One of my takeaways I’ve from October Conference is the preponderance of questions within the talks. Not just rhetorical ones— the typical set-up questions that direct the listener to answers within their talk—but questions meant for us to consider asking ourselves or God. These questions encouraged personal, direct communication with God, reflection on our life path, and contemplation on life’s struggle and meaning. Perhaps the Come Follow Me1 model of asking the right questions is creeping into conference talks. I like it. Here are some of my favorites.
Right from the gate, President Uchdorf opened the Saturday morning session by encouraging the use of questions as a way to ponder our place in the Church and evaluate changes that may be necessary. He says:
When it comes to spiritual truth, how can we know that we are on the right path? One way is by asking the right questions—the kind that help us ponder our progress and evaluate how things are working for us. Questions like:
- “Does my life have meaning?”
- “Do I believe in God?”
- “Do I believe that God knows and loves me?”
- “Do I believe that God hears and answers my prayers?”
- Am I truly happy?”
- Are my efforts leading me to the highest spiritual goals and values in life?”
I wonder if we as Church members might also benefit from asking ourselves from time to time:
- “Is my experience in the Church working for me?
- Is it bringing me closer to Christ? Is it blessing me and my family with peace and joy as promised in the gospel?”
Elder Ballard’s questions quickly moved beyond the rhetorical (“What is that Old Ship Zion?”) to something deeper:
- Every time I hold a newborn child, I find myself wondering: “Who are you, little one? What will you become through the Atonement of Christ?”
- We ask similarly reflective questions when someone we love dies: “Where are they?
- What are they seeing and experiencing?
- Does life continue?
- What will be the nature of our most cherished relationships in the great world of the spirits of the dead?”
Elder Maynes contained no direct questions, but his telling of a personal experience exposes some vulnerability and invites listeners to seek answers as he did.
As a young adult in my early 20s, I was at a point in my life when I knew I needed to change something in order to be a happier person. I felt like I was adrift with no real purpose and direction, and I didn’t know where to go to find it. I had always known that Heavenly Father existed and occasionally throughout my life had said prayers, feeling that He listened.
As I began my search, I attended several different churches but would always fall back into the same feelings and discouragement. I feel very blessed because my prayer for direction and purpose in life was ultimately answered, and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was brought into my life. For the first time I felt like I had a purpose, and the plan of happiness brought real joy into my life.
Next, Neill F. Marriott gave examples of questions she asked herself from time to time.
- I remember kneeling, hoping I could feel His love, and asking, “Where are You, Heavenly Father? I know You must be out there somewhere, but where?”
- During the sacrament, which I call the heart of the Sabbath, I have found that after I pray for forgiveness of sins, it is instructive for me to ask Heavenly Father, “Father, is there more?”
- Can we love Jesus Christ and His way more than we love ourselves and our own agenda?
Elder Lawrence’s entire talk is based on a question: “What Lack I Yet?”. He suggests:
…we need to ask the Lord for directions along the way. We have to ask some difficult questions, like
- “What do I need to change?”
- “How can I improve?”
- “What weakness needs strengthening?”
The Holy Ghost really does give customized counsel. He is a completely honest companion and will tell us things that no one else knows or has the courage to say.
I would like to suggest that each of you participate in a spiritual exercise sometime soon, perhaps even tonight while saying your prayers. Humbly ask the Lord the following question:
- “What is keeping me from progressing?”
- In other words: “What lack I yet?”
Then wait quietly for a response. If you are sincere, the answer will soon become clear. It will be revelation intended just for you.
Elder Viñas suggested the following questions:
These and many other afflictions inherent to this probationary state sometimes cause us to ask ourselves the same question that the Prophet Joseph Smith asked:
- “O God, where art thou?” (D&C 121:1).
Elder Hales suggests that when we have important life choices, it’s instructive to ask yourself questions:
You may want to conduct what I’ll call a “personal council.” After praying, spend some time alone. Think about what is ahead. Ask yourself:
- “What areas of my life do I want to strengthen so that I can strengthen others?
- Where do I want to be a year from now? two years from now?
- What choices do I need to make to get there?”
Elder Martino, in Turn to Him and Answers Will Come, teaches the value of asking questions:
God answers our prayers about the truthfulness of the gospel, but He answers when we ask with “a sincere heart” and “true intention”. He does not answer only to respond to our curiosity.
- They tried to get the brass plates, but when they did not succeed, give up; his attitude was: “We tried, what else can we do?”
- To those returned missionaries and to all of us, if you “have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?”
- Ask yourself, “Am I as close to living like Christ now as I was before?”
Elder Andersen in the Priesthood Session asks the following:
- I ask myself, “How does the Savior see my faith?” And tonight I ask you, “How does the Savior see your faith?”
It seems President Uchdorf is fond of asking questions. Here he goes again, in Be Not Afraid, Only Believe:
- To all of us who bear the holy priesthood of God, I ask, are we like Daniel?
- Do we stand loyal to God?
- Do we practice what we preach, or are we Sunday Christians only?
- Do our daily actions reflect clearly what we claim to believe?
- Do we help “the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted”?
- Do we just talk the talk, or do we enthusiastically walk the walk?
Elder Nelson, in A Plea to my Sisters, asks two of my favorites:
- Are you finished crying?
- Sisters, do you realize the breadth and scope of your influence when you speak those things that come to your heart and mind as directed by the Spirit?
Elder Clark’s story includes an experience that echoes many at conference: the importance of individuals—in particular, women—to seek direction and then speak up:
- She said, “Merlin, did you hear that voice?”
Do you have a favorite question from conference? Why? What was your answer?
1. Read about the Come Follow Me curriculum: https://www.lds.org/youth/learn?cid=HP14CFM&lang=eng