Thursday Thoughts: Toward Greater Spirituality

The lesson came from two addresses: Elder Joe J. Christensen’s “Toward Greater Spirituality: Ten Important Steps” and Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s devotional address “Nourishing the Spirit.”

Elder Christensen said, “With spirituality, we are successful, and without it we are not. It is that simple! Spirituality is the sine qua non (the “without which, not”). It is not only the thoroughly genuine desire to live in harmony with the will of God at all times, as guided by the Spirit, but also the ability to surrender totally and willingly to this guidance—and thus to do that which the Spirit whispers. To be truly spiritual is to walk with God. It is the key to true happiness and success in our lives in all kinds of circumstances.”

President Brigham Young said, “There is no doubt, if a person lives according to the revelations given to God’s people, he may have the Spirit of the Lord to signify to him his will, and to guide and to direct him in the discharge of his duties, in his temporal as well as his spiritual exercises. I am satisfied, however, that in this respect, we live far beneath our privileges.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. and arr. by John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973, p. 32.)

Elder Christensen shared ten questions to help us determine the kinds of practical things we can do to increase our spirituality, and not live beneath our privileges.

1. Do I read the scriptures daily? President Kimball has said, “I find that when I get casual in my relationship with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.”

2. Do I really pray and not just say prayers? 

3. Is my fasting meaningful?

4. Do I go to bed early and get up early? If we want to receive the assistance of inspiration more regularly in our lives, we will follow the counsel to “cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” (D&C 88:124.)

This scriptural counsel is similar to that which President Marion G. Romney received as a newly called Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve from Elder Harold B. Lee, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve: “Go to bed early and get up early. If you do that, your body and mind will become rested and then in the quiet of those early morning hours, you will receive more flashes of insight and inspiration than at any other time of the day.”

5. Am I essentially a happy person? The Lord has indicated in scripture that we should be happy—“be of good cheer” (see Matt. 9:2Matt. 14:27;John 16:33Acts 23:113 Ne. 1:13D&C 61:36) and “lift up [our] heart[s] and rejoice (D&C 25:13).” If we by nature are not happy, something is wrong with us. We ought to find out what it is and correct it as soon as possible, because until we do, we will not enjoy the Spirit with us as much as if we were of good cheer. Developing an attitude of gratitude for our many blessings can be a giant step forward in fostering happiness.

6. Do I work hard? The Lord has confidence in us and in our abilities.

7. Am I more concerned about how rather than where I serve? If we are not careful, the “universal sin” of human pride can rob us of spirituality when we become more concerned about position and status (in or out of the Church) than about serving humbly.

8. Do I love everyone—even my enemies?

9. Am I striving to “become one” with what I know I ideally should be? As long as what we do in our actual lives is beneath the level where we know we should be, we rob ourselves of spirituality.

Jesus prayed over and over again that we who believe in him should become one as he and his Father are one. (John 17:11, 21–22.) Not only do the Father and the Son get along extremely well together, they know exactly what the ideal person ought to be—and that is exactly what they are. Our ultimate goal is to become like them. (Matt. 5:483 Ne. 27:27.) To get there we must apply the Atonement (“at-one-ment”) and by faith in Christ unto repentance change our lives to be more “at one” with what we ought to be. In the process, we must be willing to give up all our sins.

10. Do I share my testimony with others? As we bear testimony of the Savior and of the restoration of the gospel, the Holy Ghost confirms the truth of the message. Not only is the hearer blessed by the Spirit, but also we who share the testimony. Our testimonies are not static; they increase or decrease in intensity, and sharing them with others gives us a spiritual boost.


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