Memories: Inspirational Excerpts from The Journal of President Spencer W. Kimball

Compiled by Dennis B. Horne

Editorial note: the below excerpts from President Kimball’s journal were selected because I find them to be extra uplifting and edifying, or otherwise special in some way. I did not include a date with them because when I encountered and chose them I was interested in precious spiritual experience and insight, not scholarship.

Some of these items can be found by using the index and links previously posted as “Precious highlights in President Spencer W. Kimball’s Journal.” Below is what I judge to be some of the cream of the cream in his diary. These tidbits make my soul sing and reinforce within me how grateful I am to be a member of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ. This apostle and prophet became celestial material indeed. I include a little introduction of a few words to each excerpt to give some context.

This is part 4 of an ongoing series of excerpts from Spencer W. Kimball’s journals.



Sees deceased father:

“During the night of June 13, and it was most likely early morning of June 14, while half asleep trying to work out my problems, especially of the sermons I am to give in June Conference, I looked up and my father, Andrew Kimball, came toward me. He was tall and well built, and I recognized him and rushed to him and embraced him. That was all, but it left a warm, good feeling with me.”


Visits brother:

“We went to see Gordon and Clara again, my oldest brother, and he is still in bed and very miserable indeed. I gave him a blessing and encouraged him and told him of my experience in a vision or a dream when Father came to me ostensibly to encourage me in my work.”



A member gains a witness:

“In the [stake] Conference session given over to testimonies in part, Brother Walter Canals, 1st councilor in the Union Branch Presidency sat in the audience. I saw his eyes were wet and glassy from where I sat. He was evidently enjoying a spiritual experience. When he gave his testimony he said he had always believed, but only this morning did he know positively. He testified that he knew I was a divinely called Apostle of the Master; the divinity of the work; that Joesph Smith was a real prophet.”



“In all the time I have performed [marriage] ceremonies I never felt a sweeter influence than I did today as I performed these ceremonies. I felt that angels were near while I was sealing Mark’s wife to him.”


Elder Kimball talks to an apostatizing returned missionary:

“At my desk at the office I had a long interview with [redacted], a returned missionary of some years who is attending [college] and whose faith seemingly has been shattered and who is much disturbed over the Negro question, over revelation and over all the other matters which affect those who begin in their apostasy. I talked to him earnestly and did my utmost to help him to get back to correct thinking. He worships the scientists and would accept nothing he could not prove. I felt depressed all day, feeling that I had done him little good and disturbed greatly for his future.” (Sept. 19, 1954)


About a book meant as a church manual:

“I spent much of the afternoon at the home of Brother Adam S. Bennion who has been ill, and we discussed the matter of the Obert Tanner manuscript for the Sunday School. . . .

“[A few days later] At 8:30 President David O. McKay called me and asked me to come down and we had a long interview, some 2 hours, President McKay and myself with George R. Hill, superintendent of the Sunday School sitting with us. We went carefully over the proposed manual written by Obert C. Tanner “Christ’s Ideals for Living,” which as chairman of the Publications Committee, I have read through and through. I found many, many places where there seemed to me to be errors in doctrine, encouragement to higher criticism, the race problem pertaining to the Negro, and that the book from beginning to end reeked of sectarianism. The President told me that he thought I was extreme in my criticisms, and with some few corrections he felt that it should go forward to publication.”


Spiritual experience:

“As these nine Lamanites’ souls stood before me in the dedication prayer, I seemed to see them standing there representing the Lamanite nations, all Lamanites. . . . I seemed to feel a multitude of nations reaching for something heretofore unobtainable, listening for a familiar voice. I seemed to hear the chanting voice of millions, trying to bring back that which was lost; an urgent, plaintive pleading for something lost centuries ago.”


Some priesthood blessings:

“We went to administer to a sister who was flat on her back for numerous years and had to use oxygen all the time to keep herself alive. When we went in and visited and I asked her if she wanted a blessing, and she said, ‘I want to be healed.’ And then I explained to her that I had no power to heal but that the priesthood which we held could heal her if her faith was sufficient and it was the will of the Lord. She thought she had sufficient faith but I believe she was anxious for us to exercise the faith and do the job. We gave her a blessing. . . .

“The Quarterly meeting was put aside and today all of the General Authorities met in the temple for the usual testimony meeting and fast meeting, usually held before the General conference. All of the General Authorities were there. . . . President McKay called on several of the brethren and surprised me by calling on me. I spoke of the administration incident referred to last Sunday [above]. I told the story of Gwen Johnson and then of my own experience in New York when I was operated on and my vocal cords largely removed, and President McKay was visibly touched by my experiences. I felt that the Lord had inspired me since I spoke of things which I had not had any thought of doing and it seemed to be a proper thing to do.

“For my posterity, I will rehearse the experience of Gwen Kimball Johnson:

She had filled a mission, had married Norman Johnson, had then contracted the supposedly incurable disease which shriveled her body and made of her nearly a skeleton. In 1943, when we came her father, Crosier, who is my first cousin, invited all of our family, five of us, to dinner at his home in Draper, where his large family assembled. We were all fasting in anticipation of an administration to Gwen for her healing. Sometime after noon, when we had been fasting since the day before, the dinner was ready and so we all got on our knees and fervently prayed and then we administered to her and I was voice. . . .

“Apparently, Gwen, who had been told by her doctor she could never conceive and have children, had expected an instantaneous healing. She came into my office a few days later and said substantially this, ‘Cousin Spencer, nothing happened and I have not been healed, and I am very much disappointed, and I am just going to give the Lord another year to heal me.’

“This shocked me beyond expression and I said, ‘Gwen, who are you to demand anything of the Lord? Who are you to tell the Lord that He must heal you and when it must be done? Gwen, this is a state of apostasy and you must repent, or you can never expect anything from the Lord and you will lose your faith. I insist you must repent and change your attitudes.’ Her belligerency began to subside.

“Some time passed; perhaps it was months, and she came in again and still she was shriveled and shrunken—but her spirit was changed. She was modest and submissive and seemed full of faith and I blessed her again.

“I think it was other months, probably three or four, when she came in again and was joyful and happy and announced to me that she was pregnant, was going to have a baby and already her face was filling out and her body was building up and the scarecrow picture was changing.

“She became well and strong and really quite good looking and has lived a normal life and has had three or four children.” (September 29, 1965)


And another:

“We administered to an Olsen baby whose Father I had blessed in the hospital some years ago in isolation when I nearly had to force my way through the cordon of nurses and doctors. I had told them I was the boy’s minister; that he had asked for me to come; that I knew regulations permitted such visits; and that I was going to see the boy in spite of their protests if I had to go to their superiors. They masked and covered me and I gave him a blessing. He is now a great stalwart man, teacher in the school and with five little boys.


Experience at Carthage Jail:

“We went over to Carthage where Brother and Sister Allen are caretakers and guides and found it in excellent shape and the presentation was most impressive. As we sat in the ‘death room’ and saw the manikins and heard the story from Brother Allen and also from a recording, my heart was touched and I did not want to leave. I was emotionally stirred and I felt a presence of a spirit not always with me and a great reassurance came to me of the divinity of this great program [gospel] restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was a very pleasant experience.”


Temple Meetings


Holy Spirit:

Our quarterly meeting was held this morning. . . . Brother Benson was with us, which is unusual. The spirit was unusually warm and good. I think I have never felt the holy influence more than in these four hours in the temple.”


Prayer in temple meeting:

“I was called on for the prayer which now is a combination prayer of our opening prayer and the prayer at the altar. . . . I was certain moments before I was called on that I would be called on for this prayer. I seemed to feel it as I have many times, especially in this meeting.”


Thin veil in temple:

“When I had completed the ordinance work, I walked over to the table at the side of the room to make a few notes so that I would not forget them. As I finished my notes, there came an unusual feeling like someone was near me. There was no feeling of shock nor curiosity nor fear. I did not look around but there came over me a calm, sweet feeling of a presence. It was sweet and warming and I had a feeling that the [deceased] man, [redacted] to whom I had just restored incomparable blessings was not far away. I felt warm. Sometimes I have felt a presence and have wanted to turn around quickly to identify the incomer, but not this time. I felt that here was approval and gratitude. It seemed to me that all the morning and in fact all the day that a sweet spirit was with me more than usual.”


Temple testimony meeting:

“This was the first Thursday of the month and the Brethren came fasting. . . . The sacrament was administered and the regular program blessing and prayer at the altar. President Lee called on me first to give my testimony. He called on various ones to follow and the spirit grew warmer until he finally concluded the meeting with his feelings and all the brethren seemed to feel that this was about the greatest meeting that had ever been held here.”



Further Reading:

What Did Spencer W. Kimball Write About in His Journal? (From the Desk)

A Prophet’s Journey: The Journals of Spencer W. Kimball (BYU Studies Quarterly)

Inspirational Excerpts from The Journal of President Spencer W. Kimball, Part 1: Leadership