"Gaining a testimony and becoming converted begins with study and prayer, then living the gospel with patience and persistence and inviting and waiting upon the Spirit....
"Once we receive a witness of the Spirit, our testimony is strengthened through study, prayer, and living the gospel. Our growing testimony brings us increased faith in Jesus Christ and His plan of happiness. We are motivated to repent and obey the commandments, which, with a mighty change of heart, leads to our conversion. And our conversion brings divine forgiveness, healing, joy, and the desire to bear our witness to others....
"Retaining that companionship requires an earnest effort on the part of Church members. If we are not obedient to the laws, principles, and ordinances of the gospel, the Holy Ghost will withdraw. He cannot be with us if we are angry in our hearts, contentious with our companions, or critical of the Lord's anointed. He departs whenever we are rebellious, are immoral, dress or act immodestly, are unclean or profane in mind or body, are slothful in priesthood callings and duties, or commit other sins, for 'the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples' (Hel. 4:24).
"Therefore we must continually repent, partake of the sacrament, be worthy of a temple recommend, and serve the Lord with all our 'heart, might, mind and strength' (D&C 4:2).
"With the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, we feel a love for God and all His children. This love casts out fear and fills us with the desire to open our mouths. There is no greater gift we can give others than to bear our testimony to them. There is no greater joy we can have than to bring even one soul unto Christ (see D&C 18:15). And there is no greater way to strengthen our own testimony than to share our witness of Him with the world. As we do, our families will be strengthened. Our wards, stakes, and communities will be filled with peace and love, and, ultimately, the earth will be prepared for the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
- Robert D. Hales, "Receiving a Testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ," Ensign, Nov. 2003, 28-29
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Elder Hales emphasizes the importance of "study, prayer, and living the gospel" both in gaining a testimony initially, and in the ongoing process of growing in faith and commitment. The need for all three of those crucial steps can't be overemphasized. If we neglect either one, we won't progress:
For those who have accepted the gospel and are on the path, study and prayer sometimes are inadequate to maintaining strength. We desperately need to be nourishing our testimony and seeking ongoing strength and light to aid in the journey. But that is all in vain if we don't actually implement the principles; we must act on what we learn and feel. The gospel is not just about changing our thoughts and beliefs; it's also about changing our actions and deeds.
So we must "continually repent" and strive to become better disciples as we practice the principles in our daily lives. This leads to a growing desire to share these principles with others around us; as we are filled with the joy of gospel living, we want others to feel it too!