I’ve encountered several different explanations about what the mighty change of heart is, ranging from the peace you feel after confessing a sin all the way to receiving a divine dose of charity such that you have unconditional love for everyone. The phrase is only used a few times in the Book of Mormon. Let’s see what it says on the topic.
Alma 5:7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God.
Alma 5:13 And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God.
Here the preaching of the word initiates this change and the effect is an awakening unto God, where we humble ourselves and put our trust in God.
Mosiah 5: 2 And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.
Alma 19:33 And it came to pass that when Ammon arose he also administered unto them, and also did all the servants of Lamoni; and they did all declare unto the people the selfsame thing—that their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil.
In both these references, the effect of this change of heart is no more desire to do evil. At this point we want to be obedient, which causes us to search the scriptures so we know what God expects of us. Then we align our will with God’s will and move forward. It’s summed up nicely by Samuel the Lamanite:
Helaman 15: 7
And behold, ye do know of yourselves, for ye have witnessed it, that as many of them as :
• are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers,
• and are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written,
• which leadeth them to faith on the Lord,
• and unto repentance,
• which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them.
The first step is coming to the knowledge of the truth. Not only is this learning the correct stuff, but identifying and discarding the incorrect (wicked and abominable) stuff we have inherited. Truth is the knowledge of things as they really are (D&C 93:24), not as we would like them to be or have always been taught them to be. We need to test everything and reject the bad and embrace the good (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).
Once that process begins, we then need to believe the holy scriptures. Notice it doesn’t say believe IN the holy scriptures, it says believe the holy scriptures. That means a very literal reading of the words, in context. Which can really be uncomfortable. When God says, “If you don’t do A, then I won’t do B but rather I will do C,” and we don’t do A, God really won’t give us B, and if we think we have C we are deluding ourselves.
Samuel also tells us we need to believe the prophecies of the holy prophets. He doesn’t say any old prophet, there are plenty of them. We need to believe the prophecies of the holy prophets and ignore the others. Fortunately, the scriptures give us guidance on how to discern. (Deuteronomy 13:1-3 and 18:21-22 for starters).
Those activities, learning truth, rejecting error, and believing the scriptures and prophecies, lead us to faith and repentance. This isn’t the “I’m sorry I yelled at the guy on the freeway, please help me not yell next time” type of repentance, but the “God, I’m sorry my will is not aligned with your will. Please help me get in line, learn your will, and do it.”
When we have that kind of faith, and that type of repentance, then we receive the change of heart. Because at that point we have no more disposition to do evil. We want to do what’s right.
This mighty change doesn’t require angelic visitations or heavenly visions. It doesn’t require forty-day fasts or dedicating every spare moment to acts of service. All of this begins with coming to a knowledge of the truth. Man cannot be saved in ignorance. Until we come to this knowledge of the truth, we are asleep. God and his holy prophets are ready to help rouse each one of us from our deep sleep and awake unto God.
We each need to ask ourselves, are we ready to wake up, or do we want to hit the snooze button?