Using an analogy of the planting and nourishing of a seed, Alma taught the people who were poor and cast out of the Zoramite synagogues what they must do to receive and nourish faith in the word of God (see Alma 32). Alma invited them (and us) to experiment on the word and to nourish their faith and testimony daily (see Alma 32:27).
Bishop Richard C. Edgley of the Presiding Bishopric taught that faith is a choice:
“Alma’s classic discussion on faith, as recorded in the 32nd chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon, is a series of choices to ensure the development and the preservation of our faith. Alma gave us a directive to choose. His were words of action initiated by choosing. He used the words awake, arouse, experiment, exercise, desire, work, and plant. Then Alma explained that if we make these choices and do not cast the seed out by unbelief, then ‘it will begin to swell within [our] breasts’ (Alma 32:28).
“Yes, faith is a choice, and it must be sought after and developed. Thus, we are responsible for our own faith. We are also responsible for our lack of faith. The choice is yours” (“Faith—the Choice Is Yours,” Ensign, Nov. 2010).
There is a cool little acrostic-type pattern that you can find in Alma 32:28 using phrases “begin to Swell,” “Enlarge my soul,” “Enlighten my understanding,” and “Delicious to me.”
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency identified ways we can nourish our testimonies:
“Testimony requires the nurturing by the prayer of faith, the hungering for the word of God in the scriptures, and the obedience to the truth we have received. There is danger in neglecting prayer. There is danger to our testimony in only casual study and reading of the scriptures. They are necessary nutrients for our testimony. …
“Feasting on the word of God, heartfelt prayer, and obedience to the Lord’s commandments must be applied evenly and continually for your testimony to grow and prosper. All of us at times have circumstances beyond our control that interrupt our pattern of scripture study. There may be periods of time when we choose for some reason not to pray. There may be commandments that we choose for a time to ignore.
“But you will not have your desire for a living testimony granted if you forget the warning and the promise in Alma [32:40–43]” (“A Living Testimony,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011).
“I am reminded of two young men who came in to see me some months ago. They had been recommended by their priesthood leaders. From the moment they stepped into the office, they began in a very sincere way questioning certain doctrines and teachings and procedures of the Church. Their attitude, however, was not antagonistic, as they were sincerely looking for answers.
“I asked them finally if their questions perhaps represented the symptoms of their problem and not the cause. Wasn’t their real question whether or not this church is true? Whether or not it is actually the Church of Jesus Christ? And whether or not it is led by divine revelation? The young men agreed that perhaps if they were sure of the answers to these questions, they could take care of the other questions that seemed to arise in their hearts.
“I asked them if they were willing to participate in an experiment. One of them appeared to be athletically inclined, and so I turned to him and asked, “If you wanted to learn about the chemical properties of water, would you go to the local sports stadium and run four laps around the track?”
“He said, “Of course not.”
“I asked, “Why not?”
“He said, “The two are not related.” We then turned to John, chapter seven, and read: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it he of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17.)
“If we are going to experiment with the things of Christ, then we are going to have to put these things to a spiritual test—a test that the Savior himself has outlined for all those who wish to know, a test of doing.
“I asked them if they read the scriptures.
“They said, “No.”
“I asked them if they prayed.
“They said, “Not often.”
“I asked them if they kept the Word of Wisdom.
“They said, “Occasionally.”
“I asked them if they went to church. They said they’d stopped.
“I asked them if they would be interested in a three-month experiment. They said they would try but were not anxious to commit themselves until they found out what I had in mind.
“During the next three months will you attend all your church meetings and listen carefully to what is being said, even taking notes of the principal points being made by the teachers and how these points might apply to your lives?”
“They thought for a moment and said they would.
“During the next three months will you reinstitute in your personal life prayer, night and morning, thanking God for the blessings you enjoy and asking him to help you know if the Church is true and if the things you are doing are meaningful to your lives?”
“One of these young men, who considered himself an agnostic, balked at this, but then he finally agreed to do it on the basis that for the sake of the experiment he would accept the premise that there is a God and would appeal to this God for the light and knowledge which he was seeking.
“I asked them if in the next three months they would refrain from drinking, smoking, and drugs. Although this created some anxiety, they resolved to do it.
“I asked them if in the next three months they would resolve to keep themselves morally clean and in harmony with the principles of virtue which the Savior taught. They said they would. And then I suggested they establish a schedule, on their own, during the next three months to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover—a few pages each day, with a prayer at each reading that the Lord would bless them to know if the book is true and actually from him. They agreed.
“Anticipating what might happen, I said, “Now, if you feel disposed to tell your friends about this, probably their first comment will be ‘Boy, has Brother Dunn snowed you.’ You may even feel that way a time or two during this experiment, but don’t let it keep you from doing what you have agreed to do. If you think that might be a problem, then keep it in the back of your mind, and go ahead and honestly experiment, and let this three-month experience speak for itself.” I added, “If things go properly, you’ll notice some by-products, such as a growing awareness and concern for your fellowman and greater appreciation and consideration for other people.” They accepted the challenge and left.” (Loren C. Dunn, “Drink of the Pure Water“, Ensign, June 1971)
Al Fox | “The Tattooed Mormon” on Finding Faith