OAKLAND, California — Latter-day Saints have access to the power of godliness as they are “yoked to and with the Savior through sacred covenants and holy ordinances,” Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told single adults on Friday, August 6.
Elder Bednar quoted, “Come unto me, all ye that … are heavy laden. … Take my yoke upon you. … For my yoke is easy. And my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Joined by his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, Elder Bednar spoke during the opening devotional of The Abundant Life Conference — a three-day event for single adults held in person and virtually in locations in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.
Organized for single members in the North America West Area, the conference consisted of classes, workshops, devotionals and service projects. In addition to the Bednars, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife Kristen, and Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, also addressed the conference.
Read more: During his first travel since early 2020, President Oaks says God and absolute truth are fundamental to life on this earth
The Bednars led a panel discussion with six single adults from the Bay Area in California — where Elder Bednar lived as a child. Held in the Interstake Center adjacent to the Oakland California Temple, Elder Bednar recalled his baptism in the building, where he also sat with his mother as a young boy during the 1964 dedication of the temple.
“To be here in this location, and to have so many wonderful memories flood into my mind, has just been a remarkable blessing,” he said.
Speaking to 40,000 single adults gathered in locations throughout the Church’s North America West Area, Elder Bednar emphasized the importance of covenants and ordinances for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I cannot think of anything in a world filled with commotion that is more needful, more reassuring, more hopeful, than the promise that through covenants and ordinances we have access to the power of godliness,” he said.
Ordinances and covenants
To set the stage for the discussion, Elder Bednar highlighted three episodes from the scriptures that each share parallel sequences.
The first is the Savior’s actions after speaking to his disciples about His approaching death and Resurrection (Matthew 16: 21). He foretells the betrayal that will take place by one of His Apostles. And then He institutes the ordinance of the sacrament.
In the second episode, the resurrected Savior appears at the tempIe in the land Bountiful, as recorded in the Book of Mormon. He bears witness of his mission to a multitude of 2,500. And then He invites the people to come forth one by one and feel the prints on His hands and feet. He confers priesthood authority and He instructs on the proper mode of baptism (see 3 Nephi 18).
The final episode is found in the last 10 chapters of the Book of Mormon as recorded by the prophets Mormon and Moroni. The prophet authors focus on the priesthood, the sacrament, and the importance of a community of saints.
“In all three of these experiences, major points of emphasis are priesthood authority, and ordinances and covenants,” said Elder Bednar. “And the question is why would those particular topics be emphasized?”
Elder Bednar said the answer may be found in the Doctrine and Covenants. “In the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:20-21).
He asked Sister Bednar and each of the panelists to share a time they have experienced the power of godliness.
In what ways have you experienced the power of godliness?
• When Elder Bednar was serving as president of BYU-Idaho, Elder and Sister Bednar met weekly with students and answered their questions. Early on, Sister Bednar told Elder Bednar she was not sure she could do it. “I know from past experience, both at BYU-Idaho, and then really throughout my life, that the Lord blesses us and strengthens us to do things that we don’t think we can do,” she said. “When we are yoked with him, we are blessed in remarkable ways that we don’t even know or anticipate.”
• Jeann McDougald was just 21 years old, with a four-month-old baby, when her husband died while attending medical school. “I remember one night just falling on my knees in anguish and praying, asking, ‘Where should I go from here?’” she recalled. In response she received resilience from her Heavenly Father that helped her through that time, she said.
• Eddie Bibriesca also recalled the death of a family member that left him feeling sad and empty. For him, healing began with a priesthood blessing. “I knew that the plan of salvation was there,” he said. “But there is still a sadness that that person you loved is gone. They are in a better world, but you won’t see them anymore. And so just having a priesthood blessing really brought hope.”
• A widower, Stephan Peers, spoke of losing his wife. The day after she died, his son offered him a blessing: “The Lord wants you to know that your life is no different today than it was yesterday. Your covenants are still valid. Your marriage is still valid. You are still sealed by the priesthood. Everything is the same,” his son said in the blessing. He felt the Lord’s love for him as a child of God. “I know how to look through these eyes for the presence of the Savior in everything I do. And it comes through my temple covenants,” he said.
• Emily Chase said experiencing the power of godliness in her life means listening to the promptings of the Spirit. “They are just little nudges,” she said. “And they are small moments and small decisions. But as I act on them, I see this great — subtle but great —power flowing in my life, because I know that the Spirit is telling me that this is what the Savior would do.”
• Kjerstie Olson spoke of the moments when she has to rely on her covenants and ordinances to take a “leap of faith.” She generally does not feel a “boom of revelation from heaven.” Instead she moves forward by continually walking along the covenant path.
• During rough times or bouts of severe depression, Joel Headley has relied on his covenants as guardrails. After returning from his mission, he made an effort to attend the temple weekly. “If we just lean into the covenants first, and then let everything else take care of itself, that is when the encircling arms of the Savior catch you.”
Sister Bednar added that she sometimes wonders what her life would be like without covenants. “I know that through Jesus Christ, in the strength of the Lord, that I can do all things.”
In closing, Elder Bednar extended an invitation for the single adults to better understand their covenants — “which are promises between God and His sons and daughters here upon the earth.”
Elder Bednar said that the conditions and promised blessings of a covenant are established by God. “We learn about the covenant and exercise our moral agency to accept or reject the covenant requirements.”
An ordinance “is a holy act, performed in the authority of the priesthood that teaches us about the covenant.”
He added: “Everything we do in this Church has only one purpose — to help us come unto the Savior by learning about, preparing to worthily receive, living, remembering, and honoring our covenants and the ordinances. …
“That is how we are bound to, linked with, and yoked to the Savior. And as we are yoked to and with Him, then we have access to the power of godliness in our life.”