Twice each year, the entire Church is blessed with the opportunity to literally "Come, listen to a prophet's voice, and hear the word of God" (Hymns, No. 21).
The importance of hearing the words of the Lord in general conference is emphasized by the efforts the Church puts forth to make them available as widely as possible.
In the historic Salt Lake Tabernacle during the April 1996 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley made the announcement that the Church was investigating the feasibility of constructing a new hall that would hold "three or four times" the 6,000-person capacity of the Tabernacle.
"We recognize, of course, that we can never build a hall large enough to accommodate all the membership of this growing Church," he said, adding that there were already means of communication to make conference available in most parts of the world. Then he said, "But there are still those in large numbers who wish to be seated where they can see in person those who are speaking and participating in other ways."
On Pioneer Day 1997, ground was broken for the hall, and since the April 2000 general conference, the Conference Center has seated as many as 21,000 people for each session.
In the meantime, electronic communication has continued to improve. Not only is general conference available in many places around the world by satellite broadcast, it can also be watched on a computer on the Church's Web site, www.lds.org.
The majority of those interested in hearing the words of the Lord during general conference have the ability to do so.
That opportunity is of inestimable value in light of the scripture's declaration that "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).
Modern prophets have repeatedly born witness of the value of hearing the word of the Lord in general conferences.
In the concluding address of the October 2008 general conference, President Thomas S. Monson said, "Brothers and sisters, I know you will agree with me that this has been a most inspiring conference. We have felt the Spirit of the Lord in rich abundance these past two days as our hearts have been touched and our testimonies of this divine work have been strengthened. I am certain I represent the membership of the Church everywhere in expressing appreciation to the brethren and sisters who have addressed us. I am reminded of the words of Moroni found in the Book of Mormon: 'And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done'" (Moroni 6:9).
President Gordon B. Hinckley said at the close of the April 1981 general conference, "What has been said by each of the speakers represents his or her prayerful attempt to impart knowledge that will inspire and cause all who have heard it to stand a little taller and be a little better."
At the end of the October 1994 general conference, President Howard W. Hunter said, "We have experienced a marvelous outpouring of the Spirit. I commend to you the wise and inspired counsel you have received from the General Authorities and general auxiliary officers of the Church. My humble prayer is that while their instruction is fresh in our minds, each of us will resolve to incorporate it into our lives."
President Ezra Taft Benson closed the April 1989 general conference with an address that included the words: "My dear brethren and sisters, how I have rejoiced in the messages I have heard delivered from this pulpit at this great general conference of the Church.
"The messages are true. They are important. They are vital to our personal salvation, and with all my heart I commend them to you."
And President Spencer W. Kimball said at the end of the April 1981 general conference: "My heart has been touched, and I have rejoiced and been inspired as I listened to the beautiful music and the timely messages of the Brethren."
As he concluded his first general conference as President of the Church in April 2008, President Monson said, "I've been attending conference for a long time. But I think I've never felt quite as richly blessed as during this session. We've had rapid-fire messages from a lot of speakers, but every one touched on a very important subject. We've had a smorgasbord today of faith, of love, and of counsel. Let's incorporate these things in our lives."
That general conference "smorgasbord . . . of faith, of love, and of counsel" continues to be regularly spread out for all those who have a desire to partake.