Gospel Principles 9: Prophets of God
This lesson provides a wonderful opportunity to have an open and enlightening conversation about prophets. This is one of the most basic principles of the gospel, one that gets taught from the earliest days in Primary. That being said, the topic of prophets has a rich historical and theological background and can provide for a fascinating lesson. Instead of giving a lecture about who prophets are and what they do, I would open each topic for discussion by class participants. Prayerfully consider the questions provided in the lesson manual, where they can be expanded and how they might enrich the knowledge of the sisters you teach.
Prophets Are God’s Representatives on Earth
To open the lesson I would lead a discussion of what a prophet is, why prophets are necessary and what they can provide the world. A variety of answers is likely but all will probably stay close to how the lesson manual answers those same questions :
“A prophet is called by God to be God’s representative on earth. When a prophet speaks for God, it is as if God were speaking (see D&C 1:38). A prophet is also a special witness for Christ, testifying of His divinity and teaching His gospel. A prophet teaches truth and interprets the word of God. A prophet calls the unrighteous to repentance. A prophet receives revelations and directions from the Lord for our benefit. A prophet may see into the future and foretell coming events so that the world may be warned.
A prophet may come from various stations in life. They may be young or old, highly educated or unschooled…What, then, identifies a true prophet? A true prophet is always chosen by God.”
I love this point, the only requirement to be a prophet is to be chosen of God. Often it is the most unlikely of candidates that is chosen to fulfill God’s divine purposes. For example, Enoch was hated by the people he was called to serve because he was slow of speech. Moses also described himself as slow of tongue. And of course, at times God has called women to share God’s message and lead the people. Miriam, Deborah, Huldah and Anna have the distinct privilege of being called “prophetess” and each fulfilled an important mission. (If you’re interested in exploring the women prophets of the Bible, this is a fascinating paper to read.)
Through the Ages God Has Called Prophets to Lead Mankind
As the lesson manual makes clear in the previous section, prophets can look very different but all are called of God. Perhaps you can ask class members to share the stories of some of their favorite prophets.
“How have these prophets guided God’s children?”
“What have you learned from the lives and teachings of prophets?”
We Have a Living Prophet on the Earth Today
This is another section that is perfect for open discussion:
“Why do we need a living prophet today?”
Sheri Dew talks about the benefit of having prophets during our mortal existence:
Indeed, this life is a test. It is a test of many things—of our convictions and priorities, our faith and our faithfulness, our patience and our resilience, and in the end, our ultimate desires. Yet there are times when the vision and hope of a Big Finish are dimmed by immediate demands, days when one might wish for a mortal exam that was a little more manageable.Thankfully, our experience here is an open-book test. We know why we’re here, and we have from prophets ancient and modern an extensive set of instructions.
We Should Sustain the Lord’s Prophet
As this lesson is for Relief Society sisters you might want to read this quote by President James E. Faust:
The rise of the Church from Palmyra to Kirtland, from Kirtland to Nauvoo, from Nauvoo to the West, and in over 150 countries all over the world has come about because the body of the Church, wherever it was, has been loyal to the Brethren. Millions of men and women have followed the prophets of God. I wish to pay special tribute to all of the faithful women since the time of the Restoration who have listened to the prophetic voice of the Church. Their supernal womanly gifts and talents have blessed the work of God in a most important and indispensable way.
How can we, as women, sustain the prophet? How can this contribute to the work of God in “important and indispensable ways”?
Great Blessings Follow Obedience to the Prophet
D&C 21 tells us that if we receive the words of the prophets and follow them that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.”
Ask the sisters how obeying the prophet has blessed their lives?
I echo the idea of Chieko Okazaki that the close-knit community, bonded together by love and the shared desire to follow the principles of the gospel is one of the biggest blessings of following the prophet:
All over the world, as brothers and sisters in the gospel, we can learn from each other, grow closer together, and increase in love for each other. Our unity grows from what we have in common all around the world. They are the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel, our faith in the Savior, our testimonies of the scriptures, our gratitude for guidance from living prophets, and our sense of ourselves as a people striving to be Saints. These are the principles of the gospel.
As you close this lesson, consider sharing your own experience with sustaining and following the prophet. As the spirit prompts, share your testimony of the living prophet.
Note: This lesson was originally written for the Relief Society audience in 2010-2011, when the Gospel Principles manual was temporarily used as curriculum for Relief Society, Elders Quorum and High Priest classes. The lesson may require adaptation for Gospel Principles classes, which are mixed gender and primarily serve new members and investigators of the church.