Preparing for Conference: Spiritual Readiness, Family Traditions Add to Experience

Contributed By Church News

  • 4 October 2018

As general conference approaches, we asked what people do to prepare and why.

Article Highlights

  • Center scripture study, prayers, and thoughts on questions you have.
  • Have a system ready to record questions, impressions, and learnings from conference.
  • Create traditions that bring family members together to worship and connect.

As general conference approaches, we asked what people do to prepare and why.

The responses below include centering scripture study, prayers, and thoughts on questions you have; having a system ready to record questions, impressions, and learnings from conference; and creating traditions that bring family members together to worship and connect.

The following responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Preparing for inspiration

As a child, general conference weekend meant I could stay in my pajamas and play in the living room all day. During my teen years, I napped through most sessions. Today, as a mother of four, general conference has become a lifeline of inspiration I need to raise my family. However, I have learned that if I want to hear the whisperings of the Spirit, I need to do my part.

One way I prepare is to start writing down specific questions I have or issues with which I or someone in my family is struggling. Time has taught me answers are more likely to come as I increase effort on my part. The more I center my scripture study, prayers, and thoughts on the answers I’m seeking, the better prepared I am to receive inspiration. Before general conference begins, I go back and review my questions and any notes so they are fresh in my mind.

Stacey L. Nash has learned that diligent preparation leads to the inspiration she needs for her life at that time. Prior to conference, she centers her scripture study, prayers, and thoughts on the answers she is seeking.

However, that’s not the only method I’ve used to prepare. Some years I haven’t been in the middle of an overwhelming trial or had burning questions. Rather, I’ve felt the need to make a change without knowing exactly what it is that needs changing. In those years, preparation takes a little more work. In addition to my normal scripture study and prayers, I review talks from previous conferences, read articles from the latest issue of the Ensign, and pray that I will hear something that Heavenly Father wants me to know.

Overall, I’ve learned that diligent preparation leads to the inspiration I need for my life at that time.

—Stacey L. Nash, Buckley, Washington

Preparing to record impressions

Something I learned from a very loving bishop to prepare for general conference has had a substantial impact on my life and my testimony. What I have titled it is a “General Conference Learning Grid.” It is a pretty simple spreadsheet that I have created that includes the following items: title (of the talk), speaker, key impressions, key scriptures, key questions, and promises.

Creating this prior to conference allows me to start to focus on what is to come. It also ensures I am not scrambling to find a place to take notes. As I listen/watch the conference talks, I fill out these different areas. Then I go back and review the talks once they are available to fill in anything I may have missed. Doing this has allowed me to get so much more out of general conference, for which I am so grateful as this preparation has truly brought me blessings.

—Seth Saunders, Orem, Utah

Seth Saunders prepares for conference by creating a document to record his impressions and learnings from conference. Photo by Seth Saunders.

Creating family traditions

Little did my mother know when she baked her first batch of oversized cinnamon rolls for the Sunday of general conference, she was creating a tradition that would bring family members together to worship and connect, even when they were struggling spiritually.

Shannon Symonds makes general conference cinnamon rolls, a recipe she received from her mother, for her family as they gather for general conference. Photo by Shannon Symonds.

Many years ago, my parents converted to the Church. In 1973, they moved to Utah, where miraculously, you could watch general conference on television. To celebrate, my mother began a sweet and simple tradition that later helped us look forward to and prepare for conference.

On conference Sunday, Mother would use her mother’s recipe to bake a large batch of frosted cinnamon rolls. We woke to a clean home and the smell of rolls. She also allowed us to break a family rule and eat in the living room around the television. It felt like Christmas morning.

Years later, my husband and I moved our large family to an old house on the Oregon coast. Far away from family, and missing home, on general conference Sunday I rose at 5 in the morning and called my mother. She gave me the magic recipe. We couldn’t afford bacon. Juice was a luxury. But I had everything in the cupboard for large, buttery cinnamon rolls. We lit a fire in the fireplace and gathered to say a prayer of thanks and enjoy our first general conference Sunday together. I had no idea how precious this tradition would become.

Today, three of my six children are active in the Church. Three are not. And yet, every general conference Sunday, all of my children will come home to eat beloved general conference cinnamon rolls. The special combination of cinnamon rolls, tradition, conference, and love brings them home. A prayer of gratitude is always said. The Spirit envelops us as speakers share their messages.

Far away in Utah, 40 or 50 members of my family gather. No matter where our youth are in their spiritual journey, they enjoy general conference cinnamon rolls. Mom’s sticky rolls have created a connection that is almost, but not quite, as sweet as the spirit that accompanies general conference Sunday.

—Shannon Symonds, Seaside, Oregon