The faith of a child

Many years ago, the story was told of a young boy who was taken to a hospital. He had appendicitis and needed an operation. As the 9-year-old boy was wheeled into the operating room and an anesthetic was about to be administered, he looked up at the doctor and asked, "Won't you please pray for me before you operate?" The surgeon was startled. "I can't pray," he told the boy.

The child asked each person in the operating room to pray for him; they all declined. He was anxious to be prayed for - he had more faith in God than he had in doctors and nurses. Finally, he said with great earnestness, "If you can't pray for me, will you please wait a minute and let me pray for myself?" They consented.He kneeled on the operating table, bowed his head and offered a sincere and fervent prayer. He asked Heavenly Father to bless the doctors so they would "do the operation right." He then thanked his Heavenly Father "for making me well."

About 10 days after the operation, a man went to the doctor and said, "I want you to tell me about that little boy you operated on last week, the one who wanted you to pray for him." When the doctor had told him about the boy and his faith, the man said, "Remarkable!"

The doctor replied, "Remarkable! Why, that is the most unusual experience in my life. I have operated on thousands of men and women who have been religious and believed in prayer, but never have I seen any that really believed in it like that little boy. Never have I seen anyone open the windows of heaven and talk to his Creator as that little man did. He has made a remarkable recovery, and he did for me what nothing else has ever done and he has made a better man out of me because of his sublime faith." (Church News, June 17, 1944, text of baccalaureate address by President George Albert Smith at Utah State Agricultural College, Logan, Utah, June 4, 1944.)

How pure and how simple is the faith of a child. This story of the boy in the operating room is just one example that faith comes before knowledge. That child, at his tender age, did not have any knowledge of the medical world - he did not know how the doctor would perform the operation, neither did he understand the physical process of healing. What he had was faith that his Heavenly Father could make him well.

Sadly, too many of us, as we become sophisticated and advanced in our learning and knowledge, lose the faith we once had as little children. Knowledge is a great and wonderful thing, but it can never replace faith.

President Spencer W. Kimball said: "Every individual that has been born in this world may have a testimony or a direct revelation from God, and when he gets this testimony, it will have come from God and not from study alone. Study is an important element, of course, but there must be associated with study, prayer and reaching, and then this revelation comes. . . ."

"Faith is the planting of seeds, the taking of steps. Faith is the child, and when nourished and fed, grows into maturity and becomes adult in deep assurance and perfect knowledge." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 58.)

Faith is not adamant allegiance to theories. It is not even ascribing to that which we know with certainty, for faith is not knowledge, nor does it come from knowledge. Except, perhaps, in little children, faith does not blossom forth fully grown. And even then, it requires much nurturing to keep it strong and alive.

In comparing "the word unto a seed," Alma taught:

"But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.

"And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.

"Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you." (Alma 32:41-43.)

We cannot rely solely upon mental processes - although some may be brilliant - to gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel. The doctor, who had walked the hallways of academia and who had much knowledge about the science of the human body, did not know how to approach the spiritual realm, the path to which is faith. A little boy had to show him the way.

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