Several years ago, I went on my first assignment as a newly called General Authority Seventy. Elder Ronald A. Rasband, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was my senior companion and it was a chance for me to observe and learn as he presided over a stake conference in Minnesota. On Saturday we had a meeting with many wonderful sisters from the auxiliaries in the stake. The chapel and cultural hall were filled as these sisters came anxious to be taught and edified by an apostle of the Lord. The teaching by Elder Rasband was inspired and focused on Christ. At a certain point while Elder Rasband was conducting this session in a question and answer format, I felt a strong spiritual impression as a sister asked a question, recalling a personal experience that would have been a perfect response. At that very moment, while Elder Rasband was standing at the pulpit, he turned to me and asked, “Elder Palmer, is there something you want to say?” I marveled and asked myself, “How did he do that?”
A couple of years later while in a question and answer session with leaders and wives in Johannesburg — led by Elder David A. Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — I once again had the exact same experience. A long time after the meeting had started and while sitting quietly some distance away, I again felt a spiritual prompting regarding a question asked and felt an impression that it should be shared but did not want to interrupt. At that precise moment Elder Bednar turned to me and asked if there was something I wished to add. Once again, after giving my response, I silently asked myself, “How did he know to do that? How did he know at the very instant an impression had been received by someone else, that he should turn to them and invite them to share it?” The next day I told Elder Bednar what had happened and asked, “How did you do that?” He simply smiled and said, “You know the answer”.
Earlier in the week, we had been together in Kinshasa for an amazing young adult meeting, which filled every room in the Kinshasa Stake center and overflowed into a large outdoor seating area. The questions were excellent and the teaching so inspired. I was sitting off to one side when — during the second hour of the meeting — Elder Bednar came over and quietly whispered for me to go into one of the other rooms where young adults were watching by broadcast, and ask if anyone had a question they would like to ask Elder Bednar. I entered one of the rooms where they were reverently watching, and as I began to ask if anyone had a question, they pointed to a bishop who was walking up to me and who then handed me half a dozen pages of questions he had already collected from all the rooms. I was astonished and asked why he did that (knowing no one had told him to do so). He simply said he knew we would be coming and felt it was the right thing to do. The Lord is in charge and through His Spirit clearly orchestrated all aspects of that extraordinary experience with thousands of excited young adults so anxious to see and learn from an Apostle of the Lord.
These personal spiritual experiences and many others have affirmed to me the divine nature of the calling held by those we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators. Time and time again I have watched as they are clearly moved on by the power of the Spirit of the Lord. I am thankful for this personal witness.
This personal witness is available to each of us as we listen to the words of our prophets and apostles in General Conference and read and study what they have prepared for us under the influence of the Spirit. I invite all to gain this witness and promise that the Spirit will confirm that their teachings, their warnings, their invitations and their promises are from the Lord. After all, it was He who said: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken …and my word… shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:37-38, emphasis added).
Several years ago, for a couple of months I had the privilege and blessing of almost daily associating with His chosen servants in various councils and assignments, so I found myself thinking often of the sacrifices and great service given by these humble servants and their families. At that time, I remember coming across this powerful testimony given by Elder Spencer J. Condie, of the Seventy, in 1993. This testimony moved me deeply as it so beautifully describes the feelings of my heart as I have come to know, respect, love and revere our prophets and apostles:
“I am grateful for these Brethren whom we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators who forewarn us… They preach “not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). Their motives are pure as they strive to build the kingdom of God and to uplift and edify the Saints of God. In the words of the Apostle Paul, they have become “prisoners of Christ” (see Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 4:1; Philemon 1:1, 9; 2 Timothy 1:8), whose only desire is to do the Lord’s will. Nothing more. Nothing less. And nothing else. These are men of God! May we heed their warning voices” (Liahona, November 1993).