|As a young boy, Joseph Smith spent time pondering religion and was concerned about finding out which church was right. He searched among the churches near his home in Palmyra and attended many meetings. He however, was unsure how to decide, and recorded that there was no way a boy so young could determine between the different denominations.Joseph Smith eventually came across a passage in the Bible, in James chapter one, verse five. It said, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” He recorded later, that this scripture impressed him and he felt that he should follow its counsel. So in the spring of 1820, Joseph Smith went to a grove of trees near his home to pray and ask God for help in discerning between the doctrines of the different churches.When Joseph got to the grove of trees, he knelt down and began to pray. Just as he started, he was suddenly overcome by a dark power, which made it so he could not speak. A thick darkness surrounded him, and he felt that he would be destroyed by this power. With all the energy he had left, he called on God to help him.Just when Joseph thought that he would be destroyed by this evil power, he saw a light over his head. The light descended, and Joseph was freed from the darkness that had overtaken him.In the light he saw two beings. One of them spoke to Joseph, calling him by name and saying while pointing to the other, “This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!” The two beings were God and Christ. As soon as Joseph was able to speak, he asked which church he should join. Joseph was told that he should not join any of the churches, and that all of them had been led astray. Joseph was also taught many other things, especially that God was about to perform a great work in restoring true doctrine and authority to the earth. The light departed and Joseph did not have any strength for some time. Finally he was able to get up and go home. Joseph eventually told his family of his vision as well as a few others. Many persecuted him for the vision, but Joseph remained loyal to what he saw and knew he could not deny what he knew to be truth.
See also Joseph in the Church Today: The First Vision