I know, from countless repeated experiences, that the readiness of my heart is the most important factor in the personal, spiritual value of any meeting in the Church. Of course we will always hope to have well prepared talks and powerful lessons (and usually fall short!). But we, as individual learners, hold the balance of power in any opportunity to learn by the Spirit.
The importance of our personal readiness to receive by the Spirit has been taught over and over by prophets ancient and modern. Elder David A. Bednar has referred multiple times to the subtle doctrine taught by Nephi in 2 Nephi 33:1: “...For when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men” emphasizing that the Holy Ghost carries the word unto our hearts, and as free agents it is our responsibility to bring the message into our hearts. (see David A. Bednar, Seek Learning By Faith). See also:
- D&C 50:21
- D&C 88:118
- Richard G. Scott, To Learn and to Teach More Effectively
- A. Roger Merrill, Receiving by the Spirit
- Robert D. Hales, General Conference: Strengthening Faith and Testimony
Today I reflected on scriptural accounts that are similar to General Conference where I might gain some insight into spiritual preparation and readiness. The most famous is probably King Benjamin’s speech to the Nephites, which does yield some powerful insight into preparing to listen to the Prophet, (see Mosiah 2-5), but I’m going to turn to another example: The Saviors appearance to the Nephites recorded in Third Nephi. Looking at the account of the Savior’s visit as somewhat analogous to General Conference, consider the actions of the people in the following verses. What did they do to be ready to receive the word of the Lord? How might we follow their example in our families?
Some may feel that comparing General Conference to one of the pinnacles of history, the Savior’s visit to the Americas, is a stretch. But I feel that of all times and all places, the Savior will truly “show himself” to us as he speaks through the leaders of His church (see D&C 1:37-38, D&C 68:4). I truly believe that we will hear the word and will of the Lord during conference. Will we be ready to receive it?
Are there other relevant verses from the Savior’s visit that I missed, or other favorite scriptural accounts where we can learn how to prepare to listen to the prophets? Please share in the comments!