Giving Faith the Benefit of the Doubt
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Young Adults

Giving Faith the Benefit of the Doubt

When we have unanswered questions, we can choose faith.

Young woman reading her scriptures

Photograph by Judith Ann Beck

A few years ago, I knelt to pray for the first time in my life. Earlier that day, I had had my first meeting with the missionaries, and they shared the message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and gifted me a Book of Mormon.

Presented with my first opportunity to ask my Heavenly Father any question at all, I didn’t ask if any of what I had heard or read was true. I also didn’t ask Him about the confusing and worrisome rumors I had heard about the Church from popular culture.

Instead, I begged Heavenly Father to bless me with the desire to know that what the missionaries were telling me was true.

And through that prayer, I was led to the truth—that the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ really had been restored to the earth again.

Deepening Faith

President Russell M. Nelson described faith as “the greatest power available to us in this life.” 1 Regardless of when we joined the Church of Jesus Christ, it’s likely we have had questions or inklings of doubts that have interfered with our ability to access that power of faith President Nelson described.

But questions don’t have to limit our faith. Questions can become wonderful spiritual building blocks that strengthen our testimonies if we embrace them as opportunities to deepen and exercise our faith.

Here are five steps that have helped me give faith the benefit of the doubt in the face of questions:

1. Begin with Desire

The prayer I offered after meeting with the missionaries was my first, but it was definitely not my last. The question I asked made all the difference in my pursuit of faith—it began with my simple desire to believe. Praying for the desire to believe increases our faith that our questions can and will be answered (see Alma 32:27).

2. Understand Your Identity

The most important truth to know when we are seeking answers and greater faith is that we are deeply loved children of heavenly parents. God has our best interests at heart. He wants to guide us. Understanding our relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ helps us want to unite our will with Theirs and know what questions to ask.

3. Be Patient

I’ve asked so many questions through prayer, and I’ve received answers to every one of them—even if the answers were just simple, comforting messages from the Spirit telling me to have patience. We may not receive direct answers right away or even in this life. Sometimes we may need time to grow before we are ready to hear the answers. But “we do not have to find answers to every question in order to receive a testimony and stand as a witness of the truth.” 2 Heavenly Father will provide answers in His perfect timing.

4. Give Power to Faith—Not Doubt

In the months following my first meeting with the missionaries, I faced opposition and questions that threatened my fledgling testimony. I prayed for the desire not just to believe in God but to believe Him. Instead of us focusing on our doubts or questions, Heavenly Father can give us opportunities to “exercise a particle of faith” (Alma 32:27). These opportunities can only come if we have faith and willingly trust Him instead of looking for reasons to doubt Him. As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught, “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” 3

5. Choose to Believe

If you have questions that are troubling you, don’t put your concerns on the shelf and let them fester. Act in faith. Actively seek answers. President Nelson counseled: “If you have doubts … choose to believe and stay faithful. Take your questions to the Lord and to other faithful sources. Study with the desire to believe. … Stop increasing your doubts by rehearsing them with other doubters. Allow the Lord to lead you on your journey of spiritual discovery.” 4

Be willing to let Him guide you. You might have to wait for answers or accept answers from Heavenly Father that aren’t quite what you expected. But no matter where you might be in your journey of faith, Heavenly Father will guide you and provide you with joy as you continue to choose to believe.