One of the great blessings of living in the latter days is the privilege of hearing a prophet’s voice. But with such a blessing comes great responsibility. Not only must we hear his voice, we must also obey it. Only then will we be truly blessed.
In the preface to the His latter-day revelations, the Lord invites all men to listen to His voice. “Hearken, O ye people of my church . . . yea, verily I say: Hearken ye people from afar; and ye that are upon the islands of the sea, listen together” (D&C 1:1). Significantly, this invitation is to all men everywhere (D&C 1:2). This then is the primary issue of our day -- who will listen to the voice of the Lord, and who will not? How one answers this question will determine one’s mortal and immortal destiny. The Lord makes clear why this is so. “[M]y blood shall not cleanse [you] if [you] hear me not” (D&C 29:17).
If one wishes to listen to and obey the voice of the Lord, one must find the Lord’s prophet. The Lord Himself has indicated that His voice shall be “by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days” (D&C 1:4). Indeed, “whether by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). While this principle applies to any of the Lord’s servants who speak by the power of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 68:1-6), it is clear that the Lord speaks to us most directly and particularly through His prophets.
Prior to the establishment of the Church, the Lord told Joseph Smith: “[T]his generation shall have my word through you” (D&C 5:10). Consistent with that promise, on April 6, 1830, the day the Church was formally established, the Lord told the Church that Joseph Smith should be referred to as a “seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, and an elder of the church” (D&C 21:1). The Lord then commanded the Church as follows: “[T]hou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:4-5).
Significantly, the Lord promises great blessings when we listen to and obey His prophets. If we will receive His prophets word “as if from [the Lord’s] own mouth, in all patience and faith,” the Lord promises that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God shall disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6). On another occasion, the Lord promised that those who hearken to the voice of those He has appointed to lead His people “shall not be moved out of their place” (D&C 124:45). In a world of increasing spiritual darkness and intensifying moral commotion, I know of no other greater promises than these.
Twice a year, the entire Church is invited to gather together in a worldwide conference to “listen to a prophet’s voice” (Hymn # 21). We listen to such voices as we listen to members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, whom the Church sustains as “prophets, seers, and revelators.” Importantly, the privilege of hearing these prophets’ voices is made available not only to those who can gather in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, but also to all Church members and friends of the Church by satellite transmission, television, radio, and internet. The prophets’ voices can also be heard through the Church magazines that report the proceedings of General Conference. It is my prayer that, at conference time and through the year, we will listen to the prophets’ voices, obey their counsel and teachings “in all patience and faith,” and realize the promised blessings of doing so, both for ourselves and our families.