A powerful verse found in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8 is often used as a guide to tell if you are indeed receiving personal revelation. It states, “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.”
Receiving a testimony of the Book of Mormon is one of the most important personal revelations we need to receive in these latter days. But, what if you don’t feel the “burning [in your] bosom” after praying about the book?
What is a burning bosom?
If a burning bosom is an essential part of personal revelation, how can we truly recognize it? Though some people feel a burning in their bosom — a warm feeling that comes when we hear an impactful talk or listen to inspiring hymns — it is more than just a physical feeling. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said that a burning bosom “signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity.” A confirmation of the Book of Mormon does not just come with a fuzzy feeling – it also comes with truly knowing.
The Small Manifestations of Truth
Often, confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon does not just come in one big manifestation — it sometimes comes as a series of small impressions we feel as we read the book. If we are always looking for phenomenal revelations of truth, we may miss the small, often simple, confirmations of the Holy Ghost. Elder Bednar gave fair warning that if we, “emphasize marvelous and dramatic spiritual manifestations,” we may not recognize the, “small and incremental spiritual impressions,” that come to us frequently.
These small and simple spiritual impressions usually come through sincerely reading and pondering the Book of Mormon. It’s found in the quiet moments, when a certain verse just stands out and enlightens something. These small and simple spiritual impressions about the book’s truthfulness come from the daily impressions that continually bring us peace.
The Holy Ghost Communicates Differently
Personal revelation comes in different forms, from immediate and intense, to subtle and simple. So if your prayers about the Book of Mormon are not accompanied by a burning bosom, there’s no need to worry. Impressions can come to us in various ways. The confirmation of the Book of Mormon’s truthfulness may come as we recognize the positive feelings we have when we read it: love, joy, patience, faith, and meekness (see Galatians 5: 22-23).
Alma the Younger asked a series of powerful questions that can help you know if the Book of Mormon is true. Does it “enlarge your soul?” Does it enlighten your understanding? Has it become “delicious to you,” so that you just want to read the book again and discover more truths? If you can say yes to these questions, that could be your confirmation.
No Burning Bosom but Does It Encourage You To Do Good?
When we ask to receive a testimony of the Book of Mormon, we want to receive a confirmation that it is true and it is indeed from God. How do we know if something is from God? Mormon gave a powerful answer in Moroni 7:16:
“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.”
As you study the Book of Mormon, what kind of feelings come? Do these feelings help you be kinder, more charitable, more service oriented, more eager to come closer to the Lord? Do these impressions help you see the good in all things? The burning bosom may not be there but if the book helps you feel and do better, that could also be your answer, your own personal revelation.
The Holy Ghost speaks in various ways — not just with a burning bosom. As we become more acquainted with His promptings, when we become more aware of the small impressions we receive from the Book of Mormon, and when we begin to realize that reading the book everyday helps us do better, we can have a testimony of the Book of Mormon even without that warm, fuzzy feeling on our chest.