So now that you know what General Conference is, and how to participate in it, let’s talk about how to prepare for it. Last time in General Conference 101 I mentioned that anyone can find something in General Conference to touch them individually.
President Jeffrey R. Holland said this, “If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you.” (I highly recommend his entire talk as pre-conference reading – I plan on re-reading his talk before conference starts next weekend)
What we find, and how deeply it touches us is largely dependent on our own preparation. “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.” D&C 9:7 If we are just expecting to turn on our TV at 10:00am Saturday morning and be spoon-fed revelation, we’re probably going to be missing out on the actual feast that is available. You have to prepare for the revelation which is readily available at General Conference.
The first suggestion I would give you in preparing for the upcoming General Conference is to read past General Conference talks. Study the words of the prophets from previous conferences. If you want to value the upcoming conference, learn to value the previous conferences. One of these days I want to start reading conference talks going backward in time until I have read the conference talks from every conference there has ever been. I’ve only got probably 10-15 years of conference really under my belt, since before then I wasn’t really mature enough to sit through 8 hours of conference.
Here are some talks I might start with:
Also, here is the General Conference Highlights Video from October General Conference:
My next suggestion is to prepare questions you need/want answered. Now, don’t think that by preparing questions you will get word-for-word answers from the prophets to these questions. However, as you listen to the prophets the Spirit can and will help you know the answers to your questions, whether or not any particular speaker specifically answers your question. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s counsel in last September’s Ensign explains it this way, “Answers to your specific prayers may come directly from a particular talk or from a specific phrase. At other times answers may come in a seemingly unrelated word, phrase, or song. A heart filled with gratitude for the blessings of life and an earnest desire to hear and follow the words of counsel will prepare the way for personal revelation.” I would even say to write down the questions you have. Ponder those questions daily for at least a few weeks before General Conference and let the Spirit prepare you to receive the answers.
My final suggestion for preparation is to prepare your children and prepare for your children. I don’t naively mean that you can actually prepare for your children the way you will prepare for yourself. What I mean by this is that you make sure your home (or wherever you will be participating in conference) is going to be a place where your children can get as much out of General Conference as possible – and will be content enough to be occupied with simple games, with paper and crayons, etc so that you are not too distracted from General Conference. I don’t expect General Conference to be perfectly calm at my house with small children, but I know that if I prepare well enough for my kids, they will at least let me listen to a few talks. The next post in General Conference 101 will be resources for enjoying General Conference with children.
How do you prepare for General Conference? Do you have questions that you find answers to at General Conference? How often do you study previous General Conference talks?