I’ve always thought of this verse as describing an event, not a process. The main actions–we pray, and the Father fills us with His love–sounded to me like something that happens all at once, like Enos’s prayer for forgiveness or Alma the Younger’s conversion.
But after studying charity for the last two weeks, this verse doesn’t sound so immediate to me. Pondering it today, I envision a series of heartfelt prayers over time which invite the Holy Ghost into our lives. The Holy Ghost purges us, sanctifies us, and makes us like our Heavenly Father, so that in the end, “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” That doesn’t sound to me like something that happens all at once, but I do believe that, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, it can happen over time. In fact, when John described this process in the New Testament, he made it clear that our current selves fall short of the eventual goal:
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure (1 John 3:2-3).
Today, I will pray for the gift of charity, not because I expect to receive it immediately, but because I believe that I can gradually receive it with sustained prayers over time.