Why We Should NOT Pray about the Book of Mormon
A common appeal from Mormon friends and acquaintances is this: “I challenge you to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, and you will see that it is true, just as I also have read and prayed about it and know in my heart that it is true.” This is usually accompanied by a heartfelt “testimony” that God has given the person a ‘burning in the bosom.’ In their mind, this “testimony” proves the truthfulness of the Mormon religion and Joseph Smith’s identity as a prophet of God. Thus we are challenged to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and are told that this will verify the truthfulness of Mormonism.
Granted, such an approach sounds very spiritual. Why not read and pray about it? Shouldn’t we pray? Doesn’t James 1:5 teach us to pray for wisdom? If this is true, shouldn’t we pray about whether Joseph Smith is a true prophet and the Mormon religion is true?
Everyone submits to some kind of ultimate authority to shape one’s conception of reality, morality, and God. A secular non-religious agnostic person submits to his own perception that God is unknowable and relies on his experiences and that of others to define morality and meaning in life. A Muslim submits to the Book of Koran to shape his worldview. A Mormon submits to the Book of Mormon, Mormon teachings, and the Mormon prophet. Everyone, both religious and non-religious, submits to some kind of authority to form beliefs about the world around them and meaning in life.
What about Christians? What is our ultimate authority? Our ultimate authority is the Bible. We believe it is a revelation of God’s Word and is trustworthy, true, authoritative, and revealing about the objective reality of who God is and who we are (2 Tim 3:16). God has spoken and told us who He is, and He calls us to submit to His voice, trust Him, and adore Him. As Christians, we rest ultimately not on our own understanding (Prov 3:5), but on God’s perfect wisdom revealed through the Scriptures. Such a view of the Bible is different from Mormons, who argue that the Bible has contradictions and errors in it–a Mormon missionary recently argued this to me, appealing to ‘common sense’ logic about the errors in the Bible. (Officially, the Mormon church teaches that the Bible is true so as long it is correctly translated/interpreted [which means done so by them!]). Thus, there is a big difference between how biblical Christians and Mormons view the Bible!
THERE ARE SOME THINGS WE SHOULD NOT PRAY ABOUT
There are some things in life that we should not pray about. This is true even while prayer is important and vital to our life (1 Thess 5:17 instructs to pray without ceasing). Some things we should ask for wisdom about (as James 1:5 calls us to do). We should pray about how to best love our spouse, how to be faithful witnesses, how to best honor Him in particular situations, etc. But there are others things that we should just do and trust God’s wisdom on. For instance, we don’t need to pray about obeying God’s commands, we just obey them. We don’t need to pray about whether we should love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we should just do it. We don’t need to pray about loving our neighbor as ourselves, we just do it. We don’t need to pray about whether we should steal, lie, or obey our parents, because God has already told us what He desires for us to do. If we’re tempted to steal from our employer we don’t pray about the impulse, we turn away from it and reject it. If we’re tempted to abandon our spouse we reject temptation. If we are tempted to covet or be discontent, we flee the thoughts and pursue gratitude. The Bible does not encourage us to question God’s Word, but to submit to it and let it be a light to our paths. Thus, we see that there are some things in life we don’t have to pray about, we simply submit to God’s Word and turn away from what is evil.
This principle holds true for idolatry (worshiping a false god). If we are presented with and tempted by a view of God contrary to the Bible, our response ought to be the same as other sinful impulses. We ought to reject a false view of God and cling fast to God’s Word. We don’t need to pray about whether we should believe if God is actually something different from what the Bible teaches—to do so may lead us to trust in ourselves rather than God’s voice through the Scriptures. It doesn’t matter if our feelings (even a ‘burning in the bosom’) lead us in one direction or another. Instead, we submit to our loving, truth-telling God (Titus 1:2) who has spoken in the Bible.
This means we should NOT pray about whether the Book of Mormon (and the Mormon religion) is true. Why? Because of this reason: Mormonism presents a view of God RADICALLY different from that of the Bible. It teaches that God is a created being who was once a man who became God and that we ourselves might one day become gods. It teaches that God the Father has a wife in heaven. It teaches that Jesus is a created being and the brother of Satan. It teaches that God the Father, once had a God Himself before He became a God, like all the other Gods before Him and that this is the way things have always been–God became a God, and His God did the same thing, and His God did the same thing, and His God did the same thing, etc. (How many gods exist in Mormon theology? A LOT! Even if Mormons claim to only worship one, their view of God is a RADICAL departure [see James White’s excellent article] from the Bible, which teaches that there is only one God in all of existence for all of eternity who exists in three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).
Thus, I would argue that we should NOT pray about the Mormon religion and the Book of Mormon. This is because Mormonism teaches a view of God that is contrary to the Bible. Instead, we ought to submit to God’s voice in the Scriptures and adore the one true God in all of existence. If someone claims to speak a revelation about God we must test it according to God’s Word (the Bible) and if it contradicts it, we ought to reject it. Any person who teaches a view of God contrary to the Bible is a false prophet.
Friends, let us worship and adore the uncreated Creator of the universe. The God of the Bible is the true God of all reality! Let us enjoy Him and let our hearts marvel at His unmatched majesty, beauty, truth and power. We can boldly reject the idea of praying about whether a false picture of God is true–we don’t need to pray about whether a false god is God, because God has already revealed the true conception of Who He is through the Bible.
Let us read the Bible, allow it to form our understanding of who God is, and flee from false views of God–like the one given in Mormonism.