Overflow Meeting

Elder Nephi Pratt

Brothers and sisters, I approach this duty with much misgiving, because I am not accustomed to preaching to large congregations. I hope that the same Spirit that has been in the former meetings of this conference may rest upon this congregation, and inspire those who shall address us this morning. Our brethren can speak impressively when the inspiration and power of God is upon them, and their words are then profitable to those who hear; therefore, I pray that you will bless the brethren by petitioning the Lord that their words may be inspired, and all of us be fed with the bread of life. The object of my particular thoughts and affection is the Northwestern States Mission, with its elders and scattered Saints, and a little more than two million inhabitants. I love Zion, with its temples, tabernacles, institutions of learning, and its people, of course, above all things in the earth; but my time is occupied in the missionary field, and a man speaks generally of that which he is accustomed to do, in which his heart is interested.

We have about thirty-eight of the sons of this people, from Idaho and Utah, in my mission, and there has not been a man in it for five years, with perhaps two exceptions that come to my mind, but who has faithfully obeyed the Word of Wisdom. A few have come to me and expressed regret that they had not been properly taught to pray in the family circle; because their father had done most of the praying. Some of these young brethren really made their first effort to learn to pray when we called upon them to kneel with us at headquarters, when they joined the mission. As a rule, they become devout, and make splendid missionaries. We had one in our corps who was a remarkable example of what may be overcome by determination and the aid of the Spirit of the Lord. He said to me on one occasion: ‘Brother Pratt, before I came on this mission I was addicted to the use of spirituous liquors, and tobacco, and was a cigarette fiend. I was also inclined to profanity, and I have had a fight to wage with myself that few elders that come into the mission field have ever had. But I smoked my last cigarette after I accepted the call, and have never smoked since; I have never since taken a glass of liquor of any kind, and I have kept the Word of Wisdom strictly. I rejoice to say that this young man made a splendid missionary. He came home and doubtless will be a shining light. His father and mother were able to look into the eyes of a virtuous young man who had truly repented, and found the Lord. I have no doubt he will be a good son, a good husband, and a good father, if the Lord blesses him with children. This is what a mission is doing occasionally for wayward sons of this people. There are none among my elders that have defiled themselves with sin.

My field is open to the sons of this people, because God appoints, them. I want you to know that however your sons come to me, heart is open to receive them, cause the Spirit of the Lord makes me feel thus toward them. But O ye Saints, see to it that your sons are prepared to come virtuous, honorable and noble examples of righteous training.

Now, brethren and sisters, one word about the schools in Zion, where the boys are receiving an education. I have seen the benefit to the elders who have studied in the Church schools on the line of missionary work. If your means are sufficient, and you can give your sons who are expected to take missions a training in the Church schools, you should do so, that they may come to the mission field somewhat prepared, comprehending the first principles of the Gospel, and able to pray. Furthermore, let your boys and girls be trained to sing the hymns of Zion. If I could get some more good singers up in my country I would be much pleased.

Brethren and sisters, I bless you, as one who loves God, and with a heart full of thanksgiving for this great conference, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

[Conference Report, Apr. 1907]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, May 2006]


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