“For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.
And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.” – Moroni 7:6-9
We are taught that it is not good enough to just do something. We must also mean it, too. This seems obvious enough, but when I think about it, a little problem comes into my mind: what if we do not yet have a testimony of what we are trying to do? I don’t believe in blind faith. I don’t think that this scripture encourages it, either.
When we are serving or obeying, we don’t need to be committed to the specific principle that we are still learning to follow – as we don’t receive a witness until AFTER a trial of our faith. However, we can still fulfill such service and obedience with real intent by basing our faith on prior experiences and testimonies. Perhaps the best example of this is Nephi: “And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things,” (1 Nephi 11:17). We can always obey with real intent – even if we don’t completely understand the exact principle we are attempting to obey. Our real intent is centered on our Faith in Christ and love for Heavenly Father.
And…as far as prayer goes. When I think of praying with real intent, I’m struck by the idea taught by Brigham Young – Pray as if it all depends on the Lord. Work as if it all depends on you. We show our real intent by aligning our wills and actions with the Lord’s.
And what does this all have to do with missionary work? I guess we have to mean it.