Why We Should NOT Pray About the Book of Mormon

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.book of mormon

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?

ULTIMATE AUTHORITY

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.    

Christian, husband of Rach, Church Planter,musician,
  1. Dan Tsouloufis Reply

    Good post Tom. Very well written.

    • Tom Schmidt Reply

      thanks Dan!

  2. Eric Friend Reply

    Is it true a an MP who is a Baroness has invited a Mormon elder to address m.p’s?

    • Tom Schmidt Reply

      no clue

  3. Jeremy Edgar Reply

    You are right on. The only thing I would change is how you say we should not pray about, for instance, obeying God’s commands. We should not pray about what to do in such a situation (as you point out, we already know) but we most definitely SHOULD pray in that situation for the strength to obey. I assume you probably agree with that but if you reread that section of your article you might see that it sounds like you dismiss the need to pray in those situations altogether.

    • Tom Schmidt Reply

      I totally agree you Jeremy! Yes, let us pray for help to obey God’s voice.

  4. Roger Ball Reply

    I once had a similar experience. After going fourteen rounds with a couple of Mormons, and getting nowhere, one of them finally says to me: “Look, I don’t expect you to take my word for this, you read this (the book of Mormon), and let the Holy Spirit sow it to your heart. . . . Let the Spirit bear witness that this is in fact the Word of God.”

    I quickly pointed out the circular reasoning of his argument (no prior authentication to support the witness of either), but unfortunately many Christians believe this to be a legitimate test.

  5. David Reply

    Your LDS friend or acquaintance is likely very sincere in wanting you to explore their beliefs since it is obviously something that they regard as important. I think I understand your point to this article – that it is dangerous to question what God has said and listen to alternate “truth”; ex. Eve listening to the serpent. I disagree though that a follower of Christ cannot say in full sincerity that they will read parts of the Book of Mormon and pray about it. I think we can agree to talk with God about what we read – similarly to how we might talk with God about other ideologies that vie for our attention and worship: consumerism, individualism, materialism, lust, greed, pride, etc. I believe that truth can ultimately stand on its own and does not need a lot of support – its “truthfullness” will be apparent without a lot of buttressing arguments to uphold it. Therefore, we can come to God with our questions, even our doubts!, in sincerity and allow the truth to show itself for what it truly is and place any alternate ideology in perspective – as false. Thanks for the thoughts about this though. I have some LDS friends who I’ve had limited “spiritual” discussion with but would like to understand how best to speak with them about the truth of Christ. What has been your experience with LDS friends?

    • Tom Schmidt Reply

      Thanks for the comment David. Yeah I think we can prayerfully bring these ideas to God as we compare them to the Bible, but we ultimately submit to God’s voice and revelation of Himself.
      I’ve had years of experience relating with Mormons, but more recently–hence the post!

    • Kristie Reply

      Very well said David!! After reading all that Tom had posted regarding his typical “born again Christian” remarks of the church of Jesus christ. I began to realize that people like Tom are everywhere & unfortunately he is a closed minded Christian. Oh and FYI to Tom the Christian, Mormons ARE Christians so please if your going to post ugliness towards a great church, be sure you know what the actual truths are before you hate on a church of God!!
      I’m so shocked and ashamed of all of you who’ve posted such disrespectfull and ugly unchristian type comments towards a church of the Lord. Mormons are Christians but not the kind of Christians such as you all because you’d never find such hateful bashing on a site about your beliefs and church.
      How sad for you all to be so full of judgment and hatefulness.

      • Tom Schmidt Reply

        Hi Krisitie,
        Thank you for your comment. Are you claiming that I have misrepresented Mormon theological understanding in my post? If so, please correct me.

        Here’s the heart of the passage where I describe the differences (differences which I believe show different Mormonism is from biblical historical Christianity):

        “[Mormon theology] 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).”

  6. Eric C. Reply

    You’re not really answering the Mormon challenge here. The Mormon is calling into question your ultimate authority. That’s the very thing at issue. But you try to answer the Mormon by citing what your ultimate authority is.

    Mormon: “Hey I’ve got this message for you. It’s the truth and it’s incompatible with your beliefs.”

    Your reply: Oh, sorry Mormon. The Bible is my ultimate authority and it’s incompatible with your claims.

    Mormon: Yes I understand that the Bible is your ultimate authority, but what I’m asking is what justifies you in having that ultimate authority (i.e., the Bible) rather than mine (i.e., the Book of Mormon)?

    Your reply: Because the Bible is my ultimate authority.

    Mormon: Yep. We’ve established that. Now what I’d like to know is why you think that your ultimate authority is true while mine is false. You can’t answer this by once again citing what, as a matter of fact, is your ultimate authority (just as I, the Mormon, can’t show that YOUR ultimate authority is defective merely by citing what MY ultimate authority is). What you need here is a JUSTIFICATION for your ultimate authority, not yet another assertion of it.

  7. Philip Pockras Reply

    The Bible *already* gives us the test for truth when we’re confronted by claims of prophecy: do the prophecies come true? See Deuteronomy 18:15-22. If one reads the Mormon “Scriptures”, particularly in the book called _Doctrines and Covenants_, one sees that there are explicit prophecies in there that never came to pass. Joseph was a wicked, lying, narcissistic, greedy, and adultering false prophet. There are all sorts of other problems in _The Book of Mormon_ and the _Pearl of Great Price_, the other “Scriptures”.

    To go and “pray” for confirmation says to God that His explicit Word on this subject is just not enough. Like Mr. Schmidt has ably written above, Don’t. Do. It. It is presumption and grieving to the Triune God.

  8. Oscar Guinness Reply

    James White does have some of the best stuff on Mormonism. Great post!

  9. Donna Smith Reply

    Great post!

  10. Keith Crosby Reply

    Great, great post. I just sat with two cultists and a family from my church who had bought into the pray and see if your heart burns within you thing. Thanks for your article, Tom.

    • Tom Schmidt Reply

      thanks keith

  11. Anon Ymous Reply

    What’s so wrong about praying about obeying a commandment? The promise in James 1:5 is that God will answer our prayers and not upbraid, meaning He won’t get mad. I’ve absolutely had doubts about obeying a commandment before and saying a prayer strengthened my faith and desire to keep it.

    Basically the whole story you tell about how Mormons claim that God had another God, etc. is maybe something that a lot of Mormons say in gospel doctrine class, but it’s never been officially established as a Church-wide official doctrine. It’s a speculative interpretation of the scriptures, including the Bible. Even the Mormons admit that we know very little about what Heaven will be like and we’ll find out all the details when we hopefully get there.

    “Jesus and Satan are brothers” is an oft repeated anti-Mormon accusation not based on any actual Church doctrine, but just as a smear tactic because we believe God the Father and Jesus Christ are separate beings. Jesus of course is the Son of God and the rest of us are spiritual sons of God, given that God created everything and everyone, including Satan. I’ve never heard the words “Jesus and Satan are brothers” from a Mormon. Again it is a smear tactic by anti-Mormons.

    And most importantly, why should anyone be scared about praying about the Book of Mormon? Why should you be scared about praying about anything? God answers prayers, He gives wisdom, He knows all things, He doesn’t get mad about us asking certain questions, and He will obviously give consistent answers. If the Book of Mormon isn’t true, He’ll just tell you it isn’t true right? Nothing to worry about. I mean lets just think about what you are telling Christians. “Don’t ask God if the Mormons are telling you the truth!” Just think about that again. Don’t ask God for help? What are you so afraid of?

  12. Anon Ymous Reply

    @Philip Pockras

    “The Bible *already* gives us the test for truth when we’re confronted by claims of prophecy: do the prophecies come true? See Deuteronomy 18:15-22.”
    See the Joseph Smith prophecy on the civil war.

    “If one reads the Mormon “Scriptures”, particularly in the book called _Doctrines and Covenants_, one sees that there are explicit prophecies in there that never came to pass.”
    Such as? Trust me I’m asking because I’m certain I have a rebuttal for whatever you might think you can come up with 🙂

    “Joseph was a wicked, lying, narcissistic, greedy, and adultering false prophet.” Baseless accusations coming from a biased and opinionated perspective.

    “There are all sorts of other problems in _The Book of Mormon_ and the _Pearl of Great Price_, the other “Scriptures”.” Such as?

    “To go and “pray” for confirmation says to God that His explicit Word on this subject is just not enough. Like Mr. Schmidt has ably written above, Don’t. Do. It. It is presumption and grieving to the Triune God.” See my previous post. Why should anyone be scared about asking God anything? He promises us that He gives wisdom and will not upbraid. To be frank you sound very much like the Jews who said “we already have the Law of Moses! Was that not enough?” I for one would never presume to tell God when He can or can’t give us more of His word.

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