This past Sunday, Elder David A. Bednar taught us about the central role of our hearts in the gospel of Jesus Christ:
The word heart is used over 1,000 times in the standard works. This simple but significant word often denotes the inner feelings of an individual. Our hearts—the sum total of our desires, affections, intentions, motives, and attitudes—define who we are and determine what we will become. And the essence of the Lord’s work is changing, turning, and purifying hearts through gospel covenants and priesthood ordinances.
(“Let This House Be Built unto My Name,” General Conference, April 2020)
Anciently, the prophet Ezekiel described this process as the replacement of a “stony heart”—an uncaring, insensitive heart—with “an heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
After the people of King Benjamin heard him preach about the Savior, they prayed for forgiveness of their sins and for their hearts to be purified (Mosiah 4:2). Afterward, they testified that their hearts had been changed, that they had no more desire to do evil (Mosiah 5:2).
About 40 years later, Alma the Younger reminded the people of Zarahemla that his father and the people who followed him had been delivered from captivity. Here is how he described what God did for them:
Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word…and their souls did expand, and they did bsing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.
(Alma 5:7, 9)
After King Lamoni, his family, and his servants were converted by the preaching of Alma’s friend Ammon, they testified to their people what had happened—”and they did all declare unto the people the selfsame thing—that their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil (Alma 19:33).
Of course, as Elder Dale G. Renlund has reminded us, “even new hearts may be ‘prone to wander, … prone to leave the God [we] love” (“Consider the Goodness and Greatness of God,” General Conference, April 2020). Perhaps that is why Alma asked the people who had experienced a change of heart, “Can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26) Perhaps that’s why King Benjamin taught his people how to “retain a remission of [their] sins” (Mosiah 4:11-12) and then “
Today, I will ask God to help me align my desires with what I know is right. I will also ask Him to help me retain the changes I experience over time.