Manifesting and Affirmations VS Faith

Once, years ago, before going through a life-changing divorce, I prayed and prayed and acted in the hopes God would save my marriage. I was saved—but not altogether how I had expected, seeing as a divorce eventually came to pass. Even though initially it was not what I wanted, it was not long before I saw that what He did for me was most certainly for the better. It was better than what I had been so desperately seeking.

Another time, I spent 5 years trying desperately to get jobs I was more than qualified for and to move away from my hometown, to start a new life. It was uncanny how many jobs I got passed up for when the interviews went well and I felt as if I was a shoe-in for the job. Eventually, I was only able to get a telecommute position, which kept me in my hometown. I was incredibly disappointed, discouraged, and frustrated. However, I was willing—if a bit reluctantly—to submit to God’s will. Then, in time, being “in my hometown” enabled God to bring me into contact with what appears to be the only human being on the planet who could have introduced me to my current husband. But oh, what a long 5 years that was when I felt all my righteous desires, and very logical and good requests, were being ignored by God.

It is so easy, when we can’t see how God sees, to feel utterly bewildered at His plan for us. It is easy to be confused. It is easy to be discouraged, or even to despair. It is easy to throw up our hands and assume God is playing games with us. It’s easy to cast off long-held beliefs in favor of something that initially makes more sense. But it turns out, there are answers. Here’s a blog on some of the answers I’ve received.

Affirmations and Manifesting Versus Faith

One of the things that is becoming big, in our present day, is “manifesting” things we want, and saying things we believe are true (we are calling them “affirmations”). I have really been enjoying this positive, psychological environment, and I have seen its benefits and blessings. Many I have benefited from myself. However, I have also seen manifesting and affirmations used to show faith in God, or to make what we want to happen “in the universe”—the idea that if we affirm and manifest enough, what we want will happen. And while there is a good deal of proper intent in this effort, I think it is important to establish the benefits and purpose of both affirmations/manifesting and faith, and their differing outcomes. As well, I’d like to establish the points at which the secular affirmations/manifesting combines with the spiritual faith, and also the points at which they divorce.

There is a danger in treating manifesting and affirmations in such a way that we assume they change the will of God. There is no danger, of course, if we understand how manifesting and affirmations aid our faith in Christ. But there is a temptation to believe, that if we say something enough times, we can make it true, or make it happen. There is the temptation to believe that if we simply manifest what we want, with enough belief and determination, that it is God’s will, becomes God’s will, or we can make it God’s will. Because why wouldn’t it be?

Manifesting and affirmations can be tools to strengthen emotional and psychological well-being. They can also help our faith by helping keep top of mind a truth we often forget. Or, perhaps they allow us to make an outward show—almost a ritual—of our faith. But it is important to be clear on, and to know, that not all manifesting and affirmations are part of faith in Jesus Christ. And some are not even a part of non-religious faith.

Faith—religious or not—is not simply a belief. It is something true that we have sufficient evidence of (from past experiences) to have the assurance (knowledge) that it will be again, though we haven’t presently experienced it. We have faith in the sunrise tomorrow. It hasn’t happened yet. But we’ve experienced it so many times—to date—that we know it will come up in the morning, though it hasn’t yet. Thus, faith is not simply a strong belief. It is an actual assurance.

Hope, though often necessary to and combined with faith, is not always the same thing. For example, I can have faith that God will help me find a home, even a wonderful home for my family. I have assurance, from past experiences, that He will help me have a roof over my head. However, I do not have assurance of when, or where, or which house it will be. For those things I can only hope.

What if I find a house I think is perfect for me and my family? Can I make that the home God gives me simply by stating it and manifesting through actions that I want it? No. Well, can I pursue that perfect home to the best of my ability—in a wise manner—until it does or doesn’t work out? Yes. Then, when, or if, it doesn’t work out, I can start my search again and hope for a different one.

This is a loose example. But it is important to note the difference in where I place my faith and where I place my hope. If I manifest and affirm that God will give me a certain house, but then it gets grabbed by someone else before I have the money to buy it or override their offer; then when it fails, I may be tempted to blame God for failing me when the real problem is that I misunderstood where manifesting (hope) and true faith (God ensuring I have a roof over my  head) diverged.

Affirmations Must Be Entirely True to Work Successfully with Faith

I’ve often heard people say very motivating things like, “There isn’t anything you can’t accomplish as long as you believe in yourself.” However, these things are stated, or affirmed, within a specific context. What is often meant by this affirming statement is actually, “There are things you can accomplish in your life—comparable to the journey I’ve taken—if you believe in yourself and take action and don’t give up.” The first, or former, statement isn’t actually true. It’s motivational, yes, but it’s not completely true. And when there is falsity in even the most positive-meaning affirmation, it leads people to false hopes and unnecessary disappointment, or a crisis of faith.

Not everyone can become a professional athlete. Some people—by genetics—are simply more athletically capable than others. Certainly, to those so genetically gifted, any of them may be able to become a professional athlete with belief and significant effort. But among those not so genetically gifted, especially if they are compared against those who have been genetically gifted athletically, no amount of determination and belief will change their genetics. They will never jump as high, or move as gracefully, or throw as far, or lift as much…as others.

Now, this is just one example. But we see such differences emotionally, academically, and then there is also the significant variable of desire. I know many people with the intelligence and academic capacity to become whatever they want—decorated doctors of any science, obscure, common, or lucrative—but they don’t desire it. I’ve seen the same with athletically gifted individuals. They could become WNBA players, but they don’t desire it, despite their genetics. So, we could alter the affirmation to say, “There are many things you can accomplish in your life—comparable to the journey I’ve taken—if you desire it, believe in yourself, take action, and don’t give up.”

Thus, before an affirmation can become part of our faith (especially our faith in God), it must be entirely true. When it is true, then we can exercise faith in it to a successful desired outcome.

Affirmations Must Take into Account God’s Will and Our Own Responsibility

Another problem with affirmations, but also manifesting—or displaying or showing what we want to have happen by our actions or appearance—is that they fail miserably if they do not take into account God’s will. We often think we can make anything happen simply by believing in it or willing it to happen. And I would add to this that, we think we can make “what we think is the best thing” happen in this way. Or that we can make “the best thing” happen in our way.

Since God’s will is what is best for us, we often try to affirm or manifest our will over His. We want our vision and we manifest or state affirmations to make our will His will. Or, we try to manifest or affirm His will without doing it His way—we want His will in our way, which isn’t possible. Faith in God is only useful in bringing about our best possible life if we seek it in God’s way—with our faith firmly based in Him.

The hiccup many of us experience, when we exercise our efforts in stating inaccurate affirmations, or in manifesting our will instead of seeking God’s will, is disappointment and a crisis of faith. We’ve been manifesting so hard and stating affirmations like nobody’s business, and yet we meet with continual disappointment. Often, instead of revisiting and evaluating the truth of our affirmations or the intent of our manifesting or our efforts in doing things in God’s way, we blame God and lose faith in Him. This also is counterproductive, because the error lies in our lack of correct or complete action, inaccurate affirmations, or the incorrect intent—no matter how well-meaning—of our manifesting.

The Power and Limits of Faith

It can be frustrating, as an individual of faith, especially faith in God, to meet continual disappointment, when the scriptures tell us that if our faith is only as big as a mustard seed, we can move a mountain, or part a sea. The misconception in these scriptural miracles is that we isolate them from the context, and the expanded information available in other scriptures. When we lose context and companion scriptures, we also lose the complete truth and also the considerably-sized and irreplaceable variable: the will of God. And so, we say to ourselves, “If I only had more faith, I could accomplish this great thing…” But this affirmation, like the example previously shared, is not completely true. With faith, we can accomplish what it is God’s will that we accomplish if we seek it in the way, and the time frame, He has established.

Moses parted the Red Sea only after ensuring it was the will of God (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3). Sometimes, something we want is on the order of heavenly goodness, and still God tells us “no” because it is not our time, or not our current work, or because it is something He has given to someone else to do (Doctrine and Covenants 9; 1 Nephi 14:20-28, etc.). This is one that is always particularly hard for me to swallow…

The scriptures are replete that if we seek God, and ask sincerely, we can have anything we want that is expedient for us. It’s that expediency that we overlook and forget about. And expediency is all about our relationship with God and our progression toward becoming like Him.

Faith can work miracles if:[1]

  • It does not violate another person’s agency
  • It does not force our will upon God

And then, outside the reference, I add, if:

  • It is based in something true

We often talk about God as all-powerful. And, He is. But we fail to recognize and talk about that He is all-powerful because He follows the true laws of the universe. God binds Himself by covenants to us. When we keep our covenants, He is bound to bless us (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10). But He is also bound to bless us in the way He can—which is in accordance with the laws of the universe, which He follows perfectly. We forget sometimes that God can’t make our way right any more than He can abandon the right way, Himself. God is powerful because He understands the right way to do all things. And that is the only way He can give us our best desires. He may allow us to seek lesser desires, if we reject all His invitations. But when that happens, we ultimately get what we desired—less—because it was more important to have it our way than the best, or right, way. Lesser ways are always temporary and ultimately unsatisfying.

Thus, when we attempt to expect God to bless us against His perfect will, we are asking Him to do something He cannot do. He cannot give us happiness in our way, only in His way, which is the correct and only way He can dispense happiness (nod to C.S. Lewis here). God also follows the laws of faith. He never uses His power to violate our agency—or our power to choose for ourselves.

Thus, when I asked God to save my first marriage (so many years ago now), He would have done had my spouse (at the time) not already chosen firmly to end the marriage. No amount of faith or righteousness, on my part, could have changed my spouse, or forced God to change my spouse. God can’t make people be what He wants them to be. But He can help them become what He wants them to be when they choose that for themselves and exercise their faith efficiently.

Seeking God’s Will is the Key to Successful Affirmations and Manifesting

As I stated at the beginning, I feel that our current environment of affirmations and active manifesting is wondrous. It does so much good. But it can also lead to crises of faith and significant disappointment if we exercise those efforts without a proper understanding of faith, and how it works.

It isn’t just coming up with a good cause or a good job or a good health routine or diet. We must also seek God’s will and aid in order to ensure there isn’t a better cause, or job, or health routine and diet out there for us. Not to mention the godly aid we need to pursue and maintain our efforts.

It isn’t just coming up with a good person to date or marry. It isn’t just putting ourselves in places where we think we could possibly meet that good person to date or marry. It’s also seeking God’s will as to if there are better places we should be to meet that person, or if we should be raising our standards of the type of person we are seeking, etc. We always choose far less for ourselves than God chooses for us.

Something that is critical, and I mean critical, to understand about God, is that when we seek something good, not only does He want to give it to us, but through giving it to us He is bound—and desires—to bring us closer to Him through the making and keeping of covenants. If there are covenants He has offered us that we haven’t yet made, He will lead us to the blessings we desire and ask Him for through making those covenants. He will not give us those blessings and then say, “Oh, and by the way, it would be nice if you could make this covenant with Me, and bind yourself more firmly to Me”. No. He says, “If you really want this blessing, then come closer to me. Bind yourself more firmly to me. Become more like me and then I will show you just how wonderful I am and I will give you not only what you hoped and asked for, but something so much better.”

It is amazing how successful and powerful our affirmations and manifesting can become when we exercise it toward God’s will for us. That is the focus such faithful actions are for. Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “the purpose of faith is not to change God’s will but to empower us to act on God’s will”.[2]

If you would have ultimate success in your affirmations and manifesting, you must first seek God’s will for your life—which I can guarantee will be to lead you to make and keep covenants with Him and to receive ordinances you have not yet received. I challenge each of you to design affirmations and manifestations of your faith based on this powerful information.

Remember:

  • Affirmations must be statements that are entirely true
  • Manifesting in our actions, words, and thoughts, must take into account God’s will and our responsibility to follow His will
  • God dispenses blessings through the receiving of ordinances and the making and keeping of covenants
  • Faith is about God empowering us to do His will, not our own

If there is something you want that your affirmations and manifesting are not bringing about, ask yourself:

  • Are my affirmations completely true?
  • Have I taken God’s will into account?
  • Am I doing His will, or my own?
  • Am I keeping the covenants I have already made?
  • Have I stopped keeping covenants I have already made?
  • Are there ordinances and covenants I have still not received, that I have been invited to make?
  • Am I exercising my faith so that God can empower me to do His will? Or am I hoping God will accept my will?

Bethany Tolley


[1] Fourth Floor, Last Door, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2016 General Conference. Retrieved on 11/30/2020 from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2016/10/fourth-floor-last-door?lang=eng

[2] Fourth Floor, Last Door, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2016 General Conference. Retrieved on 11/30/2020 from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2016/10/fourth-floor-last-door?lang=eng

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