The true Church of Jesus Christ has been restored and is on the earth today. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always been led by living prophets and apostles, who receive constant guidance from heaven.
God has again spoken in our time, through the Prophet Joseph Smith. He revealed through the Prophet Joseph the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness. He restored His holy priesthood with its keys and all the rights, powers, and functions of the sacred power of the priesthood.
In our day, living prophets and apostles are authorized to speak, teach, and direct with authority from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The Savior said to the Prophet, “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).
In general conference twice a year, we are blessed with the opportunity to hear the word of the Lord for us from His servants. That is a privilege beyond price. But the value of that opportunity depends on whether we receive the words under the influence of the same Spirit by which they were given to those servants (see D&C 50:19–22). Just as they receive guidance from heaven, so must we. And that requires of us the same spiritual effort.
Years ago one of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked me to read a conference talk he was preparing for general conference. I was a junior member of the quorum. I was honored by his confidence that I might help him find the words the Lord would have him speak. He said to me with a smile, “Oh, this is the 22nd draft of the talk.”
I remembered the counsel a loving and kind President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) had given me earlier with great emphasis: “Hal, if you want to get revelation, do your homework.”
I read, pondered, and prayed over that 22nd draft. I studied as best I could under the influence of the Holy Ghost. By the time that quorum member gave his talk, I had done my homework. I am not sure I helped, but I know that I was changed when I heard the talk given. Messages came to me far beyond the words that I had read and that he spoke. The words had greater meaning than the ones I had read in the draft. And the message seemed to be meant for me, fitted to my needs.
The servants of God fast and pray to receive the message He has for them to give to those who need revelation and inspiration. What I learned from that experience, and many others like it, is that to gain the great benefits available from hearing living prophets and apostles, we must pay the price ourselves of receiving revelation.
The Lord loves every person who might hear His message, and He knows the hearts and circumstances of each one. He knows what correction, what encouragement, and what gospel truth will best help each person to choose his or her way along the path to eternal life.
We who listen to and watch the messages of general conference sometimes think afterward, “What do I remember best?” The Lord’s hope for each of us is that our answer will be: “I will never forget the moments when I felt the voice of the Spirit in my mind and heart telling me what I could do to please my Heavenly Father and the Savior.”
We can receive that personal revelation when we hear prophets and apostles and as we work in faith to receive it, just as President Lee said we could. I know that is true from experience and by the witness of the Spirit.