Thursday, April 20, 2017

Elder Quentin L. Cook on the importance of consistent efforts in spiritual growth

Elder Quentin L. Cook (b. September 8, 1940) was called as a Seventy in 1996, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2007.
"Personal foundations, like many worthwhile pursuits, are usually built slowly—one layer, one experience, one challenge, one setback, and one success at a time....
"Unfortunately, in an increasingly secular world, less emphasis is placed on the amount of spiritual growth necessary to become more Christlike and establish the foundations that lead to enduring faith. We tend to emphasize moments of sublime spiritual understanding. These are precious instances when we know the Holy Ghost has witnessed special spiritual insights to our hearts and minds. We rejoice in these events; they should not be diminished in any way. But for enduring faith and to have the constant companionship of the Spirit, there is no substitute for the individual religious observance that is comparable to physical and mental development. We should build on these experiences, which sometimes resemble initial baby steps. We do this by consecrated commitment to sacred sacrament meetings, scripture study, prayer, and serving as called....
"Just as repetition and consistent effort are required to gain physical or mental capacity, the same is true in spiritual matters. Remember that the Prophet Joseph received the same visitor, Moroni, with exactly the same message four times in preparation for receiving the plates. I believe that weekly participation in sacred sacrament meetings has spiritual implications we do not fully understand. Pondering the scriptures regularly—rather than reading them occasionally—can substitute a superficial understanding for a sublime, life-changing enhancement of our faith."
- Quentin L. Cook, "Foundations of Faith," General Conference, April 2017
Click here to watch or read the full talk

Many things that matter in our lives take significant time to develop. This applies to intellectual learning, physical abilities, proficiency in a talent, etc. Elder Cook's point is that the same persistent effort is required in spiritual development. We grow "line upon line, precept on precept" and need to recognize the power there is in consistent, persistent efforts over a long period.

I thought this point was particularly important: the "moments of sublime spiritual understanding" are critical to us—those spiritual high-points when we have revelatory experiences or profound spiritual experiences. But they are not the things that build "enduring faith" and "constant companionship of the Spirit" in our lives. Those things come from our steady, repeated, personal "individual religious observance."

This message should encourage in each of us an examination of our "steadiness" to ensure that we are continuing to do the things that will bring that ongoing strength.

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