Viewpoint: Trust in the Prophet Is Trust in God

  • 17 October 2014

President Thomas S. Monson speaks Saturday, October 4, 2014, during the morning session of the 184th Semiannual General Conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.  Photo by Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • How we respond to a living prophet is a test of faith.
  • Sustaining a prophet means standing behind him, not just raising a hand.

“Our spiritual safety lies in turning to the clear voice of our living prophet.” —Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

A bishop’s journal listed Primary sharing time among his most treasured Sunday memories. One Sunday several years ago, he noted, the sharing time focused on prophets and included leading the children in singing “Follow the Prophet” (Children’s Songbook, 110).

The first and last verses were the most popular for the boys and girls. The chorus featured even the Sunbeam class, who loudly joined in and often neglected the melody. The last line of the chorus, “Follow the prophet; he knows the way,” could be heard throughout the meetinghouse.

Following the song, the bishop asked the younger children what they knew about the prophet. One young girl waved her hand and, when called upon, simply said, “I love President Hinckley.”

A recent Primary Sunbeam class lesson again included the favored song, and one young boy, when asked about today’s prophet, stated, “President Monson is our true prophet.” The lad stumbled over the word president, but his meaning was clear and his voice firm.

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke in October general conference about how to sustain our prophet. He said that sustaining the prophet is more than raising one’s hand; it means standing behind the prophet and striving to carry out the instructions he gives as directed by the Lord.

Members sustain the prophet, said Elder Nelson, through personally committing to do their utmost to uphold the prophetic priorities.

In 2012, Mikayla’s school priority was sports. Her high school attendance facilitated her only focus, playing on the school’s sports teams. She seldom participated in or had the desire to attend seminary. When she came to class, she was tardy, worked on homework for other classes, slept, or just doodled in a notebook.

On October 6, 2012, Mikayla’s parents insisted that she watch the first session of general conference. She fought and complained as much as possible, to no avail. She thought, “If I just fall asleep, there is nothing they can do about that.”

But as President Thomas S. Monson began speaking, things changed.

President Monson announced changes in the ages young men and women could begin serving missions. He said: “As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21. …

President Thomas S. Monson and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf raise their hands to sustain Church leaders during the afternoon session of the 184th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

President Thomas S. Monson, accompanied by his daughter, Ann Dibb, gives a thumbs-up to the crowd as he leaves the Conference Center following the Saturday morning session of the October 2014 general conference. Photo by Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News.

“Many young women also serve, but they are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men. We assure the young sisters of the Church, however, that they make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome their service” (“Welcome to Conference,” October 2012 general conference).

Mikayla said as President Monson spoke, “there came a feeling into my heart that he was speaking directly to me. I knew that I needed to serve a mission.”

Sports had been her driving force, and several major universities were recruiting her and offering her full-ride scholarships. That Sunday, she emailed all of the schools and asked they delay their recruiting, that she would be serving a mission for the Church.

She began to study President Monson’s words. She said that every message seemed to tell her that the time to prepare was now and that she needed to get engaged in the gospel and not waste any more time. She told her parents that things would be different as she prepared to serve a full-time mission.

Her seminary instructor related that she was not only on time to every class but brought her scriptures, studied the lessons, and was an active participant in class discussions. This, he said, “was a 180-degree turn from where her heart was prior to conference.” When she shared her testimony, he said, “it was powerful.”

Elder Nelson taught there is great protection in sustaining and following the prophet. He stated there are safeguards and counterbalances so that no one man can ever lead the Church astray.

In an address given at Brigham Young University on February 26, 1980, President Ezra Taft Benson (then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) said, “We encourage earthly knowledge in many areas, but remember if there is ever a conflict between earthly knowledge and the words of the prophet, you stand with the prophet and you’ll be blessed and time will show you have done the right thing.”

In that same address, President Benson said, “How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness.”

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “There has always been a desperate need for the steady and reassuring voice of a living prophet of God: one who will speak the mind and will of God in showing the way to spiritual safety and personal peace and happiness. … Our spiritual safety lies in turning to the clear voice of our living prophet” (April 1995 general conference).

In his closing remarks of the October 2014 general conference, President Monson thanked members for their prayers in his behalf as he strives “with all my heart and strength to do God’s will and to serve Him.”

In our personal prayers, may we include a request to our Heavenly Father for courage, strength, and trust that we may, each and every day, more closely follow the teachings and admonitions of our prophet. He knows the way.