I came to conference with questions this time around. There were three specific ones that I had in my head and in my heart. I had not written them down, but I knew what they were.
Similar answers came to each question, but not in the same talks.
It has caused me to reflect on how my process of receiving answers to prayers works. Doctrine & Covenants gives us some clues to general processes in the Lord’s instructions to Oliver Cowdrey in sections 6, 8 and 9. You know them: ponder, pray, think about your own solutions and your own process, feel peace in heart and mind, feel a burning in the bosom, and remember what you’ve learned.
Joseph Smith taught this about divine instruction:
When you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.”
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 151.)
I’ve written before that my answers to prayer rarely come during the prayer, almost never during the first prayer.
As I prepared for this particular conference, I had three broad questions in my mind. One concerned one of my children, one concerned my job, and one concerned a health concern of mine. These are not questions specific to conference, since these three items have been occupying my prayers off and on for months. But I looked at conference as one opportunity among many to receive guidance.
What I found is that guidance came. Some of it came in overarching themes, and some in specific quotations. A particular sentence in a particular talk struck me in a particular way. A story related by a speaker related to one of my issues. Recurring and connecting themes from several talks united to offer instruction and comfort.
In the end, most of my answers were comforting answers rather than go-and-do answers this time. That’s not always so. But this time I was counseled to be patient and to trust that the Lord can do His work. He has a way to accomplish what He needs to accomplish. That message is reassuring to me.
As I reflected on the Lord’s instructions through the prophet Joseph, it occurred to me that the Lord did whisper peace to my heart and mind. The Lord did cause my bosom to burn as I pondered ideas I had about my questions. And I felt what I assume is the pure intelligence, the sudden strokes of ideas that Joseph described. Not everything happened at once. And I am not sure I recognized each of those events as they happened, some only were clearer after the fact. But I do know that answers came.
These particular questions are still too tender for me to discuss in great detail, which makes this essay less readable; for that I’m sorry. But hopefully my writing will encourage you to think about how conference spoke to you – or that is, how the Lord spoke to you through conference.