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The Fast Track to Light and Truth

Audio: "The Fast Track to Light and Truth"
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Are you a dreamer? Have you ever had a dream so vivid that you remember its details?

I usually do not remember my dreams, so when I do remember, I know there is a message for me.

A couple of years ago, I had one of those dreams. In this dream, Jesus Christ was lying on a stone bed in the tomb, as we see in some paintings. His body was covered with white linen. While reverently observing Him, I paid particular attention to His feet . . . because the fabric was not covering His feet. I thought of the symbolism of our feet and what they allow us to do. I came to have a greater sense of the urgency of the Lord’s work. To be ready to go, to work, and to do.

Now, we live in this wonderful season of the earth that every prophet has been talking about and prophesying about for centuries—the dispensation of the fullness of times. Our mission is to help prepare the children of God to receive Christ at His Second Coming! We are building a Zion society. And there is an urgency. The enemy wants us to go in slow motion, to be numb, or to pay attention to the less important things.

But we know that we are playing in the final game, and the coach has put in his best players.

Christ said, “I will hasten my work in its time.” [1]

In this last general conference, Elder Jeffery R. Holland spoke to us about being in intensive care for six weeks. During the first four weeks, he was in and out of consciousness. Doctors did not think he would survive. He said: “I cannot speak fully of that experience here, but I can say that part of what I received was an admonition to return to my ministry with more urgency, more consecration, more focus on the Savior, more faith in His word.” [2]

Do you remember when our dear prophet said: “Eat your vitamin pills. Get your rest. It’s going to be exciting!” [3] So, my invitation this morning is to take your vitamins and lace up your tennis shoes!

This is a wonderful time in your lives! You are studying, some of you are getting ready to serve the Lord by going on a mission. You are enjoying making new friends, dating, or getting married. Some of you are parents. You are serving the Lord in your wards or stakes and in the temple.

You are gathering God’s children to Him.

Now, what do we need to move forward? How can we feed our determination to do the will of God?

We need to have a firm foundation in Jesus Christ. We need to have faith in Him. We need to love Him.

We need light and truth.

How can we obtain light and truth?

Christ has determined many ways and sources for the children of men to come to Him for more light and truth:

The Father has sent angels to teach His word and called prophets who declare and write His will. And we have the blessing of living in a time of modern prophets.

And there is more! We have the light of Christ: Each of His children is born with a sense of what is right, a sense of justice and truth, and a desire to be loved and to love others. [4]

We know that we can approach the Father in sincere prayer, and He will answer us clearly and precisely in His own way and time.

We know that everything that proceeds from the Father is light and truth. [5] Everything that comes from the Holy Ghost will testify of the Father and Jesus Christ. [6] Even the nature that surrounds us testifies of Christ. [7]

Pay close attention to this promise from the Lord: “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” [8]

Anyone willing to observe, ponder, and ask will receive more light. As we persevere in seeking Christ with real intention, in constantly having Him in our thoughts, and in seeking divine direction, we will receive more light, and that light will illuminate our minds to make better choices and decisions. We will find purpose and direction in our lives.

Unless . . . we decide that we do not want to receive more. Yes, that is part of the agency each of us has. But if we make an effort to continue trying, we will be able to make a real difference, a profound difference in the way we align our will to the will of God. And we will discover for ourselves that Christ is the source of all:

  • Truth
  • Knowledge
  • Strength
  • Peace
  • Joy and
  • Love

My friends, the effort is worth it. We can train our will.

Today, let us focus on one of the tools we have to gain light and truth. I would like to share with you a great source of power and knowledge: fasting and prayer.

Isn’t it wonderful that we don't need anything to be able to fast and pray? Only the will to do it!

Of course, if health issues prevent you from fasting—you can still receive these blessings. It is between you and the Lord.

How merciful God is—how just—by giving all His children the same opportunities, regardless of our education, language, culture, or money. It is the same source of power and knowledge for everyone.

I’ve learned that fasting and praying give us:

  • Self-control
  • Gratitude
  • Generosity and
  • Submission

Among other things.

Let’s start with self-control.

President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Periodic fasting can help clear up the mind and strengthen the body and the Spirit” [9]

Does fasting improve self-control? After fasting for many years, I can testify that it does! In my case, my self-control grew little by little through the months and years. And I can tell you that as we refrain from eating and drinking for 24 hours once a month, we will notice an increase in our ability to refrain from harmful things, things that do not edify us and slow our progress. Things like gossiping, selfishness, lying, pornography, and other addictions.

As we gain self-control, we will be refining our character.

President Spencer W. Kimball stated, “Upon practicing the law of the fast, one finds a personal well-spring of power to overcome self-indulgence and selfishness.” [10]

Now let’s talk about gratitude.

When I was 13 years old, I had my first spiritual experience with fasting and prayer after a tough math test. Math was not my strongest subject, and I was afraid to fail. In Argentina, a grade of A is equivalent to a 10, and you need at least a 7 to pass your tests. It was the end of the semester, and I couldn't afford to score less than 7 on this math test. So, I put in my best effort; I remember practicing a lot at home, paying attention to the professor at school, and praying to Heavenly Father with all my heart to help me. Back then, we took tests on paper, and the teacher graded them with a red pen. When the professor handed back our tests, my friends received scores ranging from 1 to 4 . . . not a good sign! Then he handed me my test with the most beautiful red 7 I had ever seen in my life! I was so happy! It felt like a miracle. I wanted to show my gratitude to God, so for the first time in my life, I decided to fast consciously to give thanks for such a magnificent blessing. This experience was a turning point in my life.

Think about your own experiences. Do you have one in mind when you saw the power of God? What happens when we witness God’s power?

First, our hearts are overflowing with gratitude.

Second, our faith is strengthened.

Third, our desire to turn to the Father increases.

After my math test experience, I started fasting each month without my parents telling me. Why? Because I knew for myself.

Now I will invite my husband, Alin, to tell you about one of his experiences.

Alin Spannaus

Fasting has been a habit throughout my life. As part of that habit, I believe I have developed the ability to identify blessings that otherwise could look like simple consequences of some act.

In 1989, I came to the United States with a very basic understanding of the English Language. I had already finished my bachelor's degree in economics at the University of Buenos Aires, was single, and couldn't find a good job. So, I decided to come to the United States after a friend invited me to stay at his home in McLean, VA.

I sold my old car to buy my plane ticket and arrived in the country with $800 in my pocket that I had borrowed from a friend.

One day, the friend I was staying with said to me: “Alin, what you need is an MBA.” And I remember thinking, “But I don't have any money—don't you get it?”

Even if the angel Moroni came down and gave me the money, I couldn’t get my master’s because I needed to be accepted into the program first. That would mean taking the TOEFL test for English as a foreign language and then taking the GMAT.

So, I remember praying and telling the Lord that I was going to do my part to get accepted into the program and hoping He would help me with the money.

After I passed the TOEFL, I needed to take the GMAT. This meant studying in the mornings and working in a restaurant during the night. To perform well in the GMAT, I needed to take a prep course that cost $690—money that I didn't have. To make it worse, they required payment upfront, or I couldn’t start the class.

Let me insert a quick story here to explain one of the things I did to learn the English Language. Almost every single week, I would apply for a credit card. For an international student, getting a credit card in the United States is very difficult. However, I decided to apply for all of them because the applications were helping me learn English. As you can imagine, I got many letters telling me that they could not approve my application. I cannot count the number of those letters I received.

The GMAT course was going to start on a Saturday. The Thursday before that Saturday, I received an envelope from the bank with two credit cards, one MasterCard and one Visa card, for a total credit line of $750. There I was with two pieces of plastic in my hands with my name on them.

I remember calling my friend and telling him, “Listen, they have sent me two credit cards.”

He told me, “It's impossible!”

“Well, it says that I have a credit line of $750.”

He told me to try to use them and see what happened.

Immediately, I grabbed the phone and called the GMAT course to tell them that I was going to pay for my course to start this coming Saturday. They said, “OK, give me your card number,” and I replied, “I will give you two card numbers.”

Then I paid the $690 with my new cards—and they accepted them!

I was able to take the course and then take the GMAT, passed it, and was accepted into the BYU Provo MBA program. Now, this is one of the many miracles I experienced during those days, but this is one experience I have never forgotten. In January of 1990, some guy at the bank was analyzing my application to get the credit card when perhaps an angel covered his eyes, so he just approved it without knowing what he was approving.

I am grateful to the Lord for providing miracles in my life and for giving me the eyes to see and the ability to recognize His hand in my life. I testify that He will fight our battles if we let Him.

Andrea Muñoz Spannaus

Thank you Alin, I love that experience.

Are you ready to talk about generosity?

Do you know that one in nine individuals worldwide suffers from hunger? If the principle of fast offering were observed worldwide and everyone contributed to a fund, we could end world hunger.

When I was a young missionary, my companion Sister Diaz and I had a wonderful experience. One time, our monthly allowance was delayed, and we had to choose between using our money to eat that week or pay our fast offerings. That was all the money we had—no parents' credit cards for emergencies!

We decided to pay our fast offerings, and trust that the Lord would take care of us until we received our allowance. And that fast Sunday, the Lord showed us His power. As the meetings were finishing, a sister approached us and told us she had some extra fish and wanted to share it with us. Another sister shared some fruit from her tree, and another gave us a loaf of homemade bread.

Only the Father and Jesus Christ knew our situation and our hearts.

Sometimes the Lord teaches us to be faithful to Him in extreme circumstances. If I paid my fast offerings on that extreme occasion, I would do it on other occasions. [11]

Let’s hear from Alin:

Alin Spannaus

In 2006, I attended a general priesthood meeting in our stake. A senior missionary couple—I’ll call them the Gardners—came to talk to our stake.

Elder Gardner spoke about the blessings of paying fast offerings. He explained how, throughout his life, he had learned that when he didn’t have any ideas on how to make more money, he received the following counsel from his wife: We need to increase the amount of fast offerings. Elder Gardner told his wife they needed more money, not less! Nevertheless, he decided to follow her advice and increase the amount of fast offerings. During his powerful and profound message, I received an impression to triple our fast offerings. I even wrote the total in my notes.

At dinner that night, I explained to Andrea the experience I had, told her my feelings, and showed her the number I had written in my notes. She stopped eating, looked at me, and asked, “Do we have the money to pay that amount?” I said, “That’s what I felt,” and she immediately said, “If you felt it, let’s do it!”

So, the following day, on Sunday, I grabbed the donation envelope and tripled our fast offering.

The next day at work, I received a call from the human resources manager, who told me, “Mr. Spannaus, we had miscalculated some of the deductions we take from your salary, and we need to reimburse you this amount of money.” To my surprise, the amount was the new fast offering amount for an entire year.

Perhaps some of you may think that it would have happened anyway. To me, this was another testimony that the Lord does not need our money; He needs our heart and will, and He can multiply our blessings any number of times—according to what He determines is expedient for us.

I want to testify to all of you that fasting develops generosity, and when you develop this generosity, he blesses you abundantly. I promise you that if you try it, you will see the hand of the Lord in your life.

Andrea Muñoz Spannaus

Thank you for sharing that.

Submission: What is it that the Lord requires of us?

In Doctrine and Covenants 64:34, we read, “Behold, the Lord requireth a heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.”

To sacrifice has to do with our willingness to give all we have to the Lord. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “The submission of one's will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God's altar. The many other things we give are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us.” [12]

The Lord is interested in our hearts' real desires and intentions. When we open our hearts to Him, we allow Him to work with us. He has the power to help us refine our desires.

We have the perfect example of submission in our Lord Jesus Christ. We read, “The will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.” [13]

We learn submission little by little when we fast.

While we’re thinking about fasting, let’s take a survey. Take out your phone and scan the QR code. Choose the one you experience the most while fasting:

  1. Self-control
  2. Gratitude
  3. Generosity
  4. Submission

It looks like self-control is the most popular answer.

Christ fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights in preparation for His ministry. During that time, Satan appeared and tempted Him, trying to disrupt His glorious mission, and of course, Satan failed. This is what we read in Joseph Smith Translation Matthew 4:1: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be with God. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, and had communed with God, he was afterwards an hungered, and was left to be tempted of the devil.”

If all we do when we fast is go hungry for 24 hours, we're missing out on the best part of fasting: the opportunity to commune with God.

And, of course, I have experienced the two types of fasting.

It might help you to choose a purpose for your fasting. Start by telling Heavenly Father what you want to accomplish. Focus on that with real intention, and you will have the next 24 hours to really commune with God.

Fasting and praying lead us to the source of all strength, peace, and happiness. They lead us to Christ, our King and Savior.

I started by telling you about one of my dreams, and now I would like to finish by telling you about a dream that Elder M. Russell Ballard’s grandfather Elder Melvin J. Ballard, told about a hundred years ago:

“[One] night, I received a wonderful manifestation and impression which has never left me. As I entered [a] room, I saw, seated on a raised platform, the most glorious being I have ever conceived of, and was taken forward to be introduced to Him. As I approached, He smiled, called my name, and stretched out His hands towards me. If I live to be a million years old, I shall never forget that smile. He put His arms around me and kissed me, as He took me into His bosom, and He blessed me until my whole being was thrilled. As He finished, I fell at His feet, and there saw the marks of the nails; and as I kissed them, with deep joy swelling through my whole being, I felt that I was in heaven indeed. The feeling that came to my heart then was: Oh! If I could live worthy, though it would require 80 years, so that in the end, when I have finished, I could go into His presence and receive the feeling that I then had in His presence, I would give everything that I am or ever hope to be!” [14]

What a great example of submission to our God! Elder Ballard was willing to give everything, everything, for the Everlasting Source of Light and Truth.

My friends, what are you willing to give? I invite you to receive the blessings that come from fasting and praying with real intent. I promise you that the Lord will give you light and truth. Fasting and prayer are powerful tools in the process of receiving more light, and we only need the will to do it.

He has a mission for you to accomplish, and He trusts you. That is why you need to take your vitamins and be ready to keep up with the urgent pace of the Lord’s work.

He is also the source of all knowledge, strength, peace, joy, and love.

May the Lord bless us as we learn how to submit our will to Him, our Savior, our God, our King. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Notes

[1] Doctrine and Covenants 88:73.

[2] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Motions of a Hidden Fire,” Liahona, May 2024, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2024/04/13holland.

[3] Russell M. Nelson, in “Latter-day Saint Prophet, Wife and Apostle Share Insights of Global Ministry,” Oct. 30, 2018, newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

[4] See Henry B. Eyring, “Finding Personal Peace,” Liahona, May 2023, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2023/04/17eyring.

[5] See Doctrine and Covenants 93:36.

[6] See Nephi 31:18.

[7] See Alma 30:44.

[8] Doctrine and Covenants 50:24.

[9] Ezra Taft Benson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 92; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 66–67.

[10] Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Apr. 1978, 121.

[11] See Lynn G. Robbins, “Tithing—a Commandments Even for the Destitute,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2005/04/tithing-a-commandment-even-for-the-destitute.

[12] Neal A. Maxwell, “‘Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,’” Ensign, Nov. 1995, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1995/10/swallowed-up-in-the-will-of-the-father.

[13] Mosiah 15:7.

[14] Melvin J. Ballard—Crusader for Righteousness, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 65–66, in M. Russell Ballard, “The Blessings of Sacrifice” Ensign, May 1992, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1992/04/the-blessings-of-sacrifice; emphasis added.