For many people around the globe, bended knee is the posture of prayer, the place we go for ultimate hope when we have nowhere else to turn.
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the first weekends in April and October are celebrations of prayer and hope. These are known as general conference. The next one takes place October 3–4, 2020. Some 16 million Latter-day Saints in more than 50 nations will watch or listen in dozens of languages via television, internet stream or radio. This is how you can watch or listen.
Church leaders spend countless hours leading up to these gatherings, often on their knees in prayer, preparing messages of hope and encouragement — all founded on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their sermons, as well as the beautiful music from The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, are for the whole world. We will gather around computer, radio, smartphone or television and listen because we have faith that God will guide us. We believe He will speak truth in unique ways to each person who watches and listens, Latter-day Saint or not.
“During trying times, few things are as reassuring and comforting as truth,” Church President and Prophet Russell M. Nelson said on March 28. “Amid the gloomy darkness of a troubled world, the light of Jesus Christ shines ever brighter. He can speak truth to our hearts and minds as we seek Him and learn to hear Him.”
This year is unique. We are marking 200 years since Joseph Smith, also on bended knee, uttered his first prayer in Palmyra, New York. Like many today, Joseph was weighed down with his own worries. He was deeply concerned about his soul and salvation. He also wanted to know which church was the church of Jesus Christ. The results of that prayer were truly transformational. Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared. Pointing to His beloved Son, the Father told the teenage Joseph to “Hear Him!” A grand work began unfolding from there, giving us, among many other things, the Book of Mormon and a new church, now a global family of believers known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Joseph’s prayer can be a pattern for the world. Latter-day Saints believe in ongoing revelation from heaven. General conferences are among the ways we try to hear God speak. Like others, we know we don’t have all the answers. In times of darkness and uncertainty, all of God’s children crave light and clarity. There is a reason for this hunger. Our souls need the nourishment of light and truth just as our bodies need the nutrients of a balanced diet. Without this spiritual nourishment, it can be easy to forget that God loves every person on this planet.
God speaks to us in many ways every day. Our challenges, as tragic and heartbreaking as they can sometimes be, can help us better hear His voice. He deeply loves us, but we tend to sleep deeply through life. We need wake-up calls.
Society has many sources of truth and light. We should value them all. Regardless of your religious affiliation (or lack thereof), we invite you to make the October 2020 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a part of your search for hope and peace in these troubled times. Messages of truth and inspiration will be center stage. Who wouldn’t want that?
As we worship together, the healing power of the Holy Spirit can infuse us with the courage and optimism we need to move forward in hope.