In what he described as a historic devotional, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a live Q&A-style devotional on Tuesday, Feb. 20. While the event was not recorded or streamed, Bednar had students anonymously text him their questions, which would appear on his iPad so he could pick a question to answer. None of the questions were planned beforehand, and he did not give a prepared talk.
Due to time constraints, not every question was addressed. However, Bednar promised students, faculty, staff, and community members in attendance if they sought an answer, they would hear the words they needed to know through the Spirit, even if their question was not specifically addressed.
Will Strong, a business management freshman from Wisconsin who performed in the group musical number, said the format benefited students because Bednar was “directly responding to what we need, to what we’re asking. While he couldn’t answer all of our questions, I think we got an accurate representation with what the student body wanted to know from an apostle. It was cool because we could literally mold how we wanted the devotional to be.”
Similar feelings where shared by Victoria Herdegen, an undeclared freshman from Las Vegas. “I loved it. It was like our own personal face to face and with an apostle I think that’s just so powerful and so cool. Just being in a spiritual setting like that helps your mind open up and be willing to receive whatever the Holy Ghost says to you.”
The devotional meant much more to Heredegen because of the live Q&A format. “Normally when I go to devotional, I’m ready to hear what the speaker has to say, but I’m not normally looking for something. Asking us to think of a question helped me personally get something out of it.”
As the questions came in, Bednar and his wife took turns answering them. Questions ranged anywhere from how to know if you are on the right path, to how to know if the Book of Mormon is true, to how the Bednars met.
Answers were shared, doctrinal insights were given, jokes were told, and laughs were exchanged as the Bednars recounted treasured memories of their lives.
Herdegen discussed the Spirit she felt. According to her, listening to an apostle speak surrounded by others seeking answers to their own prayers brought a special environment with it. “Just being in a spiritual setting like that just helps your mind open up and be willing to receive whatever the Holy Ghost says to you. Even just being in an atmosphere like that you could still get your answer.”
Multiple times, Bednar paused before moving to the next question. During these pauses, he asked, “Are you hearing things that have not been said? Your question may not have been addressed thus far. However, are you nonetheless finding the Holy Ghost helping you begin to see with new eyes and hear with new ears about a question that might seem unrelated to anything we have discussed thus far? If that isn’t happening, be patient. Wait upon the Lord. Continue to ask, seek and knock.”
Bednar quoted the popular 2 Nephi 28:30 phrase “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” frequently during the devotional in reference to the revelation students could receive by listening to the Spirit. He advised students to take things in their lives step by step, page by page, or date by date. He also emphasized the importance of continuing to ask, seek and knock.
Strong described the lessons he learned from the devotional as hitting close to home. From having family members fall away from the church to getting into a slump himself with daily habits, Strong explained this devotional was just what he needed to get back on top of things. “I’ve been getting a little lax with things recently, not dedicating as much time as I should. This devotional helped me get back up again. I’ve been getting back into [my scripture studies]. I’ve been going to the temple more. I left with quite a few questions answered. Since the devotional, I feel like I’ve been on the upswing again.”
Moving forward, Herdegen wants to apply what she learned from the format of this devotional to all other devotionals that follow. “I definitely want to be more prepared for devotionals, like having a spiritual thought or question prepared. Not just going but being ready to get something out of it. I can write down good stuff, but I feel like it doesn’t stick with me as much because it wasn’t an answer to a question I had. When I have an actual question, I feel like I can better apply it to my life throughout the week.”
The Bednars concluded the devotional with their testimonies of Jesus Christ. Susan Bednar testified, “I know that God lives. I know that Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer. I know that the Holy Ghost is a wonderful and magnificent gift. I know that the scriptures are the word of God. I know that Joseph Smith was the prophet of the Restoration. I know that we are here together for a reason today.”
Elder Bednar testified, “I declare my sure witness of the living reality of God the Eternal Father, of His son, Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost. I witness that Christ lives. He is risen. The tomb is empty. He is the living head of His living and restored church. I witness that this Gospel is the only source of enduring joy. Press forward, because there is no alternative.”