These habits seem to easily slip away in the rush of our very busy lives, even when we are engaged in good things like pursuing an education, working to support a family, and involving ourselves in community and Church service.
They include sincere daily prayer, faithful fasting, regular study and pondering of the scriptures and the words of the living prophets, making the Sabbath day a delight, partaking of the sacrament with humility and always remembering the Savior, worshipping in the temple as often as possible, and, finally, reaching out to the needy, poor, and, lonely—both those close by and across the world.
When someone stops doing these simple but essential things, they allow Satan to muddle their thinking. Sin and guilt cloud the mind—leading them to deny past inspiration and revelation and causing a “de-conversion” from the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is my prayer that each of us will be faithful in these essential habits.
One of these truths is that The Church of Jesus Christ has always been led by living prophets and Apostles. I hope that we will regularly pray for and heed the counsel of our Church leaders.
Another truth is to observe the Sabbath day. I wish to remind you that the Sabbath is a precious gift that helps us remain unspotted from the world, provides us with physical rest, and gives each of us the spiritual refreshment of worshipping the Father and the Son every Sunday.
I know that as we hold to these and other truths of the gospel, we will be able to sail on within this glorious ship, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and reach our eternal destination.
To any of you who feel this way, I would encourage you to change your perspective. We are eternal spirits! We must live our lives with the end in mind—not the middle. We must trust in the Lord. We must understand that some will be tested more than others. We should remember that no blessing will be denied if we continue to keep the commandments.
Turn to the plan of salvation—it can answer all of your questions. Take the sacrament each week. It will help you regain spiritual strength. Trust in the Lord and understand that all blessings will come at the right time.
Seek to make the Atonement more literal and more real in your life. The key to doing this is to worthily partake of the sacrament each week. When you partake of the sacrament, you are promised that you will always have Christ’s Spirit with you. This is a very real promise because it comes from our very real Lord.
As you anchor yourself to the Atonement, I promise you that blessings will come in your life. You will feel His presence in your daily activities. You will be guided to accomplish God’s will in your life. You will feel His approval.
You women have been divinely endowed with unique discernment and strength. Your qualities don’t make you better than or inferior to men. They just make you different—wonderfully, deliberately, and everlastingly so.
Each of you must come to know what the Lord wants for you individually. While one of you may be inspired to continue your education, another of you may receive inspiration to begin a family.
We should not question each other’s choices or the inspiration behind them. We should refrain from asking hurtful and unsupportive questions. We can all be kinder and more thoughtful of the situations in which our sisters throughout the world find themselves as they seek to follow the will of our Heavenly Father in their lives.
I know that as you draw nearer to the Lord, He will guide you to become the best version of yourself and to make inspired decisions in your life. He needs you—with your unique strengths, insights, and experiences—to save souls and build the kingdom of God.
"I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.”
Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, is not dead. He lives—the resurrected Son of God lives—that is my testimony, and He guides the affairs of His Church today.
As I visited with the children at the camp, I felt impressed that they are in many ways just like those children who can be found in any of our primaries throughout the world.
A nine-year-old boy and his family were among the many we were able to tell that we have come to help them. He and his family had nothing but the clothes on their backs, but their smiles spoke of hope for a better way of life. It was an honor for me to watch as the relief organizations we have partnered with gave this boy not just the basic necessities, but even a soccer ball.
The Lord has made it clear that one of the great responsibilities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that we are to feed the hungry and the poor. We are to reach out and take care of them, and especially the children. I encourage each of us to remember this charge throughout this holiday season, and beyond. May God bless us all in our efforts as we do so.
As I attended the dedication of the Indianapolis Indiana Temple this weekend, I knew that I was walking on sacred, holy ground—a place of refuge from the storms of the world.
I invite you to go to the temple. Go as often as you can, and turn off your smartphones and put them away before you enter the temple grounds. If you choose, you can hear the still, small voice of the Spirit in the temple or on its sacred grounds in ways you never will at the mall, in restaurants, and in public places. In fact, you will find that the temple is a wonderful place to receive answers to your prayers.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsQuorum of the Twelve Apostles, 1985 - present
Elder M. Russell Ballard is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has been serving as an Apostle since October 6, 1985, traveling throughout the earth to instruct Church members and direct day-to-day affairs of the worldwide Church.
He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 8, 1928, to Melvin R. and Geraldine Smith Ballard. He attended the University of Utah.
As a young man, he served a mission to England for the Church, where he was a counselor in the mission presidency. He has also served as a bishop twice.
In 1974, he was called as president of the Canada Toronto Mission, where he was serving when called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in April of 1976. As a member of the Seventy, he supervised and trained leaders in his assigned geographic regions. He later served as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy from February 1980 to October 1985, overseeing the Church’s Quorums of the Seventy. Much of his ministry has been focused on missionary work.
Prior to his call as a full-time Church leader, Elder Ballard had interests in the automotive, real estate, and investment businesses. He has served on many Church and civic committees and boards.
He married Barbara Bowen in the Salt Lake Temple on August 28, 1951. They are the parents of two sons and five daughters.
- University of Utah