A Change of Heart: “Can Ye Feel So Now?”
June 2024

Come, Follow Me

Alma 5

A Change of Heart: “Can Ye Feel So Now?”

Lasting conversion can be ours as we remember the Lord and His goodness to us.

Alma the Younger posed these thought-provoking questions to the people in the city of Zarahemla:

“Have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? …

“And now behold, I say unto you, … if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:14, 26).

I grew up attending the Ogden First Ward in Ogden, Utah, USA. When I was about nine years old, our bishop (who was my father) started the testimony portion of a fast and testimony meeting by asking everyone in the congregation to bear their testimony. The meeting proceeded just as Dad had asked. Almost everyone in attendance stood and bore their testimonies.

church building in Ogden, Utah

The church building where Elder Hales attended the Ogden First Ward as a child.

Photographs courtesy of the author

This was a notable event for me. Every testimony was simple, to the point, and focused on what each person knew to be true about the Savior and His gospel. As far as I could tell, everyone could feel a distinct outpouring of the Spirit. Undoubtedly, I had felt the Spirit before, but the Spirit was present in a remarkable way that day. I felt a powerful witness of the truthfulness of the gospel. After all these years, I have never forgotten this experience when I felt the unity of the ward and the love of the Savior.

Whatever our first experiences receiving a confirming witness of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ might have been, we can greatly benefit from asking ourselves, “Can [we] feel so now?” and then making any necessary course corrections.

Do we remember what we experienced and felt when we accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and committed to serve Him and keep His commandments? Do we still feel “the Spirit of God like a fire … burning” in our bones? Are we still enthusiastic in our discipleship?

Remember and Repent

The Book of Mormon frequently counsels us to remember. Why? Because as we remember spiritual experiences and feelings, we will more likely have greater strength to avoid sin and to continue in our commitment to stay on the covenant path.

The Book of Mormon also offers great encouragement to repent. After observing the people’s need to repent, Alma explained the blessings of forgiveness available through the Savior’s Atonement and offered this message of hope, which applies to us today:

“Behold, [the Savior] sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.

“Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely;

“Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire. …

“Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ” (Alma 5:33–35, 38).

Love God and Neighbor

Alma continued his teachings by asking the people if they were stripped of pride and envy (see Alma 5:28–29). He also asked:

“Is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?

“Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!” (Alma 5:30–31).

President Russell M. Nelson has taught us about our obligation to treat others with love and respect and to avoid judgment and unkindness. He said:

“As recorded in the Book of Mormon, … the Savior invites ‘all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he [denies] none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God’ (2 Nephi 26:33). …

“… When a taunting Pharisee challenged [the Savior] to identify the greatest commandment in the law, the Savior’s response was most memorable and brief. It was filled with truth that leads to a joyful life. His instruction was first to love God with all our hearts and, then, to love our neighbors as ourselves (see Matthew 22:35–39).”

In addition, Alma’s words provide a powerful and straightforward message to not turn our backs upon the poor and needy (see Alma 5:55). Instead, we are to succor those who stand in need. This is crucial for us to retain a remission of our sins (see Mosiah 4:16–26) and to continue feeling the change the Savior has brought to our hearts.

Be Diligent in Personal Religious Practices

Our mortal experience requires that we walk by faith. At times we can become irritated. Family members and those we associate with may disappoint us. We may sometimes feel tired, faint, weary, and tempted on every side. Conditions in this world may cause us to wonder if indeed “the devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice” over our plight (3 Nephi 9:2). Given these situations and trials, particularly in these last days, our enthusiasm for living the gospel can wane if we are not diligent.

But we can follow basic religious practices to protect ourselves, even when life is hard. These personal religious practices are essential to strengthening our faith, maintaining our ability to resist temptation, and remembering our spiritual experiences. They help us grow spiritually and overcome Satan’s tactics.

The testimonies of two latter-day prophets on the blessings of two of these personal religious practices are noteworthy:

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) testified:

“One of the most important things you can do … is to immerse yourselves in the scriptures. Search them diligently. Feast upon the words of Christ. Learn the doctrine. Master the principles that are found therein. There are few other efforts that will bring greater dividends. … There are few other ways to gain greater inspiration. …

“… When individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly and consistently, … testimonies will increase. Commitment will be strengthened. Families will be fortified. Personal revelation will flow.”

In the October 2019 general conference leadership seminar, President Nelson said: “At the conclusion of last year’s October general conference, I urged the Saints to attend the temple regularly. Why? Because the assaults of the adversary are increasing exponentially, in intensity and variety. The need to be in the temple on a regular basis has never been greater. I promised then, and reiterate it now, that those who make an appointment regularly with the Lord—to be in His holy house—and keep that appointment, will receive miracles.”

The Blessings of a Changed Heart

Alma encouraged the people of Zarahemla to remember the captivity of those who came before them. He encouraged them to remember the Lord’s “mercy and long-suffering” toward their fathers and to remember that He “delivered their souls from hell” (Alma 5:6). Their fathers’ hearts were changed through the merits, mercy, and grace of Jesus Christ (see Alma 5:7; see also 2 Nephi 2:8). Those are blessings that we too can claim as we remember the Lord and His goodness to us.

As I remember that unique fast and testimony meeting from my childhood, the feelings I had and the seeds of testimony planted in my heart by the Holy Ghost help me want to be a better person now. When we follow Alma’s counsel by remembering our own spiritual experiences, faithfully adhering to our personal religious practices, and humbly pondering all the Savior has done for us, we strengthen our ability to honor our covenants and draw closer to Him.

young adults gathered in a chapel for an activity

Young adults gather for an activity in the chapel of the Ogden First Ward. Elder Hales’s mother (right side, third row, far left) and father (right side, second row, far right) attended the activity before their marriage in October 1949.


  1. “The Spirit of God,” Hymns, no. 2.

  2. Russell M. Nelson, “NAACP Convention Remarks” (delivered in Detroit, Michigan, July 21, 2019),

  3. Ezra Taft Benson, “The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 81.

  4. Russell M. Nelson, general conference leadership seminar, Oct. 2, 2019; used with permission.