Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Come Listen to A Prophet's Voice

The 179th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be held on Saturday and Sunday, October 3-4, 2009. Instructions on how to participate.

What is General Conference?

Every six months—usually the first weekend in April and the first weekend in October—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meets together in a General Conference, as outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants (see D&C 20:61-62.) The conference consists of six, two-hour sessions that are held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Three of the sessions are held on Saturday, two on Sunday, and one of the sessions is held the previous weekend. These sessions consist of both speakers and music; General Authorities (apostles, the prophet, members of the quorums of the seventies) and the presidents of other organizations such as Young Women, Sunday School, Primary, and Relief Society speak, and choirs from the area including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir provide inspiration and worship through song.

Being present in the conference center isn’t the only way to participate in General Conference. The conferences are broadcast to church buildings worldwide, are aired on TV in Utah and other heavily-populated Mormon communities, and are available online.

Why is General Conference Important?

Bishop H. David Burton, the presiding Bishop of the Church, said this: “Inspired men and women, blessed by the Lord, and tutored by the Spirit independently combine to produce the unique event we know as General Conference.” (“Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice,” BYU-Idaho Devotional, 19 Oct 2004.) General Conference is important because at no other time during the year do all of the Lord’s apostles and prophets speak to the church at one time. These meetings are as if Jesus Christ Himself spoke to us for twelve hours! For that is what He is doing; He is instructing us through His chosen mouthpieces. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7.) Brigham Young spoke of the importance of listening to the prophet’s voice as he taught that the prophet and other men bearing the Holy Priesthood “convey the word of God direct to us now . . . in our day and generation” (Conference Report, October 1897, p. 19). The Lord told Joseph Smith, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:39.)

Each conference, we receive counsel and guidance on how we should live and changes we should make in our lives. The prophets are very aware of the challenges and difficulties we face and those we will face in the future. They guide and direct us so that we may know how to, “to stand a little taller, to lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater comprehension and understanding of the grand millennial mission of this The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” President Gordon B. Hinckley, the fifteenth prophet and president of the Church in this dispensation, repeated that counsel in many General Conferences. He continues:

This is a season to be strong. It is a time to move forward without hesitation, knowing well the meaning, the breadth, and the importance of our mission. It is a time to do what is right regardless of the consequences that might follow. It is a time to be found keeping the commandments. It is a season to reach out with kindness and love to those in distress and to those who are wandering in darkness and pain. It is a time to be considerate and good, decent and courteous toward one another in all of our relationships. In other words, to become more Christlike.

(Gordon B. Hinckley, “This Is the Work of the Master,” Ensign, May 1995, 69)

What is the Take-home Message?

The messages we receive at General Conference from the Lord’s anointed help us know how to stand a little taller; lift our eyes and stretch our minds; keep the commandments in this world of changing and shifting values; reach out with kindness and love; and be more considerate, good, decent, courteous, and Christlike toward all. The words spoken are for us, in our day, and the counsel helps us apply the teachings of the Savior and of the ancient prophets to our present situations and challenges in life. They share stories and bear testimony of the Savior and His Atonement. We hear topics repeated about faith, repentance, conversion, service, charity, love, temporal welfare, the Atonement, God the Father, etc., each time in a different light and each time with the spirit that encourages us to stand a little taller, to lift our eyes and stretch our minds, to set resolutions to be a little better and make the necessary changes that will lhelp us be truly happy.

I love General Conference. I travel most weekends, but General Conference weekend I always leave open so that I can listen to the prophet’s voice and hear what the Lord is telling me to do. Often times I learn things that I need to improve through the promptings of the Spirit and not necessarily from direct words that the prophets say. Because we are showing the Lord that we want to know His will by listening to His servants, He teaches us those things that we need to know either through the words spoken by General Authorities at General Conference or through the words spoken by the Spirit during General Conference.

I challenge each of you to make General Conference a priority this weekend. To those of you who may not be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, take a couple hours and listen to the Sunday morning session. Two hours, from ten to noon mountain standard time, it will fit into your schedules. And by all means, if you want please listen to more or all of conference if you so desire; it will only bless your lives. To those of you who are members, set a goal that will help improve your conference experience this weekend. Whether it be getting rid of some distraction, watching all the sessions, taking notes, or praying beforehand with specific questions in mind that the Lord can then answer in the course of the conference; set some goal that will help you stand a little taller and that will lift your eyes and stretch your minds.

The men participating in General Conference are the Lord’s anointed apostles and prophets. Thomas S. Monson is the prophet on the earth today same as Moses, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaiah, Peter, and Joseph Smith in their respective times. What they say is truth, it is the word and will of the Lord.


Further readings:

Paul V. Johnson, “The Blessings of General Conference,” Ensign, Nov 2005, 50

Michael F. Watson, “His Servants, the Prophets,” Ensign, May 2009, 106-8

Jeffrey R. Holland, "Prophets in the Land Again," Ensign, Nov 2006, 104-7