How do we gain a testimony? It seems like a simple question, but it gets muddled over time. Learning for ourselves and being converted to a principle takes diligent effort on our part. But by following these four P’s of testimony building, you can become converted to any doctrine of the gospel.
1. Pore over the scriptures
You need to study diligently the word of God if you are to gain a knowledge of it. Gaining a testimony is a spiritual experience, and you need to turn to the source of spiritual knowledge.
Make use of the study helps, such as the Topical Guide, the Bible Dictionary, or the Index. Even turn to Conference Addresses and LDS.org. Make use of the resources available to you, so that your mind will be filled with the doctrine.
2. Ponder the message
Know that you’ve acquired the information, you need to mull it over. Turn it into wisdom. Understand what you’ve read and ask yourself if it makes sense. Could you believe this principle? Do you understand its basics?
"Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again," (3 Nephi 17:3)
3. Apply the Principle
Now that you know the what and the how, live it. The only way to know if you like a flavor of ice cream is to try it. The only way to know if you like a board game is to try it. It is only in the doing that we are able to gain a true testimony. Our memories fade and can be distorted. Actions hold greater power than thoughts.
The Lord has made a promise with us, "Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it,” (Malachi 3:10). He has challenged us to keep His commandments and see if the blessings don’t come.
4. Pray About Your Experience
And following your attempts to live the principle, pray about what you’ve learned, felt, and experienced. Open your heart up to our Heavenly Father and communicate with Him. Ask if these things aren’t true and He will testify to you through the power of the Holy Ghost.
"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. 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,” (Moroni 10:3-4)
I know that this process works, that as we pore over the scriptures, ponder their message, live the principle, and then pray about our experience, we will gain a testimony. It is only in the application of the doctrine that the key is turned, and the process becomes real to us.