David O. McKay Gains His Testimony


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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

David O. McKay

As a young boy in northern Utah, David O. McKay had to gain a testimony just as every other member of the Church; in his case, the answer did not come right away:

I am going to tell you what happened to me as a boy upon the hillside near my home in Huntsville.  I was yearning, just as you boys are yearning, to know that the vision given to the Prophet Joseph Smith was true, and that this Church was really founded by revelation, as he claimed. I thought that the only way a person could get to know the truth was by having a revelation or experiencing some miraculous event, just as came to the Prophet Joseph.

One day I was hunting cattle. While climbing a steep hill, I stopped to let my horse rest, and there, once again, an intense desire came over me to receive a manifestation of the truth of the restored gospel.  I dismounted, threw my reins over my horse's head, and there, under a serviceberry bush, I prayed that God would declare to me the truth of his revelation to Joseph Smith.  I am sure that I prayed fervently and sincerely and with as much faith as a young boy could muster.

At the conclusion of the prayer, I arose from my knees, threw the reins over my faithful pony's head, and got into the saddle.  As I started along the trail again, I remember saying to myself: "No spiritual manifestation has come to me.  If I am true to myself, I must say I am just the same 'old boy' that I was before I prayed."  I prayed again when I crossed Spring Creek, near Huntsville, in the evening to milk our cows.

Answer given in Scotland:

The Lord did not see fit to give me an answer on that occasion, but in 1899, after I had been appointed president of the Scottish Conference, the spiritual manifestation for which I had prayed as a boy in my teens came as a natural sequence to the performance of duty.  For, as the apostle John declared, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." (John 7:17.)

Following a series of meetings at the conference held in Glasgow, Scotland, was a most remarkable priesthood meeting.  I remember, as if it were yesterday, the intensity of the inspiration of that occasion.

Everybody felt the rich outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord. All present were truly of one heart and one mind. Never before had I experienced such an emotion. It was a manifestation for which as a doubting youth I had secretly prayed most earnestly on hillside and in meadow. It was an assurance to me that sincere prayer is answered sometime, somewhere.

During the progress of the meeting, an elder on his own initiative arose and said, "Brethren, there are angels in this room."  Strange as it may seem, the announcement was not startling; indeed, it seemed wholly proper, though it had not occurred to me there were divine beings present. I only knew that I was overflowing with gratitude for the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Prophecy of James L. McMurrin:

I was profoundly impressed, however, when President James L. McMurrin, president of the European Mission, arose and confirmed that statement by pointing to one brother sitting just in front of me and saying, "Yes, brethren, there are angels in this room, and one of them is the guardian angel of that young man sitting there," and he designated one who afterward became a patriarch in the Woodruff Stake of the Church, John Young.

Pointing to another elder, he said, "And one is the guardian angel of that young man there," and he singled out one whom I had known from childhood, David Eccles. Tears were rolling down the cheeks of both of these missionaries -- not in sorrow or grief, but as an expression of the overflowing Spirit. Indeed, we were all weeping.

Such was the setting in which James L. McMurrin gave what has since proved to be a prophecy.  I had learned by intimate association with him that James McMurrin was pure gold.  His faith in the gospel was implicit.  No truer man, no man more loyal to what he thought was right ever lived.  So when he turned to me and gave what I thought then was more of a caution than a promise, his words made an indelible impression upon me.

Paraphrasing the words of the Savior to Peter, Brother McMurrin said: "Let me say to you, Brother David, Satan hath desired you that he may sift you as wheat, but God is mindful of you." Then he added, "If you will keep the faith, you will yet sit in the leading councils of the Church."

At that moment there flashed in my mind temptations that had beset my path, and I realized even better than President McMurrin, or any other man, how truly he had spoken when he said, "Satan hath desired thee."

With the resolve then and there to keep the faith, there was born a desire to be of service to my fellowmen; and with it came a realization, a glimpse at least, of what I owed to the elder who first carried the message of the restored gospel to my grandfather and grandmother, who had accepted the message years before in the north of Scotland and in South Wales.

I ask God to continue to bless you that you will keep true to the priesthood that you hold, for it comes directly from John the Baptist, who received it from his Lord and Savior.  In your youth, do not let temptation lead you astray.  Be true to the ideals of your parents.

"Priesthood Holders to Be Examples in Daily Life as Representatives of the Most High" - President David O. McKay - General Conference Oct. 1968.