Chapter 13: Doctrine and Covenants 30–34

“Chapter 13: Doctrine and Covenants 30–34,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)

“Chapter 13,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual

Chapter 13

Doctrine and Covenants 30–34

Introduction and Timeline

Immediately after the second Church conference, held in late September 1830 in Fayette, New York, the Prophet Joseph Smith received revelations for David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., and John Whitmer. These revelations are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 30. At about the same time, the Lord also called Thomas B. Marsh to preach the gospel and to help establish the Church. This call, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 31, also included promises and counsel to guide him as a missionary and in his personal life.

In October 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 32, in which the Lord called Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson to join Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer Jr. on a mission to the Lamanites in western Missouri. In another revelation, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 33, the Lord called Ezra Thayre and Northrop Sweet to proclaim the gospel. The revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 34 was given in November 1830. In it the Lord commended Orson Pratt for his faith and commanded him to preach the gospel in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Summer 1830Parley P. Pratt read the Book of Mormon and was baptized.

September 1830Thomas B. Marsh and his family moved from near Boston, Massachusetts, to Palmyra, New York, and he was baptized.

September 19, 1830Orson Pratt was baptized by his older brother Parley.

September 26–28, 1830The second conference of the Church was held in Fayette, New York.

Late September 1830Doctrine and Covenants 30–31 were received.

October 1830Doctrine and Covenants 32–33 were received.

October 1830Oliver Cowdery and his companions departed on a mission to the Lamanites.

November 4, 1830Doctrine and Covenants 34 was received.

Doctrine and Covenants 30: Additional Historical Background

The second conference of the Church, held in Fayette, New York, in September 1830, lasted three days. The conference included discussion about the stone Hiram Page used to receive his alleged revelations (see the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 28 in this manual). The Prophet Joseph Smith recorded that “Brother Page, as well as the whole church who were present, renounced the said stone, and all things connected therewith, much to our mutual satisfaction and happiness” and that the Saints then “partook of the sacrament, confirmed, and ordained many, and attended to a great variety of Church business on that and the following day; during which time we had much of the power of God manifested amongst us; the Holy Ghost came upon us, and filled us with joy unspeakable; and peace, and faith, and hope, and charity abounded in our midst” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844, ed. Karen Lynn Davidson and others [2012], 452). Before the Saints departed from the conference, revelations were given for brothers David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., and John Whitmer. These revelations were originally published separately in the Book of Commandments, but Joseph Smith combined them into one section in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Map 5: The New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio Area of the United States
Map 6: Mission to the Lamanites, 1830–1831

Doctrine and Covenants 30

The Lord teaches David, Peter Jr., and John Whitmer concerning their role in God’s work

Doctrine and Covenants 30:1–4. “You have feared man and have not relied on me”

As one of the Three Witnesses, David Whitmer had seen an angel and had seen and handled the Book of Mormon plates. He had also received other revelations given through the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 14; 1718). Yet when his brother-in-law, Hiram Page, professed to be receiving revelations for the Church, David was misled. The Lord chastised David for fearing man instead of relying on God (see D&C 30:1).

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) explained how pride can cause us to fear man:

“The proud stand more in fear of men’s judgment than of God’s judgment. (See D&C 3:6–7; 30:1–2; 60:2.) ‘What will men think of me?’ weighs heavier than ‘What will God think of me?’

“King Noah was about to free the prophet Abinadi, but an appeal to his pride by his wicked priests sent Abinadi to the flames. (See Mosiah 17:11–12.) Herod sorrowed at the request of his wife to behead John the Baptist. But his prideful desire to look good to ‘them which sat with him at meat’ caused him to kill John. (Matt. 14:9; see also Mark 6:26.)

“Fear of men’s judgment manifests itself in competition for men’s approval. The proud love ‘the praise of men more than the praise of God.’ (John 12:42–43.) Our motives for the things we do are where the sin is manifest. Jesus said He did ‘always those things’ that pleased God. (John 8:29.) Would we not do well to have the pleasing of God as our motive rather than to try to elevate ourselves above our brother and outdo another?” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson [2014], 233–34).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how the Saints should not be influenced by the things of the world: “We do not serve our Savior well if we fear man more than God. He rebuked some leaders in His restored Church for seeking the praise of the world and for having their minds on the things of the earth more than on the things of the Lord (see D&C 30:2; 58:39). Those chastisements remind us that we are called to establish the Lord’s standards, not to follow the world’s. Elder John A. Widtsoe declared, ‘We cannot walk as other men, or talk as other men, or do as other men, for we have a different destiny, obligation, and responsibility placed upon us, and we must fit ourselves [to it]’ [in Conference Report, Apr. 1940, 36]. That reality has current application to every trendy action” (“Unselfish Service,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 94–95).

Doctrine and Covenants 30:5–8. “Declare my gospel”

In June 1829 the Lord told Peter Whitmer Jr. that declaring repentance would be the thing of “most worth” for him to do (see D&C 16:4, 6). In September 1830, Peter was appointed to serve a mission as a companion to Oliver Cowdery in establishing the Church among the Lamanites. The emphasis on the importance of missionary work has continued throughout the history of the Church.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained why the Saints will always focus on declaring the gospel to others: “Missionary work isn’t the only thing we need to do in this big, wide, wonderful Church. But almost everything else we need to do depends on people first hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ and coming into the faith. Surely that is why Jesus’s final charge to the Twelve was just that basic—to ‘go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’ [Matthew 28:19]. Then, and only then, can the rest of the blessings of the gospel fully come—family solidarity, youth programs, priesthood promises, and ordinances flowing right up to the temple. But as Nephi testified, none of that can come until one has ‘enter[ed] into the … gate’ [2 Nephi 33:9]. With all that there is to do along the path to eternal life, we need a lot more missionaries opening that gate and helping people through it” (“We Are All Enlisted,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 46–47).

Doctrine and Covenants 30:6. “Build up my church among the Lamanites”

For information regarding the use of the term Lamanites in the Doctrine and Covenants, see the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 28:8–10, 14–16 in this manual.

Doctrine and Covenants 30:9–11. “Proclaim my gospel, as with the voice of a trump”

John Whitmer was one of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon plates and also served for a short time as a scribe to the Prophet Joseph Smith during his inspired translation of the Bible. In a revelation through the Prophet in June 1829, the Lord told him, “The thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me” (D&C 15:6). After the Church conference in September 1830, the Lord commanded John to go forth and labor in His work, beginning in the area where Philip Burroughs lived, in Seneca Falls, New York, not far from the Whitmer family (see D&C 30:9–10). Just a couple of weeks before this revelation was received, Parley P. Pratt had preached a sermon to a group who had gathered at Philip Burroughs’s home, and some of the people were converted. Though Philip Burroughs is referred to as “brother” in Doctrine and Covenants 30:10, there is no record of him ever becoming a member of the Church. His wife, however, was baptized.

Elder L. Tom Perry (1922–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminded Church members why they should raise their voice to share the gospel: “It should be ‘with great earnestness’ (D&C 123:14) that we bring the light of the gospel to those who are searching for answers the plan of salvation has to offer. Many are concerned for their families. Some are looking for security in a world of changing values. Our opportunity is to give them hope and courage and to invite them to come with us and join those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord’s gospel is on earth and will bless their lives here and in the eternities to come” (“Bring Souls unto Me,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 110).

Doctrine and Covenants 31: Additional Historical Background

As a young married man living near Boston, Massachusetts, Thomas B. Marsh had read the Bible and investigated religions, but he felt prompted that “a new church would arise, which would have the truth in its purity” (Thomas B. March, “History of Thos. Baldwin Marsh (Written by Himself in Great Salt Lake City, November, 1857),” Deseret News, Mar. 24, 1858, 18). He felt impressed by the Lord to take a trip to western New York. There he heard about Joseph Smith and the golden plates and sought to learn more. He met with Martin Harris in Palmyra and also with Oliver Cowdery, since Joseph Smith was living in Harmony, Pennsylvania, at the time. Thomas returned home to Boston and continued to learn about God’s work by corresponding with Oliver Cowdery. After learning that the Church of Jesus Christ had been organized, he moved his family to Palmyra, New York, arriving in September 1830. He was soon baptized by David Whitmer, and he attended the second conference of the Church that same month. Thomas Marsh was privileged to receive personal direction from the Lord through a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith during that conference.

Doctrine and Covenants 31

The Lord calls Thomas B. Marsh, Parley P. Pratt, and Ziba Peterson to preach the gospel

Doctrine and Covenants 31:1–6. As we faithfully serve the Lord, our families are blessed

Certainly, as the father of a young family, Thomas Marsh had concerns for his wife and children as they moved from Massachusetts to New York. In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 31, he was promised that through his faith and service to the Lord, his family would one day believe and be with him in the Church. At that time, Thomas and his wife, Elizabeth, had three sons, ages nine, seven, and three. Elizabeth was later converted in 1831 (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, ed. Michael Hubbard MacKay and others [2013], 194, note 412). The Lord’s promise to bless the Marsh family would have strengthened Thomas as he was called to assist in God’s work.

Similar promises are available today to those who strive to dedicate themselves to the Lord’s service. Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared the following experience:

“One [full-time missionary] couple worried about leaving their youngest daughter who was no longer active in the Church. Her faithful father wrote: ‘We prayed for her continually and fasted regularly. Then, during general conference, the Spirit whispered to me, “If you will serve, you will not have to worry about your daughter anymore.” So we met with our bishop. The week after we received our call, she and her boyfriend announced they were engaged. Before we left for Africa, we had a wedding in our home. [Then we gathered our family together and] held a family council. … I bore testimony of the Lord and Joseph Smith … and told them I would like to give each of them a father’s blessing. I started with the oldest son and then his wife and proceeded to the youngest … [including our new son-in-law].’ …

“… As the faithful father in this story blessed his family members, his son-in-law felt the influence of the Holy Ghost. The father wrote: ‘By the end of our first year [the] heart [of our son-in-law] began to soften toward the Church. Just before we returned home from our mission, he and our daughter came to visit us. In his suitcase was the first set of Sunday clothes he had ever owned. They came to Church with us, and after we returned home he was baptized. A year later, they were sealed in the temple’” (“Couple Missionaries: Blessings from Sacrifice and Service,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 40).

Doctrine and Covenants 31:5. “Thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you”

The Golden Harvest

The Golden Harvest, by David Merrill. The scriptures refer to the sheaves of harvested wheat representing the fruits of missionary labors, including converted souls (see D&C 31:4–5; 33:7, 9).

Among the blessings promised to Thomas B. Marsh was the assurance that his sins would be forgiven through his diligent efforts to declare the gospel to others (see D&C 31:5). Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles clarified the connection between sharing the gospel and retaining a remission of our sins:

“A natural consequence of conversion is the continued remission of sin by living the gospel, which includes sharing the gospel with others. President Spencer W. Kimball declared, ‘The Lord has told us that our sins will be forgiven more readily as we bring souls unto Christ and remain steadfast in bearing testimony to the world, and surely every one of us is looking for additional help in being forgiven of our sins.’ (Ensign, Oct. 1977, p. 5.)

“In the Doctrine and Covenants we read: ‘For I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you.’ (D&C 84:61; italics added.) And also in the Doctrine and Covenants: ‘Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you.’ (D&C 62:3; italics added.)

“… The doctrine seems quite clear to me; the remission of sins is an ongoing process. As each one of us strives to become clean, pure, and even sanctified, I see no better way for us to do this than to help others of our Heavenly Father’s children find the truth” (“Write Down a Date,” Ensign, Nov. 1984, 16).

Doctrine and Covenants 31:9–13. Cautions and warnings for Thomas B. Marsh

While Thomas B. Marsh was commended for his faith (see D&C 31:1) and promised great blessings, the Lord also gave him important cautions and counsel. In 1835, Thomas was called to serve in the first Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in this dispensation. He was later called to be the President of that Quorum. Yet, within a few years—in March 1839—he was excommunicated for apostasy. The Lord’s instructions in Doctrine and Covenants 31 would have blessed him with spiritual protection if he had heeded them. Thomas B. Marsh was rebaptized July 16, 1857, at Florence, Nebraska, and he came to Utah that same year. He sought forgiveness from Church leaders, and President Brigham Young gave him an opportunity to speak to the Saints. He said the following about his apostasy:

“I have frequently wanted to know how my apostasy began, and I have come to the conclusion that I must have lost the Spirit of the Lord out of my heart.

“The next question is, ‘how and when did you lose the Spirit?’ I became jealous of the Prophet, and then I saw double and overlooked everything that was right, and spent all my time in looking for the evil, and then when the devil began to lead me it was easy for the carnal mind to rise up, which is anger, jealousy and wrath. I could feel it within me; I felt angry and wrathful, and the Spirit of the Lord being gone, as the Scriptures say, I was blinded” (“Remarks by Thomas B. Marsh,” Deseret News, Sept. 16, 1857, 220; spelling standardized).

Thomas B. Marsh lived the rest of his life in Utah. He died January 1866 in Ogden, where he is buried.

Doctrine and Covenants 31:10. How was Thomas B. Marsh “a physician unto the church”?

Thomas B. Marsh had acquired some skills in the medicinal use of mild herbs, and with that knowledge he was able to help many people. However, his greater calling was the healing of souls (see Thomas B. Marsh, “History of Thos. Baldwin Marsh,” 18.)

Doctrine and Covenants 32: Additional Historical Background

In the summer of 1830, Parley P. Pratt and his wife, Thankful, journeyed from their home in Amherst, Ohio, to visit relatives in the state of New York. The Holy Ghost prompted Parley to stop at the village of Newark, New York, near Palmyra, where he learned about the Book of Mormon. He later wrote of his response to the book:

Parley P. Pratt

Parley P. Pratt was called as a missionary to the Lamanites and later as an Apostle.

“I opened it with eagerness, and read its title page. I then read the testimony of several witnesses in relation to the manner of its being found and translated. After this I commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep.

“As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists” (Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. [1938], 37).

Parley traveled to Palmyra, where he met and was taught by Hyrum Smith. Soon, Hyrum and Parley journeyed to Fayette, New York, to meet with members of the growing branch of the Church. Parley was baptized and ordained an elder by Oliver Cowdery in September 1830.

Little is known about Ziba Peterson’s conversion. We know that he was baptized by Oliver Cowdery in April 1830 and was ordained an elder in June of the same year. Not long before Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer Jr. were to depart on their mission, the Prophet Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord to know if others should accompany them. He received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 32, calling Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson to go.

During the fall of 1830 and the winter of 1830–31, the small group of missionaries including Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer Jr., Parley P. Pratt, and Ziba Peterson (later joined by a convert from Ohio named Frederick G. Williams), traveled nearly 1,500 miles (about 2,400 kilometers) from Fayette, New York, to Independence, Missouri—much of the way on foot. Along the way, these missionaries preached the gospel in Mentor and Kirtland, Ohio, to a congregation of people who were looking for a restoration of New Testament Christianity. Sidney Rigdon, the group’s leader, and many in the congregation were converted to the restored gospel. The missionaries finally arrived at Independence in mid-January 1831. For part of their journey, they endured intense cold, strong winds, and exhaustion, living mainly on frozen cornbread and raw pork. In some places the snow where they walked was three feet deep. In spite of these hardships, the missionaries succeeded in introducing the gospel to American Indians who lived in Indian Territory near the western border of Missouri. The Lord fulfilled His promise that He would be with these missionaries and that nothing would prevail against them. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 83–85.)

Doctrine and Covenants 32

The Lord calls Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson to preach to the Lamanites

Doctrine and Covenants 32:1–3. “I myself will go with them and be in their midst”

Go into the Wilderness

Go into the Wilderness, by Robert Theodore Barrett. Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Peter Whitmer, and Ziba Peterson were called to preach the gospel “among the Lamanites” (D&C 32:2).

Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson were appointed to accompany Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer Jr. on their mission to the Lamanites (see D&C 28:8–9; 30:5–8). The Lord promised these missionaries that if they would preach the gospel in meekness, He would “go with them and be in their midst” (D&C 32:3). President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency shared the following experience to teach some of the ways the Lord can be with us as we serve in our callings:

“God magnifies those He calls, even in what may seem to you a small or inconspicuous service. You will have the gift of seeing your service magnified. Give thanks while that gift is yours. …

“The Lord will not only magnify the power of your efforts. He will work with you Himself. His voice to four missionaries, called through the Prophet Joseph Smith to a difficult task, gives courage to everyone He calls in His kingdom: ‘And I myself will go with them and be in their midst; and I am their advocate with the Father, and nothing shall prevail against them’ [D&C 32:3]. …

“You can have the utmost assurance that your power will be multiplied many times by the Lord. All He asks is that you give your best effort and your whole heart. Do it cheerfully and with the prayer of faith. The Father and His Beloved Son will send the Holy Ghost as your companion to guide you. Your efforts will be magnified in the lives of the people you serve. And when you look back on what may now seem trying times of service and sacrifice, the sacrifice will have become a blessing, and you will know that you have seen the arm of God lifting those you served for Him, and lifting you” (“Rise to Your Call,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2002, 77–78).

Doctrine and Covenants 33: Additional Historical Background

Ezra Thayre was living near Palmyra, New York, when he learned about the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He had previously hired members of the Smith family to help him on construction projects. He was finally convinced to attend a meeting where Hyrum Smith preached the gospel. He later wrote about his reaction to what Hyrum taught: “Every word touched me to the inmost soul. I thought every word was pointed to me. … The tears rolled down my cheeks, I was very proud and stubborn. There were many there who knew me. … I sat until I recovered myself before I dare look up” (quoted in Matthew McBride, “Ezra Thayre: From Skeptic to Believer,” in Revelations in Context, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg [2016], 62, or

Ezra received a powerful witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. He also had a vision in which “a man came and brought me a roll of paper and presented it to me, and also a trumpet and told me to blow it. I told him that I never blowed any in my life. He said you can blow it, try it. I put it in my mouth and blowed on it, and it made the most beautiful sound that I ever heard. The roll of paper was the revelation on me and Northrop Sweet. Oliver [Cowdery] was the man that brought the roll and trumpet. When he brought the revelation on me and Northrop Sweet, he said, here is a revelation from God for you” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, 206). Ezra Thayre was baptized by Parley P. Pratt, and in October 1830, in the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 33, he and Northrop Sweet were called to the Lord’s work.

Northrop Sweet was baptized a member of the Church by Parley P. Pratt in October 1830, in Palmyra, New York. He was married to Martin Harris’s niece. Shortly after his baptism, as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 33, he was appointed to serve a mission. Northrop had moved to Kirtland, Ohio, by June 1831, where he was ordained an elder; however, he left the Church shortly thereafter and attempted, with others, to form another church, claiming that Joseph Smith was a false prophet.

Doctrine and Covenants 33

The Lord calls Ezra Thayre, Northrup Sweet, and Orson Pratt to declare the gospel

Doctrine and Covenants 33:4. “They err in many instances because of priestcrafts”

The imagery of the corrupted vineyard in Doctrine and Covenants 33:4 refers to the condition of apostasy that corrupts the world due to the sin of priestcraft. Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained the meaning of priestcraft:

“The scriptures have a word for gospel service ‘for the sake of riches and honor’; it is ‘priestcraft.’ (Alma 1:16.) Nephi said, ‘Priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.’ (2 Ne. 26:29.) In these latter days, we are commanded to ‘seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.’ (D&C 6:6.) Unfortunately, not all who accomplish works under that heading are really intending to build up Zion or strengthen the faith of the people of God. Other motives can be at work.

“Service that is ostensibly unselfish but is really for the sake of riches or honor surely comes within the Savior’s condemnation of those who ‘outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within … are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.’ (Matt. 23:28.) Such service earns no gospel reward” (“Why Do We Serve?” Ensign, Nov. 1984, 13).

Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy spoke about the difference between priestcraft and serving with an eye single to God’s glory:

“Those who seek honor and gain for themselves in doing the Lord’s work are guilty of what the scriptures call priestcrafts. …

“Latter-day Saints whose eyes are single to God’s glory see life from a vastly different perspective than those whose attention is directed elsewhere. Such members, for instance, care little about receiving credit or recognition for their good deeds. They are more interested in feeding the Lord’s sheep than in counting them. In fact, they frequently find their greatest happiness in serving anonymously, thereby leaving the beneficiaries of their kindness with no one to thank or praise except the Lord” (“An Eye Single to the Glory of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 27).

Doctrine and Covenants 33:8–10. “Open your mouths”

Nephi Writing on the Gold Plates

Nephi Writing on the Gold Plates, by Paul Mann. The Lord instructed His servants to open their mouths with the message of repentance, and they would “become even as Nephi of old” (see D&C 33:8–10).

In three verses (see D&C 33:8–10) Ezra Thayre and Northrop Sweet were commanded three times to open their mouths and declare repentance. The Lord needs servants who are bold and willing to proclaim the gospel. President Henry B. Eyring shared the following example of why it is so important to open our mouths and share the gospel with everyone we know:

“At some moment in the world to come, everyone you will ever meet will know what you know now. They will know that the only way to live forever in association with our families and in the presence of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, was to choose to enter into the gate by baptism at the hands of those with authority from God. They will know that the only way families can be together forever is to accept and keep sacred covenants offered in the temples of God on this earth. And they will know that you knew. And they will remember whether you offered them what someone had offered you.

“It’s easy to say, ‘The time isn’t right.’ But there is danger in procrastination. Years ago I worked for a man in California. He hired me, he was kind to me, he seemed to regard me highly. I may have been the only Latter-day Saint he ever knew well. I don’t know all the reasons I found to wait for a better moment to talk with him about the gospel. I just remember my feeling of sorrow when I learned, after he had retired and I lived far away, that he and his wife had been killed in a late night drive to their home in Carmel, California. He loved his wife. He loved his children. He had loved his parents. He loved his grandchildren, and he will love their children and will want to be with them forever.

“Now, I don’t know how the crowds will be handled in the world to come. But I suppose that I will meet him, that he will look into my eyes, and that I will see in them the question: ‘Hal, you knew. Why didn’t you tell me?’” (“A Voice of Warning,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 33).

Doctrine and Covenants 34: Additional Historical Background

Orson Pratt was Parley P. Pratt’s brother. Orson described his efforts to draw close to the Lord as a young man: “I often felt a great anxiety to be prepared for a future state; but never commenced, in real earnest, to seek after the Lord, until the autumn of 1829. I then began to pray very fervently, repenting of every sin. In the silent shades of night, while others were slumbering upon their pillows, I often retired to some secret place in the lonely fields or solitary wilderness, and bowed before the Lord, and prayed for hours with a broken heart and contrite spirit; this was my comfort and delight. The greatest desire of my heart was for the Lord to manifest His will concerning me” (in The Orson Pratt Journals, comp. Elden J. Watson [1975], 8–9). In September 1830, Orson was visited by one of his older brothers, Parley P. Pratt, who had recently been baptized. Like Parley, Orson became converted to the truth, and he was baptized on September 19, 1830, on his 19th birthday. He then traveled 200 miles to meet the Prophet Joseph Smith in Fayette, New York. He asked to know the Lord’s will for him, and Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 34.

Doctrine and Covenants 34

Orson Pratt is called to preach the gospel

Doctrine and Covenants 34:10. “It shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost”

Orson Pratt was 19 years old and had been a member of the Church for only a few weeks when the Lord gave him, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 34. In this revelation the Lord promised Orson that he would be able to testify with the spirit of prophecy (see D&C 34:10).

Orson Pratt

Orson Pratt was 19 years old when he was called to “lift up [his] voice … and cry repentance” (D&C 34:6).

Many years later, as an Apostle of the Lord, Elder Orson Pratt (1811–1881) said of that promise: “‘Lift up your voice and prophesy, and it shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.’ This was a particular point in the revelation that seemed to me too great for me ever to attain to, and yet there was a positive command that I should do it. I have often reflected upon this revelation, and have oftentimes inquired in my heart—‘Have I fulfilled that commandment as I ought to have done? Have I sought as earnestly as I ought to obtain the gift of prophecy, so as to fulfill the requirement of heaven?’ And I have felt sometimes to condemn myself, because of my slothfulness and because of the little progress that I have made in relation to this great, heavenly and divine gift. I certainly have had no inclination to prophesy to the people unless it should be given to me by the inspiration and power of the Holy Ghost” (“Discourse by Elder Orson Pratt,” Deseret News, Mar. 3, 1875, 68).

President Henry B. Eyring testified that the Lord will give divine support through the Holy Ghost to all of His children as they seek to fulfill their callings and responsibilities:

“The Lord will guide you by revelation just as He called you. You must ask in faith for revelation to know what you are to do. With your call comes the promise that answers will come. But that guidance will come only when the Lord is sure you will obey. To know His will you must be committed to do it. The words ‘Thy will be done,’ written in the heart, are the window to revelation.

“The answer comes by the Holy Spirit. You will need that guidance often. To have the Holy Ghost as your companion, you must be worthy, cleansed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. So, your obedience to the commandments, your desire to do His will, and your asking in faith will determine how clearly the Master can guide you by answers to your prayers.

“Often the answers will come as you study the scriptures. They contain accounts of what the Lord did in His mortal ministry and the guidance He has given His servants. They have doctrine in them which will apply in every time and every situation. Pondering the scriptures will lead you to ask the right questions in prayer. And just as surely as the heavens were opened to Joseph Smith after he pondered the scriptures in faith, God will answer your prayers and He will lead you by the hand. …

“You can have the utmost assurance that your power will be multiplied many times by the Lord. All He asks is that you give your best effort and your whole heart. Do it cheerfully and with the prayer of faith. The Father and His Beloved Son will send the Holy Ghost as your companion to guide you. Your efforts will be magnified in the lives of the people you serve. And when you look back on what may now seem trying times of service and sacrifice, the sacrifice will have become a blessing, and you will know that you have seen the arm of God lifting those you served for Him, and lifting you” (“Rise to Your Call,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 76, 78).

Doctrine and Covenants 34:11. “I am with you”

The Lord has promised many times that He will be with those who are faithful and who heed the invitation to assist with His work (see, for example, D&C 30:11; 31:13; 32:3; 33:9; 34:11). Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how this promise can be comforting:

“Making and keeping sacred covenants yokes us to and with the Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, the Savior is beckoning us to rely upon and pull together with Him, even though our best efforts are not equal to and cannot be compared with His. As we trust in and pull our load with Him during the journey of mortality, truly His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

“We are not and never need be alone. We can press forward in our daily lives with heavenly help. Through the Savior’s Atonement we can receive capacity and ‘strength beyond [our] own’ (‘Lord, I Would Follow Thee,’ Hymns, no. 220). As the Lord declared, ‘Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end’ (D&C 100:12)” (“Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 88).