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The Full Text of President Jeffrey R. Holland’s April 2024 Conference Message

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In his first General Conference talk since October 2022, President Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a deeply personal message in which he talked about his struggles over the past year and the truths he has learned.

Here is the full transcript of his message in the April 2024 General Conference. 

I’ve learned a painful lesson since I last occupied this pulpit in October of 2022. That lesson is: if you don’t give an acceptable talk, you can be banned for the next several conferences. You can see I’m assigned early in the first session of this one. What you can’t see is that I’m positioned on a trap door, with a very delicate latch. If this talk doesn’t go well, I won’t see you for another few conferences.

Actually, in the spirit of that beautiful hymn, with its beautiful choir, I have learned some lessons recently that, with the Lord’s help, I wish to share with you today. That will make this a very personal talk. The most personal and painful of all has been the passing of my beloved wife, Pat. She was the greatest woman I have ever known. A perfect wife and mother, to say nothing of her purity, her gift of expression, her spirituality. She gave a talk once titled “Fulfilling the Measure of Your Creation.” It seems to me that she fulfilled the measure of her creation more successfully than anyone could have dreamed possible. She was a complete daughter of God, an exemplary woman of Christ. I was the most fortunate of men to spend 60 years of my life with her. Should I prove worthy, our sealing means I can spend eternity with her.

Another experience began 48 hours after my wife’s burial. At that time, I was rushed to the hospital in an acute medical crisis. I then spent the first four weeks of a 6-week stay in and out of intensive care and in and out of consciousness. Virtually all my experience in the hospital during that first period is lost to my memory. What is not lost is my memory of a journey outside the hospital, out of what seemed the edge of eternity. I cannot speak fully of that experience here, but I can say that part of what I received was an admonition to return to my ministry with more urgency, more consecration, more focus on the Savior, more faith in his word. I couldn’t help but feel I was receiving my own personal version of a revelation given to the Twelve nearly 200 years ago: “Thou shalt bear record of my name and send forth my word unto the ends of the Earth. Morning by morning and day after day let thy warning voice go forth. And when the night cometh, let not the inhabitants of the Earth’s slumber because of thy speech. Arise, take up your cross and follow me.”

My beloved sisters and brothers, since that experience, I have tried to take up my cross more earnestly with more resolve to find where I can raise an Apostolic voice of both warmth and warning in the morning, during the day, and into the night.

That leads me to a third truth that came in those months of loss and illness and distress. It was a renewed witness of and endless gratitude for the resolute prayers of this church – your prayers, of which I have been the beneficiary. I will be eternally grateful for the supplication of thousands of people who, like the importuning widow, repeatedly sought heaven’s intervention on my behalf.

I received priesthood blessings. I saw my high school class fast for me, as did several random wards across the church. And my name must have been on the prayer roll of virtually every temple of the church. In my profound gratitude for all of this, I join GK Chesterton who said once that, “Thanks are the highest form of thought, and gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

With my own happiness doubled by wonder, I thank all of you, and I thank my Father in heaven who heard your prayers and blessed my life.

Brothers and sisters, I testify that God hears every prayer we offer and responds to each of them according to the path he has outlined to our perfection. I recognize that at roughly the same time, so many were praying for my health an equal number, including me, were praying for the restoration of my wife’s health. I testify that both of those prayers were heard and answered by a divinely compassionate heavenly Father, even if the prayers for Pat were not answered the way I asked.

It’s for reasons known only to God why prayers are answered differently than we hope, but I promise you they are heard and they answered according to his unfailing love and cosmic timetable.

Now if we ask not amiss, there are no limits to when, where, or about what we should pray. According to the revelations we’re to pray always. We’re to pray, Amulek said, “For those who are around you with the belief that fervent prayer of the righteous people availeth much.” Our prayers ought to be vocal when we have the privacy to so offer them. If that is not practical, they should be carried as silent utterances in our heart. We sing that prayers are motions of a hidden fire always to be offered according to the Savior himself to God the Eternal Father in the name of his only begotten Son.

My beloved friends, our prayers are our sweetest hour, our most sincere desire, our simplest, purest form of worship.

We should pray individually, in our families, and in congregations of all sizes. We’re to employ prayer as a shield against temptation and if there be any time we feel not to pray, we can be sure that hesitancy does not come from God who yearns to communicate with his children at any and all times. Indeed some efforts to keep us from praying come directly from the adversary and when we don’t know how or exactly for what to pray, we should begin and continue until the Holy Spirit guides us into the prayer we should be offering.

This approach may be the one we have to invoke when praying for our enemies and those who despitefully use us. Ultimately we can look to the Savior’s example who prayed so very often, but it has always been intriguing to me that Jesus felt the need to pray at all. Wasn’t he perfect? What did he need to pray? Well, I’ve come to realize that he too with us wanted to seek the Father’s face, believe his word, and trust his grace. Time after time he retreated from society to be alone before piercing heaven with his prayers. At other times, he prayed in the company of a few companions. Then he would seek heaven on behalf of multitudes that would cover a hillside. Sometimes prayer glorified his clothing. Sometimes it glorified his countenance. Sometimes he stood to pray. Sometimes he knelt. And at least once, he fell on his face in prayer.

Luke describes Jesus’ descent into his expiation as requiring him to pray more earnestly. How does one who was perfect pray more earnestly? We assume that all of his prayers were earnest, yet in fulfilling his atoning sacrifice and through the pain that attended its universal reach, he felt to pray ever more pleadingly. With the weight of his offering finally bringing blood from every pore.

Against a backdrop of Christ’s victory over death, and his recent gift to me of a few more weeks or months in mortality, I bear solemn witness of the reality of eternal life and the need for us to be serious in our planning for it. That serious needs to exist when Christ comes because he needs to recognize us. Not as nominal members listed on a faded baptismal record, but as thoroughly committed, faithfully believing, covenant keeping disciples. This is an urgent matter for all of us lest we ever hear with devastating regret, “I never knew you.” Or as Joseph Smith translated that phrase, “You never knew me.”

Fortunately, we have help for this task, lots of help. We need to believe in angels and miracles and the promises of the Holy priesthood. We need to believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost, the influence of good families and friends, and the power of the pure love of Christ. We need to believe in revelation and prophets, seers, and revelators, and President Russell M. Nelson. We need to believe with prayer and pleading and personal righteousness we really can ascend to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all.

Brothers and sisters as we repent of our sins and come boldly to the throne of grace, leaving before him there our alms and our heartfelt supplications, we will find mercy and compassion and forgiveness at the benevolent hands of our Eternal Father and his obedient, perfectly pure son. Then with Job and all the refined faithful, we will behold a world too wonderful to understand. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Whether on social media or in our homes causing the spirit of the Lord to withdraw from our hearts therefore please cast not away your confidence but rather let your confidence wax strong. The ongoing accelerating building of temples will continue yet more important as we change our preparation to enter the temple, we will change our experience in the temple which will transform our lives outside of the temple.

May this transformation feel as with confidence in our holy covenants made with God through Jesus Christ. God lives, Jesus is our Savior, and this is his restored Church on Earth. I reverently declare this truths in the sacred name of our Savior Jesus Christ, amen.

This is a human-generated transcription. Small errors may be found.

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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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