“Who are Mormon prophets? What exactly do they do?”
If you have a Mormon friend in your circle, perhaps you’ve heard her talk about going to “general conference” and listening to “prophets and apostles”. Possibly, questions like the ones above have circled in your mind. A unique belief that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have is the knowledge that God, to this day, still communicates with His children through His servants, which you may know as Mormon prophets.
Some may have assumed that God has stopped communicating with us. This has since sparked long debates with various religious groups, historians, and ecclesiasticals alike about whether or not revelation from God still occurs to this day.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland testified that indeed, God still does. “Are the heavens open? Does God reveal His will to prophets and apostles as in days of old? That they are and that He does is the unflinching declaration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to all the world.” He continually speaks to us through revelations received by prophets, seers and revelators of the church.
MORMON PROPHETS AND APOSTLES
Since the time of Adam, the Lord has given authority to numerous prophets to speak and act in His name. In the scriptures, we read of prophets like Moses, Elijah, and Isaiah who received special instructions from God face-to-face, or if not, close encounters with Heavenly messengers who directly told them what needed to be done. These prophets of old were given priesthood keys and authority to carry out the Lord’s work. Today, latter-day prophets might not always publicize face-to-face encounters like the ones recorded about Moses and the others, but, they carry the same divine authority to act and speak in His name.
Latter-day, or Mormon, prophets are men who are called of God to receive commandments, prophecies and revelations from God. Their responsibility is to “make known God’s will and true character to mankind and to show the meaning of His dealings with them.” They preach His gospel, and lead His church on Earth.
Today, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s living prophet in the world today. Members of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles are sustained as prophets, seers and revelators.
HOW PROPHETS ARE CALLED
Elder Neil L. Andersen explained that “The selection of a prophet is made by the Lord Himself. There is no campaigning, no debates, no posturing for position, no dissension, distrust, confusion, or commotion.”
In a divine process of selection, the Lord chooses His prophet. When the President of the Church passes away, the First Presidency, a group of leaders made up of the President and his two counselors, is immediately dissolved. They return to their places in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The senior apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve has always been the successor to the President of the Church.
The newly-called President of the Church is then set apart officially to that position. With guided inspiration from the Lord, he chooses his counselors who will serve with him in the First Presidency. In a solemn assembly carried out after a new prophet is called, members of the church are given the chance to sustain them.
Today, President Russell M. Nelson holds the office of President of the church and he is assisted by two counselors, President Henry B. Eyring and President Dallin H. Oaks along with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who perform tasks similar to the apostles who served with Jesus during His ministry. Like them, these men bear witness of Christ.
WHY WE HAVE PROPHETS TODAY
In Ezekiel, we read of “watchmen who raise the warning voice”. Mormon prophets are our watchmen on the tower. We are sent here to Earth to be tried and tested, and surely the Lord will not leave us alone to battle these challenges ourselves. Through His prophets, we are guided by heavenly instructions to steer us to the path of righteousness, if we are willing to follow their inspired counsel.
Heavenly Father’s love and care for us are demonstrated through the words He speaks through the mouth of the prophets. He knows we are here to experience a myriad of trials and temptations, and so He sent us servants to raise a voice of warning. “A prophet’s greatest responsibility is to show us his sure witness that Jesus is the Christ” and to “point us the way” to Him.
Elder Andersen taught, “Anchoring our souls to the Lord Jesus Christ requires listening to those He sends. Following the prophet in a world of commotion is like being wrapped in a soothing, warm blanket on a freezing cold day.” During times of unrest, anxiety and fear, we can be reminded that the Lord has never left our side. He has not neglected or forgotten about us. He speaks to us through the mouth of His servants to this day and will continue to do so in these latter days.