Effort Without Eloquence

Today a man participated in blessing the sacrament. He struggled to read the words of the prayer and his enunciation was not flawless but the sheer effort it was for him to say the prayer made it more meaningful for me. I’ve heard many bright young men fly through the sacrament prayer as if they are participating in a verbal sprint. That always comes across as disrespectful, even if it’s unintentionally so. Contrast that with the effort it took this man to say the prayer, with the struggle he had to say the words, and I’ll take his prayer any day over a flawless brisk reading.

This reminds me of a testimony shared recently by an older brother who had difficulty standing and whose primary language was not English. His effortful and simple testimony was powerful, one of the most powerful I’ve heard in a while. This experience reminds me of Brigham Young’s conversion. He said, “If all the talent, tact, wisdom, and refinement of the world had been sent to me with the Book of Mormon, and had declared, in the most exalted of earthly eloquence, the truth of it, undertaking to prove it by learning and worldly wisdom, they would have been to me like the smoke which arises only to vanish away. But when I saw a man without eloquence, or talents for public speaking, who could only say, ‘I know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord,’ the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminated my understanding, and light, glory, and immortality were before me. I was encircled by them, filled with them, and I knew for myself that the testimony of the man was true.” (Brigham Young discourse, June 13, 1852, JD 1:90; as cited by Larry Porter).

The Spirit, not eloquence, makes a powerful talk or testimony. Sometimes those who struggle the most teach the best.

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