General conference is one of the greatest times of year for Latter-day Saints. We are privileged to hear from our prophet, apostles, and other general authorities who prepare inspired messages to bless our lives, and it’s a wonderful time to receive personal spiritual guidance.
Because this is such an important event, prophets and apostles have given words of advice to help us spiritually prepare. As conference weekend approaches, consider taking this advice given by Church leaders on how to get the most out of it.
1. Dedicate yourself to truly listening.
You can decide right now to listen closely to general conference and let it affect your life for good. In the October 2005 priesthood session, Paul V. Johnson said, “Decide now to make general conference a priority in your life. Decide to listen carefully and follow the teachings that are given. . . . By doing these things, the gates of hell will not prevail against you, the powers of darkness will be dispersed from before you, and the heavens will shake for your good.”
2. Pray and think about questions you have.
Tuning in to conference with specific questions and concerns in mind is a great way to invite the Spirit to touch your heart and answer your prayers. Dieter F. Uchtdorf shared, “As you prepare for general conference, I invite you to ponder questions you need to have answered. . . . Answers to your specific prayers may come directly from a particular talk or from a specific phrase. At other times answers may come in a seemingly unrelated word, phrase, or song. A heart filled with gratitude for the blessings of life and an earnest desire to hear and follow the words of counsel will prepare the way for personal revelation” (September 2011 Ensign, “General Conference -- No Ordinary Blessing”).
3. Study past conference talks.
We are incredibly blessed to receive modern-day revelation through our Church leaders, and their messages are easily accessible through various online and print resources. We should take President Thomas S. Monson’s advice in his October 2012 closing remarks, “I encourage you to read the talks once again 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.”
4. Keep a notebook or journal nearby during the talks.
You never know when personal revelation will come or when your heart will be touched by the Spirit. Keep a notebook close so you can record those feelings as they come. Elder Robert D. Hales said, “When I take notes at conference, I do not always write down exactly what the speaker is saying; I note the personalized direction the Spirit is giving me” (October 2013 Ensign, “General Conference: Strengthening Faith and Testimony”).
5. Prepare in advance.
It’s no secret that the speakers prepare their talks very far in advance, and we can follow their example by preparing in advance to hear what they have to say. President Dallin H. Oaks said, “I begin that process six months in advance, and usually by two to four months ahead of the April or October conference, I know the subject I’m supposed to speak about. It’s indelibly impressed upon my mind, and then I have that confirmed because thoughts begin to flow on that subject—sources come to my attention . . . sometimes I receive a letter from a member that gives me an important insight on the subject—and then I begin writing drafts.”
Preparing to receive revelation is something we can work at our entire lives. Elder Neil L. Anderson spoke on a similar subject during October 2017 general conference and noted that everyone prepares a little differently. He said, “Another [apostle], when asked how long it had taken to compose an especially sensitive talk, responded, ‘Twenty-five years.’”
6. Share gospel-related messages on social media.
Social media has its flaws but it really is a great way to share the gospel. Sharing posts about quotes that touched you or feelings you had during conference is a perfect way to spread light. Elder Gary E. Stevenson shared in October 2017, “With so many appropriate and inspired uses of technology, let us use it to teach, inspire, and lift ourselves and to encourage others to become their finest—rather than to portray our idealized virtual selves.”
7. Develop gratitude.
General conference is truly a blessing we are privileged to participate in and we can show our appreciation by thanking the Lord sincerely for the inspired teachings of modern-day prophets and apostles. In President Russell M. Nelson’s April 2018 talk, “Let Us All Press On,” he expressed his gratitude by saying, “I join you in thanking the Lord for His direction and inspiring influence. The music has been beautiful and uplifting. Not only have the messages been edifying, but they have been life-changing!”
8. Prepare your home and clear your schedule.
If you plan to watch general conference from home, make an effort to get everything in order beforehand so you won’t be distracted while you’re trying to listen. Elder Robert D. Hales said, “What is said is not as important as what we hear and what we feel. That is why we make an effort to experience conference where the still, small voice of the Spirit can be clearly heard, felt, and understood."
He also emphasized the importance of making time for conference by saying, “As the time for conference arrives, we sacrifice other activities, ‘lay[ing] aside the things of this world, [to] seek for things of a better.’ Then we gather our families to hear the word of the Lord, as King Benjamin’s people did."
9. Pray to feel Heavenly Father’s love.
God loves each of us perfectly and individually, and Elder Robert D. Hales testified of this when he said, “I promise you in His 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 help you, to strengthen you, and to lead you home into his presence.”
10. Attend the temple.
Temple worship is one of the central components to our membership in the Church. There are numerous conference talks about the blessings of temple attendance and the promise that if we attend the temple, we can be more in tune with the Spirit and receive personal revelation.
President Thomas S. Monson said in his April 2015 address, “As I think of temples, my thoughts turn to the many blessings we receive therein. As we enter through the doors of the temple, we leave behind us the distractions and the confusion of the world. Inside this sacred sanctuary, we find beauty and order. There is rest for our souls and a respite from the cares of our lives.”
11. Be ready to act on the answers you receive.
General conference feels like a spiritual New Year’s Day. We get so excited about re-dedicating ourselves to the Lord and following every prompting, but we often retreat back into old habits after a few months. It’s so important to commit to the things we need to change and the revelations that come.
In President Russell M. Nelson’s closing remarks for the April 2018 conference, he said “I exhort you to study the messages of this conference frequently—even repeatedly—during the next six months. Conscientiously look for ways to incorporate these messages in your family home evenings, your gospel teaching, your conversations with family and friends, and even your discussions with those not of our faith. Many good people will respond to the truths taught in this conference when offered in love. And your desire to obey will be enhanced as you remember and reflect upon what you have felt these past two days.”