Before he died, Larry Barkdull had written a substantial part of an unfinished manuscript  about the extraordinary power of faith,  particularly as a power that causes things to happen. This is faith on a higher level than we usually practice and understand it. With the permission of his wife, Buffie, Meridian will be running an excerpt from this new book every week. See earlier articles in this series HERE and HERE.

The Mind is the Agent of the Almighty

As creators, we are responsible for our personal reality. Whether we like it or not, the thoughts we think, the words we say, the feelings we internalize and the actions that we take instantaneously plug into the intelligent force of faith and commence a creative process that will manifest physically, unless God intervenes or unless we counter with new thoughts, words, feelings and actions. Is it any wonder, then, that “we shall be judged by our thoughts, our words and our deeds”[1]?

Of the mind’s ability to form both good and bad futures, 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.[2]       

The scriptures refer to this concentrated effort as “having an eye single,”[3] or in other words, possessing the ability to maintain a focused vision of the goal that we see in our mind. It is to become firmly fixed on obtaining that goal and to be unwilling to collapse under the weight of distractions, setbacks or discouragements. Having an eye single is to exert wholehearted, unrelenting mental and physical effort to achieve our goal. The mind of Man is the center place of single-mindedness. The mind is where the creative energy of faith gathers and is unleashed; the mind is the creative “agent of the Almighty.” Of a truth, Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

Let us here reiterate that God’s children, who live in the present telestial state, do not possess unlimited ability to create with their thoughts, feelings, words and actions. That ability comes later, assuming that we achieve the highest level of resurrection. If every thought, feeling, word and action resulted in its perfect realization, our world would quickly implode and people around us would lose their agency. An overriding and merciful Will corrals our present creative ability and “holds the destinies of the nations and of all men; they are in His hand; He made the earth and controls the children of men upon it.” [4]

Mercifully, in many cases, God’s greater thoughts and faith counter our primitive thoughts and limited faith to save us from certain destruction. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”[5] The Lord has set boundaries that cannot be passed.[6] Nevertheless, the Lord allots unto us enough creative latitude to experiment with the power of faith so that we might experience the positive and negative consequences of our thoughts, words, emotions and actions. “He allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.”[7]

Envisioning, Declaring and Emotionalizing

Hope-filled thoughts and verbal declarations are powerful creative devices. Reggie Brooks, a motivational speaker who teaches the power of the mind, points to studies that demonstrate the mind’s amazing creative power. He states that our chances for success rise exponentially from ten percent to fifty percent then to nearly one hundred percent when we first envision then declare and finally emotionalize a goal.[8]

The act of envisioning is to use our imagination to visualize a future goal or reality that presently exists only in our mind. That is, we have a view of “things which are [yet] not seen, which are true.”[9] We could say that we envision our goal in our mind’s eye or we see it in our mind with an “eye of faith.” This act of seeing with the mind connects to the force of faith and begins a creative process that urges the goal to come to pass. According to Brooks, if we do nothing more than envision, the goal will manifest ten percent of the time.

The connection to faith becomes more sure when we boldly declare what weenvision, especially when we preface our declaration by expressing gratitude to God and making a formal request of him. Now, says Brooks, the possibility of the goal’s becoming a reality increases five-fold. Finally, Brooks states that if we engage our other senses to emotionalize the goal, we are almost assured of success. The connection to faith now becomes a weld, and the resulting actions carry enormous weight.

Emotionalizing goes beyond declaring and envisioning. To emotionalize is to imagine what we would experience with our senses when we finally come face-to-face with our goal. When we emotionalize, we summon an emotional response with sight, taste, touch, smell and sound. In other words, we are making our goal so real through our senses that we will recognize it when it manifests in the physical world. 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.”[10] Emotionalizing is not merely an exercise to arouse the senses; emotionalizing suggests that we engage the entire soul to take action to achieve our goal.

Understanding this, we begin to appreciate the unique construct of the human body. Substantially, every part of the body has been conceived by God to be a receiver and conveyer of faith, each part harmoniously united with other parts for the express purpose of creation. The body is the ideal home for the primal intelligence–that spark of divinity that was born a spirit child of God carrying divine DNA. The human body was fashioned so that the intelligence could exercise unlimited creative expression and explore the infinite boundaries of its potential.

Hence, the entire soul—the spirit and body of Man[11]—must be engaged to harness the limitless power of faith. To only believe and not envision, declare and emotionalize is futile. Likewise, to envision, declare and emotionalize without belief is fruitless. James taught this principle in his epistle: “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”[12] And the opposite is also true: faith is dead if we go through the motions without belief. Assuming that a person is dealing in truth, he might expect that his thoughts will exponentially manifest and become physical realities through the power of faith as he engages the totality of his being to envision, declare, emotionalize and take appropriate action.

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…?[13]

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

  • Envision. If we envision a negative future and we allow our imagination to migrate to dark places, the chances are good that a negative reality will begin to form up.
  • Declare. If we declare the negative future that we envision, and if we compound our negative declarations with murmuring, the chances of creating a negative future increase dramatically. 
  • Emotionalize. Finally, if we add negative emotional responses to our negative imaginings and declarations, in other words, if we wallow in dark thoughts, use negative, critical or cynical language, succumb to depression or despondency, or if we emotionalize our thoughts with any number of gloomy emotional responses, we are almost assured of creating a nightmare.

The intelligent force of faith is impartial; assuming that God does not intervene, the intelligent force wants to create whatever we envision, declare and emotionalize. It has no choice. Like electricity, it can be used to create either good or bad things that are conceived in the mind of its creator. Consider the following scripture: “Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you; And if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation.”[14]

The intelligent force of faith is the indiscriminant creative tool of the mind of Man.

Planting a Garden by Faith

Alma assigned living qualities to faith, comparing it to a seed that grows into “tree springing up unto eternal life.”[15] Utilizing Alma’s metaphor, let us imagine that we desire to plant a garden. How would we plug into the intelligent force of faith to make our desire a reality?

  • Envision what our garden will look like at every stage: “I can imagine sprouts bursting through the soil and becoming tender plants. I see them maturing until one day I will harvest red tomatoes, tall yellow corn, plump butternut squash, rows of green beans and crimson radishes.”
  • Declare our hope or desire: “I am going to plant a garden.”[16]
  • Emotionalize the results, involving all the senses: “I can imagine rising early on an August morning when the dew is glistening 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 bite into it. Its taste is tart and delicious. The meat is bright red and firm. The flavor invites me to take another generous bite, and as I do so, juice spills onto my chin.”
  • Take action to move toward our desire and vision: “I’m going to plant my garden today!” Most certainly, as we take action, our garden will take shape, just as we have envisioned, hoped for, declared and emotionalized. Mormon said, “According to their faith, it was done unto them.”[17]

The End of Faith

When God finished creating the Earth, he saw that everything he had made was “very good.”[18] Faith had fulfilled its purpose. Belief had transcended to knowledge; that is, God’s vision, which he had initially seen in his mind, had now fully manifested, therefore, the faith that God had applied to create his vision had come to an end. Of course, God continued to work by faith for other creative purposes, but with regard to this Earth, faith had done its job. It was “very good.”

Jesus linked the word good to God. “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.”[19] We could restate the concluding statement of the Genesis account of the Earth’s creation to read: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold it was very Godlike.” It was of God. When faith has completed its work, the result is “good;” the creative pattern of faith carries God’s signature.

The Brother of Jared exercised mighty faith in Jesus Christ until he rent the veil and saw the Lord face to face. The Lord declared, “Never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast.”[20] Then Moroni explained that the Brother of Jared “had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting.”[21] Is Moroni saying that the Brother of Jared no longer needed faith in his life? Of course not. The Brother of Jared continued to be a man of great faith, just as God is an exalted man of perfect faith. Moroni is simply stating that the Brother of Jared had exercised faith until it reached its perfect conclusion. The Brother of Jared had once seen the Lord in his mind’s eye, but now he saw the Lord with his physical eyes. What was once envisioned had now manifested, and faith in that vision was at an end. The result was “very good;” it was Godlike. What the Brother of Jared had planted in faith, he now was harvesting.

Returning to the metaphor of planting a garden by faith, we note that at every stage of creation, the motivating factor that holds us on course is an intense feeling of endearment for our vision: love. Paul said, “faith…worketh by love.”[22] Faith and love are inseparable: “Faith, hope, charity.”[23] Unless we feel passionately about our goal, we will not have power to hold firm until we achieve it. Without that depth of affection and commitment to our goal, we will become weary or disheartened and disconnect from the power of faith and never enjoy the harvest.

Following the pattern of faith—envision, hope, declare, emotionalize, take appropriate action and love–gives us confidence to work by the power of the intelligent force, and as we do, we increasingly gain more power to tackle more difficult challenges and accomplish greater goals. But “you don’t go out and try to move mountains [right away]”, taught Elder Bruce R. McConkie; rather, “you start in a small degree to do the thing you need to do in your life to get what you ought to have temporally and spiritually. . . . Work on the projects ahead, and when you have taken one step in the acquiring of faith, it will give you the assurance in your soul that you can go forward and take the next step, and by degrees your power or influence will increase until eventually, in this world or in the next, you will say to the Mt. Zerins in your life, ‘Be thou removed.’ You will say to whatever encumbers your course of eternal progress, ‘Depart,’ and it will be so.”[24]

Elder Gene R. Cook wrote: “You can decide what you want to have happen and then bring it to pass. Do you believe that? It is true.”[25]

Such is the power of the intelligent force we call faith.

[1] Bruce R. McConkie, “Think on These Things,” Conference Report, January 1974, 45.

[2] Journal of Discourses 7:153, 155-56, emphasis added.

[3] Mormon 8:15; D&C 4:5; 27:2; 55:1; 59:1; 82:19.

[4] Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, vol. 4:149.

[5] Isaiah 55:8.

[6] D&C 122:9.

[7] Alma 29:4.

[8] Brooks, Reggie, From Poverty to Prosperity, 53-76.

[9] Alma 32:21, emphasis added.

[10] Alma 32:28, emphasis added.

[11] D&C 88:15.

[12] James 2:17.

[13] Alma 5:15-22, emphasis added.

[14] D&C 88:64-65.

[15] Alma 32:28-41.

[16] Declarations of authoritative words can include priesthood blessings or counsel from authorized servants of God. These words can confirm our vision and act as a second witness of the vision we see in our mind’s eye.

[17] Alma 57:21.

[18] Genesis 1:31.

[19] Luke 18:18-19.

[20] Ether 3:9.

[21] Ether 3:19.

[22] Galatians 5:6.

[23] 1 Corinthians 13:13.

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

[25] Cook, Living by the Power of Faith, 94.