The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (frequently misnamed the Mormon Church) believes in prophets. A prophet is a man called by God to be a witness for Him on earth. Prophets have the authority to speak for God, be a witness of Christ, interpret the word of God, call people to repentance, receive revelations and instructions from God, and be shown the future to warn mankind of future events. Mormons also believe that there is a prophet called by God today. God has always called prophets whenever and wherever there were covenant people, and He continues to do so as a way to direct His Church.
For a time, there were no prophets or apostles on the earth, because God had taken His Church from the earth. The Apostle Paul had prophesied that Christ would not come again, except there should be a “falling away” first. The apostles were martyred, and the philosophies of men were mingled with remnants of their teachings. Soon the authority to act in God’s name, called the “priesthood,” was also taken. Mankind entered into a period called the “Dark Ages,” a period of very little progress, and much superstition. Mormons call this the Great Apostasy. The Lord began to prepare for a better cultural atmosphere into which He could reintroduce the true Church of Christ and the missing authority to act in His name. The Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Age of Reason moved mankind in that direction. Then a group of truly enlightened men brought forth an inspired constitution in a land of freedom–America. The Constitution of the United States of America guaranteed freedom of religion and a separation of church and state, guaranteeing that no one religion could be imposed upon the people by the government.
Then God again called a prophet, Joseph Smith. Through Joseph Smith God restored His Church to the earth and again gave man the priesthood power, which is the authority to act in God’s name. Today, Thomas S. Monson is the prophet of God and leader of His Church. He has the authority and has been given the keys of the priesthood needed to fulfill all of the duties of a prophet.
Two counselors assist Thomas S. Monson: Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf. These men make up the First Presidency of the Church, which is the leading head of the Church, just as Peter, James, and John led Christ’s Church after His death. Twelve apostles assist the First Presidency. These men are also given special authority as witnesses of Christ and to carry out God’s work in the Church.
The prophet is the only person who speaks for the Lord in every instance, and members of the Mormon Church are encouraged to follow the prophet’s counsel and direction, because it is current revelation. Situations and the world change, making it necessary for God to continue to give direction to man, so it is important that members know and understand the counsel of the current prophet. Learning about God’s plan for us through a prophet is the most direct and clear way to receive it. This was done anciently and continues today.
After listening to the prophet, members are counseled to learn for themselves that what was spoken by the prophet is true. This understanding is gained through testing the principle, praying, and then receiving confirmation from the Holy Ghost that it is true. Sometimes the Holy Ghost immediately validates the information.