During the recent session of LDS General Conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen, posed the question; "When was the last time that you read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover? Read it again. It will increase your faith." As he posed the question, I felt a rush of joy as I thought to myself, "I'm in Moroni right now!" It felt good to know that I was following the counsel of the Lord. But it also got me thinking of a familiar refrain often heard in 12 Step meetings.
The sad truth is, many addicts I know have lost faith in simple things like scripture reading. After many years of being told by family and priesthood leaders, "Just read the scriptures and pray more and you will overcome your struggle", only to fail again and again. It becomes easy to dismiss these things as unimportant or not helpful. I have heard numerous men express this thought in recovery meetings. Part of me is sad whenever I hear this expressed. But part of me can relate as well. I can't tell you how many times I have prayed to be healed, that I have begged the Lord to take this from me. I have fasted for it, said prayers and then opened the scriptures to a random page hoping to find the one passage or verse that would inspire me to, finally, have the strength to beat my addiction. It never worked. I wish overcoming a lifelong addiction was that simple, but for me at least, it hasn't been.
Over time it made me a little bit bitter towards the so-called "Sunday school answers". If I have prayed and read the scriptures for years and still haven't gotten any help, then what is the point?
It took me a very long time to come up with a good answer to that question. But it wasn't the Book of Mormon that had to change. It wasn't my Bishop or my family or my friends. What had to change, was me. Seems overly simple doesn't it? But it's true. In my experience the real, true key to recovery is having a close relationship with my Savior. Knowing Him, believing in Him, having faith in Him. The more I am able to do this, the easier it is to remember to turn to Him when the stress comes, when the struggles come, when the triggers come. Because I could never possibly overcome this alone. It is only through Him that I have any chance of success.
So what actually had to happen was a shift within me. An understanding and acceptance that the purpose of prayer and of the scriptures isn't to solve my problems for me. If I pray to the Lord to take away my struggle without any learning or change on my part then how would I ever grow as a person? The purpose of prayer and of the scriptures is to come to know my Savior. To learn how to trust Him and feel His hand in my life. For the greater His influence in my life, the more successful I will be. The closer I am to Him and the more I choose to rely on Him, the happier I am. That is why I read the Book of Mormon , because it teaches of the Savior. Prophet after prophet, page after page and verse after verse. I come to know my Savior. I come to trust and believe in Him. I grow closer to Him. I learn how to exercise faith in Him, which leads to me surrendering to Him and letting Him take the wheel of my life.
And you know what? It works. It really does. And that is why last night, I turned back to 1 Nephi and I started all over again. Because I need Him in my life. He is a much better driver than I am.
The Prophet, Joseph Smith once testified of the Book of Mormon;
“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”I need the Lord in my life. I need to be close to Him to have any chance of success and I know that in reading and studying the Book of Mormon I grow closer to my Heavenly Father and my Savior. And with them on my side I can overcome or endure any challenge life has in store for me, including addiction.