I am finally finishing Terryl Givens’ excellent book titled By the Hand of Mormon. In the penultimate chapter Givens focuses on the concept of dialogic prayer – personal two-way communication with God. He postulates that the reality of dialogic prayer as displayed over and over among the regular people in the Book of Mormon may be the real revolutionary doctrinal contribution of the Book of Mormon to the world. I think he is right. The prophets of the Book of Mormon seem to consistently expect us to talk to God and hear what he has to say back. In not-so-subtle ways they tell us that if we are not hearing back from God we are among the wicked. Think about what Nephi says to Laman and Lemuel when they have trouble understanding the vision their father had: “Have ye inquired of the Lord?” Laman and Lemuel gave the all too modern answer: “The Lord maketh not such things known unto us.” (1 Nep. 15:8-9) Nephi paints a world where the norm is to have a question, to inquire of the Lord, and to get a clear and specific answer. In his world the normal and righteous citizens consistently describe how “the spirit said unto me” or “the voice of the Lord came unto me”. I believe the Book of Mormon gives us that message because that is the view of the world those prophets and God expect us to keep as the saints in the last days.
The final warning message of the Book of Mormon to us was “Deny not the gifts of God“. And Moroni warns:
And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth-that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief. And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God. (Moro 10:23-24)
What are those gifts? Well we’ve discussed those before. But for the purpose of this post I will mention that they include things like prophecy, miracles, and knowing.
So if we can and should prophesy what would that make us when we do prophesy? Prophets. If we can know and see things that the rest of the world cannot know and see because of our direct communication from God what does that make us? Seers. If we, through the Gift of the Holy Ghost, have great things revealed to us from God and can in turn reveal those things to each other what does that make us? Revelators.
I submit that absolutely no difference should exist between our relationship with God and the one that President Hinckley has with God. The only difference ought to be in the stewardship we have versus the one he has. President Hinckley is assigned by God to act as the prophet, seer, and revelator for the whole world and we ought to be prophets, seers, and revelators for our smaller stewardships. The Book of Mormon consistently points this out to us. Under what definition was the young Nephi a prophet other than the latter definition I just gave? What massive stewardship did this 4th son of Lehi have as God guided him through the streets of Jerusalem at night? What was his calling in the church at the time? What nation was he leader of as he inquired of the Lord how to find food in the wilderness or how to build an ocean-crossing ship?
So you are probably asking: “Are you saying I am like Laman and Lemuel if I don’t get personal revelations?” And of course I would answer: YES. That is exactly what I’m saying. I am calling you and all of us out. (But don’t worry, I mean it all in the best possible way.) I am saying that nothing short of regular and consistent personal revelation would be acceptable to the prophets of the Book of Mormon, to Joseph and Brigham, and to the Lord. We must expect nothing less of ourselves here and now. When the Lord said “upon this Rock I will build my church” I believe he was talking about the rock of revelation; not only revelation to our leaders but revelation to each and every one of us. I believe that anything less than that is indeed a sandy foundation. We must be personal and local prophets, seers, and revelators.