32) PREPAREDNESS: How should we prepare for times of famine? What role will food play in the last days?

Prophetic Statements

Joseph Smith

By a proper observance of the Word of Wisdom, man may hope to regain what he has lost by transgression and live to the age of a tree, that as the sun’s rays in springtime gladden all nature and awaken life and hope, the Word of Wisdom given of God may remove the thorns and briers from our pathway and strew the same with joy and peace.” [1]

When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned. [2]

Brigham Young

It is a piece of good counsel which the Lord desires his people to observe, that they may live on the earth until the measure of their creation is full. This is the object the Lord had in view in giving that Word of Wisdom. To those who observe it He will give great wisdom and understanding, increasing their health, giving strength and endurance to the faculties of their bodies and minds until they shall be full of years upon the earth. [3]

The Spirit whispers to me to call the Latter-day Saints to observe the Word of Wisdom, to let tea, coffee, and tobacco alone, and to abstain from drinking spirituous drinks. This is what the Spirit signifies through me. If the Spirit of God whispers this to His people through their leader, and they will not listen nor obey, what will be the consequences of their disobedience? Darkness and blindness of mind with regard to the things of God will be their lot; they will cease to have the spirit of prayer, and the spirit of the world will increase in them in proportion to their disobedience until they apostatize entirely from God and His ways. [4]

If you observe faithfully the Word of Wisdom, you will have your dollar, your five dollars, your hundred dollars, yea you will have your hundreds of dollars to spend for that which will be useful and profitable to you. Why should we continue to practice in our lives those pernicious habits that have already sapped the foundation of the human constitution . . . The strength, power, and beauty that once adorned the noble form of man must again be restored to our race; and God designs that we shall engage in this great work of restoration. Then let us not trifle with our mission, by indulging in the use of injurious substances. These lay the foundation of disease and death in the systems of men, and the same are committed to their children, and another generation of feeble human beings is introduced into the world. Such children have insufficient bone, sinew, muscle, and constitution, and are of little use to themselves, or to their fellow creatures; they are not prepared for life. [5]

Suppose you had millions of bushels (of wheat) to sell, and could sell it for twenty dollars per bushel, or for a million dollars per bushel, no matter what amount, so that you sell all your wheat, and transport it out of the country, and you are left with nothing more than a pile of gold, what good would it do you? You could not eat it, drink it, wear it, or carry it off where you could have something to eat. The time will come that gold will hold no comparison in value to a bushel of wheat. Gold is not to be compared with it in value. [6]

Wilford Woodruff

We have been taught the Word of Wisdom. It was given to us many years ago, and the Lord said it was applicable to the weakest of Saint. Very few of us have kept the Word of Wisdom; but I have no doubt that if the counsel of president Young were carried out it would save the people of this Territory a million dollars annually. I feel that we ought to put these things into practice. We ought to unite together in all matters required of us in order to carry out the purposes of the Lord our God. The people are able to do it if they feel disposed. Why Bishop Hardy told me here this morning that he had laid aside his tobacco; he has loved it almost ever since he was born, and if he can leave it off every man in Israel ought to be able to do it. [7]

Joseph F. Smith

I would rather feel tired and exhausted by labor, and let nature have a chance to restore itself, than I would attempt to doctor myself by the use of narcotics and drugs that would sap the foundation of my physical and spiritual health. But inasmuch as we do not observe the Word of Wisdom, how shall we have wisdom, knowledge and understanding by which we may be governed in our own conduct? The promise is that if we will observe this we shall have knowledge, and the destroyer shall pass us by, and we shall excape those evils that are coming upon the wicked. [8]

I believe that we are coming nearer to the point where we shall be able to observe that great and glorious law of temperance which the Lord Almighty has given unto us, wherein He has said that strong drink is not good, that tobacco is not for the habitual use of man, not for the stomach . . . We are coming to the conclusion that the Lord knew best, when He delivered to the Church, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, that “Word of Wisdom,” contained in the bood of revelations from the lord . . . The great majority of the people of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are coming nearer and nearer to a proper observance of the law which the Lord has given to us for our health, for the preservation of our lives; that we may be in harmony with His Spirit and His will, that we may be clean and undefiled, that we may be nearer like unto Him Who was without sin, Who was indeed pure and holy as God is pure and holy.

The young man who would cope with the world, who would be full of vigor, and fresh for the battle of life, will find his strength in living according to the word of the Lord; for the promise is that all “who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel, and marrow to their bones, and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary; and shall walk and not fain; and I the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” [9]

Are these glorious promises not sufficient to induce us to observe this Word of Wisdom? Is there not something here that is worthy our attention? Are not “great treasures” of knowledge, even “hidden treasures,” something to be desired? But when I see men and women addicting themselves to the use of tea and coffee, or strong drinks, or tobacco in any form, I say to myself, here are men and women who do not appreciate the promise God has made unto them. They trample it under their feet, and treat it as a thing of naught. They despise the word of God, and go contrary to it in their actions. Then when affliction overtakes them, they are almost ready to curse God, because He will not hear their prayers and they are left to endure sickness and pain.

Now, I do wish with all my heart – not because I say it, but because it is written in the word of the Lord – that you would give heed to this Word of Wisdom. It was given unto us . . . for our guidance, for our happiness and advancement in every principle that pertains to the kingdom of God, in time and throughout eternity, and I pray you to observe it. It will do you good; it will ennoble your souls; it will free your thoughts and your hearts from the spirit of destruction; it will make you feel like God, who sustains even the sparrow, that it does not fall to the ground without His notice; it will bring you nearer to the similitude of the Son of God, the Savior of the world, who healed the sick, who made the lame to leap for joy, who restored hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind, who distributed peace, joy, and comfort to all with whom He came in contact. [10]

Heber J. Grant

I have been thinking very seriously of the condition that the world is in today during the great depression all over the globe. I am convinced in my own mind, without a shadow of a doubt, that a revelation covering only one page (the Word of Wisdom), given by the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, to the Prophet Joseph Smith, would solve the problems of the world if it were obeyed by the inhabitants of the earth; not only solve the problems in our own country, but in every country. [11]

I have urged upon the people, and have been called a crank for so doing, the observance of the Word of Wisdom and I expect to continue to be a crank in that respect to the end of my life. I am converted beyond the shadow of a doubt that no man or woman in this Church who does not observe the Word of Wisdom can grow and increase in a knowledge and testimony of the gospel as he or she could otherwise do. [12]

George Albert Smith

Let me plead with you, search the Word of Wisdom prayerfully. Do not just read it, search it prayerfully. Discover what our Heavenly Father gave it for. He gave it to us with a promise of longer life and happiness not if we fail to observe it, but if we observe it. The Teachings of George Albert Smith, p. 102

David O. McKay

When . . . you hear harping critics say that the Church Authorities overemphasize the Word of Wisdom, you may know that they have not studied very deeply the significance of the Word of Wisdom. Fundamentally, physical strength and virility are essential in the progress of humanity. [13]

Ezra Taft Benson

There is no question that the health of the body affects the spirit, or the Lord would never have revealed the Word of Wisdom. God has never given any temporal commandments; that which affects our stature affects our soul. [14]


D&C 89:18-21
And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health to their naval and marrow to their bones;

And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures. And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, …promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them,… & not slay them.

Supporting Statements

Hyrum Smith

When God first made man upon the earth, he was a different being entirely to what he now is; his body was strong, athletic, robust, and healthy; his days were prolonged upon the earth; he lived nearly one thousand years, his mind was vigorous and active, and his intellectual faculties clear and comprehensive, but he has become degenerated . . . . (the Lord) has appointed the word of wisdom as one of the engines to . . . . remove the beastly appetites, the murderous disposition and the vitiated taste of man; to restore his body to health, and vigour, promote peace between him and the brute creation. [15]

The Lord has told us what is good for us to eat, and to drink, and what is pernicious; but some of our wise philosophers, and some of our elders too, pay no regard to it; for they think it is too little, too foolish, for wise men to regard-fools!…Who made the corn, the wheat, the rye, and all the vegetable substances? And who was it that organized man, and constituted him as he is found? Who made his stomach and his digestive organs, and prepared proper nutriment for his system, that the juices of his body might be supplied; and his form be invigorated by that kind of food which the laws of nature, and the laws of God have said would be good for man? And God made his food, and provided it for the use of man.” [16]

James R. Clark

That in these dire days, we may, each in his own place, enjoy the abundant physical blessings of the righteous life, we call upon all true Latter-day Saints, in or out of office, to keep this law of health, — completely to give up drink, to quit using tobacco, which all too often leads to drink, to abandon hot drinks and the use of harmful drugs, and otherwise to observe the Word of Wisdom. We urge the Saints to quit trifling with this law and so to live it that we may claim its promises. [17]

John A. Widtsoe

The foods used by many careless or uninformed modern people yield a shortage…of many necessary food factors, especially of vitamins and minerals. …because so much of the food so-called civilized man today is preserved, salted, sugared, purified, polished, pickled, canned, extracted, concentrated, heated, dried, frozen, thawed, stored, packaged, processed, and refined!…The Word of Wisdom warns against the ‘evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days.’” [18]

  1. Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith as a Prophet, Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, Vol 1, p.118
  2. The Teachings of Joseph Smith, p. 81
  3. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p 184
  4. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 183
  5. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 185
  6. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, pg. 250
  7. Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11 p. 370, Wilford Woodruff, April 7, 1867
  8. Joseph F. Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Joseph F. Smith, p. 327
  9. Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21
  10. Joseph F. Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church – Joseph F. Smith, pp. 327 – 329
  11. Gospel Standards, Selections from Sermons and Writings of Heber J. Grant, p. 146
  12. Gospel Standards, Selections from Sermons and Writings of Heber J. Grant, p. 249
  13. Gospel Ideals, Selections from Discourses of David O. McKay, p. 105
  14. In His Steps, address given by President Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve Apostles. Fourteen- Stake Fireside Address, Brigham Young University, March 4, 1979
  15. Hyrum Smith, Times and Season, 6-1-1842, pp.799-800
  16. Hyrum Smith, Times and Seasons, Vol. III, No. 15, pages 799-801, Nauvoo, Illinois, June 1, 1842
  17. James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, Vol. 6, p. 173
  18. Apostle J.A. Widtsoe, 1950
Filter by Categories

Explore our newest project!

Unlock a treasure trove of FREE resources! Dive into engaging videos, lesson plans, activities, and much more—all perfectly aligned with Come Follow Me 2024.

Join our email newsletter!
Latest News