Sunday, March 21, 2021

Hearing the Voice of the Lord in the Mind #5 - The Book of Mormon

 (Compiled by Dennis B. Horne)

            See the Introductory blog (#1) for explanation about this series on hearing the voice of the Lord in the mind. The below are accounts shared by those who have experienced this spiritual gift and have thereby been able to bless and enlighten others. Most of these are self-explanatory, but if desired readers wishing further context can (in most cases) go to the original source:


Elder Joseph F. Merrill of the Quorum of the Twelve (and son of Elder Marriner W. Merrill):

I was reared in a family where prayer, night and morning, was always the order. I have seen my father sometimes too busy to stop to eat his breakfast, but never too busy to kneel with his family in prayer before he left, to thank the Lord for the prospects of the day, for the rest of the night, and to ask his direction and help in the labors of the day. I was taught to pray at my mother's knee, and when I could say my own little prayers, I was taught that it was my prayer; it should be said in secret, or at least to myself.

So I knelt on one side of the bed, brother on the other side, every night. He never knew what I prayed for; certainly I did not know what he prayed for. But when I was about ten years of age, I began to pray for a special blessing. But I did not get an answer. Why? Father had taught us that there are three factors that must characterize every prayer that the Lord will answer: We must pray for real needs—and even grown-ups, he said, sometimes ask the Lord for things they do not get, because they ask foolishly—we must pray worthily, and we must pray with faith.

In answer to my first prayer, no answer came. The faith was there, I felt, to the extent that I could exert it. The need was there, I felt certainly no doubt about that, but was the worthiness? I could always think of something, as I prayed night after night without an answer, that I had done that I should not have done, and so I continued to pray, feeling that when I could make myself worthy of an answer, I would get it.

It was after I had been praying nightly for five years that the whole family went, one Wednesday evening, in the month of February, into town and attended a Sunday School entertainment. My class rendered its number, followed by another that sang, and I remember some of the words of that song: "Keep on asking, God will answer by and by." To me that was a revelation. I kept on praying.

Some four years later, in the latter part of the month of August, 1887, in my nineteenth year, after I had been praying nightly for nine long years with all the earnestness of my soul for this special blessing, I was alone in the bedroom, and I said, half aloud, "O Father, wilt thou not hear me?" I was beginning to get discouraged.

Then, brethren, something happened. The most glorious experience that I have received, came. In answer to my question I heard as distinctly as anything I ever heard in my life the short, simple word: “Yes.” Simultaneously my whole being, from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, was filled with the most joyous feeling of elation, of peace and certainty that I could imagine a human being could experience. I sprang from my knees, and jumped as high as I could, and shouted: "O Father, I thank thee." At last an answer had come. I knew it.

. . . I have had many testimonies since. Brethren, I do know.


Mission President German E. Ellsworth:

            I remember while standing on the Hill Cumorah, of hearing these words, "Push the distribution of the record that was taken from this hill, for it will help bring the world to Christ;" and as the Bible has "Christianized," as we term it today, many nations, so also will the Book of Mormon bring the world another long step towards membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I went immediately to Palmyra and secured postcard pictures of the hill and sent one to each of my missionaries, writing on each one the words suggested to my mind and the missionaries caught the real spirit of it and made that year one of the largest in Book of Mormon distribution we made in the Northern States.[1]


President Harold B. Lee quoting German E. Ellsworth:

Teachers of Latter-day Saint youth, we can do nothing better to whet our spiritual appetites and to maintain our spiritual tone than to read and reread, year by year, the precious truths as taught in the Book of Mormon. It was given to us—the fulness of the gospel through the angel Moroni to commit to man. We had, for instance, a story told to us by President German E. Ellsworth, who bore his testimony in the temple before all the other mission presidents. He said in bearing his testimony that years ago while he was presiding over the Northern States Mission he had a dream or a vision in which he had been visiting the Hill Cumorah and was filled with thoughts of the events that occurred near the Hill Cumorah. That night he lay down to sleep, and there came to him the unmistakable challenge: “Preach to the world the Book of Mormon. It will lead them to Christ.”[2]


President Wilford Woodruff:

            I prayed a great deal in my boyhood and my early manhood that I might live on the earth to receive those principles that I there read of in the New Testament. In 1833, for the first time in my life, I saw an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That was Zera Pulsipher. He told me that he was inspired of the Lord. He was threshing grain in his barn when the voice of the Lord came to him and told him to arise and go to the north, the Lord had business for him there. He called upon Brother Cheney, his neighbor and a member of the Church. They traveled sixty miles on foot, in February, in deep snow, and the first place they felt impressed to call upon was the house of my brother and myself. They went into the house and talked with my brother’s wife, and they told her who they were and what their business was. They told her that they were moved upon to go to the north, and they never felt impressed to stop anywhere until they came to that house. When they told her their principles, she said her husband and her brother-in-law both were men who believed those principles, and they had prayed for them for years. They appointed a meeting in the schoolhouse upon our farm. I came home in the evening, and my sister-in-law told me of this meeting. I had been drawing logs from the shores of Lake Ontario (I was in the lumber business), and I turned out my horses, did not stop to eat anything, and went to the meeting. I found the house and the dooryard filled with people. I listened for the first time in my life to a Gospel sermon as taught by the Elders of this Church. It was what I had sought for from my boyhood up. I invited the men home with me. I borrowed the Book of Mormon, and sat up all that night and read. In the morning I told Brother Pulsipher I wanted to be baptized. I had a testimony for myself that those principles were true. Myself and my brother, as was stated here yesterday, went forth and were baptized—the two first in that county. That was the beginning of my connection with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


[1] Conference Report, June 1919, 95-96.

[2] “The Restoration of the Gospel,” Harold B. Lee, Lecture Given to Seminary and Institute Teachers, July 7, 1954, Brigham Young University

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