Joseph Fielding Smith, “President Joseph Fielding Smith Speaks on the New MIA Theme,” New Era, Sep 1971, 38–39
Wherever you live or whatever you are doing, the beginning of a new school year means the beginning of a new MIA year. And a new MIA year means learning a new theme, then standing and voicing that theme in unison throughout the year in every MIA opening exercise.
Each year’s theme is timely and seems to literally seep into the hearts of many thousands, blessing them at moments of need with its inspired counsel.
This year’s choice will be no different. In fact, President Joseph Fielding Smith thought the theme of such special importance that he recently gave an entire talk on it. Knowing that many of you will find it interesting to see what the president of the Church has to say about the theme that you will be repeating at MIA during the coming year, the New Era reprints here the full text of President Smith’s address.
My Dear Brethren and Sisters,
I greet you in love and fellowship, in the spirit of thanksgiving and rejoicing, and with the desire in my heart that all of us may so live as to gain the Lord’s choicest blessings. I’m grateful beyond any measure of expression for the principles of eternal truth which the Lord has revealed anew in this present day. As members of the church and kingdom of God on earth, we are the most choice and favored of all people. We have received these truths as ordinances which are designed to lead us to paths of truth and virtue here and to prepare us for the companionship of holy and exalted beings hereafter.
The theme for the new MIA year is “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly. …” (D&C 90:24.)
It is my hope that thousands of sermons will be preached on this text, and that all the members of the Church will let its deep and glorious principles sink into their souls.
I shall divide my brief expressions into two parts: first, the words of counsel and exhortation, and then, those of promise.
We are counseled and exhorted by the Lord: search diligently, pray always, be believing, and walk uprightly; and then the Lord gives us a promise that if we do these things, all things shall work together for our good. That is, we shall gain the blessings of the gospel in this life and have eternal life in the world to come.
Now, what does the Lord expect of us when he says “Search diligently”? I think he wants us to seek his face, to call upon him while he is near, to turn our hearts to him. He wants us to seek the companionship of his Holy Spirit, to be born again, to cleanse and perfect our souls. He wants us to seek righteousness, to seek an inheritance in his kingdom, to desire the association of clean and upright people both now and forever.
I think he wants us to come unto a knowledge of him and his laws, to search the scriptures, to learn to speak to the Lord and to hear the answers he sends us. We must learn to pray with all the energy of our souls, both in public and in private. We must live the doctrines of salvation. He wants us to gain wisdom out of the best books, to seek learning even by study and also by faith, to come to a knowledge of countries and kingdoms. He wants us to learn the mysteries of his kingdom, to have the spirit of revelation until eventually we know all things.
As to the Lord’s counsel to pray always, may I say that few things in life are as important as communing with Deity in prayer. The Lord has drawn over our minds a curtain of forgetfulness so that we do not remember him and our association with him as members of his family in the premortal life. Prayer is the avenue of communication which he has provided for us to commune with him again. Thus, one of the chief purposes of our mortal probation is to see if we can learn with the spirit of prayer always in our hearts so that when the Lord chooses to speak, we shall hear his voice in our souls.
In our prayers we should pour out our souls in thanksgiving for life and being, for the redeeming sacrifice of the Son of God, for the gospel of salvation, for Joseph Smith and the mighty work of restoration brought to pass through him. We should acknowledge the hand of the Lord in all things and thank him for all things both temporal and spiritual. We should plead with him for faith and integrity and for every godly attribute, for the triumph and success of his work, for the guidance of his Holy Spirit, and for salvation in his kingdom. We should pray for our families, for our wives and children, for food and shelter and clothing, for our business concerns, and for all our righteous desires. In this connection may I say, If you can’t pray for a thing, don’t do it.
Our MIA theme says that we should be believing and walk uprightly. These two concepts go hand in hand. To the extent that we believe the words of eternal life, we are then in a position to conform our lives to them. The Lord expects us to believe in him, to accept his everlasting gospel, and to live in harmony with his terms and conditions. It is not our province to select and obey those gospel principles which appeal to us and forget the rest. It is not our prerogative to decide that some principles no longer apply to our social and cultural circumstances.
The Lord’s laws are eternal, and we have the fullness of his everlasting gospel and are obligated to believe all of his laws and truths and then to walk in conformity with them. There is nothing more important to any individual than keeping the Lord’s commandments. He expects us to cleave unto every true principle, to put first in our lives the things of his kingdom, to press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, and to serve him with all our might, mind, and strength. In the language of the scriptures, let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Eccl. 12:13.)
Now, if we shall search diligently, pray always, be believing, and walk uprightly, we have the Lord’s promise that all things shall work together for our good. This is not a promise that we shall be free from the trials and problems of life, for this probationary state is designed to give us experience and difficult and conflicting situations.
Life never was intended to be easy, but the Lord has promised that he will cause all trials and difficulties to result in our good. He will give us strength and ability to overcome the world and to stand firm in the faith despite all opposition. It is a promise that we shall have peace in our hearts despite the tumults and troubles of the world. And above all, it is a promise that when this life is over, we shall qualify for eternal peace in the presence of Him whose face we have sought, whose laws we have kept, and whom we have chosen to serve.
Now I bear witness to you that the word of the Lord is true, that his promises are true. We have his word, and his promises have been made known to us. He is our God and we are his people. I am grateful beyond measure for the blessings brought into our lives because of the gospel. Through obedience to its laws, we shall have peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
I pray that the Lord, as a gracious and loving father, will continue to pour out his Spirit upon all of us and particularly upon the youth of Zion, with whom the destiny of the kingdom rests. This work in which we are engaged is destined to triumph because it is true, because it is the work of the Lord. I leave my blessing with you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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