“I Pray Thee That Thou Wilt Give the Holy Ghost”

Brant Gardner

Although all of the people are praying, these early acts of the Savior on this day are directed to the twelve exclusively. When Jesus prays, he prays specifically for the twelve. This is not immediately clear in this verse, but is indicated because he says “I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen.” The immediate antecedent to this statement is the manifestation of the Holy Ghost to the twelve, noted in verses 13-14 above. The twelve, therefore, are identified as “these whom I have chosen.”

While the gift of the Holy Ghost to the twelve did not create a distinction for them specifically apart from the manifestation to the children on the previous day, Jesus actions as this time do serve to highlight the special function of the twelve as representatives of the Messiah.

“Father I Pray Thee That Thou Wilt Give the Holy Ghost Unto All Them”

This verse is most often cited as an explanation for the reason that the people are praying to Jesus. Indeed this is so, but this verse is directly related to the twelve. At this particular point, the subject of the verse is the twelve. We must understand the verse as it relates to the twelve.

First, Jesus acknowledges his Father as the fount of the gift of the Spirit. Jesus does not claim to have given it to the twelve, but he specifically notes that it comes from the Father. The second point is that the Gift of the Holy Ghost comes because of belief in the Atoning Messiah. This is what Jesus means when he notes “thou has given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me.” God is the source of the Gift, but a requirement for the Gift is the belief in Jesus Christ.

What evidence is there that the twelve believe? Jesus notes that there is the greatest of all possible evidences. They are praying to Jesus. What greater evidence might there be that the twelve believe with a fullness of purpose? They believe not in Jesus the man, nor in Jesus the resurrected man. They believe in Jehovah the Messiah. They have believed that he would come, and the now believe him here. This is the evidence. God can hear those prayers, and they are sufficient evidence of the belief of the apostles.

What Jesus also teaches the people at this time is that God hears our fervent prayers, even if we don’t have the name right. Of course we should understand the true nature of God, but if we do not yet fully understand, it is our faithfulness and intend that carry our prayers heavenward. Even if temporarily misdirected, God still hears and understands those prayers and their importance. Jesus is therefore indicating to God that the prayers show true belief in the Savior, even if they are not completely accurate in the address of the prayer. The heartfelt utterance is still the same. The internal yearnings are still the same. These are true believers.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon