Imagine that you’re expecting an incredibly important phone call. Pretend, for example, that you’ve applied to a dozen colleges and your top choice wanted to call you on Thursday night to let you know whether you were accepted. But there’s a slight catch: they have a long list of people to call and will have to automatically reject you if you aren’t available to talk through the details.
If college is too far down the road to imagine, picture instead something else that you’d be waiting for impatiently. Maybe somebody is calling to let you know whether you’ve been accepted on a sports team, dance class, or the school musical—whatever would be truly important to you.
Now, here’s the question: would you stay close to your phone for that expected call?
Chances are, if it were important enough to you, you wouldn’t want to be out of earshot of that phone! You wouldn’t want to miss the call.
Similarly, every six months there’s an extremely important message waiting for you personally. But again there’s a small catch: you have to first show up to receive the message.
General conference is a time to be uplifted, inspired, and strengthened spiritually. It’s also an invaluable opportunity to find answers to personal questions.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught, “A general conference of this Church is a remarkable occasion indeed—it is an institutional declaration that the heavens are open, that divine guidance is as real today as it was for the ancient house of Israel, that God our Heavenly Father loves us and speaks His will through a living prophet.”1
If you have any questions you’ve been praying about, general conference can be a time to find answers to those questions. Even if you don’t have specific questions in your heart, you never know which message or messages from general conference will be exactly what you need to hear. Often, the most important inspiration we receive helps us know how to serve others better.
Speaking in general conference about general conference, President Thomas S. Monson has said: “We meet each six months to strengthen one another, to extend encouragement, to provide comfort, to build faith. We are here to learn. Some of you may be seeking answers to questions and challenges you are experiencing in your life. Some are struggling with disappointments or losses. Each can be enlightened and uplifted and comforted as the Spirit of the Lord is felt.”2
The messages given in general conference are like scripture to us in our day. As the Lord said, “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).
If you prepare yourself spiritually for conference and especially if you pay close attention to the messages, you can and will find instruction and inspiration specific to you—no matter your circumstances.
It always helps to spend time before conference preparing to receive revelation. The Lord has counseled us to seek revelation: “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal” (D&C 42:61).
While it’s possible to receive personal revelation anywhere, anytime, we should never let that fact keep us from studying general conference closely. Only at general conference can we hear from prophets, apostles, and other leaders of the Church in such abundance.
In the October 2013 general conference, Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “To the young members of the Church, I promise that if you will listen, you will feel the Spirit well up within you. The Lord will tell you what He wants you to do with your life.”3
Back to that important phone call. If you knew such a call were coming, you most likely wouldn’t stray from your phone unless it were absolutely necessary. With general conference, then, does it make sense to skip a session or two because you’d rather do other things for part of the weekend? What if you decided to go hiking Saturday morning—missing “only” that first session—but it happened to be the exact session you most needed to hear?
Whether you live in a part of the world where you can watch a live general conference broadcast or you need to wait some time before it reaches your area, it’s always worth the time and effort to pay close attention to each talk as soon as it is available to you.
Consider deciding today that you will show up ready to hear and willing to listen to each talk, paying close attention for the inspiration you most need to hear.
After all, you never know when the phone is going to ring.