From the Life of President Wilford Woodruff


Becoming a Bible Scholar

Adapted from Leonard J. Arrington, ed., The Presidents of the Church (1986), 118–25.
Wilford Woodruff(click to view larger) Events in the life of Wilford Woodruff(click to view larger)

Illustrated by Sal Velluto and Eugenio Mattozzi

When Wilford was 17 years old, his father arranged for him to continue going to school.

Wilford: But Father, I can’t afford to attend school in West Hartford!

Father: If you do chores for my friend, he will pay your room and board.

Wilford went to school but became terribly homesick.

Wilford: I miss my family, and I want to return home!

In order to avoid feeling homesick, Wilford decided that he needed to stay busy by focusing more on his studies. He grew to love history and started reading every history book he could get his hands on.

One day Wilford picked up the Bible and started to read it. Although he began reading it to learn about Christian history, he gained a testimony that the Bible was the word of God.

Wilford: I resolve to diligently seek the Lord, follow the Holy Spirit, and do the will of God as far as I can learn it!

Wilford talked to different priests and ministers, asking them questions and comparing what they said to what was said in the Bible. Although most of the church leaders were nice, he did not feel that any of the churches were correct.

Wilford: Reverend, why are some people baptized as infants? Jesus and His disciples were baptized after believing in the gospel.

When he was 24 years old, he prayed one night and felt prompted to read the Bible. He opened it randomly to [Isaiah 56:1.

Wilford: “For my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.” I wonder if that means I will soon learn of the true gospel.

Within two years of this inspiration, Wilford had moved to New York, learned about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and been baptized. The Lord had answered his prayers!