April and October are eagerly-awaited months for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of the semi-annual General Conferences held during these months. It is an exciting time to listen as prophets and apostles of the Lord give counsel and direction to all. But more than this counsel and direction for the administration of His church and revelation to the world, are the countless gifts sent to us from heaven in the form of carefully prepared conference talks.
Here are some of those gifts.
Answers to prayers. Wise counsel we often receive before conference is to come prepared with questions. We are promised that as we prayerfully seek for answers while listening to speakers, we will receive the answers we need, either directly from the words of the speakers, or from the enlightenment we receive through the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Receiving answers to our prayers doesn’t happen automatically. We are counseled to carefully prepare ourselves spiritually, so we can be ready to receive the answers we need. Sometimes, the answers do not come during the conference itself, but come later as we give heed to the counsel to carefully study the conference talks over the course of 6 months.
Aside from the talks given, answers can also be found in the hymns, prayers, and even discussions with our families about impressions they have received during the conference.
Witness of precious truths. During the October 2018 Sunday morning session, Elder M. Russel Ballard opened the conference with a very powerful message about a vision his great grandfather, Joseph Fielding Smith, received regarding the redemption of the dead. He recounted the many trials and sorrows Joseph F. had to go through to become fully prepared to receive such revelation. At a young age, Joseph F. lost his father, Hyrum Smith, who was martyred at Carthage. Joseph F. also lost his mother, one brother, two sisters, two wives, and thirteen children during his lifetime.
Many of us might not have known what difficult trials Joseph F. Smith had to go through until this last General Conference. His life is a witness to the truthfulness of God’s words that all our trials “shall give [us] experience, and shall be for [our] good.” So great was his lost and so intense was his desire to come to know what happens after this life, that he was spiritually ready for such a powerful vision.
Elder Ballard’s witness of the life and ministry of his great grandfather, along with all the other witnesses given during General Conference, is one of the gifts we can receive when we carefully study and ponder the talks.
Promised Blessings. A frequent promise made during General Conference is that we can receive countless blessings when we prayerfully study the Book of Mormon. In his last General Conference talk, prophet Thomas S. Monson “implore[d] each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day.” He promised that “[a]s we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.” What a promise! In today’s world of increasing evil, the Book of Mormon can be our protection. This was the prophet’s last counsel to us before he died. The fact that he chose this counsel over all others says so much about the importance of reading the Book of Mormon.
A similar promise was made by our current prophet Russel M. Nelson, when he said that a prayerful study of the Book of Mormon will enable us to make better decisions and receive answers and direction in our lives. He also added that we “can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions” as we immerse ourselves in the words of the Book.
All of these promises, along with all others, that have been made during General Conferences are God’s promises to all of us. The Lord declared that, “whether by [His] own voice or by the voice of [His] servants, it is the same.”
General Conference is for more than just giving instruction and direction to a worldwide church and the world as a whole. It is also about showering abundant gifts into the lives of all those who are seeking for heaven’s truths, promises, and answers. As we prayerfully study the conference messages for the next 6 months, may we always ask what gifts the heavens have given to us in the form of carefully wrapped conference talks.