There’s nothing like a few well-placed comments by a prophet of God to build anticipation for an upcoming general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In October 2018, President Russell M. Nelson, the Lord’s prophet, said, “There’s much more to come.” He then admonished Church members and others to “wait until next year.” In March 2019, he promised, “Things are going to move forward at an accelerated pace. The Church is going to have an unprecedented future, unparalleled. We’re just building up to what’s ahead now.” With those promises in mind, here are 5 practical ways to prepare for and get the most out of general conference.
Come with a Question
In the introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants, it says, “These sacred revelations … came out of real-life situations involving real people.” It further explains, “The Prophet and his associates sought for divine guidance, and these revelations certify that they received it.” In other words, people with real-life problems took their questions to the Lord. In return, they received answers through revelation from a prophet.
Questions are not the same as doubts. In a recent address, Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge taught, “I heard someone say recently, ‘It is okay to have doubts.’ I wonder about that. The Lord said, ‘Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.’ I have a lot of questions; I don’t have any doubts.”
Doubt implies uncertainty or a hesitation to believe. Questions, on the other hand, imply a desire to learn something not previously known. Do you need guidance for a particular challenge? Do you want to understand a particular doctrine? Do you need to know how to strengthen your testimony? Do you need to know how the Lord feels about you or your mission on earth (two questions President Nelson suggests we all ask)? Bring those questions to the Lord during general conference.
Pray with a Purpose
Jesus taught, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22). To get the most out of your prayers leading up to general conference, make them specific.
Pray for the Prophet: Pray for President Russell M. Nelson. As the prophet and leader of a worldwide church, President Nelson bears a solemn responsibility to speak and act for the Lord. Sustain him through your ongoing prayers for his health, strength, and continued ability to receive revelation for the Church.
Pray for the Speakers: Remember the speakers in your prayers. Pray that they can deliver the messages the Lord wants them to share. Ask the Lord for their peace, safety, and health. Although some of the speakers may be accustomed to addressing large audiences, others may be new. Pray that they will be sustained as they fulfill their speaking assignment.
Pray for Yourself: Ask the Lord to help you hear and recognize answers. Seek a soft heart to take direction and correction from the Lord. Request the courage to follow the impressions you hear while participating in general conference.
Pray for Others: Just as the Spirit can teach you as you listen to the messages of general conference, He can teach others. Pray for your loved ones and others to hear answers to their prayers. Seek the Lord’s help to turn the hearts of those you love more fully to Him.
Go to the Temple
In a moment of great need, when all of Jerusalem was under siege by the Assyrians, King Hezekiah did two important things; he “went into the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 19:1) and he “sent [servants] unto Isaiah the prophet” (Isaiah 37:2) for direction and reassurance. He received his answer through the prophet. “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me … I have heard. … Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city… For I will defend this city, to save it” (2 Kings 19:20, 32, 34). His temple attendance led to his answer.
Elder David A. Bednar taught that the temple is a “sacred space specifically set apart for worshipping God and for receiving and remembering His great and precious promises.” He further explained that the temple “[elevates] our vision from the things of the world to the blessings of eternity.” If you want to gain eternal insights from a loving Heavenly Father during general conference, prepare by going to the temple this week.
Ideally, spend time in the temple, praying, preparing, and listening. But even if entering the temple is not an option, there are other things you can do to feel the power of the temple. For example, visit the temple grounds if you live near a temple. Participate in family history research. Find the name of a family member who needs the blessings of the temple. Index names through FamilySearch. Take one step toward receiving a current temple recommend. Any effort you make to include the temple in your preparation will enhance your general conference experience.
Offer a Sacrifice
When the people of King Benjamin gathered round the temple to listen to his counsel, they prepared by offering sacrifices. The scriptures recount, “The people gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them…. And they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses” (Mosiah 2:1, 3).
Since then, instructions for offering sacrifices have changed. Following the Savior’s Atonement and Resurrection, He taught, “And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings” (3 Nephi 9:19). Instead, He taught, “Ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:20).
We offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit through sincere repentance. Ask the Lord to help you identify your sins and then seek forgiveness. The Lord does not expect perfection from any of us. But He does require a broken heart and a contrite spirit in our sanctification. As you prepare to listen to a prophet’s voice this weekend, offer the Lord a penitent heart.
Clear Your Calendar
I get that this is easier said than done. We live in a crazy, busy world. It’s hard to find 10 hours in one weekend to sit in front of a screen and give our undivided attention to multiple speakers. There have been many times, especially during the Saturday sessions, when we have had conflicting sports schedules, work schedules, or other commitments. Thankfully, the videos and transcripts of general conference talks are almost instantly available for review.
However, I often wonder how eager I would be to set those things aside if I received word that the Savior would be presiding and speaking at general conference. It reminds me of the words of a familiar Primary song. “He is always near me, though I do not see Him there, and because He loves me dearly, I am in His watchful care.”
In reality, the messages during general conference are directly from the Lord. He has taught, “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (Doctrine & Covenants 1:38). If we keep those words in mind, we might make listening to the counsel of the Lord during general conference our highest priority.
Great Messages Await
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, “The Restoration [of the gospel of Jesus Christ] is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now.” We can receive personal revelation and be a part of this great work right now as we prepare for and actively participate in the upcoming general conference. What will you do to get ready to be spiritually fed? Great messages await!