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Relationship to Section 20. The relationship of Verses 20:38-67 to the rest of Section 20 is discussed at D&C 20.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 20:38-67 include:
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- D&C 20:47. Here a distinction is drawn between vocal prayer and prayer in secret. The distinction, when set against a rather broad survey of the scriptures, seems to be quite fruitful: vocal prayer seems generally to be a question of communal prayer, and hence, of praise; while secret prayer seems generally to be a question of intercessory prayer, and hence, of petition (and most usually, complaint). If this is the distinction being made here, then the constant exhortation of the visiting priest is to praise together as a family in prayer and to counsel with the Lord on an individual basis. Maintaining this distinction perhaps would lead a more genuine verbal relationship with the Lord: together God's people praise, but individually they counsel with God. That these questions are understood here as a question of the family is clear: "and attend to all family duties" does not separate itself from the two exhortations to prayer, since this last phrase picks up on the infinitive "to" of "to pray vocally." In other words, this distinction in prayer is one that is supposed to be present in one's family life, in the family specifically. (For a similar pairing in the context of missionary service, see D&C 84:61.)
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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- D&C 20:38: Verse 38 seems to have a rather limited scope as regards the priesthood. But the fact is that the priesthood was a series of offices, rather than two priesthoods and the several quorums, in 1830. That the Church seems at first to have been founded on the offices of the elder, priest, and teacher seems to reflect the organization of the churches in the Book of Mormon. What is the significance of the Book of Mormon's sway on the earliest organization of the Latter-day Church?
- D&C 20:47, 53: What is the difference between the priest's duty in what is now called home teaching and the teacher's duty (compare verses 47 and 53)?
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Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.