“Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same”

An artist's rendition of King Benjamin standing on a tower, addressing his people

In the Book of Mormon we read of King Benjamin, a great king who served his people in righteousness and love.  At the end of his life, he wanted to gather his people together in order to share with them one last message and to encourage them to continue in righteous living themselves.  When they were sufficiently gathered together he opened his remarks by saying, “I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.” (Mosiah 2:9).  He had gathered them together and the message he wanted to share was given him of God and was very important for his people–and he wanted his people to listen and obey.

In like manner, we have the tremendous opportunity this coming week to listen to the servants of God share with us important messages for our day, to give us direction and protection, as we gather for our semi-annual General Conference.  This precious opportunity affords us the privilege of understanding the direction God would have us take over the next 6 months, for we read in the Doctrine and Covenants, “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).  Those who will speak to us have been prayerfully preparing for weeks, and even months, in order to share with us the message that they feel is God’s will for us.  We will also have the opportunity to hear from the Lord’s anointed as we listen to our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, speak to us.  We should regard these words as if they were directly from the Lord.

In my post today, I would like to share a few thoughts on how we can better prepare ourselves for this unique experience of General Conference by examining what King Benjamin’s people did to prepare and liken that to ourselves.  If you would like additional ideas, please consider Pres. Uchtdorf’s comments from this month’s Ensign and Liahona magazines.

First of all, let us learn from the example of King Benjamin’s people.  When they were called to this meeting by Mosiah, King Benjamin’s son and the future king, the first thing they did was they actually made time and went (see Mosiah 2:1).  They left their lands and their homes and gathered together in order to listen, which probably was a sacrifice for them.  Because of modern technology we have the blessing of listening to General Conference wherever we are–check this page out for a listing of ways you can attend.  When I was deployed in Saudi Arabia, I was able to listen to General Conference because it is broadcast over the Internet–and that was a tremendous blessing for one so far away from family and home.  However, these wonderful transmission means are worthless unless you actually use them–so let us do as the people of King Benjamin did and actually make time, even if it requires sacrifice, to attend as much of General Conference as we are able.  I have also found that if I actually attend General Conference, i.e. get dressed in my church clothes and go to a place where they are broadcasting General Conference (as opposed to simply watching it in my own home), that I get more out of it–but each person is different.  The important principle is actually watching it.

Additionally, King Benjamin’s people prepared themselves mentally and spiritually for the opportunity of listening to the will of the Lord given through His chosen servant.  They took advantage of the fact that King Benjamin had gathered them to the temple and actually worshiped in the temple (see Mosiah 2:3).  While General Conference isn’t held in a temple, per se, we can still take the opportunity of attending the temple as much as possible in preparation for this wonderful event.  I can think of no better way of preparing ourselves to receive the word of the Lord as given us by His servants then to spend some time of prayer and pondering in His holy house.  The temple opens our minds and expands our vision–and prepares us spiritually for the blessings and inspiration that come from listening attentively to General Conference.

King Benjamin’s people also prepared themselves by reflecting upon the great things the Lord had done for them (see Mosiah 2:4).  I have always found it interesting that when the angel appeared to the rebellious Alma, the Younger, he admonished Alma to, “Go, and remember the captivity of thy fathers…and remember how great things [God] has done for them” (Mosiah 27:16).  It was such important council that Alma himself, when at the twilight of his years, shared that same council with his sons,”I would that you should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it was the God of Abraham…and he surely did deliver them.” (Alma 36:2).  Just like the people of King Benjamin and Alma, the Younger, we can spend some time and reflect upon the many blessings that Heavenly Father has given us and our families.  We can remember where we have come from and think about where we are at currently and where we want to go.  By remembering the bounteous blessings that we have received, and also thinking about how good our Heavenly Father has been to our families, we are better prepared to receive His guidance and direction, not only through the words which are spoken at General Conference, but also the promptings and teachings of the Holy Ghost.  Let us prepare ourselves by attending Conference with a grateful heart!

Ultimately, King Benjamin’s people were richly blessed because they were prepared to receive the word of the Lord.  We too can receive an outpouring of inspiration, answers to our innermost concerns, and direction to avoid the evils of the day as we prepare ourselves and listen to General Conference.

King Benjamin also did something very important to help his people to understand the words which he spoke, “he caused that the words which he spake should be written and sent forth among those that were not under the sound of his voice, that they might also receive his words.” (Mosiah 2:8).  We will also have the opportunity of reading and re-reading the words spoken during these sacred sessions of General Conference as they are published in the November edition of the Ensign and Liahona magazines–so we can read, cherish, and reflect upon the things we have been taught.  Let us do as King Benjamin’s people did and read the words given to us!

I love General Conference and am grateful for the blessing of hearing the Lord’s inspired and called servants teach us the principles that we need in order to resist evil and bring forth His work.  I hope to properly prepare myself and invite you to do the same so that we can all rejoice and be edified in this Conference!

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