It is understandable that when one has received a call and been conveyed a trust that will completely change his life forever, feelings would be sensitive and emotions very near the surface.
As I have struggled to begin to understand this sacred assignment and all that it implies, I have spent much time pouring out the feelings of my heart to our beloved Father in Heaven. I have pled that he would guide me and strengthen me that I may serve him and his beloved Son as well as I am able.
There has distilled within my mind and heart a resolve that I have covenanted with the Lord to obey. It is to live to be worthy to know the will of the Lord and to live to have, with his help, the capacity and courage to carry out that will—and to desire nothing else.
I make that same commitment with each of you today.
Now, may my prayers be answered that I may help you who are struggling with a personal challenge or striving to overcome a debilitating habit or appetite, or are anguishing over a loved one who has gone astray.
I wish to share with you some of my most treasured friends, that as they have helped me, they may help you now and throughout your life.
First, some background. During the dedication of the Mexico City Temple, I had one of those singular experiences that readjusts the course of a life. It occurred during the eighth dedicatory session, where many of the men and women leaders of Mexico and Central America were present. When unexpectedly asked to speak, I attempted to convey the strong impressions that poured into my heart. I spoke of those beyond the veil who, in fulfillment of prophecy, had served, suffered, and given greatly to form the foundation which permitted the opening of a new era of the work.
I expressed a feeling to plead in behalf of former prophets who had prepared and protected the sacred records of the Book of Mormon. I sensed that they were saddened as they see us walk from place to place with an unopened Book of Mormon under our arm or see it kept in homes where it gathers dust and is not read, pondered, nor its contents applied.
The Book of Mormon was prepared by divine assignment for the blessing and enlightenment of all those who receive it.
As I spoke, I realized in my heart that all the efforts that I had expended for six years in trying to help those beloved leaders overcome the effects of false traditions and learn to apply the teachings of the Lord would have been better directed had I strongly encouraged them to ponder and apply the teachings of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon contains messages that were divinely placed there to show how to correct the influence of false tradition and how to receive a fulness of life. It teaches how to resolve the problems and challenges that we face today that were foreseen by the Lord. In that book he has provided the way to correct the serious errors of life, but this guidance is of no value if it remains locked in a closed book.
I witnessed that it is not sufficient that we should treasure the Book of Mormon, nor that we testify that it is of God. We must know its truths, incorporate them into our lives, and share them with others. I felt an overwhelming love for the people and an urgent desire that all would comprehend the value of the Book of Mormon.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, invited me to join him in a private room in the temple. He asked me to be seated, drew his chair close to mine, looked penetratingly into my eyes, and with an earnestness that I will never forget, witnessed of his profound conviction that every member of the Church must learn to use the Book of Mormon as the Lord intended.
As he spoke I knew that the Lord had inspired him to have those feelings. I had a witness borne to my heart that he was speaking the will of the Lord.
The influence of these two friends, President Benson and the Book of Mormon, has comforted and sustained me in times of intense need. I would share them with you in your hour of need.
Now, President Benson is the prophet—a worthy, righteous son of Father in Heaven, who, by consistent, proper use of agency throughout his life, has acquired virtue and nobility of character that have qualified him to be the mouthpiece of the Lord to all of his children on earth.
As he enters his ninetieth year, it is difficult for him to fulfill his desire to travel throughout the world so that each of us can personally greet him. Yet as we read or listen to his inspired messages and seek to apply them, we will feel the warmth and companionship of a true friend who knows how to help us.
I offer you the Book of Mormon, a precious friend provided by a loving Savior. Within its pages is truth that brings comfort, guidance, peace, and yes, the companionship of other true friends. Between its covers you will find the friendship and worthy example of Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Benjamin, Alma, Ammon, Helaman, Mormon, Moroni, and so many others. They will rekindle courage and mark the path to faith and obedience. They will help you overcome the bitterness and anguish of transgression.
More important, all of them, without exception, will lift your vision to the perfect friend—our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus the Christ.
I love President Benson. I love the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the other holy scriptures. But I adore this friend.
I cannot comprehend his power, his majesty, his perfections. But I do understand something of his love, his compassion, his mercy.
There is no burden he cannot lift.
There is no heart he cannot purify and fill with joy.
There is no life he cannot cleanse and restore when one is obedient to his teachings.
Let my other friends guide you to him, but find him yourself through humble, sincere prayer, obedience, and faith.
It is written:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16–17.)
The Book of Mormon records these comforting words of the Savior:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. …
“Blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. …
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. …
“Blessed are all they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost. …
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. …
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (3 Ne. 12:3–8.)
When Jesus prayed to his father in humility, faith, and obedience for others, his Father answered. When he prayed for strength and comfort in his hour of greatest need and took upon himself the sins of the world and gave his atoning sacrifice, that upon repentance we could enjoy the miracle of forgiveness, his Father answered.
He is your Father; pray to him. If your life is in disarray and you feel uncomfortable and unworthy to pray because you are not clean, don’t worry. He already knows about all of that. He is waiting for you to kneel in humility and take the first few steps. Pray for strength. Pray for others to be led to support you and guide you and lift you. Pray that the love of the Savior will pour into your heart. Pray that the miracle of the Atonement will bring forgiveness because you are willing to change. I know that those prayers will be answered, for God loves you. His Son gave his life for you. I know they will help you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.