Meridian Magazine editors highly recommend this article as particularly insightful on faith as a principle of power that can change our lives.

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In my life, I have witnessed many extraordinary acts of faith. I would like to single out one. Last summer, Jason, my son-in-law, had a strong feeling that he needed to immediately move his family from Florida to Utah. The feeling drove him to the temple, where, for six hours, he sat in the celestial room pondering and praying. When finally he received a confirmation, he returned home and began to make calls to secure employment.

Jason’s window of opportunity was four weeks; in just twenty-eight days, he would have to find a new job, sell or rent his house, and move his family. If he failed, he would have to wait until the end of the coming semester or perhaps as long as a year.

Clearly, the move would be no small feat-not in this economy. Jobs are scarce, particularly for teachers in Jason’s field. To compound the challenge, he would have to apply for a job long distance without the advantage of a face-to-face interview. Then there was the obstacle of selling the family home during a recession. The home was located in a depressed area of Florida, where few houses had moved for several years and unsold real estate inventory was high.

Undeterred, Jason began to make calls; he contacted everybody he knew, whether he thought they were in a position to help him find a job or not.

Imagine what Jason’s wife (Katie) was thinking while she watched her husband make plans to move the family. She went to her knees, and while pouring out her heart, she received an impression: Support your husband and his answer. Dutifully, she got up and went to work. “If we’re leaving in four weeks” she thought, “we had better get ready.” And that is precisely what she did! She began sorting through toys, clothes and other belongings in an effort to trim down to the bare essentials.

By the end of the third week, Jason had found no job opportunities in Utah. Moments like these are often when our faith folds, but Jason and Katie held firm. Then Monday morning, out of the blue, Jason received two employment opportunity calls. He interviewed by phone. Both potential employers said they would let him know by Thursday. After the interviews, Jason and Katie acted again in faith by boxing up their remaining belongings, selling their second car and extra furniture, and arranging for a moving truck.

On Wednesday, Jason was offered both jobs, plus a part-time adjunct professor position at BYU. He chose the job in Utah Valley and the BYU position. That same night, a single sister in their ward appeared on their doorstep asking if she could rent their house. On Friday, the moving truck loaded their belongings, and on Saturday, Jason, Katie and their three children headed for Utah. The following Monday, Jason began work in his new positions in Utah.

More than Belief

What is this faith that Joseph Smith called the first principle of action and power?[i] A common answer is faith is a strong belief. Respectfully, I disagree. According to President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., faith is “an intelligent force,” and belief is a means by which we access the power of that force. “Faith is not trust,” he said, “faith is a living, and I think an intelligent, force, by which God himself performs his work.”[ii]

On a later occasion, President Clark repeated his definition of faith and added a profound observation:

As I think about faith, this principle of power, I am obliged to believe that it is an intelligent force. Of what kind, I do not know. But it is superior to and overrules all other forces of which we know.[iii]

President Boyd K. Packer concurred, describing faith this way:

There are two kinds of faith. One of them functions ordinarily in the life of every soul. It is the kind of faith born by experience; it gives us certainty that a new day will dawn, that spring will come, that growth will take place. It is the kind of faith that relates us with confidence to that which is scheduled to happen….

There is another kind of faith, rare indeed. This is the kind of faith that causes things to happen. It is the kind of faith that is worthy and prepared and unyielding, and it calls forth things that otherwise would not be. It is the kind of faith that moves people. It is the kind of faith that sometimes moves things. Few men possess it. It comes by gradual growth. It is a marvelous, even a transcendent, power, a power as real and as invisible as electricity. Directed and channeled, it has great effect….

In a world filled with skepticism and doubt, the expression “seeing is believing” promotes the attitude, “You show me, and I will believe.” We want all of the proof and all of the evidence first. It seems hard to take things on faith.

When will we learn that in spiritual things it works the other way about–that believing is seeing?[iv]

Notice the descriptive phrases of these two prophets:

  • a living…intelligent force by which God himself performs His work
  • “superior to and overrules all other forces of which we know”
  • “causes things to happen”
  • “calls forth things that otherwise would not be”
  • “moves people”
  • “moves things”
  • “a marvelous, even a transcendent, power, a power as real and as invisible as electricity”

Harnessing the Power of This Intelligent Force

That faith is “an intelligent force” “as real and as invisible as electricity” shatters the notion that faith is merely strong belief. Faith is so much more than “the power of positive thinking or a great exertion of emotion.”[v]

Imagine that faith as electricity and belief as the electrical plug that taps into that power. Belief would motivate you to take the action of plugging in to access the power of electricity. Then voila!-all the lights would go on! Energy would surge! Suddenly, you would have power to do or create things!

Clearly, belief is essential to connect to the intelligent force of faith: “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”[vi] The opposite is true of unbelief:

And the reason why [God] ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust. Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.[vii]

Joseph Smith made another observation about faith. He taught that the mind of Man is the mechanism that accesses and harnesses this intelligent force. The mind is the organ of creation, and words, he said, are what set faith in motion.

Thoughts and words–specifically authoritative words-unleash faith’s tremendous power.

What are we to understand by a man’s working by faith? We answer–we understand that when a man works by faith he works by mental exertion instead of physical force.It is by words, instead of exerting his physical powers, with which every being works when he works by faith.[viii]

God has constructed the mind of Man to mimic His own: “the development of the mind of man…is after the order of the mind of God.”[ix] That is, God has fashioned Man’s mind to be the organ that contemplates and initiates all creation. The mind has the capacity to envision something that does not yet physically exist, then tap into the power of faith and cause things to manifest. This Godlike ability is a creative phenomenon of the mind that is often called “seeing with the eye of faith.”[x] The mind can “[look] forward with an eye of faith to [harvest] the fruit thereof.”[xi]

Hope is another word that describes the mind’s capability to envision and create. Alma explained the connection between hope, faith and creation: “And now as I said concerning faith–faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.”[xii]

The mind of Man, blessed with the DNA of Deity, is able to envision futuristic, substantive things. The mind sees through eyes of hope; it gathers evidence about things not yet visible[xiii] that reside in Man’s future. The mind’s power to envision or to foresee allows Man to garner courage to declare with words what he hopes for and sees in his mind’s eye. But the use of words implies more than a wish or an observation of the future. The use of words must contemplate taking a stand and making a promise; that is, Man must place his integrity on the line that he will succeed. “I will go and do,” Nephi declared.[xiv]

Thus begins the process of creation. The intelligent force of faith perceives then responds to the mind’s vision and Man’s declaration. Like plugging into an electrical socket, faith infuses energy into the vision to begin the process of making the declared thought a reality. Then things and people commence to move, resources start to gather, and the creation begins to take shape. The Gods have perfected the process. Faith “is the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal as well as eternal things.”[xv] And so can faith become for us.

Jason and Katie envisioned the future as vividly as if they were recalling a memory, and that future recollection gave them power to act in the present and cause their future to manifest in the physical world. Faith, someone said, is acting as if you had knowledge. Jason and Katie acted as if they had knowledge of the future, and by so doing, they tapped into the power of the intelligent force of faith.

Mormon said it this way: “Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken;…their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually.”[xvi] Such people have “power given them to do all things by faith.”[xvii]

Creation Gone Awry

However, because there is an “opposition in all things,”[xviii] faith, as it is defined as an intelligent force, can work against us. This idea might seem counterintuitive, but it is nevertheless true. No child of God can escape the fact that his/her mind is a creative organ patterned after the mind of God. By its construction, the mind is always creating its present and future realities. Every thought-absolutely every good and bad thought-that issues forth from the mind of Man initiates a respective creation. Understanding that negative thoughts create destructive realities, King Benjamin warned,

But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.[xix]

As children of God, we are independent agents, endowed with the ability to choose the ways we think, speak and act. Consequently, substantially everything that exists in our world is of our own creation. We are not always as victimized as we would believe. As creators, we are responsible for our personal reality. Whether we like it or not, the thoughts we think and the words we say instantaneously plug into the intelligent force of faith and commence a creative process that will manifest physically, unless we counter with new thoughts and new words.

Little wonder, then, that “we shall be judged by our thoughts, our words and our deeds.”[xx] Invariably, they form our reality. Of the mind’s ability to create both good and bad realities, Elder Orson Hyde taught:

Let the mind be concentrated, and it possesses almighty power. It is the agent of the Almighty clothed with mortal tabernacles, and we must learn to discipline it, and bring it to bear on one point, and not allow the Devil to interfere and confuse it, nor divert it from the great object we have in view…. If a person trains his mind to walk in the spirit, and brings his whole mind to bear upon its operations, and upon the principles of faith which are calculated to put him in possession of the power of God, how much greater will be his facilities for obtaining knowledge than those which any natural man possesses.[xxi]

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

Hope and Faith

Faith typically is accessed by a desire or hope: “If there must be faith there must also be hope.”[xxii] Like a seed, hope embeds in our soul when we are introduced to something that piques our interest. “Faith cometh by hearing.”[xxiii] The seed of hope is discernable, almost tangible, and we react favorably to it. Alma described the sensation as “delicious.”[xxiv]

When we nourish the seed with even a “particle of faith,” it has power to grow into a great tree that bears abundant fruit. Therefore, Alma encouraged us to immediately embrace the tiny seed of hope or desire: “yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you.”[xxv]

As the tiny seedling takes root in the soul, we sense beneath the surface subtle vibrations of new life. These “swelling motions”[xxvi] cause our vision of a bounteous harvest to increase. The vision motivates us to nurture the seed and stay the course of hope. As time passes, our vision of future success becomes more real and detailed. Although we “hope for things which are not seen,” in a remarkable way, we can see them; they “are true.”[xxvii] “Believing is seeing![xxviii]

Now that the creative process is fully engaged, the only way that the creation will fail is if we unplug from the intelligent force of faith and interrupt the flow of energy.

Alma warned

But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.

Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof.

And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.[xxix]

Declarations, Envisioning and Emotionalizing

Hope-filled thoughts and hope-filled declarations are powerful creative devices. Reggie Brooks, a motivational speaker, who teaches the power of the mind, points to studies that demonstrate exponential creative power when declarations are coupled with envisioning and emotionalizing.[xxx] Assuming that the seed of hope is now planted in your soul, Brooks lists the following three steps:

  1. Declare. If you declare your goal-take a stand and make a vow to succeed–you have a 10% chance that your goal will manifest, even if you do nothing but make the declaration. If you precede your declaration by expressing gratitude and making a formal request of God, the chance for success increases.
  2. Envision. Then if you focus your attention so that you envision your goal-that is, if you envision your goal with an “eye of faith” -you have a 55% chance that your goal will manifest, even if you do nothing but declare and envision. The act of “seeing” is using your imagination to visualize the future and view “things which are [yet] not seen, which are true.”[xxxi]
  3. Emotionalize. Finally, if you engage your other senses to emotionalize your goal, you have a 100% chance that you will achieve it. Beyond envisioning your futuristic goal, you are also imagining what you experience by tasting it, touching it, smelling it and hearing it. In other words, you are making your goal so real that you will recognize it when it becomes a physical reality. Alma the Younger described emotionalizing this way: “Behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves–It must needs be that this is a good seed…for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.”[xxxii] Of course, emotionalizing suggests engaging the entire soul to take action to achieve your goal; otherwise, the exercise is futile, because “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”[xxxiii]

Father Alma laced his description of future judgment with language of visualizing and emotionalizing: “Do you look forward with an eye of faith… I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord…. Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord…. Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God….I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances? I say unto you, can ye think…? …. how will any of you feel…?[xxxiv]

Consider how God and prophets have learned to harness the power of faith with thoughts and words. “There is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take in his heart to do but what he will do it.”[xxxv] “God said, ‘Let there be light: and there was light.’ Joshua spake, and the great lights which God had created stood still. Elijah commanded, and the heavens were stayed for the space of three years and six months, so that it did not rain…. All this was done by faith…. Faith, then, works by words; and with [words] its mightiest works have been, and will be, performed.”[xxxvi]

But negative results can also take shape around declaring, envisioning and emotionalizing.

  • Declare. If you declare negative things, and if you compound those negative declarations with murmuring, the chances are good that a negative reality will begin to form up.
  • Envision. Then if you envision a negative future and you allow your imagination to migrate to dark places, the chances of manifesting a negative future increase almost six-fold.
  • Emotionalize. Finally, if you add negative emotional responses to your negative declarations and negative imaginings, in other words, if you succumb to depression or become despondent, critical or cynical, or if you emotionalize the present or future with any number of negative emotional patterns, you have a 100% chance of creating a nightmare.

The intelligent force of faith is impartial; it will create whatever you declare, envision and emotionalize. It has no choice. Like electricity, it can be used to create the good and bad conceived in the mind of the creator. The intelligent force of faith is the indiscriminant tool of the creative mind of Man.

Planting a Garden

As an example of the creative power of faith, let’s imagine that you desire to plant a garden. How would you plug into the intelligent force of faith to make your desire a reality?

  1. Declare your hope or desire. “I am going to plant a garden.”
  2. Envision what the garden will look like at every stage. “I can imagine in my mind the red tomatoes, the tall yellow corn, the plump butternut squash, and the rows of green beans and crimson radishes.
  3. Emotionalize the results; involve all the senses. “I can imagine rising early on an August morning when the dew glistens on my tall tomato plants. I reach for one and hear the snap as I pluck it from the vine. I squeeze it gently to test its ripeness. Then I lift it to my nose and smell its distinct aroma. I take a tiny taste. It is both tart and delicious. The meat is crab-red and firm. The flavor invites me to take another generous bite, and as I do so, juice spills onto my chin.”
  4. Move toward your desire and vision. “I’m going to plant my garden!” And surely, the garden will take shape, just as you have declared, envisioned, and sensed. Mormon said: “According to their faith, it was done unto them.”[xxxvii]
  5. Following this pattern gives us confidence to work by the power of faith. But we “don’t go out and try to move mountains” right away, taught Bruce R. McConkie. Rather, we “start in a small degree to do the things that [we] need to do…to get what [we] ought to have temporally and spiritually…and by degrees [our] power or influence will increase until eventually, in this world or the next, [we] will say to the Mt. Zerins [see Ether 12:30] in [our] life ‘Be thou removed,’ {We] will say to whatever encumbers [our] course of eternal progress, ‘Depart,’ and it will be so.'”[xxxviii] Such is the undiscovered power of faith.

    Faith and the Name of Jesus Christ

    If faith “works by words,”[xxxix] as Joseph Smith taught, no words carry more weight than Jesus Christ.

    Thus, we are instructed to not only believe in Him,[xl] but also in His name.

    When we enter into the new and everlasting covenant through baptism, we begin the process of taking upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. Worthy men take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ again when they are ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood.[xlii] Both men and women take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ yet again and more fully in the temple.[xliii]

    The new and everlasting covenant allows us the right to yoke to Jesus and make our requests and declarations in His name. When, with reverent permission, we invoke the authoritative words of Jesus Christ, we tap into the great intelligent force of faith and creation ensues, which has always been the pattern.

    Imagine receiving an impression from the Holy Ghost, not as “a perfect knowledge of things,”[xliv] but rather as a seed of an idea. You desire to infuse the power of faith into the seed to help it grow. You begin by expressing gratitude for what you have received, then you ask to see the future of the seed through your mind’s eye of faith. The envisioning process, as guided by the Holy Ghost, is called prophecy. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”[xlv]Now you ask for permission to invoke the name of Jesus Christ, then you boldly declare in the name of Jesus Christ what you see and your intention to pursue a course of action that will manifest your vision. And most certainly, the future we have contemplated will form up.

    Ours is the covenantal right to use the same “word of God”-Jesus Christ-that the “Word of God”[xlvi] employed to create everything in the immense sidereal heavens. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.”[xlvii] The power of faith when unleashed by the word of God is immeasurable. The Book of Mormon prophet, Jacob, exulted that brethren in his day were able to “command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey[ed them].”[xlviii] If our purpose is based on truth, as taught us by the Holy Ghost, the elements must obey! “God spake, chaos heard, and worlds came into order by reason of the faith there was in him. So with man also.”[xlix]

    Faith and Other Authoritative Words

    There are other authoritative words that access the intelligent force of faith, which, when coupled with the name of Jesus Christ, are matchless in power. We learn these words and use them only in holy temples. Consider the power that Enoch achieved when he tapped into the force of faith by means of authoritative words:

    And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.[l]

    Faith-The Tool of the Gods

    Faith is the intelligent force by which the Gods work. Consequently, because we are children of and apprentices to God, we are placed in this mortal experience, which is designed to help us discover and live by the principles that govern faith. When we find ourselves lacking, cognizant of the fact that faith is the only power that can change our circumstances or create another reality, we appeal to God to access His greater level of faith: “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief.”[li]

    The request for divine intervention summons grace, the enabling power to become more than we are and receive more than we have. When grace adds faith to ours, the resulting faith is sufficient to set in motion a creative process that will result in a miracle.

    “Earth life,” wrote Catherine Thomas, “has been configured in such a way as to present each person with the dilemmas he particularly needs in order to grow in the power of Faith. The Lord has set out to perfect us and, since we don’t develop in a vacuum, He provides a laboratory with problems to work on. Through the solving of problems with the Lord’s help, a person takes on the powers and attributes of God Himself: ‘When men begin to live by faith they begin to draw near to God; and when faith is perfected, they are like him.'”[lii]


    God has endowed us with a mind like His own. This organ of creation has but to think a positive or negative thought and it immediately connects to the intelligent force called faith, which permeates the universe. When we speak words in the form of a declaration or a promise, we add fuel to faith’s power, and when, by permission, we speak authoritative words, which are the words that formed every creation, we energize the power of faith so that it becomes immense. Finally, when we emotionalize our thoughts and declarations and if our goal is based on truth, our power in faith is immeasurable.

    Elder Gene R. Cook wrote: “All you need to be a God is in you right now. Your job is to take those crude elements within you and refine them.”… In other words, the Lord is saying, ‘Take the reins. Take charge under the direction of my Spirit. Don’t wait for someone to tell you everything to do.’ … You prevail over people, things, and situations by your faith.”[liii]

    If we stay the course, substantially every thought that we think or see in our mind’s eye and each declaration that we make, will find fruition. The Lord declared of the Man of faith,  “Wherefore, he is possessor of all things; for all things are subject unto him, both in heaven and on the earth, the life and the light, the Spirit and the power, sent forth by the will of the Father through Jesus Christ, his Son.”[liv]

    Such is the power of the glorious, intelligent force of faith.

    Author’s Note

    Meridian readers can receive a free gift of my Zion series. To receive your free PDF copies of this 8-book series on Zion, click here.


    [i] Lectures on Faith, 1.

    [ii] Conference Report, October 1954, 39.

    [iii] Conference Report, April 1960, 21.

    [iv] Boyd K. Packer, Faith, 42, emphasis added.

    [v] Catherine Thomas, Light in the Wilderness, 246.

    [vi] Mark 9:23.

    [vii] Mormon 9:20-21.

    [viii] Lectures on Faith 7.

    [ix] Anthony W. Ivins., Conference Report, October 1917, 66-67.

    [x] Alma 5:15; 32:40; Ether 12:19.

    [xi] Alma 32:40.

    [xii] Alma 32:21, emphasis added.

    [xiii] Hebrews 11:1.

    [xiv] 1 Nephi 3:7.

    [xv] Lectures on Faith 1.

    [xvi] Alma 57:27.

    [xvii] 2 Nephi 1:10.

    [xviii] 2 Nephi 2:11.

    [xix] Mosiah 4:30, emphasis added.

    [xx] Bruce R. McConkie, “Think on These Things”, Ensign (CR), January 1974, 45.

    [xxi] Journal of Discourses 7:153, 155-56.

    [xxii] Moroni 10:20.

    [xxiii] Romans 10:17.

    [xxiv] Alma 32:28.

    [xxv] Alma 32:27.

    [xxvi] Alma 32:28.

    [xxvii] Alma 32:21.

    [xxviii] Boyd K. Packer, Faith, 42, emphasis added.

    [xxix] Alma 32:38-40.

    [xxx] Brooks, Reggie, From Poverty to Prosperity, Power Publishing LLC, 53-76.

    [xxxi] Alma 32:21, emphasis added.

    [xxxii] Alma 32:28, emphasis added.

    [xxxiii] James 2:17.

    [xxxiv] Alma 5:15-22.

    [xxxv] Abraham 3:17.

    [xxxvi] Lectures on Faith 7.

    [xxxvii] Alma 57:21.

    [xxxviii] “Lord, Increase Our Faith,” BYU Speeches of the Year, 31 October 1967, 9, 11.

    [xxxix] Lectures on Faith 7.

    [xl] 2 Nephi 25:23.

    [xli] D&C 35:2.

    [xlii] Abraham 1:18.

    [xliii] “Taking upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, May 1985.

    [xliv] Alma 32:21.

    [xlv] JST Hebrew 1:1.

    [xlvi] John 1:1.

    [xlvii] Hebrews 11:3.

    [xlviii] Jacob 4:6.

    [xlix] Lectures on Faith 1.

    [l] Moses 7:13, emphasis added.

    [li] Mark 9:24.

    [lii] Catherine Thomas, Light in the Wilderness, 247, quoting Lectures on Faith 7.

    [liii] Gene R. Cook, Living by the Power of Faith, 89-92.

    [liv] D&C 50:27.