Prophetic counsel often to be applied in individual manner

"It is exceedingly important for members of the Church to get experience following the prophets in little things, so that they can follow in large matters," wrote Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve. "By following the prophets in fair weather we become familiar with their cadence, so that we can follow them in stormy times too, for then both our reflexes and our experience will need to combine to help us; the stresses will be so very real.

"It is obvious, for instance, that the prophet Elijah demonstrated his prophetic powers dramatically on several occasions; those who followed his instructions in little things (without even flickering in their devotion) also saw great things. At a time of severe drought and famine, for instance, Elijah announced - against a backdrop of a clear sky - there is a sound of abundance of rain.' (1 Kings 18:41.) Nobody else heard such sounds."Elijah then went and prayed upon Mount Carmel and instructed a servant to go look toward the sea. The obedient servant looked and said,There is nothing.' Elijah then instructed him to go again seven times.' The faithful and trusting servant went, again and again. Finally, the seventh time, he reported to Elijah,Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand.' That was enough for Elijah, who quickly warned the wicked, but temporarily humbled, Ahab to prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.' Soon, the scriptures tell us, the heavens grewblack with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.' " (1 Kings 18:43-45.)

Elder Maxwell noted that one cannot help but wonder why there are such specific numerical dimensions to the instructions that sometimes come from prophets. He pointed out it was the same Elijah who told Naaman to bathe himself in the Jordan River seven times. "Nonetheless," Elder Maxwell added, "whether bathing or scanning the horizon, the obedience stipulated was that which was required for the blessing. (2 Kings 5.) Is there some spiritual discipline at work that tests our obedience by requiring the tested to go, again and again, till we learn to trust and to follow the prophets fully? Apparently so, as Naaman, who resisted the required ritual, thinking it beneath him, soon found out.

"Church members today are not a geographically or politically separate people; we are mingled among the people of the world - and for the Lord's purposes. So the prophetic counsel given is often to be individually applied, but it still requires the same obedience. . . .

"Perhaps one of the reasons for this regimen of following is to acclimate us to going, as President Harold B. Lee counseled, to the very edge of the light before asking for more light, just as Elijah obediently went to the Mount Carmel well before the first little cloud appeared. So often we are helped only when we are forcefully reminded of our helplessness." (These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, p. 102.)

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