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What an apostle’s challenge to say ‘I love you, Dad’ teaches about following the prophets of God

What an apostle’s challenge to say ‘I love you, Dad’ teaches about following the prophets of God

As a 15-year-old girl attending youth conference, Shelley Watchman unexpectantly met an apostle. When she met the apostle — who did not know Shelley or her family situation — he invited her to do something surprising:

“Will you kiss your father on the cheek every night and tell him that you love him — for one full year?” the apostle asked.

The young woman agreed, even though silently she thought it would be an impossible task. The apostle didn’t know that her father was a wonderful but very, very reserved man who was not a member of the Church. The obedient youth did what the apostle asked her to do, despite the initial unfavorable response from her father.

“She persisted night after night, but her father would simply sit like a statue while she kissed him on the cheek and said, ‘I love you, Dad,’” said Elder Randall K. Bennett of the Seventy and now husband to Shelley, during a campus devotional at Brigham Young University on March 19. She continued the nightly ritual for an entire year and then, because she enjoyed expressing love to her father, she decided to continue.

“Eventually, one night she heard her father whisper, ‘I love you, too,’" Elder Bennett said. "The next night he kissed her on the cheek as well. A few days later, her beloved father suddenly passed away from a heart attack.”

Although it was a small task, Shelley’s obedience to the apostle’s invitation made it possible for her to hear her father tell her that he loved her — something she deeply desired — and it also softened her father's heart.

"Now, you may not come from perfect circumstances either, but I promise that if you will act with faith in your Heavenly Father and His plan, and in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and follow God's prophets, I promise that you will be given power to do whatever the Lord needs you to do, and become whatever He needs you to become in spite of your circumstances," he said.

Following the prophets of God is directly connected to receiving Heavenly Father’s blessings, said Elder Bennett.

“Your contribution to the world will be profound if you will always be found following God’s prophets,” he said. “In addition to reminding you of who you are, President Nelson continually invites you and I to become better, and he always promises blessings that will follow as we accept the Lord’s invitations through Him.”

Elder Bennett also shared video clips of six invitations from the teachings of President Nelson speaking to young adults. Each clip shared an invitation and promised blessings as a person is obedient to that invitation.

“President (Russell M.) Nelson has extended numerous prophetic invitations with significant promised blessings,” he said. “Acting on those invitations will draw you closer to your Heavenly Father and your Savior."

1. An individual must ask Heavenly Father how He feels about him or her and what their mission is on earth, and then follow those impressions with exactness.

“The world would have you believe that prophetic invitations are not important and will not make any difference in your life,” he said. “However, I promise that … ‘by small and simple things are great things brought to pass’ in our lives.”

2. Learn 'all you can' about Jesus Christ and follow Him.

“As you come unto Christ and place Him at the very center of your life, He will bless you with every essential thing you need,” he said. “Don’t let the world’s distractions displace or replace the Savior’s place in your heart or in your life.”

3. Spend more time where the Spirit is present.

“Where can the spirit be present?” Elder Bennett asked. “At your desk, in your room, in your apartment, at a park, a class, even during an exam, and, of course, at church and in the temple. The Spirit can be present at any appropriate place where you and those you are with earnestly seek to invite His influence.

“The Lord will more than match your efforts; He will magnify your remaining time if you will generously commit time to communicating with Him, studying His truths, and assisting in His work.”

4. Learn how to hear and follow the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.

Echoing the words of President Nelson, Elder Bennett promised students that they will receive answers as they sincerely and persistently do the spiritual work needed to hear the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. To do what the Lord needs a person to do, he or she must have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

5. Prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day.

“During my years in university, I remember vividly the stress of study, work, finances, papers, reports, finding better work, midterms, finals, a thesis, etc. At times it felt overwhelming. But daily prayer and scripture study powerfully magnified my ability to do all that was required. These invitations are simple, and the promises are great, but remember ‘by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.’”

6. Serve your ancestors and others in the temple.

Miracles come as individuals spend time in the temple, the leader taught. “Being outward and other-focused instead of inward and self-focused will bring great blessings and incredible joy as you serve others.”

Prophetic invitations always have promised blessings, he said.

Reminding listeners of the opportunity that comes each general conference, Elder Bennett invited listeners to prepare for and tune in to every session of the upcoming conference.

“These prophetic promises apply to each and every one of you. All you have to do is exercise faith and take the necessary small and simple steps to receive the blessings promised to you personally by the Lord’s prophet. … As you watch the next general conference sessions, listen for apostolic invitations and their associated promised blessings.”

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