In today’s digital age, the Internet has become an indispensable tool for accessing information on any topic imaginable. With just a few keystrokes and a click of a button, one can easily find answers to any question that comes to mind. Googling questions has become a ubiquitous activity that many of us engage in on a daily basis.
We often turn first to the Internet when we have questions, even ones that are gospel related. While it can be a wonderful resource for us, it’s also important to recognize the limitations and to develop strategies for evaluating the credibility and reliability of the information we find.
Let the Lord Lead US
President Nelson shared, “Stop increasing your doubts by rehearsing them with other doubters. Allow the Lord to lead you on your journey of spiritual discovery.”1 So, how can we let the Lord lead us when we use Google to answer our gospel questions?
Three steps will be helpful in finding the most accurate and best information to answer our questions:
- Look for reliable sources.
- Pray about the answers you find.
- Listen to the Spirit.
First, Is it reliable?
The first step in googling a question and looking for a sound answer is evaluating whether the source is reliable. Is the author or source identified? Is the information factual or evidence based rather than just opinion? Does the evidence come from a primary and trustworthy source? Do multiple sources suggest the same answer? If we can answer all of these questions with a resounding “yes,” then the source is most likely a reliable one to use.
Second: Did I pray about it?
Another step in determining the validity of answers to our questions is through prayer. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf testified, “I tell you this: God cares about you. He will listen, and He will answer your personal questions. The answers to your prayers will come in His own way and in His own time, and therefore, you need to learn to listen to His voice.”2
We can learn about receiving answers to questions through prayer by the example of the Prophet Joseph Smith. After reading James 1:5 and feeling prompted to ask his question to the Lord through prayer, he related, “I at length came to the determination to ‘ask of God,’ concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.”3
Joseph did ask God and then received the answer to his question directly from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as they appeared to him in the Sacred Grove. While the answer to every question does not require a personal visit from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, we can still receive answers from God as we pray.
Third – What did the Spirit say?
Having the Spirit with us always is one of the most powerful tools we have in deciphering answers to our questions. Wilford Woodruff shared, “If you have the Holy Ghost with you, there is no greater gift, there is no greater blessing, there is no greater testimony given to any man on Earth.”4
Wilford Woodruff lived his life in such a way that he was always seeking to follow the promptings of the Spirit. Before he was converted to the restored gospel, he prayed and listened to promptings of the Spirit to help him know what to do and where he would find the truth. On March 25, 1865, he shared an experience from his youth: “These principles were riveted upon my mind from the perusal of the Old and New Testament, with fervent prayer that the Lord would show me what was right and wrong, and lead me in the path of salvation, without any regard to the opinions of man; and the whisperings of the Spirit of the Lord for the space of three years, taught me that he was about to set up his Church and kingdom upon the earth in the last days.”5
After studying the scriptures, Wilford Woodruff repeatedly approached the Lord in fervent prayer with very specific questions. He continued to listen and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost for three years after first hearing about the Church, and the day the missionaries knocked on his door he was able to receive the answer he had been waiting for: the gospel they preached was the truth, and the Church of Jesus Christ had been restored to the earth. We can also receive the answers to our questions by following these steps of studying, praying, and listening, just as Wilford did.
Follow All Three Steps
While looking for answers on the Internet can be really convenient, it is important to recognize how to find the most accurate information. By confirming and validating the sources you are using, praying about the answers you receive, and listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, you can ensure that the information you are getting is correct and will help you progress on your spiritual journey.
- Something Wiki This Way Comes – learn how online wiki’s work
- What resources does FAIR have to offer?
- Question: Can Latter-day Saints be divided into two distinct groups called “Internet Mormons” and “Chapel Mormons”?
- Fear Leads to the Dark Side – Navigating the Shallows of (Mis)Information
- Russell M. Nelson, “Christ Is Risen; Faith in Him Will Move Mountains,” Liahona, May 2021, ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth,” Ensign, November 2014, ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
- Joseph Smith—History 1:13.
- Discourse by Wilford Woodruff, April 6, 1889, p. 3, The Wilford Woodruff Papers, wilfordwoodruffpapers.org/discourse/1889-04-06.
- Wilford Woodruff’s 1865 Autobiography in the Millennial Star, March 25, 1865, p. 3, The Wilford Woodruff Papers, wilfordwoodruffpapers.org/autobiography/1865-03-25.
Maddie Christensen is the Public Relations Manager for the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation. Originally from Missouri, she is currently a student at Brigham Young University pursuing a degree in Public Relations. Maddie has always loved learning about Church history and enjoys learning from the writings of Wilford Woodruff. She is passionate about sharing his insights with everyone and is grateful to be part of such an incredible work.
The Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation’s mission is to digitally preserve and publish Wilford Woodruff’s eyewitness account of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and make his records universally accessible in order to inspire all people, especially the rising generation, to study and to increase their faith in Jesus Christ. For more information, please explore wilfordwoodruffpapers.org.