Directly addressing the women of the Church during general conference in October 2019, President Russell M. Nelson invited women to “study prayerfully” and “discover what the Holy Ghost will teach you” about the restoration of the priesthood and how to draw upon that power — the power of God — in their individual lives.
“How I yearn for you to understand that the restoration of the priesthood is just as relevant to you as a woman as it is to any man,” President Nelson said. “Every woman and every man who makes covenants with God and keeps those covenants, and who participates worthily in priesthood ordinances, has direct access to the power of God. … I entreat you to study prayerfully all the truths you can find about priesthood power.”
The Relief Society general presidency — President Jean B. Bingham; Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor, and Sister Reyna Isabel Aburto, second counselor — have reiterated that invitation, encouraging the Relief Society’s 7.5 million women worldwide to take up the prophet’s charge of learning and understanding what the priesthood means to them.
In a recent interview with the Church News, President Bingham explained President Nelson’s direction will help women in the Church to focus on what is most important for them and the Relief Society today.
“One of the beautiful things about President Nelson’s invitation is that he encourages us to learn to receive revelation individually, because what the Holy Ghost will teach me may be a little different than it is for you,” President Bingham said. “Women have much in common, but we also have unique circumstances, so we invite the women of the Church to follow the counsel of the prophet and really study about what the priesthood means for them.”
An invitation and a blessing
Priesthood power for an individual comes from a covenantal connection to Jesus Christ, Sister Eubank said. “The more carefully we keep our promises with Him, the more power and blessing we can call down on the people we love.”
There are many tough problems in the world right now, Sister Eubank continued. “The prophet is giving us the key to something important. If you need a specific blessing for yourself or someone you love, my invitation is to take up President Nelson’s challenge and study more about priesthood power.”
The prophet’s invitation is an outpouring of love from Heavenly Father and the Savior to all the women of the Church, Sister Aburto said, adding that it shouldn’t feel like a burden or one more addition to a long list of things to do. Rather, Relief Society sisters should look at it as “an invitation from God through His prophet to expand our understanding of a beautiful and basic doctrine of the gospel.” This invitation from the Lord is an opportunity for every person to be blessed with a deeper knowledge, vision and insight about the power of God in their lives, she said.
When Sister Aburto heard President Nelson’s invitation last October “the spirit immediately testified to me that if — as women of the Church — we study the sections in Doctrine and Covenants that he pointed out, and other revelations regarding the priesthood, our understanding of the power God has given to His children will expand.”
Learning by individual study
Through her own personal study, President Bingham said she has come to a better understanding of “what the priesthood means to me as a woman.” And she has learned so much more than she understood when she was younger.
President Bingham explained that the priesthood is the literal power of God and, as such, it is multifaceted.
There is a difference between priesthood keys, priesthood offices, priesthood authority, and priesthood power, she said. And reading and studying the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants suggested by President Nelson, Sister Bingham said, has increased her understanding of those differences and how they function in the home and in the Church.
“The more I’ve learned and studied, the more I understand how the priesthood is relevant to me in my life,” she said. “I can look back and see experiences I’ve had with the power of the priesthood in my life and priesthood authority in callings I’ve had that I may not have realized before.”
“One thing I learned is that an ‘endowment’ means a gift so large that just the interest alone can be used to pay all the expenses and still not touch the original gift,” she said. “If we are endowed with priesthood power, then it’s a source that constantly renews and can never be exhausted.”
Recognizing there isn’t a question of whether or not she has priesthood power, Sister Eubank said her focus shifted to better questions. She began asking herself: “What am I doing with that endowment of priesthood power? How does it affect my calling? What does it mean for my most important relationships? And how might I use it to help someone else?”
Asking those deeper questions changed her, Sister Eubank said. “I realized I was unconsciously living below my priesthood privileges, and I want to be better.”
Having read Doctrine and Covenants sections 25, 84, and 107 many times before, Sister Aburto said reading them again following President Nelson’s invitation helped her gain new insights and feel the Spirit in a different way.
“I can see more clearly now that God’s priesthood has no end and that it has the power to bless all generations of humanity,” she said. “This new insight helps me as I reflect on how I can be part of making that promise a reality in my life and in the life of people in my sphere of influence.”
Understanding priesthood power
In many ways, covenant women and men in the Church are already drawing upon the power with which they have been endowed, Sister Aburto said. They are probably using it in ways they don’t even realize.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has progressed over nearly 200 years in part because of the women and men who have accessed that power to share the gospel throughout the world and connect families for eternity. However, Sister Aburto said, by being more conscious of that power and what it means, “we would be able to draw upon it even more.”
The Church and its members are receiving more revelation regarding priesthood power because “the Lord is accelerating His work on this earth and He needs all of us to truly understand that we are His ‘covenant people’ and that through our covenants and our faithfulness we can ‘be armed with righteousness and with the power of God’” (1 Nephi 14:14), she said.
Women will receive more vision and purpose in their personal lives, as ministering sisters, and as leaders in the Church when they follow the prophet’s invitation, Sister Aburto promised.
The women of the Church don’t need to wait, Sister Eubank added. They can act now, they can seek for God to bless their homes, the people in them and others within their spheres of influence.
In a concluding thought, President Bingham said, “When, as women, we come to truly understand the privileges and power we have because of the priesthood, we will rejoice.”