09 Orson Pratt

Orson Pratt

When Orson was about 18 years old his soul was awakened unto God. He began to “pray very fervently, repenting of every sin. In the silent shades of night, while others were slumbering upon their pillows,” he said, “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,” he would reflect, “was for the Lord to manifest His will concerning me.”

Then in time, two missionaries came into the area where he lived, one of them was his older brother. As they preached, Orson recognized the truth and on September 19, 1830, his 19th birthday, he was baptized; the only individual to do so in that country for many years afterward.

Orson immediately set out on a journey of 230 miles to the west looking for the Prophet Joseph Smith, and by November 4, 1830, he found him at the Father Whitmer in Fayette, New York. Now after so many years of searching for the Lord and wanting to know His will concerning him, finally, he had found someone who could tell him.

He asked Joseph and Joseph told him that it was his privilege to know. He invited him into the chamber of old Father Whitmer and by the aid of the seer stone began to dictate the word and will of Almighty God for Orson Pratt. When he invited the humble lad to write it down, Orson declined considering himself not worthy. Could John Whitmer do it? Yes! And John recorded that revelation we know today as Doctrine and Covenants section 34.

In that revelation was given a promise that to one of such humble origins as Orson seemed almost too great to attain to. It was, “Lift up your voice and prophesy, and it shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.” How could he ever live up to that?

Shortly after, he was ordained an elder and sent forth, and notwithstanding his weakness, Orson would become one of the most influential leaders of the Church in the 19th century. He was always a missionary. He was the first one into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. It was he who from 1876-79 prepared new editions of the scriptures, adding revelations to the Doctrine and Covenants, such as Doctrine and Covenants 121-123, and dividing the Book of Mormon into chapters and verses, and he did so much more. Then October 3, 1881 after 51 years of giving his life to the cause of Christ, Orson Pratt passed away.

What would it have been like to sit at the feet of Joseph the Seer and have him inquire of the Lord just for us? I don’t know. What is it like to feel as though we are nothing and have little to give and have the Lord extend mighty promises and then pick us up, square our shoulders, and send us out to work miracles—that we can all know—and should.

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