God uses divine guidance (or revelation) to lead the Church today just as He did in biblical times—through a living prophet. He also guides us in our personal lives as we confront our own unique challenges.
Shortly before His death, Christ taught, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18)—meaning that after the Savior’s death and Resurrection and Ascension to heaven, Peter would lead His Church.
Today, as prophet, seer, and revelator, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds all of the priesthood keys to prayerfully discern and reveal God’s words. This is how God leads and directs His children—through divine guidance. Many spiritual gifts are given to others as well, at all levels of Christ’s Church—from the individual to his or her own family to those in senior leadership roles. Members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Seventy, and stake presidents and bishops each receive inspiration appropriate for their “stewardship,” or for the people they lead. Understanding the current needs of the Church membership is an ongoing process, and from worldwide general conferences to meetings of local congregations, inspired leaders seek God’s inspiration at every step. They search the foundational revelations that are found in ancient and modern scriptures, they discuss important matters in councils, and they prayerfully seek confirmation from God through the Holy Ghost as they govern and guide.
Through this same power—the power of the Holy Ghost—each of us also has access to personal inspiration for our own lives and for those of our spouses and children. Describing this form of divine guidance, Church Apostle Boyd K. Packer said: “The Holy Ghost communicates with [our] spirit through the mind more than through the physical senses. This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings, through impressions and promptings. It . . . is a still voice, a small voice” (“Revelation in a Changing World,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 14). This quiet dialogue with God begins as we seek Him in prayer. We tell Him our problems and concerns. After thoughtfully studying them out in our own minds, we ask Him what He would have us do. He knows us personally and loves us, and He leads us to answers through spiritual insight tailored specifically to our lives and understanding.
It was through one such prayer that the Restoration of Jesus Christ’s Church began, after a young Joseph Smith read James 1:5, a New Testament scripture that inspired him to ask for divine guidance from God. The faithful 14-year-old did so, kneeling down in a grove of trees and asking which of all the churches was true. Joseph received an answer directly from God the Father and Jesus Christ, and he went on to restore Christ’s original Church and become a modern-day prophet. It was also through divine guidance that Joseph Smith translated an ancient book of scripture known as the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, something he, as an uneducated farm boy, would never have been able to do on his own. These miracles, like all that have occurred before them or since, were first preceded by faith: the faith of an earnest young man praying to know which church to join, the faith of someone in need of direction.
In our day, as then, we follow the living prophet, who was ordained to guide us here on earth. As a revelator and seer, he perceives and teaches God’s eternal truth. God’s prophet today leads Christ’s Church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “God is, not was,” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, and “He speaketh, not spake” (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Joseph Slater, and Jean Ferguson Carr, The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Nature, Addresses, and Lectures, vol. 1 , 89). The Church’s ninth article of faith echoes this sentiment: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things.” God’s revelations, past and present, are for our benefit. Because we are children of a loving God who wants to lead us back to Him and to our heavenly home, we’re not required to make that journey alone—we have the words of prophets as well as our own personal revelation to guide us.