Friend to Friend: We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley

We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet

For more than a century members of the Church have sung, “We thank thee, O God, for a prophet to guide us in these latter days.” These words have become a grateful expression of appreciation for millions of Saints all over the world. I myself have heard them sung in twenty-one different languages as a reverent prayer of thanksgiving for divine revelation.

How thankful we are for a prophet to counsel us in words of divine wisdom in these difficult times. The real basis of our faith is the assurance we carry in our hearts that God will make His will known to His children through His prophet. No people could have a greater blessing than to have at their head one who receives and teaches the will of God concerning them.

Prophets warn people of things to come, but they also reveal truth to the people. They point the way men should live if they are to be happy and find peace in their lives.

I know of a young man who, as a Christian trying one church after another, could not find one that had a prophet. Only among the Jewish people did he find mention of prophets, and so he accepted the Jewish religion.

In the summer of 1964 he went to New York City and visited the World’s Fair. He entered the Mormon Pavilion and saw pictures of the prophets of the Old Testament. His heart warmed within him as he heard the missionaries speak with appreciation of these great men of ages past through whom Jehovah revealed His will.

Then as he progressed through the pavilion, he heard of modern prophets—Joseph Smith and others who were called prophets, seers, and revelators. Something stirred within him. His spirit responded to the testimony of the missionaries. He was baptized and later served a mission in South America, where he made many converts. Since returning home, he has become the means of bringing his family and others into the Church. It is heartwarming to hear him testify that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God, as were all who have succeeded him in this high and sacred calling.

I am grateful for Joseph Smith as the prophet who served as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty in restoring His work. But I am also grateful for all of those who have followed him. A study of their lives reveals how the Lord chose them, refined them, and molded them to His eternal purposes. Through long years of dedicated service, they have been prepared for the purposes of the Almighty.

Like President Lee whom he succeeds, President Spencer W. Kimball, the prophet of the Church today, came out of humble circumstances. From firsthand experience he learned the meaning of hard labor, served as a missionary, and sacrificed for an education. He has known serious illness when life seemed to hang by a thread and has walked through deep and dark valleys of sorrow. Looking back upon the history of his life, it all appears to be part of a pattern, a refining process, that he might better understand the trials, afflictions, and sorrows of others. Yet with all of this he has a great spirit that seems to lift all those whose lives he touches and influences.

The children of the Church have no greater friend than President Kimball. Those close to him know of his great love for children.

As one to whom the Spirit has borne witness, I testify of the prophetic calling of President Spencer W. Kimball. I add my voice to the voices of people all over the world who sing, “We thank thee, O God, for a prophet to guide us in these latter days.”