Why do Mormons have a semi-annual conference?

In his Saturday morning conference talk titled, General Conference: Strengthening Faith and Testimony, Elder Robert D. Hales said, “The greatest blessings of general conference come to us after the conference is over.”

My initial interpretation, as my thoughts took me to a chaotic scene of two small children playing very loudly, throwing toys, and whining for attention, was that because it’s hard to pay attention with our crazy boys, it makes sense, I would receive the blessings later when I had time to personally study the talks.

However, realizing my interpretation was based on a very narrow perspective, I took time to read through his talk again, and I discovered some very powerful statements and promises.

Statement No.1: “We may not know all the reasons why the prophets and conference speakers address us with certain topics in conference, but the Lord does.”

Not every talk we hear during the two days of conference will have meaning in our lives at the very moment we hear it. But the Lord knows what we will need to prepare, strengthen, and protect us over the next six months and throughout our lives.

As we continue to study and apply the lessons delivered in the conference talks, we can continue to experience the blessings prepared for us by the Lord.

One way we can do this, is to do as my wife has requested, that we as a couple study one conference talk a night for 40 nights.

Statement No.2: “We watch, hear, read, study, and share the words of prophets to be forewarned and protected…And if we listen and obey the prophets now, including those who will speak in this very conference, we will be strengthened and protected.”

If the words spoken by the Prophets in conference are prepared with the intent of strengthening and protecting us, I hope each of you feel the same way I do and are motivated to think about what you’ll do now that conference is over to get the most out of each talk.

President Monson recently said: “I encourage you to read the talks … and to ponder the messages contained therein. I have found in my own life that I gain even more from these inspired sermons when I study them in greater depth.”

Think of the opportunities we have every day, to apply these teachings and to strengthen our faith and testimonies.

Statement No.3: “I testify that those who put their trust in the Lord and heed this counsel in faith will gain great strength to bless themselves and their families for generations to come.”

There are many accounts in the scriptures that demonstrate this principle.

Most of my favorites are found in 1st Nephi, as Lehi is leading his family through the wilderness to the promise land.

On numerous occasions, Nephi is required to put his trust and faith in the Lord in order to accomplish the task he has been commanded to do. And every time, he was diligent and as a result of his trust and faith he and his family were blessed.

As we continue to study the conference talks, and seek out inspiration, we can and will receive it. We can know how to live better lives, how to accomplish the tasks the Lord has given us, and we can receive the strength we need to make it through our trials.

A couple of examples taken from conference talks:

Elder Eyring’s talk, To My Grandchildren, has great advice on how, “with the companionship of the Holy Ghost we can hope to be equally yoked in a marriage free of discord”.

President Monson taught us in his talk, I Will Not Fail Thee, Nor Forsake Thee, the importance of experiencing challenges and problems in this life.

“Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life.”

Elder Nelson’s talk, Decisions for Eternity, offers great knowledge in understanding the important role our physical bodies have in enabling us to develop necessary spiritual attributes.

“…[Y]our body is the temple for your spirit. And how you use your body affects your spirit.”

What will you do now that conference is over to get the most out of it?

Elder Hales said, “On a computer, phone, or other electronic device, we can read, listen to, watch, and share the teachings of the prophets. Anytime, anywhere, we can enlarge our knowledge, strengthen our faith and testimony, protect our families, and lead them safely home.”

We can listen to the talks while working in the yard, we can use them in family home evening lessons, read them together with our spouse before bed, we can watch them on Sundays before and after church, and we can use them in our daily personal scripture study.

However we chose to study and consume the information taught during conference, we must identify how it applies, where can you make improvements? Then, once you’ve identified the how, it’s time to go to work.

Personally, I’ve decided to do a few new things to help me and my family be more prepared to receive the blessings of conference.

  1. On Sundays, conference will be playing in the background, we may not be sitting on the couch watching, but the words of our prophets will be being spoken in our home which, I believe, will invite a peaceful spirit.
  2. I will accept my wife’s 40 day challenge to study one talk with her each night for 40 nights. And specifically identify how we can use those teaching to better strengthen and protect our family.
  3. I will prayerfully study one talk each week along with my regular scripture study with the intent of identify ways that I can become a better Father and Husband.

What an incredible blessing it is to know that we have at our fingertips the information we need to “…enlarge our knowledge, strengthen our faith and testimony, protect our families, and lead them safely home.”

It’s my prayer that we will take advantage of these messages that have been inspired by the Lord and delivered through his servants.

To to quote Elder Hales one last time;

“I promise you in [Jesus] name that if you pray with a sincere desire to hear your Heavenly Father’s voice in the messages of this conference, you will discover that He has spoken to you to help you, to strengthen you, and to lead you home into His presence.”

The purpose of general conference is to provide us with the promised knowledge, strength, and protection that we’ll need to lead our families back to the presence of our God.

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