This coming weekend we once again are able to participate in General Conference. Whether at the Conference Center, watching on television, gathered in a Church building, cueing in through the Internet, or listening over the radio, we get to hear the words of living prophets!

As a young woman who was searching for answers to important life questions, it was a huge blessing to find out that, just as Moses led the Israelites in the Old Testament times, we have a prophet guiding and directing us today.  It was one of the very truths that led me into the waters of baptism as a senior in high school.  A prophet to share with us the relevant information the Lord wants us to hear!

Today we have Thomas S. Monson guiding and teaching us as the Lord’s anointed. With him are strong, loyal men of dedication to righteousness whose life’s work is to assist the prophet is sharing messages that we need to hear.  As we prepare for April 2009 General Conference, my husband and I will be watching on television and listening. Not all of my family members will be doing likewise. Some absolutely will be taking note of the counsel given, while others will be about business as usual, randomly spending their Saturday and Sunday hours in “fun”, “rest” or whatever.  Oh, that I could make them see what they’re missing! 

I can prepare myself, though. As the years pass and the wisdom of the scriptures and our general authorities’ counsel settles more deeply in my soul, I have learned that if I am “about my Father’s business” even in as small a way as paying attention to the words of our prophets, I can be more peaceful, more hopeful, and more prepared.  Gratefully, some of our family has learned to “copy me” and do the same.  Maybe these tips will help you – whether you are 15 or 75 – to get more out of General Conference:

  • Fast beforehand, to be more spiritually in tune and be a better listener.
  • Choose a hymn and, even more than usual, keep repeating it within. It helps soften and prepare us for the words that will be spoken!
  • Have a notepad and pencil ready. Make notes as they speak!
  • Be focused. It is much easier to soak in the words lovingly given if we are doing nothing to distract us from what is being taught.
  • Express gratitude to our Father for the experience.  Think of the experience that King Benjamin had with the multitudes he taught.  Can you imagine such an experience?! Yes, you can, once you recognize that our blessing of seeing and hearing the prophet are similar in many ways.
  • Go into Conference time with joy.  Regardless of the trials, whether it is a solitary experience, or you must miss something else “really important”, find the joy in hearing from the Lord through His appointed spokesperson.
  • As the Spirit whispers, make note of the thoughts that come while listening to those who are addressing us.
  • Pray about the words that are being spoken. We may learn more as we do, and gain a greater testimony of the truthfulness of them as the Holy Ghost bears witness to us.
  • Know that our prophets and apostles consider themselves to be regular folks, like the rest of us, and are doing their best to do their job of administering to us.  They need our prayers.
  • Accept the counsel given as words of love.  Figure out how to take at least one principle illustrated and make it work in our daily lives.

Years ago, when Elder David Bednar was president of what was then Ricks College, I had the [dubious] honor of giving the keynote address at the beginning of an Education Week there. I was nervous, just wondering why on earth I would be asked to give such an address, rather than some priesthood authority or LDS ‘celebrity’.  Speaking in front of the college president and his wife made me doubly nervous. I felt inadequate and a bit overwhelmed. Had I known that he was an apostle in the making, I would have felt even more inadequate!

Maybe. Or maybe, had I an inkling of his calling, I would have been impressed to note his genuine dedication to the gospel and the pursuit of helping others. Or even better, maybe I would have had the good sense to recognize that all of us, regardless of our calling or vocation, sometimes feel inadequate or overwhelmed.  We continue forward because we love the Lord and His work. And we root for one another as we work together, each in our own capacity.

Through the years, I have found – and I can bear testimony- that our General Authorities sometimes feel overwhelmed or inadequate. They love God, love His work, and love us.  They are “regular folk” with a more than ordinary work to perform. During General Conference, their desire is to say the words that the Lord would have them say. They need our prayers.

One of our good hymns is entitled “Oh Holy Words of Truth and Love” [Text by Joseph L Townsend, Music by Edwin F. Parry].  As we are readying for General Conference, this hymn is a sweet one to help prepare our hearts.  Some of the lyrics are below:

Oh, holy words of truth and love we hear from day to day,
Revealed to Saints from God above to guide in heaven’s way.

They’re from apostles good and true whose names we all revere,
Who daily teach us what to do in words of love and cheer.

Beautiful words of love,
Coming from God above,
How sweet, how dear the words we hear!
They’re beautiful words of love!

General Conference is one of the best blessings of our organized Church!  We have a living prophet to share counsel with us. He and his chosen fellow-workers will share with us loving ways to better follow the Savior. W can grow closer to our Father in Heaven as we listen, learn, and apply that counsel. Let’s be ready to enjoy those beautiful words of love!