President and Sister Worthen on prophets, promises and logokophosis, at BYU devotional

University president teaches how to enhance New Year’s resolutions through Heavenly Father at school’s first 2023 devotional

PROVO, Utah — BYU President Kevin J Worthen began the new year and winter semester with a campus devotional Tuesday, Jan. 10, focused on the power that promises possess and recognizing the exciting, yet uncertain, feelings that often arise with such newness.

“Uncertainty can sometimes be anxiety-inducing, almost paralyzing,” President Worthen said. “If you find yourself in that position, if uncertainty threatens to overwhelm you as it does all of us from time to time, I invite you to tap into the power of promises.”

President Worthen quoted Hannah Arendt, a political philosopher, who explained that promises allow humans to organize their future. He expounded that believing promises are reliable allows for trust and order in relationships, “whether they be economic, political or intimate.”

BYU President Kevin J Worthen speaks during the first devotional of the new year in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, on Jan. 10, 2023. | Christi Norris, BYU

While the beginning of a year is a common time for resolutions, or self-promises, President Worthen noted that these for many people are the most unreliable promises. This because accountability lies with the individual, making it easier to break the promise.

Encouraging the idea of striving for constant improvement, President Worthen suggested that promises made by God are “more certain and therefore more powerful.” He taught, “Because God is both perfectly honest and all-powerful, there is no chance that His promises, His words will not come to pass.”

This means, though, to receive the blessings from such promises, an individual must do her or his part. When this happens, God is bound to fulfill the promise.

A pattern in promises

As promises have so much significance, President Worthen said he has paid particular attention to promises made by the Prophet and Apostles. Doing so allowed him to realize a three-part pattern that takes place within each promise:

  1. The direct and specific expression.
  2. The identification of the prerequisites for obtaining the blessings.
  3. The description of the promised blessings.

President Worthen counted the number of promises made by President Russell M. Nelson during the first general conference he was President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Worthen counted 17 promises following the pattern.

BYU President Kevin J Worthen speaks during the first devotional of the new year in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, on Jan. 10, 2023. | Christi Norris, BYU

President Worthen explained that by studying promises made by the Prophet and Apostles and executing the action required, remarkable change within oneself will take place.

“As you engage in this process, take special note of the different actions that you must take to receive the different blessings.” President Worthen said some promises relate to temple worship, whereas others are centered on personal revelation. Some even build on each other.

President Worthen noted it may be overwhelming at first, viewing the prerequisites as a to-do list to obtain the blessing. However, he said, God is eager to bless. “Compliance with any one of these particular prerequisites is enough to bring forth the promised blessing.” It may be enhanced through other prerequisites.

Keeping promises and blessings in mind, one must remember that miracles do take place, whether large or small. President Worthen taught that prophetic promises suggest how one may better recognize and benefit from such miracles.

Personal experience

He shared a personal experience of when he was having a difficult day. He and and his wife, Sister Peggy S. Worthen, had made a temple appointment weeks earlier and recalled President Nelson’s urge in a conference talk to not only make a temple appointment, but to keep the appointment with “exactness and joy.”

Following the endowment session, President and Sister Worthen discussed the tender mercies they had experienced during the session. One took place when two BYU students introduced themselves and expressed gratitude for the Worthens’ efforts for BYU.

Upon leaving, President Worthen thought he should write a name down for the prayer roll and noticed his name on the notepad, which he usually does not read, among others. He recognized that some may refer to the situation as a coincidence.

However, he said, “For me it was a miracle, one God knew I needed and one which, consistent with President Nelson’s promise, God provided.”

Sister Peggy Worthen speaks during the first devotional of the new year in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, on Jan. 10, 2023. | Christi Norris, BYU


Sister Worthen introduced her message by teaching about “logokophosis” —  an inability to comprehend spoken language. She shared a story when, in a job interview, the employer went on for some time explaining the position. She struggled to pay attention, and when he finished speaking she asked if he was talking to her.

Despite not receiving the job, Sister Worthen recognized she had experienced logokophosis during the interview, struggling to comprehend spoken language. She taught that to achieve success, logokophosis must be combated.

“Most importantly, we need to overcome spiritual logokophosis to become better disciples of Christ,” she said. “In other words, if we suffer from spiritual logokophosis, we cannot achieve exaltation without overcoming that challenge and becoming a better listener.”

Sister Worthen said instead of asking God if He is talking to us, when God and His prophets speak, this should be assumed.

Whether spiritual logokophosis takes place because an individual is too comfortable or too focused on distractions, it causes missed opportunities. To conquer spiritual logokophosis, Sister Worthen explained, one must turn constant and deliberate attention to God’s words.

She testified, “As we strive to internalize and follow the counsel [God] provides through scriptures, through living prophets and through personal revelation, we will be successful in school, at work and in our quest for perfection.”

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