Nephi tells us near the end of his writings that we can receive the Holy Ghost by following the Son “with full purpose of heart.” He goes on to clarify his meaning: “acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent” (2 Nephi 31:13).
In subsequent passages, Jacob and Limhi use the same phrase to describe the attitude we should have as we turn to God for help (Jacob 6:5, Mosiah 7:33). The Savior Himself used the phrase three times during His visit to the American continent, including this explanation for why we should not exclude unworthy people from our worship services:
The phrase “full purpose of heart” does not appear in the Bible. But in the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior taught the same principle. He said that, if our eye is single, our whole body will be full of light (Matthew 6:22, 3 Nephi 13:22). The Greek word translated “single” in that passage is haplous (ἁπλοῦς), which means literally “unfolded.” In other words, if we have no other agenda, if we hold nothing back, if we are willing to “unfold” ourselves before God and hide nothing, then the light of the gospel can flow into our lives.
The Savior wants to bless us. He wants us to turn our hearts to Him. But He can’t work with half a heart. If we hold back part, if we commit partially, we may not be able to receive the blessings He is trying to give us.
Elder Patrick Kearon has encouraged us to set aside the things that prevent us from giving our whole hearts to God:
We find healing and relief only when we bring ourselves to the feet of the Great Physician, our Savior, Jesus Christ. We must lay down our weapons of rebellion (and we each know what they are). We must lay down our sin, vanity, and pride. We must give up our desires to follow the world and to be respected and lauded by the world. We must cease fighting against God and instead give our whole hearts to Him, holding nothing back. Then He can heal us. Then He can cleanse us from the venomous sting of sin (“Come unto Me with Full Purpose of Heart,” General Conference, October 2010).
Today, I will pray with “full purpose of heart.” I will bring my full heart to my communications with God, holding nothing back, willing to set anything that contradicts or distracts from my commitment to follow Him, unfolding myself before Him, so that I can receive His healing and cleansing power.