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Conference Counsel: The role of priesthood power in miracles

By Ryan Comer - | Jun 1, 2024
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Elder Shayne M. Bowen, General Authority Seventy, speaks during the evening session of the 194th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday, April 6, 2024.
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Ryan Comer

Several years ago, I was talking to a friend about general conference, the semiannual gathering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This friend had left the church and was telling me that he wasn’t impressed with the messages that were shared by the prophet, apostles and other leaders of the church. He seemed to think that because of who they claimed to be, their messages should be uniquely powerful. To this day, I’m not completely certain what he meant. Did he want the prophet to put on some magnificent display from the conference center pulpit to demonstrate he truly was the Lord’s mouthpiece? Did he want the prophet to make some grand prognostication of an event that had not happened yet? Did he want a line of people afflicted in some manner to walk up to the prophet and be healed?

This conversation came to my mind as I listened to a talk by Elder Shayne M. Bowen at the most recent general conference, held in April. In his talk, titled “Miracles, Angels and Priesthood Power,” Elder Bowen shared three personal stories that have helped him to be able to say, “I testify that miracles have not ceased, angels are among us and the heavens are truly open.”

I don’t know if these stories would do much for my friend, but they certainly did a lot to build my faith. I couldn’t have asked for more from an address at general conference.

To preface these stories, Elder Bowen first explained how the priesthood makes so many miracles possible. “Priesthood” is a term many who are not Latter-day Saints may not immediately understand just by reading it. It sounds holy, but what exactly is it? Elder Bowen explained.

“When our savior, Jesus Christ, was on the earth, he gave priesthood keys to his chief apostle, Peter. (Matthew 16:17-19) Through these keys, Peter and the other apostles led the savior’s church. But when those apostles died, the keys of the priesthood were taken from the earth.

“I testify that the ancient keys of the priesthood have been restored. Peter, James and John and other ancient prophets appeared as resurrected beings, bestowing upon the prophet Joseph Smith what the Lord described as ‘the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel.’ (Doctrine and Covenants 27:12-13).

“Those same keys have been passed from prophet to prophet until today. The 15 men we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators use them to lead the savior’s church. As in ancient times, there is one senior apostle who holds and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys. He is President Russell M. Nelson, prophet and president of the restored church of Christ in our day: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Speaking of how the priesthood blesses us, Elder Bowen continued:

“Through the savior’s church, we receive the blessings of the priesthood — including the power of God to help us in our lives. Under authorized priesthood keys, we make sacred promises to God and receive sacred ordinances that prepare us to live in his presence. Beginning with baptism and confirmation and then in the temple, we move forward on a path of covenants that leads us back to him.

“With hands laid on our heads, we also receive priesthood blessings, including direction, comfort, counsel, healing and the power to follow Jesus Christ. Throughout my life I have been blessed by this great power. As it has been revealed in scripture, we refer to it as the power of the holy Melchizedek Priesthood.” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:1-4)

President Nelson discussed the priesthood in his address at general conference in April, and his talk is another helpful resource in understanding the priesthood and its restoration to the earth. The details are important because when Latter-day Saints say the priesthood has been restored, they aren’t saying it simply came out of nowhere. It’s not like Joseph Smith said he had the priesthood but there was no explanation for how he received it. Ancient prophets who held those priesthood keys in the past actually returned to earth as resurrected beings and restored them. It’s a remarkable claim, and many may find it too hard to believe, but for me, the evidence of the truthfulness is in the power that has been generated from the priesthood. Elder Bowen’s stories highlight that power.

Elder Bowen’s first story involved sitting in a jail cell in Chile while serving his mission for the church.

“While serving as a young missionary in Chile, my companion and I were arrested and separated. We were never told why. It was a time of great political upheaval. Thousands of people were taken into custody by the military police and never heard from again.

“After being interrogated, I sat alone in a jail cell, not knowing if I would ever see my loved ones again. I turned to my Heavenly Father, fervently pleading: ‘Father, I have always been taught that thou watcheth over thy missionaries. Please, father, I am nothing special, but I have been obedient and I need thy help tonight.’

“The seeds of this help had been planted many years earlier. After my baptism, I was confirmed a member of the church and given the gift of the Holy Ghost. As I prayed, alone, behind bars, the Holy Ghost immediately came to me and comforted me. He brought to my mind a very special passage from my patriarchal blessing, which is another blessing of the priesthood. In it, God promised me that through my faithfulness I would be able to be sealed in the temple for time and eternity to a woman full of beauty and virtue and love, that we would become the parents of precious sons and daughters and that I would be blessed and magnified as a father in Israel.

“Those inspired words about my future filled my soul with peace. I knew that they had come from my loving Heavenly Father, who always keeps his promises. (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10) In that moment, I had the assurance that I would be released and live to see those promises fulfilled.

“About a year later, Heavenly Father did bless me with a wife who is full of beauty and virtue and love. Lynette and I were sealed in the temple. We were blessed with three precious sons and four precious daughters. I became a father, all according to God’s promises in the patriarchal blessing I received as a 17-year-old boy.”

After Elder Bowen was baptized, he received the gift of the Holy Ghost through the power of the priesthood, and because of that, the Holy Ghost came to him as he pleaded with Heavenly Father for help from a jail cell and comforted him. The Holy Ghost reminded him of a passage from his patriarchal blessing that provided peace and confidence that he would be released, and he was.

Quoting from the Book of Mormon, Elder Bowen said: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren (and sisters), have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven? …

“Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.” (Moroni 7:27, 29)

The next two stories Elder Bowen shared were of extreme circumstances where someone was spared from death by the power of the priesthood.

“My paternal grandfather, Grant Reese Bowen, was a man of great faith,” Elder Bowen said. “I vividly remember hearing him recount how he received his own patriarchal blessing. In his journal, he recorded: ‘The patriarch promised me the gift of healing. He said, ‘The sick shall be healed. Yea, the dead shall be raised under your hands.”

“Years later, grandfather was piling hay when he felt prompted to return to the house. He was met by his father coming toward him. ‘Grant, your mother has just passed away,’ his father said.

“I quote again from grandfather’s journal: ‘I didn’t stop but went hurrying into the house and out on the front porch where she lay on a cot. I looked at her and could see there was no sign of life left in her. I remembered my patriarchal blessing and the promise that if I were faithful, through my faith the sick would be healed; and the dead would be raised. I placed my hands on her head, and I told the Lord that if the promise that he had made to me by the patriarch was true, to make it manifest at this time and raise my mother back to life. I promised him if he would do this, I should never hesitate to do all in my power for the building up of his kingdom. As I prayed, she opened her eyes and said, ‘Grant, raise me up. I have been in the spirit world, but you have called me back. Let this always be a testimony to you and to the rest of my family.'”

A person was literally brought back from death because of the power of the priesthood, and it was recorded for all of us to know. Elder Bowen then shared a similar experience involving one of his daughters.

“In 1989, our family of seven was returning from a ward outing,” he said. “It was late. Lynette was expecting our sixth child. She felt a strong prompting to fasten her seat belt, which she had forgotten to do. Shortly thereafter we came around a bend in the road; a car crossed the line into our lane. Going about 70 miles an hour, I swerved to avoid hitting the oncoming car. Our van rolled, skidded down the highway and slid off the road, finally coming to a stop, landing with the passenger side in the dirt.

“The next thing I remember hearing was Lynette’s voice: ‘Shayne, we need to get out through your door.’ I was hanging in the air by my seat belt. It took a few seconds to get oriented. We started lifting each of the children out of the van through my window, which was now the ceiling of the van. They were crying, wondering what had happened.

“We soon realized that our 10-year-old daughter, Emily, was missing. We yelled her name, but there was no response. Ward members, who were also traveling home, were at the scene frantically looking for her. It was so dark. I looked in the van again with a flashlight and, to my horror, saw Emily’s tiny body trapped under the van. I called out desperately, ‘We have to lift the van off of Emily.’ I grabbed the roof and pulled back. There were only a few others lifting, but the van miraculously flipped onto its wheels, exposing Emily’s lifeless body.

“Emily was not breathing. Her face was the color of a purple plum. I said, ‘We need to give her a blessing.’ A dear friend and ward member knelt with me, and by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, in the name of Jesus Christ, we commanded her to live. In that moment, Emily took a long, raspy breath.

“After what seemed like hours, the ambulance finally arrived. Emily was rushed to the hospital. She had a collapsed lung and a severed tendon in her knee. Brain damage was a concern because of the time she was without oxygen. Emily was in a coma for a day and a half. We continued to pray and fast for her. She was blessed with a full recovery. Today, Emily and her husband, Kevin, are the parents of six daughters.

“Miraculously, everyone else was able to walk away. The baby Lynette was carrying was Tyson. He too was spared any harm and was born the next February. Eight months later, after receiving his earthly body, Tyson returned home to Heavenly Father. He is our guardian angel son. We feel his influence in our family and look forward to being with him again.

“Those who lifted the van off of Emily observed that the van seemed to weigh nothing. I knew that heavenly angels had joined with earthly angels to lift the vehicle off of Emily’s body. I also know that Emily was brought back to life by the power of the holy priesthood.

“The Lord revealed this truth to his servants: ‘I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.'” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88)

Through these experiences, we see the full array of how God blesses us through the priesthood. He blesses mentally, emotionally and physically. There is no limit to his power.

Of course, miracles don’t always happen. We don’t always receive what we desire. Elder Bowen certainly knows this as well as anyone given the passing of his 8-month-old son. But faith is a requirement.

“President Russell M. Nelson has taught us to seek and expect miracles,” Elder Bowen said. “I testify that because the priesthood has been restored, the power and authority of God are upon the earth. Through callings and councils, men and women, young and old, can participate in priesthood work. It is a work of miracles, attended by angels. It is the work of heaven, and it blesses all God’s children. …

“I know that while not all circumstances turn out like we may hope and pray for, God’s miracles will always come according to his will, his timing and his plan for us.”

It’s also important to note that Latter-day Saints don’t have the market on miracles cornered. I’m sure many could think of miracles that occurred without priesthood power. Elder Bowen made this clear when he used the following line in his talk:

“I testify that miracles and ministrations are continually occurring in our lives, often as a direct result of priesthood power.”

During an April 2010 general conference talk titled “Healing the Sick,” Dallin H. Oaks, current first counselor in the First Presidency of the church, shared the following:

“A recent nationwide survey found that nearly 8 in 10 Americans ‘believe that miracles still occur today as (they did) in ancient times.’ A third of those surveyed said they had ‘experienced or witnessed a divine healing.’ Many Latter-day Saints have experienced the power of faith in healing the sick. We also hear examples of this among people of faith in other churches. A Texas newspaperman described such a miracle. When a 5-year-old girl breathed with difficulty and became feverish, her parents rushed her to the hospital. By the time she arrived there, her kidneys and lungs had shut down, her fever was 107 degrees and her body was bright red and covered with purple lesions. The doctors said she was dying of toxic shock syndrome, cause unknown. As word spread to family and friends, God-fearing people began praying for her, and a special prayer service was held in their Protestant congregation in Waco, Texas. Miraculously, she suddenly returned from the brink of death and was released from the hospital in a little over a week. Her grandfather wrote, ‘She is living proof that God does answer prayers and work miracles.’

“Truly, as the Book of Mormon teaches, God ‘manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles … among the children of men according to their faith.'” (2 Nephi 26:13)

Nevertheless, President Oaks made clear the importance of the priesthood.

“We have this priesthood power, and we should all be prepared to use it properly,” he said. “Current increases in natural disasters and financial challenges show that we will need this power even more in the future than in the past.

“Many scriptures teach that the servants of the Lord ‘shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.’ (Mark 16:18) Miracles happen when the authority of the priesthood is used to bless the sick. I have experienced these miracles. As a boy and as a man I have seen healings as miraculous as any recorded in the scriptures, and so have many of you.”

I, too, have witnessed the power of the priesthood in receiving miracles, and I can say with absolute certainty that I know those miracles came as a direct result of priesthood power. In the situations I have experienced, there can be no other explanation. It’s not wishful thinking and it’s not exaggeration. It is simply reality. I am grateful for that power and for a loving Heavenly Father who has provided us with access to it.

Contact Ryan Comer at rcomer@standard.net. Follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rbcomer8388 and on Twitter at @rbcomer8388.


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