PROVO, Utah — In the first missionary devotional delivered in person by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Elder David A. Bednar spoke to a combined live and virtual audience of elders and sisters on Aug. 24 from the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.
Elder Bednar encouraged missionaries to strive to obtain “the power of godliness” through regular participation in sacred ordinances.
God sets the terms and conditions of covenants and provides ordinances to help remind us of the promises made and blessings assured by obedience to those covenants, Elder Bednar said.
“Ordinances are not simply routine rituals. They are not just perfunctory performances,” he said. “Through those sacred ordinances, we can be blessed with access to the power of godliness in our lives.”
Elder Bednar shared from a list of scriptures that he has been pondering recently.
“Please note that sequence in the scriptures often is instructive,” he said. “Sequence — the order in which things are presented — can teach you a great deal as you study the scriptures.”
Examples came from the beginning of the Restoration, the last day of the Savior’s life, the visit of the Resurrected Savior recorded in the Book of Mormon, and the final chapters of Moroni.
The first three main events of the Restoration highlighted “the correct understanding of the nature of God, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the importance of priesthood authority, covenants and ordinances.”
“Sacred covenants and priesthood ordinances properly administered with the authority of God open heavenly portals.”
In reviewing the words of Moroni, Elder Bednar reminded the missionaries that Moroni and others who wrote in the Book of Mormon were not writing for their own people or time.
“Moroni was not writing to or for the people who lived then,” he said. “He was looking forward to our day.”
This message helped Sister Makenna Smith from Farmington, Utah, as she prepares to serve in the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors’ Center.
“We can find strength as missionaries and especially as members of the Church through prayer and asking for guidance and then doing our work, doing our calling and our labor,” she said.
Elder Bednar’s words about having the right perspective while participating in an ordinance helped Sister Mercedee Halladay of Provo, Utah, who will also serve in the Mesa visitors’ center, to feel the strength that can come from partaking of the sacrament.
“When he talked about the importance of properly preparing … before we take the sacrament, that was super impactful for me,” she said.
In addition to correctly understanding the importance of ordinances, Elder Bednar also taught about the true power that comes from keeping the promises made in each covenant.
“In the restored Church of Jesus Christ, priesthood authority has been restored,” he said. “Sacred covenants and priesthood ordinances properly administered with the authority of God open heavenly portals so that each one of us can receive ‘strength beyond our own.’”
“Everything we do in this Church is focused upon helping people learn about, understand, worthily receive, live, remember and honor covenants and ordinances.”
Elder Bednar expressed his love for each of the missionaries and told them that he wished he could meet with them all individually. That expression of love touched the heart of Elder Carson Hansen from Santa Clara, Utah.
During the devotional, the Spirit of the Lord enabled Elder Bednar to speak to Elder Hansen individually at the same time as he addressed thousands of elders and sisters.
“Tonight, I was able to look into [Elder Bednar’s] eyes. I could feel through the Spirit the love that he said he had for us. That was really powerful to me,” Elder Hansen said.
Elder Hansen said he would share that same love with the people he serves in the Texas McAllen Mission.
“I’m going to tell them that I love them,” he said. “I know that where I’m going is where I need to be.”
Elder Hansen’s companion, Elder Trevor Nielson from Cedar City, Utah, will be serving in the Washington D.C. South Mission. Elder Nielson said he felt strongly during the devotional that “it’s not about us, it’s more about Christ.”
“I loved when he talked about baptism and specifically that we need to keep our covenants so that we can have the Spirit to be with us,” he said. “That’s how we teach people.”
“An ordinance is a holy act performed in the authority of the priesthood that teaches us about the associated covenant.” Honoring the covenants made in mortality allows Heavenly Father to endow His covenant-keeping people with power, Elder Bednar added.
“I want you to continually remember in your mind, in your heart and in your soul this phrase from the Book of Mormon, ‘armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory’ (1 Nephi 14:14). This is a promise to the covenant people of the Lord. Please see yourself in that verse of scripture.”
Elder Bednar testified that covenants and ordinances yoke us as disciples to and with the Savior in a way that fortifies, strengthens and helps us to bless others.
“Everything we do in this Church is focused upon helping people learn about, understand, worthily receive, live, remember and honor covenants and ordinances,” he said.