Continued from part six.
The Holy Spirit, which is the third ingredient of faith, is given in portions:
And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. (2 Kings 2: 9)
And it came to pass that they journeyed many days in the wilderness, and they fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth, to the knowledge of the baseness of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct. (Alma 17: 9)
And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God. (Alma 18: 35)
And behold, I thank my great God that he has given us a portion of his Spirit to soften our hearts, that we have opened a correspondence with these brethren, the Nephites. (Alma 24: 8 )
And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil. (Alma 40: 13)
Behold, thus saith the Lord unto you my servants Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, that the time has verily come that it is necessary and expedient in me that you should open your mouths in proclaiming my gospel, the things of the kingdom, expounding the mysteries thereof out of the scriptures, according to that portion of Spirit and power which shall be given unto you, even as I will. (D&C 71: 1)
As any increase in the amount of any of the three ingredients that make up faith (the word of God, belief on that word and the Holy Spirit) will increase the amount of faith possessed by the individual, all an individual need do to possess exceedingly great faith is obtain as much of the word of God as possible, believe all of it and obtain the greatest portion of the Spirit possible.
The above scriptures indicate that the amount of a portion varies. It can be small or it can be great, even double that of the portion given to Elijah. Mercifully, the Lord has given us the means to increase our portion of the Spirit: fasting and prayer.
Obtaining a Greater Portion Through Prayer
And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach. (D&C 42: 14)
And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit; that unto some it may be given to have all those gifts, that there may be a head, in order that every member may be profited thereby. He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh. And again, I say unto you, all things must be done in the name of Christ, whatsoever you do in the Spirit; and ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with. And ye must practise virtue and holiness before me continually. Even so. Amen. (D&C 46: 28-33)
Prayer is one of the tools of the saint, whereby faith is increased. Now, here is the tricky part: only prayers of faith increase the portion. A prayer in which doubt is present or in which there is no real belief that what is prayed for will be received is ineffective and has no result except to waste time and breath. Mormon gave the formula of effective prayers:
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. (Mormon 9:21)
Then Mormon quoted Jesus:
For behold, thus said Jesus Christ, the Son of God, unto his disciples who should tarry, yea, and also to all his disciples, in the hearing of the multitude: Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned; and these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover; and whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth. (Mormon 9: 22-25)
A “prayer of faith” (D&C 42: 14), “asking in Spirit” (D&C 46: 28 ) and “asking the Father in the name of Christ” while “believing in Christ, doubting nothing” (Mormon 9: 21) are all the same thing. As faith is a combination of the word of God, belief on that word and the Holy Spirit, all prayers of faith will conform to the word of God, will manifest belief on that word and will be accompanied by the presence and action of the Holy Spirit.
I wish to emphasize that there are only three variables to a prayer of faith. One is conformity to the word of God. In other words, a prayer of faith can only be for something in which it is possible to have faith. You cannot pray in faith that unrepentant sin be forgiven. You cannot pray in faith that Satan be converted to the Lord. You cannot pray in faith that God lie. Prayers of faith, then, must be of things in which it is possible to have faith.
The second variable is belief. As mentioned in a previous article of this series on the faith of God, belief must be present. There must be no doubts whatsoever that you are going to get what you pray for. However, if belief is not present, the Lord has provided a way for us to obtain belief. You simply allow a desire to believe work in you until the Spirit deposits the gift of belief in you, sufficient for your prayer to become a prayer of faith. It is as simple at that.
The third variable is the Holy Spirit. We don’t, technically, have any control over the Spirit, however, using the first two variables in conjunction with prayer (and later fasting), the portion of the Spirit given to us can be increased.
Obtaining a Greater Portion Through Fasting
Fasting, combined with the prayer of faith, changes the soul’s priorities from Physical-spiritual or physical-spiritual to physical-Spiritual, meaning that the soul is caused to rely upon the spiritual aspect of our beings more than the physical. This humbles us, or, in other words, suppresses the physical aspects of us somewhat, allowing us to more fully experience the spiritual. As the Holy Spirit is fully capable of sustaining life, reliance upon the Spirit for sustenance doesn’t not weaken an individual spiritually or physically, but, in fact, strengthens both corresponding set of organs.
All of the greatest individuals who ever lived on the planet, and all true saints, engage in extended fasts. 40 days is the “magic” number used in the scriptures, but fasts can be sustained indefinitely as long as the Holy Spirit is present. Alma, whose greatness is plainly demonstrated by the fact that he never tasted of death, but was translated, often used the words “many days” or “much fasting” to describe the duration of the fasting he engaged in.
The current practice among LDS of fasting one day a month, skipping two meals or a 24-hour fast, although beneficial to the poor through donated fast offerings, is marginally beneficial to the one who fasts, compared to an extended fast, as practiced by saints of the past and present.
Because extended fasting is something of an obstacle to the gluttonous generation we are living in, in which all physical appetites must be satiated immediately, it becomes a litmus test of a true saint. Nevertheless, to those who engage in much and extended fasting and prayers of faith, fasting is one of the quickest ways to obtain exceedingly great faith, as it pulls down from heaven the Holy Spirit in ever greater and greater portions, which brings with it visions, dreams, revelations, prophecies, gifts, powers, fruits, angels and all other manifestations of faith, allowing the individual to progress even more rapidly towards the goal of overcoming the world and making his or her calling and election sure.
A Modern Example
I will use a woman I met on my mission as an example. Her name was Cori Rubio and she was a latter-day saint, meaning that she was a sanctified, baptized, member of the church. Cori engaged in fasting and prayers of faith, scripture study and all other aspects of a true saint and each time my companion and I met with her, we were presented with her accounts of the manifestations she was daily receiving. As I possess the gift of discerning of spirits, I was able to confirm that her accounts were true. I understood, with her, what the saying “the joy of the saints” meant and also what it meant to have two saints meet and rejoice in the Lord. Each time my companion and I met her, it was a spiritual feast. Yet, she was not blessed financially, though she had sufficient for her needs. She was one of the few people I’ve met in the church whose roots were firmly implanted in gospel sod and who manifested that they had received of the Spirit of Christ by the powers, gifts and signs of the Holy Ghost attending her. It was easy to recognize that she was a saint.
Nevertheless, such a portion of the Spirit would not have been possible without great faith on her part, which she received through fasting and prayers of faith.
Next Faith of God article: The faith of God, part eight: the Atonement is the word
Previous Faith of God article: The faith of God, part six: the Holy Spirit