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“Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer”
Elder Richard G. Scott
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Elder Richard G. Scott. All photos © 2007 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Prayer is a supernal gift of our Father in Heaven to every soul. Think of it: the absolute Supreme Being, the most all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful Personage, encourages you and me, as insignificant as we are, to converse with Him as our Father…

It matters not our circumstance, be we humble or arrogant, poor or rich, free or enslaved, learned or ignorant, loved or forsaken, we can address Him. We need no appointment. Our supplication can be brief, or can occupy all the time needed. It can be an extended expression of love and gratitude or an urgent plea for help. He has created numberless cosmos and populated them with worlds yet, you and I can talk with Him personally, and He will ever answer…

Don’t worry about your clumsily expressed feelings. Just talk to your compassionate, understanding Father. You are His precious child whom He loves perfectly and wants to help. As you pray recognize that Father in Heaven is near and He is listening.

A key to improved prayer is to learn to ask the right questions. Consider changing from asking for the things you want, to honestly seeking what He wants for you. Then as you learn His will, pray that you will be led to have the strength to fulfill it…

I wonder if we can ever really fathom the immense power of prayer until we encounter an overpowering, urgent problem and realize that we are powerless to resolve it. Then we will turn to our Father in humble recognition of our total dependence on Him…

Often when we pray for help with a significant matter, Heavenly Father will give gentle promptings that require us to think, exercise faith, work, at times struggle, then act. It is a step-by-step process that enables us to discern inspired answers…

Answers to the mind and heart are messages from the Holy Ghost to our spirits. For me response to the mind is very specific like dictated words, while response to the heart is generalized like a feeling to pray more.”

Then the Lord clarifies: “But [if what you propose] be not right you … shall have a stupor of thought” (D&C 9:9). That for me is an unsettling, discomforting feeling…

“What do you do when you have prepared carefully, have prayed fervently, waited a reasonable time for a response, and still do not feel an answer? You may want to express thanks when that occurs, for it is an evidence of His trust. When you are living worthily and your choice is consistent with the Savior’s teachings and you need to act, proceed with trust.

“As you are sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit, one of two things will certainly occur at the appropriate time: either the stupor of thought will come, indicating an improper choice, or the peace of the burning in the bosom will be felt confirming that your choice was correct. When you are living righteously and are acting with trust, God will not let you proceed too far without a warning impression if you have made the wrong decision.

“The Nourishing Power of Hymns”
Elder Jay E. Jensen
Quorum of the Seventy

Elder Jay E. Jensen

My testimony and conversion to the restored gospel was strongly influenced by singing the hymns of Zion as a young boy…

Hymns play an essential role in spirituality, revelation, and conversion.

Hymns are “an essential part of our church meetings. They invite the Spirit of the Lord.” And they often do this quicker than anything else we may do. President J. Reuben Clark Jr. said, “We get nearer to the Lord through music than perhaps through any other thing except prayer”…

Hymns “create a feeling of reverence.” The words reverence and revelation are like twins who like each other’s company. When the Seventy are invited to meetings with the First Presidency and the Twelve, we are reminded to arrive early and reverently listen to prelude music. Doing so invites revelation and prepares us for the meeting.

President Packer taught that a member who softly plays “prelude music from the hymnbook tempers our feelings and causes us to go over in our minds the lyrics which teach the peaceable things of the kingdom. If we will listen, they are teaching the gospel, for the hymns of the Restoration are, in fact, a course in doctrine.”

The hymns of the Restoration carry with them the spirit of conversion. They came as a result of sacrifice. Hymns like “Praise to the Man,” “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” “Ye Elders of Israel,” “We Thank Thee, Oh God, for a Prophet,” “Redeemer of Israel,” and many others reinforce the great truths of the Restoration — such as the divinity of the Father and the Son, the plan of redemption, revelation, latter-day scriptures, the gathering of Israel, the holy priesthood, and ordinances and covenants. These nourishing hymns create an atmosphere that invites the Spirit which leads us to conversion.

“Commitment to the Lord”
Elder John B. Dickson
First Quorum of the Seventy

Elder John B. Dickson

I would like to address the youth of the Church this morning as Sister Dickson and I would counsel our own family…

Your Heavenly Father loves each of you and has sent you to earth with a purpose. He has revealed a Plan of Happiness that, if followed, will ultimately bring you home to His presence, having triumphed over the trials and challenges of this world. Committing yourself now to live by the pattern the Lord has set will give you great strength in the proper use of your moral agency…

You have come into this world at a time that has been anticipated from the beginning — a time prior to the Second Coming of the Lord, in which, on one hand, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in its fullness and, on the other, there is a great turmoil, confusion and wickedness. The proving ground that you were born into is wonderful, affording great opportunities, but at the same time there is a danger in abundance, even danger to one’s very soul.

Now is the time to commit yourself to the Lord as to what you will become during this mortal probation…

As you seek to receive Heavenly Father’s blessings regarding the Word of Wisdom, include a commitment to never touch the illegal drugs that are prevalent in today’s society. The adversary will have very little power to tempt you with things that you have never touched…

Setting a pattern of early commitment is very important. For example, to receive the blessings promised to those who pay tithes and offerings, you should commit now to pay tithing on all earnings…

Let us now consider other commitments that will bless your lives. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in spite of what others at school might be doing, from this moment forward you would be known for your absolute integrity and clean language? Decide now that you will never cheat; that your language will be pure; that as long as you live vulgar words or jokes will never come from your lips…

Other standards to ponder and commit to are: absolute moral cleanliness and sexual purity, Sabbath observance, preparation for missions and the temple, and a determination to always partake of the sacrament worthily.


“The Tongue of Angels”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

The Prophet Joseph Smith deepened our understanding of the power of speech when he taught, “It is by words, [that] every being works when he works by faith…Faith, then, works by words; and with [words] its mightiest works have been done, and will be performed.” Like all gifts “which cometh from above,” words are “sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit.”…

There is a line from the Apocrypha which puts the seriousness of this issue better than I can. It reads, “The stroke of the whip maketh marks in the flesh: but the stroke of the tongue breaketh bones.”…

The voice that bears profound testimony, utters fervent prayers, and sings the hymns of Zion can be the same voice that berates and criticizes, embarrasses and demeans, inflicts pain and destroys the spirit of oneself and of others in the process. “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing,” James grieves. “My brethren [and sisters],” he says, “these things ought not to be.”…

Is there something we could all work on? Is this an area in which we could each try to be a little more like a “perfect” man or woman?…

I love what Elder Orson F. Whitney once said: “The spirit of the gospel is optimistic; it trusts in God and looks on the bright side of things. The opposite or pessimistic spirit drags men down and away from God, looks of the dark side, murmurs, complains, and is slow to yield obedience.” Honor the Savior’s declaration to “be of good cheer.”…Speak hopefully. Speak encouragingly, including about yourself….

Yes, life has its problems and yes there are negative things to face, but please accept one of Elder Holland’s maxims for living — no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse…

So, brothers and sisters, in this long eternal quest to be more like our Savior, may we try to be “perfect men and women” in at least this one way now — by offending not in word, or more positively put, by speaking with a new tongue, the tongue of angels. Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity…With such words, spoken under the influence of the Spirit, tears can be dried, hearts can be healed, lives can be elevated, hope can return, confidence can prevail.

“Ye Must Be Born Again”
Elder David A. Bednar
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Elder David A. Bednar

Interestingly, simple and ordinary experiences often provide the most important learning opportunities we ever have.

As an adult I have reflected upon the things I observed in our kitchen during canning season. I want to discuss some of the spiritual lessons we can learn from the process by which a cucumber becomes a pickle. I invite the Holy Ghost to be with us as we consider the significance of those lessons for me and for you as we come unto Christ and are spiritually reborn.

A pickle is a cucumber that has been transformed according to a specific recipe and series of steps. The first steps in the process of changing a cucumber into a pickle are preparing and cleaning…

The next steps in this process of change are immersing and saturating the cucumbers in salt brine for an extended period of time….

Cucumbers can only become pickles if they are totally and completely immersed in the brine for the prescribed time period. The curing process gradually alters the composition of the cucumber and produces the transparent appearance and distinctive taste of a pickle. An occasional sprinkle of or dip in the brine cannot produce the necessary transformation. Rather, steady, sustained and complete immersion is required for the desired change to occur.

The final step in the process requires the sealing of the cured pickles in jars that have been sterilized and purified…All impurities must be removed from both the pickles and the bottles so the finished product can be protected and preserved. As this procedure is properly followed, the pickles can be stored and enjoyed for a long period of time…

The Lord’s authorized servants repeatedly teach that one of the principal purposes of our mortal existence is to be spiritually changed and transformed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ…

Please note the conversion is mighty, not minor — a spiritual rebirth and fundamental change of what we feel and desire, what we think and do, and what we are. Indeed, the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through our reliance upon “the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8)….

Just as a cucumber must be prepared and cleaned before it can be changed into a pickle, so you and I can be prepared with “the words of faith and of good doctrine” (I Timothy 4:6) and initially cleansed through the ordinances and covenants administered by the authority of the Aaronic priesthood.” …

Spiritual rebirth typically does not occur quickly or all at once; it is an ongoing process — not a single event. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. This phase of the transformation process requires time, persistence, and patience…

Sporadic and shallow dipping in the doctrine of Christ and partial participation in His restored Church cannot produce the spiritual transformation that enables us to walk in a newness of life. Rather, fidelity to covenants, constancy of commitment, and offering our whole soul unto God are required if we are to receive the blessings of eternity.

“I Know That My Redeemer Lives”
President Thomas S. Monson
First Counselor in the First Presidency

President Thomas S. Monson

Today, as always, the skeptic’s voice challenges the word of God, and each must choose to whom he will listen. Clarence Darrow, the famous lawyer and agnostic, declared, “No life is of much value, and every death is but a little loss.” Schopenhauer, the German philosopher and pessimist, wrote: “To desire immorality is to desire the eternal perpetuation of a great mistake.”

And to their words are added those of new generations as foolish men crucify the Christ anew — for they modify His miracles, doubt His divinity, and reject His resurrection…

Against the doubting in today’s world concerning Christ’s divinity, we seek a point of reference, an unimpeachable source, even a testimony of eyewitnesses. Stephen, from biblical times, doomed to the cruel death of a martyr, looked up to heaven and cried, “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.


”…

In our dispensation, this same testimony was spoken boldly by the Prophet Joseph Smith, as he and Sidney Rigdon testified: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!”

This is the knowledge that sustains. This is the truth that comforts. This is the assurance that guides those are bowed down with grief — out of the shadows and into the light…

My brothers and sisters, we laugh, we cry, we work, we play, we love, we live. And then we die. Death is our universal heritage. All must pass its portals. Death claims the aged, the weary and worn. It visits the youth in the bloom of hope and the glory of expectation. Nor are little children kept beyond its grasp…

And dead we would remain but for one Man and His mission, even Jesus of Nazareth. Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, His birth fulfilled the inspired pronouncements of many prophets. He was taught from on high. He provided the life, the light, and the way. Multitudes followed Him. Children adored Him. The haughty rejected Him. He spoke in parables. He taught by example. He lived a perfect life…

Next week the Christian world will celebrate the most significant event in recorded history. The simple pronouncement, “He is not here, but is risen,” was the first confirmation of the literal resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The empty tomb that first Easter morning brought comforting assurance, an affirmative answer to Job’s question, “If a man die, shall he live again?”…

Through tears and trials, through fears and sorrows, through the heartache and loneliness of losing loved ones, there is assurance and life is everlasting. Our Lord and Savior is the living witness that such is so.

With all my heart and the fervency of my soul, I lift up my voice in testimony as a special witness and declare that God does live. Jesus is His Son, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is our Redeemer. He is our Mediator with the Father. He it was who died on the cross to atone for our sins. He became the first fruits of the resurrection. Because He died, all shall live again. Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives, “I know that my Redeemer lives!