Trail of faith is to study, pray, obey

Never lose sight of the fact that many pioneers of the gospel have gone before - beginning with Adam and Eve and continuing through this day, said Elder M. Russell Ballard.

"I would like to remind you of our great pioneer heritage," said Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve, speaking May 4 at a young adult fireside that originated from the Washington D.C. Stake Center, located next to the grounds of the Washington Temple. The fireside was telecast across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean via the Church's satellite system.Elder Ballard, who was accompanied to the nation's capital by his wife, Barbara, said with faith marking every footstep of their journey into the lone and dreary world, Adam and Eve listened as they were taught the central message of the gospel: that the Savior and Redeemer would atone for their transgressions.

Noah, Elder Ballard continued, was a great pioneer when he heeded the command from God to build an ark before any drops of rain fell. Abraham took his wife, Sarai, and his father, Terah, and followed the Lord's command to enter the wilderness. And Moses accepted a call from God to lead his people out of bondage.

Elder Ballard also spoke of Lehi who left relative comfort in Jerusalem because he had seen a vision, and of Nephi who accepted his father's prophetic teachings. It was no small thing, explained Elder Ballard, for Alma to accept the call to repentance issued by Abinadi. And valiant Moroni walked footsteps of faith for many years enduring challenges that few have been called upon to endure.

"Of course, the greatest pioneer of all is the Savior," said Elder Ballard. ". . . You will remember He spent 40 days fasting and praying in the wilderness in preparation to fulfill His sacred mission. No footsteps in time or eternity have required such perfect faith as did the footsteps of the Savior."

Elder Ballard also said it took faith for Peter and his brethren to leave their trades and follow the Lord, and then for Peter, Philip, Barnabas, Mark and Paul to testify of Christ.

He continued that Joseph Smith, his parents, brother and wife were great pioneers, as were Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow.

"I also pay tribute to all the faithful Saints from the North America Northeast area who sacrificed much and established the tradition of following the prophet no matter how difficult the path as they gathered to Kirtland, to Missouri and to Nauvoo so that when Brigham Young said to go west, these faithful men and women and children pressed forward once more in footsteps of faith."

Quoting President Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Ballard asked the group to remember their heritage and to do the things that they know are right.

"There are different challenges that we face today - different mountains to climb, different rivers to ford, different valleys to make `blossom as the rose,' " he said. "But even though the wilderness we've been given to conquer is decidedly different from the rough and rocky trail to Utah and the barren landscape that our pioneer forebears encountered in 1847, it is no less challenging and trying for us than it was for them."

Elder Ballard told the young adults their struggle is found in living in a world steeped in sin and spiritual indifference where self-indulgence, dishonesty, and greed seem to be present everywhere.

"Today's wilderness is one of confusion and conflicting messages," he said, encouraging his listeners to focus on Zion and building the kingdom of God. "I suppose there may be some of you who would be willing to give your life in the service of the Lord, and yet you cannot find time to do your home or visiting teaching or attend the temple and your Sunday meetings.

"Somehow we need to commit to the service of the Lord with the same diligence and faith that our forefathers did. We must ever be on our guard that we do not become casual in paying our tithing, living the Word of Wisdom, abiding by the law of chastity, being honest and trustworthy in all that we do."

Elder Ballard asked the young adults how they can develop pioneer-like faith. It is "the same process all of God's children through the generations of time have followed to come to know God and Christ and to develop faith in their plan for us," he said. "The formula is basic: study, pray, obey - three simple steps that will lead you to the trail of faith.

". . . If you truly want to have faith in God and faith in His commandments, you must live them - fully and completely. That is how we make our way to the trail of faith."

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