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President Nelson shares his prayer for everyone at Christmas time

Christmas is a time to worship and adore the Savior, and ‘live in the spirit of hallelujah,’ teaches President Russell M. Nelson during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional

On that holy night more than 2,000 years ago near the little town of Bethlehem, heavenly hosts sang for joy at the birth of Jesus.

An angel told the shepherds, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

Speaking of the joy it is to commemorate this birth, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson, issued this invitation to all: “Come, let us adore Him.” 

President Russell M. Nelson’s smiles during his prerecorded address for the annual First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional broadcast from the Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.
President Russell M. Nelson’s prerecorded address culminated the annual First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional broadcast from the Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. The President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who celebrated his 99th birthday in September, attended the event. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Nelson attended the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional at the Conference Center on Sunday, Dec. 3, in his first public appearance since falling and pulling the muscles in his lower back in September.

In his pre-recorded remarks, President Nelson shared his testimony of the magnitude of all Jesus Christ accomplished and he shared the wish of his heart — his prayer — for everyone at Christmas time.

‘Praise to the Lord God Jehovah’

Christmas has changed for President Nelson over the years, he said. His childhood memories were made during the Great Depression of the 1930s as a backdrop. Money was scarce and gifts were particularly precious.

His parents made Christmas magical for him and his siblings. Each year they became a “sub for Santa” for another family, preparing gifts and delivering them on Christmas Eve.

“As we drove away from their home, their waving hands and tearful faces brought us the true joy of giving,” President Nelson said.

He loved Christmas music then, and still does. He shared that every year, he and his wife, Sister Wendy W. Nelson, love listening to and singing along with Handel’s “Messiah.”

President Nelson said he loves the Hebrew meaning of the word “hallelujah.” “It literally means ‘praise to the Lord God Jehovah.’ Words sung in this oratorio not only apply to the birth of the Lord but to His millennial reign.”

The oratorio includes these words, as found in Isaiah 9:6 and 2 Nephi 19:6:

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

President Nelson said it was during his young adult years that he began to gain a deep testimony of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

“I came to know for myself that Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary, who was a ‘precious and chosen vessel’ (Alma 7:10). I knew that He really is the Son of God and the central figure in all human history,” he said.

The Savior’s suffering and compassion

President Nelson spoke about the “incomprehensible magnitude” of what Jesus Christ accomplished according to the will of His Father. He condescended to come to earth to complete a feat that was literally lifesaving and life-changing for each person — something they could not do for themselves.

Alma 7:11-12 says that the Savior suffered pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind that he would know how to succor His people according to their infirmities.

“During the past few months, I have learned a lot more about pain and its refining influence,” President Nelson said, referring to recovering from injuring his back. “My heart has been drawn out to our Savior as I have tried to imagine the extent of His suffering. My mortal mind simply cannot comprehend how He took upon Himself all the pains, all the sins, all the anguish and all the afflictions of everyone who has ever lived.”

The Savior submitted Himself to unparalleled spiritual and physical agony in the most supreme act of compassion — one that defies mortal understanding or description, President Nelson said.

“We revere the Babe of Bethlehem precisely because He later offered the incomprehensible, infinite sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross of Calvary. This offering redeems each of us, as we choose to repent and follow Him. Then, as His crowning act on earth, He rose from the tomb on the third day, granting each one of us the unprecedented blessing of resurrection and life after death.”

President Nelson’s prayer for everyone at Christmas time

Many often sing or say, “We wish you a merry Christmas” at this time of year. President Nelson said the wish or prayer of his heart for each person has several components.

First, he prays that everyone will feel the deep, eternal love the Savior has for them personally. He has perfect compassion for everyone’s struggles and rejoices every time they press forward in righteousness — during good times and bad.

“Jesus Christ has known you since the premortal realm. He knows and sees you now. He sees your joys and your sorrows. He has experienced each of them,” President Nelson said.

Second, he prays that all will gain their own personal witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, “that He is filled with godly power, and that because of His grand atoning sacrifice, you never need to feel that you must face life’s difficult challenges alone.”

As people earnestly ask, seek and knock, they have constant access to His power to help, strengthen and heal them.

Third, he prays that everyone will take full advantage of the Savior’s Atonement by repenting daily, making their lives increasingly pure, and seeking heavenly guidance in all that they do.

“In other words, I pray for you to experience the joy of always thinking celestial,” he said.

Finally, he prays that all will use this holiday season to begin a season of even greater personal worship.

“Begin anew to study the teachings and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. No one on this earth loves you as He does. No one here understands you better or really knows your sorrows and weaknesses. No one on earth has the power that Jesus Christ has. No one here is more eager for you to become everything you can become. No one pleads with the Father on your behalf as He does.”

Live in the spirit of ‘hallelujah’

President Nelson testified that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer, the Son of God, the Holy One of Israel.

Jesus Christ is the Anointed One and, under the direction of the Father, the Creator of all that has been created. He was the Great Jehovah, God of the Old Testament, and the promised Immanuel.

“He is our great Exemplar and our Advocate with the Father,” President Nelson said. “Because of His restored gospel, all the blessings of His priesthood are available to all mankind as they come unto Him and are perfected in Him.”  

President Nelson said God lives, Jesus is the Christ, and He directs the ongoing Restoration of His gospel.

“Brothers and sisters, let us live in the spirit of ‘hallelujah,’ ever praising the Lord God Jehovah. At this glorious Christmas season, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, hugs President Russell M. Nelson, as they and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, exit following the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, hugs President Russell M. Nelson, as they and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, exit following the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
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