How can following the prophet help us? Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told a story about his father, who worked and lived in the home of President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918):
One night Elder Perry’s father came home very late and tried to open his bedroom door. The door would not open. He pushed and pushed, and it still would not open. He gave up and turned to sleep on a rug that was in the hall. As he turned, he bumped into a nearby, partially opened door—and woke up the prophet!
Although it was midnight, President Smith came over and showed Elder Perry’s father how to open the door by pulling instead of pushing, and how to get around in the dark: “Keep your arms in front, but hands together.”
Elder Perry teaches us what a prophet does to help us. He said, “Isn’t a prophet someone who teaches us to open doors we could not open ourselves—doors to greater light and truth? Isn’t a prophet like a pair of hands clasped together in front of the body of the Church, helping members navigate [find their way] through the dark [hallways] of the world?” (Ensign, Nov. 1994, 18–19.)
As we listen to the prophet and follow his advice, we can have the doors of our understanding opened, and we will be able to move through our life, guided by the Savior’s light.
Cut out the two long rectangles, and the windows and circles inside the longer one.
Form both rectangles into tubes by gluing or taping tabs A to tabs B.
Insert the smaller tube in the larger one, then turn it to move the family from going to hear the prophet, to listening to him, to going home, to following his counsel.
(Note: All songs are from Children’s Songbook unless otherwise indicated; GAK = Gospel Art Kit; TNGC = Teaching, No Greater Call)
1. Help the children understand that the Lord’s servants have always taught His gospel. Before sharing time, choose messages from the most recent general conference talks that can be reinforced with scriptures located in the Epistles—e.g., 1 Cor. 3:16 (your body is a temple), 2 Tim. 3:14–17 (study the scriptures), James 1:5–6 (pray). Copy short excerpts from the conference talks and place them on the backs of the pictures of the General Authorities who gave them.
Write the scripture references (spell them out) on one side of the chalkboard. Have the children locate the scriptures, read them aloud, and write on the other side of the chalkboard the principles taught. Have a child read one of the conference-message excerpts aloud and ask the other children which scripture matches that message the best. Place the picture by the scripture, then sing songs that reinforce the message. Repeat the process until the matching is completed. Bear testimony that our prophet and Apostles today teach the word of God and that blessings come when we listen and obey.
2. Help the children understand that a prophet’s guidance often comes because he is a seer who can “see” into the future (see Mosiah 8:17). Invite a guest speaker to share a conference message such as President Gordon B. Hinckley’s message “The Church Goes Forward,” about the growth of the Church and the “fulfillment of … prophecy” (Ensign, May 2002, 4–7). Sing songs about the Restoration, temples, and missionaries. Discuss how the children can prepare for the future by following the prophet’s counsel today. Review principles of “The Six Bs” (Friend, Feb. 2001, 24–25). Give the children paper and pencils and have them draw two pictures—one of themselves living one of the Bs today, and a second of themselves continuing to live that principle in the future as a missionary, student, mother, or father. Bear testimony of the blessings that come from choosing the right today.
3. For younger children: Make picture necklaces to remind the children of principles taught during general conference. Cut 4–5 long pieces of string or yarn, and tie the ends of each string together to form necklaces. Using a stapler or tape, attach a small picture of an item representing the content of a talk to each string necklace. Examples: a tithing envelope for a talk on tithing, a CTR shield for a talk on choosing the right, a child praying for a talk about prayer, shoes for a talk about walking in faith and following the Savior. Place the necklaces under selected chairs before Primary.
Ask the children who find necklaces under their chairs to put them on and come to the front of the room. For each picture, review the name of the General Authority who gave the talk and the subject the picture represents. Give the children case studies relating to their pictures and ask them to act out the answer—e.g., act out a job or chore you could do to earn money, then show how you pay tithing on that money; act out watching television when a movie comes on that uses words that make you feel uncomfortable, then show what you would do; name three times you could pray, then show what you look like when you say your prayers; act out seeing your father beginning to rake leaves while you are walking to a friend’s house to play, then show what you might do.
As each child demonstrates an action, have the rest of the Primary do the same action. Sing a song to reinforce the principle—e.g., “I’m Glad to Pay a Tithing” (p. 150), “Choose the Right Way” (pp. 160–61), “Children All Over the World” (pp. 16–17), “Love One Another” (p. 136).
Bear testimony that the children will be blessed as they remember the words of the prophet and other General Authorities and follow their counsel. Sing the chorus of “Follow the Prophet” (pp. 110–11).
4. Use Eph. 6:13–17 to help the children understand how listening to and following the counsel of our prophet and other General Authorities can serve as an armor of God to protect them. Before Primary, draw a picture of a person wearing armor on a large sheet of paper or on the chalkboard. Label the armor from the scripture description: GIRDLE (of truth), BREASTPLATE (of righteousness), SHOES (preparation of the gospel of peace), SHIELD (of faith), HELMET (of salvation), SWORD (of the Spirit). (Note: For examples of armor, see Primary 4 manual, 91; GAK 112 [picture of David fighting Goliath].)
On slips of paper, write several copies of counsel given by General Authorities during recent general conferences, such as these from the October 2002 general conference: Elder M. Russell Ballard / “Keep yourselves clean and pure and radiant”; President Gordon B. Hinckley / “Rise to the divinity within you.” Place the strips in a container.
Have the children locate and read Eph. 6:13–17. Help them identify the pieces of armor and how each would protect them. Help them understand that following the words of the prophet and other General Authorities can protect them.
Have the children take turns choosing a slip of paper from the container. Ask each child to read the counsel from the General Authority and then give an example of how he or she could follow that counsel. After the child does this, invite him or her to color in a piece of the armor on the picture. Then sing a Primary song that applies to the principle of the armor piece chosen—e.g., “Stand for the Right” (p. 159), “Choose the Right Way” (pp. 160–61), “A Young Man Prepared” (pp. 166–67), “Faith” (pp. 96–97), “He Sent His Son” (pp. 34–35), “The Holy Ghost” (p. 105).
Give each child a picture of a doll to draw the armor on and color. Review what each piece of armor represents and how the children can develop their own “armor” to protect them from worldly influences. Invite them to take their dolls home and share what they have learned with their families.
5. To help the children practice following the prophet, play “Who’s the Leader?” Have the children sit in a circle. Choose one child to be It and leave the room; choose another child to be the leader in the circle. The leader does actions like tapping the knees, patting the head, and raising an arm. The rest of the children follow the leader’s actions. Have It return and go to the center of the circle and try to discover who the leader is by watching the children follow him or her. After a correct guess is made, choose two other children to be It and the leader. Play several times.
Discuss who the leader of the Church is. How can we follow him? Review some of the principles the prophet gave in his messages during general conference. Have the children make up actions to help them remember his counsel—e.g., put their hands to their ears (listen to your parents), fold their arms (say your prayers), put their hands to their mouths (say kind things). Sing songs such as “Quickly I’ll Obey” (p. 197), “We Bow Our Heads” (p. 25), “Kindness Begins with Me” (p. 145).
Play the game again and have the leader use the actions from the prophet’s message. Sing “Stand for the Right” (p. 159). Express gratitude for the prophet and tell how following his counsel has blessed your life.
6. Additional Friend resources: Sharing Times—Sep. 2001, 20–22; June 2001, 38–40; May 2001, 34–36; Apr. 2001, 12–14. Ensign resources: “Hear the Prophet’s Voice and Obey,” May 1995, 15–17; “Teaching Children to Follow the Prophet,” Mar. 1989, 52–55.