From William A. Morton, From Plowboy to Prophet: Being a Short History of Joseph Smith, for Children. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1912.
Joseph’s First Prayer
One evening Joseph took down the large, family Bible, and began to read its sacred pages. The Lord was guiding him at that time, but the boy did not know it. as he read, he came to the fifth verse of the first chapter of the Epistle of James, which reads as follows, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.”
This scripture caused Joseph to stop and think, as you will see by looking at the picture. It made a great impression upon his mind. It seemed to say to him, “You wish to know which of the churches is the true Church. Well, if you will ask God he will tell you.”
Joseph decided to do that. But he did not tell any member of the family what was in his heart. He closed the Bible, put it back in its place, and then went to his bed, little dreaming that the next day he would have news which in the course of time would startle the whole world.
he awoke early the next morning, arose and dressed himself. The rest of the family were fast asleep, so, slipping quietly out of the house, Joseph made his way to a small grove not far from his father’s home. It was a beautiful spring morning. The sun was gilding the hill tops, the birds were singing their songs in the trees, and the air was scented with the fragrance of wild flowers. All nature seemed to sway, “God lives. God is good. He loves His children and delights to bless them.”
Selecting a suitable spot in the grove, Joseph knelt down and began to call upon God in earnest prayer. While he was praying he saw an exceedingly bright light coming down out of heaven. He gazed in astonishment on this strange sight, while a peaceful influence filled his soul. As the light reached the tops of the trees, Joseph beheld in the midst of it two heavenly Beings. They were in the form of men, but far more glorious and beautiful. They were God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son. Pointing to the Son, the Father said, “Joseph, this is my beloved Son, hear Him.”
As soon as Joseph was able to speak he asked the Lord which of the churches was the true Church. He was surprised when the Lord told him that all the churches had departed from the right way, that they had been established by men and not by God, that none of them taught the true gospel, and that he was not to join any of them.
Then the Lord told Joseph that in due time the true Church would be set up again on earth, and that if he were true and faithful he would be chosen to be its leader and Prophet.
Filled with wonder and surprise, Joseph arose and returned to his home.