The first weekend in October 2020 offers people from all around the earth the opportunity of attending or accessing through social media the general conference sessions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are able to see living apostles and prophets and hear their counsel prepared especially for us. No matter where we are in world, we can feel as though we are in the personal presence of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, General Authority Seventies, Presiding Bishopric, and other General Officers of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. As we listen to and review their conference addresses, what can we do to be best prepared to understand and apply what they reveal and encourage us to do?
Follow the Example of Nephite Saints
One of the “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study” in the September 28-October 11 Book of Mormon 2020 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families is: “After spending a day in the presence of the Savior, the multitude ‘did pray for that which they most desired’—the gift of the Holy Ghost (3 Nephi 19:9). As you read these passages, ponder your own desire for the companionship of the Holy Ghost? What do you learn about seeking the companionship of the Holy Ghost?”
The examples of those Nephite Saints exemplify that we also should fervently desire the guidance of the Holy Ghost. They knew that Jesus would only be with them for a limited amount of time. When Jesus had blessed the sacramental bread and wine the day before, He had promised them, “And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you” (3 Nephi 18:7, 11). They desired the blessing of the Holy Comforter to be with them every minute and day of their lives. We likewise need to have the sincere and constant desire for His companionship in our lives.
Appropriately Inviting the Comforter’s Guidance
One of the clearest explanations of how to invite the Holy Ghost into our lives is given near the end of the Book of Mormon: “I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:4-5). We continually need to be asking for the Spirit to guide us. If we do this with sincere and real commitment to follow and do as He prompts, our faith will be strengthened to follow Christ’s example in how we live our daily lives.
Elder David A. Bednar explains: “Praying, studying, gathering, worshipping, serving, and obeying are not isolated and independent items on a lengthy gospel checklist of things to do. Rather, each of these righteous practices is an important element in an overarching spiritual quest to fulfill the mandate to receive the Holy Ghost. The commandments from God we obey and the inspired counsel from Church leaders we follow principally focus upon obtaining the companionship of the Spirit. Fundamentally, all gospel teachings and activities are centered on coming unto Christ by receiving the Holy Ghost in our lives” (“Receive the Holy Ghost,” Ensign, Nov. 2010).
We should be striving to become like the stripling warriors described in the Book of Mormon, who did “perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them. …And they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually” (Alma 57:21; 58:40).
Realizing the Importance of the Gift of the Holy Ghost
In February 1847 while camped at Winter Quarters, Brigham Young had a vision wherein he saw the spirit of Joseph Smith appear to him. The Prophet Joseph told him: “Tell the people to be humble and faithful and sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach [you what] to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits. It will whisper peace and joy to their souls, and it will take malice, hatred, envying, strife, and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness, and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the Spirit of the Lord they will go right” (“Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 98).
This personal revelation must have given Brigham Young much comfort. Even though the Latter-day Saint pioneers were surviving a fierce winter in temporary shelters, suffering with privations and starvation, and with many dying, they were given a clear message to keep driving on with faith. If they did, they were promised that the Holy Spirit would guide them to a promised land where they would be preserved, strengthened, and enabled to spread the restored gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.
Following Our Living Prophet
Today, we continue to receive direction from a living prophet about how we are to move forward. At the May 2018 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson gave this clear counsel: “Imagine the miracle of it! Whatever our Church calling, we can pray to our Heavenly Father and receive guidance and direction, be warned about dangers and distractions, and be enabled to accomplish things we simply could not do on our own. If we will truly receive the Holy Ghost and learn to discern and understand His promptings, we will be guided in matters large and small. … My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation. … Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018).
Let us unitedly pray for the guidance of the Holy Ghost for all who will speak at general conference in October 2020 and for all who will take the time to listen with faithful hearts and minds. Let all of us earnestly pray for and seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost.