“Real Intent”

The Book of Mormon uniquely uses the term “real intent.” “Real intent” is required for acceptable prayer: “it [is] counted evil unto a man if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart.” And, to obtain the gift of the holy ghost, real intent is mandatory: “I know that if ye shall follow the Son with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ by baptism — yea, by following your Lord and Savior down into the water according to his word — behold, then shall ye receive the holy ghost.”

Repentance is also dependent upon “real intent” to obtain forgiveness: “But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness with real intent, they were forgiven.”

The best description of “real intent” comes from the resurrected Nephi, who appeared to Joseph Smith and revealed the existence of a buried record. After informing Joseph of the plates and departing, Nephi returned and after repeating the same message again, he added this: “a caution to me, telling me that Satan would try to tempt me (in consequence of the indigent circumstances of my father’s family) to get the plates for the purpose of getting rich. This he forbid me, saying that I must have no other object in view in getting the plates but to glorify God, and must not be influenced by any other motive but that of building his kingdom, otherwise I could not get them.”

This is Joseph Smith’s best explanation of “real intent.” He got it from an angel.

Christ continually alluded to “real intent” as He explained His ministry: When praying for those who believed in and would follow Him: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be agreed as one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be agreed as one in us, that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

When answering a question about His Father, Christ explained: “If you had known me, you should have known my Father also, and from henceforth you know him and have seen him. …He that has seen me has seen the Father. And how can you then say, Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwells in me. He does the works.”

When praying and suffering in Gethsemene, He acknowledged His submission to the Father’s will: “O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

When He defined who He was to the Nephites, His identity was tied directly to submission to the Father: “I have drank out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.”

The tendency to seek our own will is evil. It is also evil to feign we cooperate with heaven, when our real desire is to get something from heaven. “Real intent” involves the authentic, complete submission to the will of Heaven because that has become your sole objective. Not to get a great reward. Not to negotiate some blessing here and now. Not to become great in the eyes of Heaven. Just to have no other object in mind than to glorify God. It is the intent to not be influenced by any other motive but building His kingdom.

Service to God mustn’t be done for another desire or motive, or it is not “real intent” and is accounted as evil.

God’s will should be good enough to justify seeking to do it. In the beginning it was not good enough to keep Adam and Eve awaiting the command to partake of knowledge of good and evil. Instead they acted in pursuit of something desirable to benefit them, even though it was not yet God’s will for them. They acted apart from God’s will. They transgressed because they rebelled.

Christ was the opposite of our first mortal parents. He acted only on His Parent’s will. He acted with “real intent” in all He said, did and thought.