The Education in Zion Gallery is filled with stories of sacrifices of early Saints and pioneers of education alike. Many, like Karl G. Maeser, when presented with a task that seemed too difficult to accomplish on their own, turned to the Lord and pleaded for his help.
Maeser’s prayer when trying to establish a curriculum for Brigham Young Academy was as follows: “‘O Father,’ he pleaded. ‘Show me the way[;] help me to make the plans for this great work. I cannot do it of myself’” (Ida Stewart Peay, “A Story Dr. Maeser Told,”Improvement Era 17, no. 3 (January 1914): 194–95).
Another such man, when faced with the task of coming up with a course of study for the new seminary program, was John M. Whitaker. He had general guidance from leaders, but he felt he needed to turn to the Lord for help with the details:
“I had to start without the least scratch, or outline. . . . [It] was a task too great to undertake alone. So I did as I have always done when presented with a task[:] went in humility and prayer to my Father and in my simplicity told him my problem, and asked for inspiration, guidance, wisdom, and courage” (John M. Whitaker, Journal, April 1915, 207, Microfilm 920, no. 21, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah).
Whitaker’s inspiration lead many students to strengthen their testimonies and faith. One student even wrote to Whitaker years later about a specific lesson that he remembered. Whitaker is just one of many whose sacrifices, determination, and faith helped shape the Church Educational System and preserve the legacy of education that continues here at Brigham Young University in the twenty-first century.