Thursday, September 28, 2017

Elder Joseph F. Merrill on the blessings of following the Presidency of the Church

Elder Joseph F. Merrill (1968-1952) served as the Commissioner of Church Education from 1928 to 1933, during which time he pioneered the creation of the Seminary and Institute programs. He was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1931 and served until his death in 1952.
"Do the people of the Church want a safe guide to what is well for them to do? It is this: Keep in harmony with the Presidency of this Church. Accept and follow the teachings and advice of the President. At every Conference we raise our hands to sustain the President as prophet, seer and revelator. Is it consistent to do this and then go contrary to his advice? Is anyone so simple as to believe he is serving the Lord when he opposes the President? Of course, the President is not infallible. He makes no claims to infallibility. But when in his official capacity he teaches and advises the members of the Church relative to their duties, let no man who wants to please the Lord say aught against the counsels of the President.
"In the spirit of helpfulness let me give you a key. When in doubt go on your knees in humility with an open mind and a pure heart with a real desire to do the Lord's will, and pray earnestly and sincerely for divine guidance. Persist in praying in this way until you get an answer that fills your bosom with joy and satisfaction. It will be God's answer. If obedient to this answer you will always act as the President indicates. You will then be safe."
- Joseph F. Merrill, Conference Report, April 1941, p. 51
Click here to read the full talk

The Book of Mormon identifies several groups as being "humble followers of Christ" (2 Nephi 28:14) or "humble followers of God" (Alma 4:15, Helaman 6:5,39). When we accept and acknowledge a prophet as God's agent on earth, it's a small step to desire to be "humble followers of the prophet." Elder Merrill encourages us to stay in harmony with the counsel and teachings of the Church Presidency and in particular to sustain and follow the President of the Church:

He then offers what he calls a "key" to this effort. If we ever have any doubt about following the counsel of a leader, we should turn to humble prayer, "with an open mind and a pure heart with a real desire to do the Lord's will." That kind of petition will result in "an answer that fills your bosom with joy and satisfaction" and result in a greater desire to follow counsel.

I don't think it's necessary to wait for times of doubt. Praying in humble sincerity for a greater ability to listen, understand, and follow will result in the Lord's blessings every time—it's wonderful to be filled with "joy and satisfaction." And as Elder Merrill promises, "You will then be safe."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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