Today was the first Sunday of 2017, and this year the Church-wide curriculum focuses on the Doctrine and Covenants.
The Doctrine and Covenants is one of the standard works of the Church in company with the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Pearl of Great Price. It is a collection of divine revelations and inspired declarations given of God through His chosen prophets for the restoration of His holy work and the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth in these last days preparatory to His Second Coming. See Introduction.
I teach boys between 8 and 12 years old, so it’s a time to establish fundamentals -- building on their parents’ teaching and example at home and early Primary instruction starting from age 3 to age 8.
The first question is what motivated Joseph Smith, Jr’s (a boy about 14 and a half) prayer to God in the early Spring of 1820?
The answer that seemed to be the most motivating was that since age twelve, when he started attending meetings at various churches and seriously reading the Bible, Joseph came to believe he was not in harmony with God and he wanted to know how he could be forgiven.
However, when he looked to where he could go to find peace and assurance, the existing strife between churches, preachers, and sect members seemed so discordant to Joseph, he couldn’t see how any of them represented a way to the peace of mind that he sought.
Ultimately, Joseph’s visiting, reading and discussions led him to believe that Heavenly Father would show him mercy and guide him to a church that would help him.
But most important of all, Joseph Smith, Jr.’s search became intensely and personally earnest and worthy of the Spirit's confirmation and assurance when he became convinced that he needed to be right with God and believed that God would respond positively to his personal prayer for help.
It’s likely that like young Joseph Smith, Jr., many adults have felt a sore need to importune God for direction, intervention, and perhaps forgiveness and relief. And today we can build on young Joseph’s experience.