How long should one pray to know that Mormonism is true?

I know people in the Mormon Church who have prayed for years without getting a positive answer that Mormonism is true. How long should a person pray to find out whether or not Mormonism is true? Should a person pray and ask if Mormonism is not true?

As an aside I do not the Book of Mormon says in Moroni 10:4:

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true, and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

It does seem to me the Book of Mormon is asking us to pray if it is “not true” and we will find out the truth that the Book of Mormon is “not true” if we pray about it.

Yet another incarnation of the idea of “God as vending machine.”

Insert prayer, get prize!

Prayer doesn’t work that way. Sometimes the answer is “no.” Sometimes the answer is “figure it out for yourself.” Those can both look like no answer to someone looking for a big obvious sign. God doesn’t usually work in neon.

As far as I am concerned, even a cursory reading of Mormon history tells me that religion cannot be true!

Just going solely by that quote you gave us though, it would seem that if this person has been praying for YEARS, and still has no assurance of the truth and doubts the truth of the book enough to keep asking over and over and over again for reassurance, then the promised sign of truth has not been delivered. Using that quote, the proof is already in that the book is not true.

You discover the truth of the Book of Mormon more by reading it more than by praying about it. I never prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true. I did not need to. I knew it was true as soon as I had read it. I think that anyone who studies it with a sincere heart, with a genuine desire to know if it is true, and a desire to obey the truth when he discovers it, will know by the power of the Holy Ghost that it is true.

As an aside I do not the Book of Mormon says in Moroni 10:4:

It does seem to me the Book of Mormon is asking us to pray if it is “not true” and we will find out the truth that the Book of Mormon is “not true” if we pray about it.

That is a very odd way of reading that verse. Maybe that explains why you don’t know it is true! :slight_smile:

It does seem to me that if someone has prayed for years with no answer about the Book of Mormon that it would seem to make sense there is no answer forthcoming. Many born in the faith Mormons are told, “You don’t have to pray about it – you already know it is true.” When I was investigating Mormonism, that was the response I received when told others that I hadn’t received any answer regarding the Book of Mormon. I guess the only Mormon answer to someone who insists on getting an answer through prayer is to keep praying and eventually it will come even if it takes an entire lifetime of praying. I suspect many Mormons just give up and convince themselves they have received an answer simply so they can be part of the in crowd at church. It’s tough to say you haven’t received an answer when everyone around you claims they have received one. It’s kind of like the poor people who couldn’t see the emperor’s new clothes, but kept saying they were seeing it so they wouldn’t be considered stupid. Mormons who haven’t received a witness are considered in some regard unworthy by those who claim to have received such a witness.

Same phenomenon as “receiving the Spirit” and “speaking in tongues” in some of your more out-there evangelical Protestant churches. I’m sorry, but I really think that people fake that so that others around them won’t see that they never did and think, “That person has not received the Spirit.”

As missionaries we always told people to read it and pray about it. Obviously, you don’t believe you need to pray about it to know that it is true even though the Book of Mormon claims the way to know it is true is to pray about it. I don’t need to pray about it anymore either. I can tell it’s not true just by reading it. All that time spent praying about it seems a waste of time in retrospect. I knew a person who claimed he could get a “burning in his bosom” any time he prayed about the Book of Mormon and for that reason he knew the Book of Mormon was true.

What I love about God is that He answers the prayers about Mormonism in reverse. The answer is already known in the Bible!

Recommended reading:
Bible on False Prophets:
Signs of a Cult:
How Cults Deal with Questions:
Common Fallacies:

We believe that when God makes a promise, He fulfills that promise. He has made such a promise in the Book of Mormon, and millions of Latter-day Saints are living witnesses that that promise has been fulfilled in their lives.

Apparently, you haven’t received a witness yet because you haven’t risked asking God to fulfill his promise. You haven’t prayed about it. Apparently, you are simply relying on those around you who recommend the Book of Mormon so that it seems right to you when you “read it.” I suggest you pray about it and try to get the burning bosom the Doctrine and Covenants says you will receive. Without that I would have to say you really don’t have a witness of anything. You are simply relying on the tradition of those who raised you in the Mormon faith or if a convert those who introduced you to the Mormon faith. You are proclaiming a false witness since you haven’t gone about the process the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants recommend. I guess we can disregard your testimony because you have told us you really haven’t received one in the promised and proper manner.

I find the testimonies of millions of Latter-days Saints who have obtained a divine witness of its truth (including myself) far more persuasive and compelling than the sneering mockery of its detractor, or those few who claim to have prayed about it and not received a witness.

It seems to me you are relying on the witness of others rather than taking the opportunity to gain your own witness by praying about it. Perhaps if you prayed about it you would find the testimonies of others really doesn’t hold water. I really do see you as a follower rather than a leader when it comes to Mormonism. You don’t want to be seen as somebody less than your neighbor who has received a testimony. But then I knew very few Mormons who could actually claim to receive a witness in the way the Mormon scriptures describe. Again I ask you – have you ever received the promised burning in the bosom that is the testimony described by Mormon scripture? Have you ever knelt down for hours like I have asking for a witness? Or are you simply seeing clothes when the clothes are missing so that you can be accepted by others in the Mormon community?

The big issue behind your question, it would seem to me, is understanding the communication granted to humankind by the Holy Ghost. Humans get to decide how sincere they are and how much they have “pondered” in their own heart about a subject they want to ask God about, then of course after they have asked in prayer the Holy Ghost “gets to decide” how to answer and when to answer.

I’m completely glad I didn’t get an answer the first time or the second time I asked about the Book of Mormon being true, because I needed to learn about spiritual communication from God and I wasn’t ready for that until I was a freshman in college. Then, for me, the “light went on” and I understood the phrases I had heard for years–“burning in the bosom”, “still small voice”, “your heart tells you things your mind doesn’t know,” “the wind bloweth where it listeth.” I also began to understand the phrase “stupor of thought” when a decision or a teaching or an idea was not true.

But I disagree with your assertion that those are “considered in some regard unworthy” “who haven’t received a witness”–unless it is just in your family or in your particular ward. I never felt regarded that way as a youth when I didn’t stand up and “bear my testimony”, and all the people I know have never expressed that about anyone else other than themselves. I also was never told I “never had to pray about it.” Contrarily, I was taught consistently that I should pray about it, not in a nagging way but in a respectful and helpful way.

A person can bring their own doubts into the experience, and tell themselves “I must be unworthy because I didn’t get an answer,” and that is a big hurdle. Doubt, fear, pride, the need for “big proof”, the desire for the “praise of men” rather than the "praise of God, can all be big hurdles, and they can happen to anyone. The Holy Spirit doesn’t penetrate a heart that has insincere or doubt-ridden motives. It just won’t happen.

I would recommend anyone who is sincere about getting answers to prayers through the Holy Spirit, to read Alma 32 and Ether 12–not with a doubtful heart, but with a heart filled with love for Christ and gratitude for life. It is a joyful experience to receive a spiritual witness from God about truths that are gems of knowledge.

It looks to me like you are saying that almost any experience can be a substitute for the Doctrine and Covenant’s “burning in the bosom.” It’s not hard to convince someone they have received a spiritual witness if that is the case. I actually don’t believe it makes any sense to seek such a witness – I’m more inclined to believe that we receive faith as a gift from God rather than Mormonism’s method of seeking a witness. Our faith can be bolstered as we continue to study, but the initial reception of faith is something that comes from God alone without much initiative, if any, on our part. It’s not something we can earn through our works of study and prayer, but the undeserved gift of a gracious God.

I’m one of those former Mormons who prayed sincerely, with real intent to know whether the Book of Mormon was true. I prayed every day for that witness, beginning in high school the year before my mission, during my mission (which I voluntarily extended to the maximum 25 months), afterwards for several years prior to my temple marriage, and continuing for many years thereafter. I’d say I prayed continuously and sincerely, with real intent, for a testimony for about fifteen years, all the while attending church faithfully, paying tithing, magnifying my callings, serving a mission, temple marriage, etc., everything church members are encouraged to do to be worthy of the spirit. I never received that witness. I could never detect anything whatsoever in the form of any sort of recognizable confirmation, whisperings of the spirit, sense of “I just knew it was true as soon as I started reading the Book of Mormon”, peaceful feeling, etc. That was completely and utterly devastating to a fifth generation Mormon (on both sides), surrounded as I was by family members and friends who on a regular basis talked about their own witness of the spirit and how they received it. Once I began opening up to describe my experience (about 4-5 years into my 15 year quest) and ask family, friends, and church leaders why I had not and was still not receiving any sort of witness, I was told that perhaps I wasn’t really sincere; or wasn’t listening to the whisperings of the spirit; lacked faith; had some secret, unconfessed sin in my past; didn’t really want a testimony; wasn’t willing to live up to the standards of the church, etc. In short, it was my fault I wasn’t receiving a witness. This was very difficult to hear and was very damaging emotionally, since these were my parents, closest relatives, friends, former mission companions, and church leaders who were telling me this - all trusted people I admired. I was so devout as a practicing Mormon, so faithful, so sincere, so desperately desirous of a witness of the Book of Mormon (which I read dozens of times). And it never came. Given my heritage, this was a crushing blow. To this day, I can’t enter a Mormon wardhouse and hear the phrase “I’d like to bear my testimony, I know this church is true” without acute anxiety setting in - which is why I generally avoid the wardhouse as much as possible. Sometimes I can’t, though, since my wife is LDS and begs me to go most Sundays.

I waited patiently for about 15 years for God to respond to my prayers and then gave up. I’m sure some Mormons will say I didn’t wait long enough. At least my very last bishop had the charity to believe me when I said that I was sincere in my effort. His final words to me were “I’ve never met anyone in my life who wanted a testimony so badly and never got one.” Don’t believe Mormons who say that people like me don’t exist and that no sincere person will fail to receive a witness from God about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. We do exist; I was sincere; I prayed, and God was silent. A period of atheism was, perhaps, the natural result of my experience. It wasn’t until I began delving in Catholic apologetics in 2000 that I found a way to believe in God again. The rest, as they say, is history.


"Dear God,

If I’m not supposed to stop what I’m doing, please don’t say anything."


If you pray long enough, you eventually die. Even while in the middle of praying about whether you should stop what you’re doing and have not received an answer.

Don’t waste your time or energy.

You might as well pray about being shown that 2 + 2 = 5.

Mormonoidism isn’t any more true.

New Seeker,
I believe you. I don’t think you had some “hidden sin”. I would like to understand a tiny bit more about your experience. How many times did you read the Book of Mormon (beginning to end) before asking in prayer about it, and how many times had you read the Bible? I’m not trying to challenge your experience, just want to understand it.:slight_smile:

ParkerD, NewSeeker waited patiently for 15 years. They also said they VOLUNTARILY EXTENDED their mission. This sounds much like blaming the victim to me.

“Ma’am. I know you were raped. I just want to try and understand the circumstances. Were you doing anything to give the wrong impression?” :shrug:

Hi ParkerD,

I read the BOM through for the first time in seminary - I was a senior in high school. The teacher challenged us to read it if we hadn’t and to pray for a witness if we hadn’t received one. I read the book many times thereafter, but a request for a witness was always a regular part of my prayers. I also read the New Testament through during the same year. The OT was always a challenge and I never read it through for the first time until I was on my mission. While a Mormon, I read the Book of Mormon through dozens of times, the NT 4-5, and the OT just once. I’ve now read the NT completely dozens of times, the OT less so, though I have read individual sections through many times (Pentateuch, Psalms, the Prophets). Does that answer your question?


New Seeker,
Thanks–it does. I wish you all the best, and had no judging behind my question–I was just asking. God bless always.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit