By the Young Men general presidency and board
There is a divine pattern in the scriptures that shows how to connect the children of God with heaven. This pattern includes listening to the words of living prophets, studying the words of scriptural prophets, pondering those teachings, and then praying in faith to our Heavenly Father, knowing He will hear and answer your prayers.
A significant example of this pattern is Joseph Smith, who was confused and inquiring at a time of religious excitement. As he said in his own words: “I often said to myself: Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?” (Joseph Smith—History 1:10). Joseph read the promise in James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, and it shall be given him.”
After pondering this promise for a time, he finally resolved to go to a grove, which we now call sacred, to pray with faith. This resulted in a personal spiritual experience that changed the course of human history.
Faithful Nephi’s famous words, “I will go and do what the Lord hath commanded” (1 Nephi 3:7), would never have come without his earlier faith-filled prayer in which he wanted to know that the Lord had inspired his father, Lehi, to leave Jerusalem with his family and go to a far-off promised land. Nephi wrote, “Having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers” (1 Nephi 2:16).
Enos recorded: “Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
“And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens” (Enos 1:3–4).
This pattern allowed God, through the Holy Ghost, to tell Enos that his sins were forgiven, providing a powerful personal spiritual experience.
In mentoring, how do we provide opportunities for our children and youth to connect with heaven by following this divine pattern? May we offer a few simple suggestions? First, we invite you to help youth prayerfully plan activities with the purpose in mind of connecting them with heaven, which in turn opens the door for our youth to have experiences that inspire them to study, ponder and then pray with faith, seeking answers to the questions of their souls.
For example, if a troop of Boy Scouts is working on the Orienteering merit badge, can we in the process of teaching how to read a compass also include a discussion on how to recognize and follow impressions from the Holy Ghost and how to trust and follow modern-day liahonas like scriptures, prophets or patriarchal blessings?
This kind of inspired planning and implementation will not only help them advance in Scouting but, more important, will also help connect them with heaven. We can follow the example of the prophet Lehi, who, while traveling in the wilderness, used the metaphors of a river and valley to invite Laman and Lemuel to be “continually running into the fountain of all righteousness” and to be “firm and steadfast” (1 Nephi 2:9, 10).
As we camp in, rappel from, or climb mountains, we can teach the power and purpose of the “mountain of the Lord’s house,” or the holy temple. As we teach and practice principles of life-saving, we can make application to spiritual life-saving through quality home teaching, preparing to worthily serve a full-time mission, and like the 2,000 stripling warriors, search out, rescue and bind the spiritual wounds of less-active or struggling members of our Aaronic Priesthood quorums. There are so many other possibilities that you can consider.
As we teach in the Savior’s way in our Sunday meetings, we can model edifying teaching that invites the young men to learn by acting on principles. We can then follow up each week on experiences they had while acting on the invitations. We can model by precept and example how to teach by the Spirit and give the young men the opportunity to master those teaching principles.
As young men understand and teach the principles of the gospel by learning, acting and sharing, they allow the Holy Ghost to take the gospel from their heads into their hearts. Imagine the power that will come to our youth as they leave their Mutual nights, youth activities and Sunday meetings pondering principles of the gospel and then kneeling and praying in faith, which connects them in a private, personal way to a loving Heavenly Father who wants to bring each of them back into His presence. We promise that as you prayerfully ponder how to connect our youth with heaven, the Holy Ghost will inspire you with what to do and how to do it.