Friday, August 10, 2012

Journals are Helpful

In 1836, just three years after his baptism, Wilford Woodruff was called as a seventy.  The next year he recorded the following prayer in his journal:

"O Lord I ask thee in the name of Jesus Christ thy Son, to look upon thy servant Willford, who now occupies a place in Kirtland, this first Stake of Zion, which thou has appointed in this last Dispensation, & fulness of times for the gathering of thy Saints.  O God of Israel, inspire the heart & pen of thy Servant at this time, & hear & answer the Petition which he will put up unto thee at this time, & remember the Covenant which they servant Willford will make with thee at this time, O mighty God of Jacob.  O Lord thou hast spared my life, to behold the commencem of 1837.  May my life, health, & strength be precious in thy Sight, through the year.  Wilt thou save me by thy grace from all sin, & the Powers of temptation, which try the souls of men.  Wilt thou give me favor during this year, with God & the Saints.  Wilt thou bless me while in school, & in meeting with the quorum of the Seventies, & while attending all other meetings in Kirtland for Divine worship.  O Lord if it be thy will, give me the privilege of recording in this years Journal great blessing, Pronounced upon my head from mine annointing & from under the hands of the Patriarch JOSEPH.  & an account of Great visions, & the opening of the heavens, & and the Revelation of JESUS CHRIST Unto me that I may be a special witness of Thee.  O Lord.  & may I also have the administering of Holy angels, that I may be taught of the Eternal things of the Priesthood.  If I am called to preach thy word this year, may I be bless with souls for my hire.   If I visit my kinsman, wilt thou make me an instrument, of bringing them into thy Celestial Kingdom.  & I Covenant with Thee, Heavenly FATHER, to go & come at thy bidding.  I ask the above blessing, through the Priesthood in the name of JESUS CHRIST AMEN" (Dean C. Jessee; BYU Studies Vol 12; 4:373, emphasis mine).

Is the gospel different today than it was then?  Why do members of the Church not share the same desire for spiritual things today as Wilford Woodruff did then?  What has changed?  Are members less spiritual?  What about our present culture discourages this kind of seeking?  I'm grateful when I read journals of the early Saints.  


  1. I do think we've become less spiritual. As you have pointed out over and over we trust in the arm of the flesh. I recently sat down and, in prayer and a request for aid from the Spirit, attempted to write out who I am. As I wrote and struggled to find what the Lord had to teach me, I finally came to these words: I am spiritual before I am physical. The exercise itself was, I think, born of the Spirit and it has had great impact on me. We need to remember that we are spiritual beings first. As such, we have access to all things within spiritual spheres.

    Perhaps because we misunderstand our own nature, we lack faith. I recall being a young missionary in the MTC and, like many before me I'm sure, read about the incredible success of the missionaries in the early days of the Church and desired greatly to have such success. I wanted very much to believe it was possible and prayed hard for the faith to believe it and to do it. Then I shared this with one of the presidency of the branch I was in. He told me that I should not expect such results and that doing so would only leave me disappointed. Fortunately, my mission president did not share his lack of belief and we did have miraculous success. Unfortunately, in most areas of my mission, the Church membership was not prepared for such an influx of converts and lack of faith again prevailed.

  2. Why do members of the Church not share the same desire for spiritual things today as Wilford Woodruff did then?
    How do you know that some do not? Do you know every member of the Church personally enough to know their innermost thoughts and spiritual desires? I think not. Maybe in the culture of the area where you live there is a dearth of spirituality; let me assure that in the area where I live there is not. I am acquainted with members who personally search for their deepest spiritual abilities and a closer contact with God.