Practicing Pure Religion Brings Happiness, Seventy Tells Students

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 26 January 2015

Elder Don R. Clarke of the Seventy speaks during a campus devotional at BYU on January 13, 2015.  Photo by Meagan Larsen, BYU.

Article Highlights

  • Elder Clarke explained that practicing pure religion makes a connection with heaven that isn’t made another way.
  • He invited students to practice pure religion by caring for widows and orphans, helping the needy and poor, and rescuing the lambs and sheep.

“As we practice pure religion we make a connection with heaven that is made no other way.” —Elder Don R. Clarke of the Seventy 


In order to be happy, feel the Holy Ghost, and grow closer to the Savior, individuals must practice pure religion, Elder Don R. Clarke of the Seventy said during a BYU campus devotional on January 13. Thousands of students listened to the General Authority as he spoke in the Marriott Center on the BYU campus.

“As we practice pure religion we make a connection with heaven that is made no other way,” Elder Clarke said.

Sharing an experience of a recently returned missionary who was concerned about losing some of the sacred and special feelings he felt as a missionary in the mission field, Elder Clarke shared five key practices to help individuals practice pure religion in their everyday life.

Care for and visit widows

“Widows sit home every day waiting for someone to come or call,” he said, noting that if he were a bishop he would encourage his ward members to be sensitive to the needs of older members who are living alone.

This could bring blessings and tender experiences to both the person doing the visiting and the people being visited, he said.

Help orphans

“Orphans may be hard to find here in Provo, but there are many throughout the world,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could connect or write one regularly?”

Elder Clarke spoke of programs set up to connect with youth that need a mentor. Sharing the experience of his son who decided to volunteer as a “Big Brother,” Elder Clarke said that his son’s volunteer opportunity changed his college experience and helped him to think about someone besides himself.

Care for the needy and the poor

“As we review the scriptures, we are constantly reminded of the importance of helping the poor and needy,” he said. “At our last general conference, Elder Holland’s talk was entitled ‘Are We Not All Beggars?’ This talk is an excellent reminder of our responsibility to help the poor and the needy. We should review it regularly. One way that we could increase our help to the poor and needy would be to pay a generous fast offering.”

Sharing a moving story of a man who helped a mother of three in a desperate situation, Elder Clarke spoke of the importance of helping others—even strangers—who are in need.

“Does the Lord trust us to be an answer to someone else’s prayer?” he said. “Can He count on us to follow the promptings of the Spirit? The more we follow the Spirit’s promptings, the more opportunities the Lord will present us with the opportunity to be the answer to someone else’s prayer.”

Help lambs

“The youth have many temptations like you do,” he said. “The young lambs are in need of nourishment.”

When Jesus had His conversation with Peter, it is interesting that his first counsel to Peter was “Feed my lambs,” Elder Clarke taught.

“The Savior knew that if we keep the lambs we wouldn’t have to look for lost sheep. Some of us may have younger brothers or sisters, nephews, nieces, or other young people that we know that need help. May we be great examples for them, and may we find the lambs that need our help.”

Help sheep

Just as shepherds were the people the Lord trusted to share the message that the Savior was born, individuals today can invite all into the fold.

“We just passed the Christmas season, a time of the year when we tend to practice pure religion. … Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could keep that special Christmas spirit all year round?” he asked. “As we practice pure religion by caring for and visiting widows, helping orphans, caring for the poor and needy, and helping lambs and sheep, we will show Him that we love Him! As we do this we will be happy, feel the Holy Ghost, and feel closer to the Savior.”