Keeping our hearts open to conviction

In February 1847 Joseph Smith appeared to Brigham Young in a dream and said: “Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord, and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach you how to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife, and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the Spirit of the Lord they will go right. Be sure to tell the people to keep the Spirit of the Lord; and if they will, they will find themselves just as they were organized by our Father in Heaven before they came into the world. Tell the people to be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and follow it, and it will lead them just right.”

Brigham Young, vision, Feb. 17, 1847, in Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878, Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. (Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization modernized.)

God is making of our lives a mosaic

If God chooses to teach us the things we most need to learn because he loves us, and if he seeks to tame our souls and gentle us in the way we most need to be tamed and most need to be gentled, it follows that he will customize the challenges he gives us and individualize them so that we will be prepared for life in a better world by his refusal to take us out of this world, even though we are not of it. In the eternal ecology of things we must pray, therefore, not that things be taken from us, but that God’s will be accomplished through us. What, therefore, may seem now to be mere unconnected pieces of tile will someday, when we look back, take form and pattern, and we will realize that God was making a mosaic. For there is in each of our lives this kind of divine design, this pattern, this purpose that is in the process of becoming, which is continually before the Lord but which for us, looking forward, is sometimes perplexing.
Neal A . Maxwell, “But for a Small Moment,” BYU Fireside, September 1, 1974

Pull together

There will always be a need for civility and trust throughout the large BYU family, harnessed as we are together. John Taylor observed,

Many of us are tried and tempted, and we get harsh and hard feelings against one another. And it reminds me of your teams when going down hill with a heavy load. When the load begins to crowd on to the horses, you will frequently see one snap at his mate, and the other will prick up his ears and snap back again. And why? A little while before, perhaps, and they were playing with each other. Because the load crowds on them. Well, when the load begins to crowd, do not snap at your brethren, but let them feel that you are their friends, and pull together. [John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 21:214-15]

Lead horses are especially snapped and nipped at, even though they are pulling more than their share of the load.

Neal A. Maxwell, “Out of the Best Faculty,” BYU Annual University Conference, August 26, 1993

Inspiration and power are the fruits of spirituality

Inspiration is to know the will of the Lord. Power is the capability to accomplish that inspired will. (See D&C 43:15-16.) Such power comes from God after we have done “all we can do.” (2 Ne. 25:23.)

Richard G. Scott, “The Plan for Happiness and Exaltation,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 11

Spirituality yields two fruits. The first in inspiration to know what to do. The second is power, or the capacity to do it. These two capacities come together. That’s why Nephi could say, ‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded’ (1 Nephi 3:7). He knew the spiritual laws upon which inspiration and power are based. Yes, God answers prayer and gives us spiritual direction when we live obediently and exercise the required faith in Him.

Richard G. Scott,”To Acquire Spiritual Guidance,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 7

It is a very great thing to be little

Our Christian destiny is in fact a great one: but we cannot achieve greatness unless we lose all interest in being great. For our own idea of greatness is illusory, and if we pay too much attention to it we will be lured out of the peace and stability of the being God gave us, and seek to live in a myth we have created for ourselves. It is, therefore, a very great thing to be little, which is to say: to be ourselves. And when we are truly ourselves we lose most of the futile self consciousness that keeps us constantly comparing ourselves with others in order to see how big we are.

Thomas Merton

Being worthy to hold the priesthood

President Thomas S. Monson mentions worthiness multiple times in his October 2011 Priesthood Conference talk:

What a wonderful gift we have been given—to hold the priesthood, which is “inseparably connected with the powers of heaven.” This precious gift, however, brings with it not only special blessings but also solemn responsibilities. We must conduct our lives so that we are ever worthy of the priesthood we bear. We live in a time when we are surrounded by much that is intended to entice us into paths which may lead to our destruction. To avoid such paths requires determination and courage.

Ours is the responsibility to be worthy of all the glorious blessings our Father in Heaven has in store for us. Wherever we go, our priesthood goes with us. Are we standing in holy places? Please, before you put yourself and your priesthood in jeopardy by venturing into places or participating in activities which are not worthy of you or of that priesthood, pause to consider the consequences. Each of us has had conferred upon him the Aaronic Priesthood. In the process, each received the power which holds the keys to the ministering of angels. Said President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“You cannot afford to do anything that would place a curtain between you and the ministering of angels in your behalf.

“You cannot be immoral in any sense. You cannot be dishonest. You cannot cheat or lie. You cannot take the name of God in vain or use filthy language and still have the right to the ministering of angels.”

Many of you brethren have served as missionaries throughout the world. Many of you young men will yet serve. Prepare yourselves now for that opportunity. Make certain you are worthy to serve.

With all my heart and soul, I pray that every man who holds the priesthood will honor that priesthood and be true to the trust which was conveyed when it was conferred. May each of us who holds the priesthood of God know what he believes. May we ever be courageous and prepared to stand for what we believe, and if we must stand alone in the process, may we do so courageously, strengthened by the knowledge that in reality we are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven.

As we contemplate the great gift we have been given—“the rights of the priesthood … inseparably connected with the powers of heaven”—may our determination ever be to guard and defend it and to be worthy of its great promises.

Thomas S. Monson, “Dare to Stand Alone,” October 2011.

Five fundamental virtues in effective prayer

The first and most fundamental virtue in effective prayer is faith. A belief in God brings peace to the soul. An assurance that God is our Father, into whose presence we can go for comfort and guidance, is a never-failing source of comfort.

Another essential virtue is reverence. This virtue is exemplified in the model prayer given by the Savior in the words “Hallowed be thy name.” [Matthew 6:9.] This principle should be exemplified in classrooms, and particularly in our houses of worship.

The third essential element is sincerity. Prayer is the yearning of the spirit. Sincere praying implies that when we ask for any virtue or blessing we should work for the blessing and cultivate the virtue.

The next essential virtue is loyalty. Why pray for the Kingdom of God to come unless you have in your heart a desire and a willingness to aid in its establishment? Praying for His will to be done and then not trying to live it, gives you a negative answer at once. You would not grant something to a child who showed that attitude towards a request he is making of you. If we pray for the success of some cause or enterprise, manifestly we are in sympathy with it. It is the height of disloyalty to pray for God’s will to be done, and then fail to conform our lives to that will.

A final essential virtue is humility. … The principle of humility and prayer leads one to feel a need of divine guidance. Self-reliance is a virtue, but with it should go a consciousness of the need of superior help—a consciousness that as you walk firmly in the pathway of duty, there is a possibility of your making a misstep; and with that consciousness is a prayer, a pleading that God will inspire you to avoid that false step.

David O. McKay, in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, (2003), 70–79