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Have you ever heard a story about someone praying for a testimony in the MTC?

The beats of the story are familiar. Someone without a strong testimony decides to serve a mission. They want a testimony badly. They pray about the Book of Mormon or the Church. Then they are given a testimony. Like a little present with a bow on top.

We frame testimonies like this a lot. If we work hard enough, and have enough desire, we will be given a testimony. It’s time to stop.

What is a Testimony?

A testimony is essentially a list of those things we have faith in.

But faith is distinct from belief. Faith is how we live our lives, not how much we believe in things.

Take the story in Mark chapter nine. A father with an ill child comes to Christ. As with many of his miracles, Christ explained that faith was necessary for the miracle to occur. The father said, “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.”  Christ performed the miracle, and the boy was healed.

But if faith was required, how could the unbelieving father produce a miracle? Because his belief or unbelief was entirely irrelevant to his faith. The father behaved as though Christ could perform the miracle, so he had faith.

We demonstrate faith in a principle when we live our life as if it were true, even if intellectually we may have serious reservations.  In other words, our testimony is the set of principles upon which we base our decisions.  A testimony is not the spiritual experiences or insights that led us to choose those principles.

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