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Life Lessons from the Prophets That Will Make You Love Them Even More

We love hearing stories about our latter-day prophets, especially when they tell them in their own words. Check out these six incredible stories that will make you love our prophets even more.

Lorenzo Snow: “A Perfect Knowledge That God Lives”

“One day while engaged in my studies, some two or three weeks after I was baptized, I began to reflect upon the fact that I had not obtained a knowledge of the truth of the work . . . .

“I laid aside my books, left the house and wandered around through the fields under the oppressive influence of a gloomy, disconsolate spirit, while an indescribable cloud of darkness seemed to envelop me. I had been accustomed, at the close of the day, to retire for secret prayer to a grove, a short distance from my lodgings, but at this time I felt no inclination to do so.

“The spirit of prayer had departed, and the heavens seemed like brass over my head. At length, realizing that the usual time had come for secret prayer, I concluded I would not forego my evening service, and, as a matter of formality, knelt as I was in the habit of doing, and in my accustomed retired place, but not feeling as I was wont to feel.

“I had no sooner opened my lips in an effort to pray, than I heard a sound, just above my head, like the rustling of silken robes, and immediately the Spirit of God descended upon me, completely enveloping my whole person, filling me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, and O, the joy and happiness I felt! No language can describe the instantaneous transition from a dense cloud of mental and spiritual darkness into a refulgence of light and knowledge, as it was at that time imparted to my understanding. I then received a perfect knowledge that God lives, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and of the restoration of the Holy Priesthood, and the fullness of the gospel.

“It was a complete baptism—a tangible immersion in the heavenly principle or element, the Holy Ghost; and even more real and physical in its effects upon every part of my system than the immersion by water; dispelling forever, so long as reason and memory last, all possibility of doubt or fear in relation to the fact handed down to us historically, that the ‘Babe of Bethlehem’ is truly the Son of God; also the fact that He is now being revealed to the children of men, and communicating knowledge, the same as in the apostolic times. I was perfectly satisfied.”

Juvenile Instructor, Jan. 15, 1887, 22–23.

Gordon B. Hinckley: “The Most Stinging Rebuke She Ever Gave Me”

“We enrolled in junior high school. But the building could not accommodate all the students, so our class of the seventh grade was sent back to the Hamilton School. We were insulted. We were furious. We’d spent six unhappy years in that building, and we felt we deserved something better. The boys of the class all met after school. We decided we wouldn’t tolerate this kind of treatment. We were determined we’d go on strike.

“The next day we did not show up. But we had no place to go. We couldn’t stay home, because our mothers would ask questions. We didn’t think of going downtown to a show. We had no money for that. We didn’t think of going to the park. We were afraid we might be seen by Mr. Clayton, the truant officer. We didn’t think of going out behind the school fence and telling shady stories because we didn’t know any. We’d never heard of such things as drugs or anything of the kind. We just wandered about and wasted the day. “The next morning, the principal, Mr. Stearns, was at the front door of the school to greet us. His demeanor matched his name. He said some pretty straightforward things and then told us that we could not come back to school until we brought a note from our parents. That was my first experience with a lockout. Striking, he said, was not the way to settle a problem. We were expected to be responsible citizens, and if we had a complaint, we could come to the principal’s office and discuss it.

“There was only one thing to do, and that was to go home and get the note.

“I remember walking sheepishly into the house. My mother asked what was wrong. I told her. I said that I needed a note. She wrote a note. It was very brief. It was the most stinging rebuke she ever gave me. It reads as follows:

“‘Dear Mr. Stearns, Please excuse Gordon’s absence yesterday. His action was simply an impulse to follow the crowd.’

“She signed it and handed it to me.

“I walked back over to school and got there about the same time a few other boys did. We all handed our notes to Mr. Stearns. I do not know whether he read them, but I have never forgotten my mother’s note. Though I had been an active party to the action we had taken, I resolved then and there that I would never do anything on the basis of simply following the crowd.”

—“Some Lessons I Learned as a Boy,” Ensign, May 1993, 53.

Thomas S. Monson “She Was Our Nemesis, the Destroyer of Our Fun”

“When I was a deacon, I loved baseball; in fact, I still do. I had a fielder’s glove inscribed with the name ‘Mel Ott.’ He was the Darryl Strawberry of my day. My friends and I would play ball in a small alleyway behind the houses where we lived. The quarters were cramped but all right, provided you hit straight away to center field. However, if you hit the ball to the right of center, disaster was at the door. Here lived a lady who would watch us play, and as soon as the ball rolled to her porch her English setter would retrieve the ball and present it to Mrs. Shinas as she opened the door. Into her house Mrs. Shinas would return and add the ball to the many she had previously confiscated. She was our nemesis, the destroyer of our fun—even the bane of our existence. . . .

“This private war continued for some time—perhaps two years—and then an inspired thaw melted the ice of winter and brought a springtime of good feelings to the stalemate. One night as I performed my daily task of hand-watering our front lawn, holding the nozzle of the hose in hand as was the style at that time, I noticed that Mrs. Shinas’s lawn was dry and turning brown. I honestly don’t know what came over me, but I took a few more minutes and, with our hose, watered her lawn. This I did each night, and then when autumn came, I hosed her lawn free of leaves as I did ours and stacked the leaves in piles at the street’s edge to be burned or gathered. During the entire summer I had not seen Mrs. Shinas. We had long since given up playing ball in the alley. We had run out of baseballs and had no money to buy more.

“Then early one evening, her front door opened, and Mrs. Shinas beckoned for me to jump the small fence and come to her front porch. This I did, and as I approached her, Mrs. Shinas invited me into her living room, where I was asked to sit in a comfortable chair. She went to the kitchen and returned with a large box filled with baseballs and softballs, representing several seasons of her confiscation efforts. The filled box was presented to me; however, the treasure was not to be found in the gift, but rather in her voice. I saw for the first time a smile come across the face of Mrs. Shinas, and she said, ‘Tommy, I want you to have these baseballs, and I want to thank you for being kind to me.’ I expressed my own gratitude to her and walked from her home a better boy than when I entered. No longer were we enemies. Now we were friends.”

—“A Royal Priesthood,” Ensign, May 1991, 49–50.

David O. McKay: “I Cannot See a Scar on Your Face”

In March 1916, the Ogden River overflowed its banks, causing the bridge near the mouth of the canyon to become unstable. David O. McKay recounted:

“We [David and his brother Thomas E.] jumped into a little Ford car and dashed through the rain and mud. . . . I saw the pile of rocks there at the bridge, and it seemed to be intact just as it had been the day before. So jocularly I said, ‘I’m going across the bridge. Can you swim?’ With that I stepped on the gas and dashed across the bridge, only to hear Thomas E. say, ‘Oh, look out! There’s a rope!’ The watchman who left at seven o’clock had stretched the derrick rope across the road, and his successor, the day watchman, had not arrived. I reached for the emergency brake but was too late. The rope smashed the window, threw back the top, and caught me just in the chin, severing my lip, knocking out my lower teeth, and breaking my upper jaw. . . .

“About nine o’clock that morning I was on the operating table. . . . They sewed my upper jaw in place and took fourteen stitches in my lower lip and lacerated cheek. One of the attendants remarked, ‘Too bad; he will be disfigured for life.’ Certainly I was most unrecognizable. When I was wheeled back to my room in the hospital, one of the nurses consolingly remarked, ‘Well, Brother McKay, you can wear a beard,’ meaning that thus I might hide my scars.

“. . . Three very close friends . . . called and administered to me. In sealing the anointing, [one of them] said, ‘We bless you that you shall not be disfigured and that you shall not have pain.’. . . “Saturday evening Dr. William H. Petty called to see if the teeth that were still remaining in the upper jaw might be saved. It was he who said, ‘I suppose you are in great pain.’ I answered, ‘No, I haven’t any pain.’ . . . Sunday morning President Heber J. Grant came up from Salt Lake City. . . . He entered and said, ‘David, don’t talk; I’m just going to give you a blessing.’ . . .

“The following October . . . I sat at a table near where President Grant was sitting. I noticed that he was looking at me somewhat intently, and then he said, ‘David, from where I am sitting I cannot see a scar on your face!’ I answered, ‘No, President Grant, there are no scars.’”

—“A Personal Experience of Divine Healing,” transcription July 10, 1945, in Middlemiss, Cherished Experiences, 138–140.

Joseph Fielding Smith: “That’s about as Close to Heaven As I Can Get Just Now”

Biographer John J. Stewart recalled:

“I remember my surprise one day when I called at [Joseph Fielding Smith’s] office in Salt Lake City. His secretary, Rubie Egbert, said, ‘Step to the window here and maybe you can see him.’ Curious, I walked to the window. But all that I could see was a jet streaking through the blue sky high above the Great Salt Lake. Its trail of white vapor clearly marked some steep climbs, loops, dives, rolls and turns. ‘He’s out there fulfilling prophecy,’ explained his secretary with a chuckle. ‘Scriptures say that in the last days there will be vapors of smoke in the heavens.’

“‘You mean he’s in that plane?’ I asked incredulously. “‘Oh yes, that’s him all right. He’s very fond of flying. Says it relaxes him. A friend in the National Guard calls him up and says, ‘How about a relaxing?’ and up they go. Once they get in the air he often takes over the controls. Flew down to Grand Canyon and back last week, 400 miles an hour!”

“I could not resist driving to the airport to be there when he landed. As the two-place T-Bird roared down the runway to a stop, from the rear cockpit, in suit and helmet, climbed this benign old gentleman, then about 80, smiling broadly. ‘That was wonderful!’ he exclaimed. ‘That’s about as close to heaven as I can get just now.’”

Life of Joseph Fielding Smith, 1–2.

Ezra Taft Benson: “Tithing Settlement the Following Day”

“On one occasion when I was a teenager, I overheard Father and Mother talking about their finances in preparation for tithing the following day. Father [owed] twenty-five dollars at the bank, which was due during the week. In figuring their tithing, he owed twenty-five dollars more. He also had a hay derrick [something used to lift hay onto a haystack] which he had built. He . . . was trying to sell it, but had met with no success.

“What were they to do—[pay] the bank, pay their tithing later, or pay their tithing and hope that they could [pay the bank] in just a few days? After discussing the matter, and I am sure praying together before they retired, Father decided next day to go to tithing settlement and pay the twenty-five dollars, which would make him a full-tithe payer. As he rode home by horseback, one of his neighbors stopped him and said, ‘George, I understand you have a derrick for sale. How much are you asking for it?’

“Father said, ‘Twenty-five dollars.’ The neighbor said, ‘I haven’t seen it, but knowing the way you build, I am sure it is worth twenty-five dollars. Just a minute and I will go in the house and make out a check for it. I need it.’ This is a lesson I have not forgotten.”

The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 471–472.


Life Lessons from the Prophets That Will Make You Love Them Even MoreFor more stories like these, check out In Their Own Words by Mary Jane Woodger, available now at Deseret Book or deseretbook.com.