Prepare our hearts

Going back into history, the year 1831 was an important one for the Church. It "opened with a prospect great and glorious for the welfare of the kingdom." (History of the Church 1:140.)

Much had been accomplished the previous year in opening the gates of the Restoration. The Book of Mormon had been published in March 1830, the Church had been organized in April and the first missionary had gone out in June. By the end of 1830, 36 revelations that were later included in the Doctrine and Covenants had been received. And two conferences of the infant Church had been held, the first in June and the second in September.As the year 1830 ended there were 280 members of the Church. (Deseret News 1997-98 Church Almanac, p. 529.)

As 1831 began, members gathered Jan. 2 in Fayette, N.Y., for the Church's third conference. It must have been a time of excitement and enthusiasm. At the last conference three months previous, the Prophet recorded: ". . . during which time we had much of the power of God manifested amongst us; the Holy Ghost came upon us, and filled us with joy unspeakable; and peace, and faith, and hope, and charity abounded in our midst." (HC 1:115.)

The great stone, spoken of by Daniel, was beginning to roll forth. (See Dan. 2.)

At the conference, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation, now known as Section 38 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In it, the Prophet was told, "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear." (D&C 38:30.) What great counsel for the newly restored Church.

The Prophet then received a glimpse of what lay ahead. "Whosoever I will shall go forth among all nations . . . and I will lead them whithersoever I will, and no power shall stay my hand." (D&C 38:33.) A few months later, in August 1831, the Prophet was told that "the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth - the gospel must be preached unto every creature. . . ." (D&C 58:64.)

What an awesome responsibility for such a small group of people, to take the gospel to all the world - but yet they had the assurance from the Lord that if they were prepared they would not fear.

The gospel message did roll forth, even in the Church's infancy, and today the Church is in 161 countries around the world.

"If ye are prepared ye shall not fear." That's also sound advice for us today.

Spiritual preparation is such a key principle for each of us, individually as well as collectively. Think of the strength of the Church if every member were prepared to contribute to the building up of the Kingdom of God on earth. Think of what could happen if every missionary were prepared to preach the gospel with power and conviction, if every home teacher and visiting teacher were prepared to strengthen the homes in which they visit, if every officer and every teacher were prepared to magnify their callings to such an extent that all would be blessed and benefited.

Surely, it would go a long ways in preventing the adversary from hindering the work of the Lord.

As to individual preparation, the Lord has said, "For behold this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." (Alma 34:32.)

President Gordon B. Hinckley told a youth meeting in Denver, Colo., in 1996, "This is the great day of preparation in your lives, so that as the years pass you will remain steadfast and true and be happy." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 471.) It is also the great day for all of us to be steadfast in our continuing preparation.

The scriptures are replete with counsel to prepare. Perhaps one of the strongest admonitions is from Isaiah, who declared, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." (Isa. 40:3.) That admonition was repeated by John the Baptist (Matt. 3:3), and repeated in the Doctrine and Covenants. (D&C 33:10.)

"I would like to paraphrase that a little to this," President Hinckley said in a 1995 address, "Prepare ye to follow the way of the Lord. That is what this church is all about - to help us to prepare to follow the way of the Lord, to walk in obedience to His commandments, to get into our lives the spirit of His work, to come to know Him and to love Him, and to seek to do His will." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 470.)

If we are prepared, we have nothing to fear, but our preparations must be as the prophet Ezra's: "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord. . . ." (Ezra 7:10.)

Prepare our hearts! When we do that we can become a worthy and willing partner with God in bringing to pass much righteousness and much good in a world that President Hinckley says is "of shifting values [and] anchors that are slipping." (Interview on Larry King Live, Sept. 8, 1998.)

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