Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 9

During 2012, LDS members will be studying the latest manual published by their church, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith. We will evaluate this book regularly, chapter by chapter, by showing interesting quotes and providing an Evangelical Christian take on this manual. The text that is underlined is from the manual, with our comments following.

 Prayer allows us to talk to our Heavenly Father as though He were present.

It is a wonderful blessing that we enjoy in these times of stress and uncertainty to feel sure of divine guidance, to have absolute faith in a personal God who is interested in us and who hears and answers our prayers… Let us so live that every night when we kneel to pray and every morning when we bow before the Lord in thanksgiving, there will be in us the power to open the heavens so that God will hear and answer our prayers that we will know that we are approved of Him

The Bible teaches that prayer is vital for the thriving Christian life. At the same time, understanding the God to whom we pray is more important than the prayer itself. After all, a person can be as sincere as he/she wants, but if the God to whom the prayer is addressed is not the true God as described in the Bible, then the prayers fail.

In 1 Samuel 18, the prophet Elijah made a challenge to the prophets of Baal, a false deity. “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you,” Elijah told the false prophets. “Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered.”

They tried again, with Elijah saying, “Shout louder!”  And they danced around the altar they had made. According to verse 28, “they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.”

While I am not suggesting that the God of the Bible is Baal, I am saying that the God as proclaimed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is different from the God proclaimed in the pages of the Bible. Here’s a quick list why:

  • The God of Mormonism has a body of flesh and bones (D&C 130:2); the God of the Bible is spirit who must be worshipped in spirit and in truth (John 4:24);
  • The God of Mormonism is not eternally God (“As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be.”); the God of the Bible has always been God (Psalm 90:2) and was never a man (Num. 23:19);
  • The God of Mormonism died after living a life in his world, apparently meaning that he was a sinner (Rom. 6:23); the God of the Bible never sinned;
  • The God of Mormonism produced Jesus through a physical union with Mary; the God of the Bible did not do this, but rather the Holy Spirit came upon Mary in a nonphysical way (Matthew 1:18).

Much more could be said; see God of Mormonism for more information. The point is this: Before a person can become an effective prayer warrior, the person must first have a relationship with the true God of the universe. Therefore, before anything else, it’s most important to get one’s view of God in right order. Otherwise, like the priests of Baal, a person can pray with as much dedication until the cows come home and the sincerity to a false God is not efficacious. Getting to know God is the most important duty in our Christian lives.