18 O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead.
This prayer offered by Lamoni’s father, “who was king over all the land” (Alma 20:8), illustrates two principles:
- We don’t have to be sure that God exists before we begin praying to Him. We should be honest about where we stand. I admire the king’s frankness in admitting that he wasn’t sure there was a God, even as he spoke to God. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has taught, we don’t need to pretend to have faith that we don’t have. When a young man admitted to Elder Holland that he didn’t know the Church was true, but he believed it, Elder Holland praised him for “the honesty of his quest,” telling him that “belief is a precious word, an even more precious act, and he need never apologize for “only believing” (“Lord, I Believe,” General Conference, April 2013).
- If we want to draw closer to God, we need make commitments, even in advance of certainty. As Moroni taught, we receive a spiritual witness only after we choose to exercise our faith in Him (Ether 12:6). The king’s commitment in this prayer includes not only his willingness to publicly address God when he wasn’t sure there was a God, but also to publicly pledge to abandon his sins in order to know God. Moroni urged us to pray with “real intent” (Moroni 10:4). President Russell M. Nelson provided the following clarification: “‘Real intent’ means that one really intends to follow the divine direction given” in answer to our prayers (“Ask, Seek, Knock,” General Conference, October 2009).
Today, I will pray with sincerity and with real intent. I will be honest with Heavenly Father about my limitations, and I will commit to follow the guidance I receive from Him in response to my prayers.