Viewpoint: Strengthen Your Spiritual Foundation
- If our faith is not built upon a deep and firm foundation, it cannot withstand the storms of life.
- Prayer, scriptures, and service are all key ways to strengthen your spiritual foundation.
“In the struggles of mortality, we are never left alone to accomplish our work, to fight our battles, to face adversity or unanswered questions. … Prayer is a gift from God. We need never feel lost or alone.” —Carol F. McConkie of the Young Women General Presidency
In 1959, not long after President Thomas S. Monson began his service as president of the Canadian Mission headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, he met with then-stake president and prominent Canadian N. Eldon Tanner. At the time, President Tanner was president of the vast Trans-Canada Pipelines, Ltd., and was serving in the Canada Calgary Stake.
During their meeting, the two men began discussing the cold Canadian winters that bring raging storms, icy winds, and lingering cold temperatures.
“I asked President Tanner why the roads and highways in western Canada basically remained intact during such winters, showing little or no signs of cracking or breaking, while the road surfaces in many areas where winters are less cold and less severe developed cracks and breaks and potholes,” President Monson recalled.
President Tanner responded by saying: “The answer is in the depth of the base of the paving materials. In order for them to remain strong and unbroken, it is necessary to go very deep with the foundation layers. When the foundations are not deep enough, the surfaces cannot withstand the extremes of weather.”
Years later, in the October 2006 general conference, President Monson recounted this story and said: “Over the years I have thought often of this conversation and of President Tanner’s explanation, for I recognize in his words a profound application for our lives.
“Stated simply, if we do not have a deep foundation of faith and a solid testimony of truth, we may have difficulty withstanding the harsh storms and icy winds of adversity which inevitably come to each of us.”
Mortality is a period of testing, filled with challenges and difficulties. “These can break us, and the surface of our souls may crack and crumble—that is, if our foundations of faith, our testimonies of truth, are not deeply embedded within us,” President Monson said.
How does a person fortify his or her faith so he or she won’t crumble when the harsh winters come? How must one build a foundation strong enough to withstand the vicissitudes of life?
With many responsibilities competing for our time—including work, school, home, and family—a constant, steady effort is necessary. By prioritizing the simple yet powerful daily actions that build a strong foundation, a person is able to fortify his or her faith and gain—and maintain—the foundation needed to stay strong amid the storms of life.
President Monson shared three guidelines to help individuals on their quest.
Strength from prayer
First, individuals must fortify their foundation through prayer. During general conference in October 2016, Sister Carol F. McConkie of the Young Women General Presidency said: “In the struggles of mortality, we are never left alone to accomplish our work, to fight our battles, to face adversity or unanswered questions. … Prayer is a gift from God. We need never feel lost or alone.”
Prayer is essential to developing faith. Although the answers received in prayer may not always be the answers hoped for, prayer—especially in times of trouble—becomes a lifeline of love and tender mercy.
“Let us pray with sincerity and meaning, offering our thanks and asking for those things we feel we need,” President Monson taught. “Let us listen for His answers, that we may recognize them when they come. As we do, we will be strengthened and blessed. We will come to know Him and His desires for our lives. By knowing Him, by trusting His will, our foundations of faith will be strengthened.”
Strength from the scriptures
Second, fortification comes through reading the scriptures. The Lord counsels us in Joshua 1:8 to “meditate therein day and night.”
“Spending time each day in scripture study will, without doubt, strengthen our foundations of faith and our testimonies of truth,” taught President Monson. The truths found in the Book of Mormon “uplift and inspire.”
“They will strengthen your faith, fill your soul with light, and prepare you for a future you scarcely have the ability to comprehend,” said Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the October 2016 general conference. “Within the book’s pages, you will discover the infinite love and incomprehensible grace of God. As you strive to follow the teachings you find there, your joy will expand, your understanding will increase, and the answers you seek to the many challenges mortality presents will be opened to you. As you look to the book, you look to the Lord” (“Look to the Book, Look to the Lord”).
Strength from service
The last building block to a strong foundation of faith and testimony, President Monson taught, is service. In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin teaches his people that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).
“Along your pathway of life you will observe that you are not the only traveler,” President Monson said. “There are others who need your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save.”
It is through “looking outward” that a person is able to strengthen his or her own faith and find peace of mind and happiness.
“I believe there is one simple but profound—even sublime—principle that encompasses the entirety of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said during the April 2011 general conference. “If we wholeheartedly embrace this principle and make it the focus of our lives, it will purify and sanctify us so we can live once again in the presence of God. … It is only when we love God and Christ with all of our hearts, souls, and minds that we are able to share this love with our neighbors through acts of kindness and service—the way that the Savior would love and serve all of us if He were among us today.”
As stated in the hymn “How Firm a Foundation,” Heavenly Father promises He will help as individuals try to establish a firm foundation in their own lives:
“In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.
“Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.”
May we look to Him for guidance so when “winters” come, we will have a firm foundation to withstand even the harshest conditions.