Prior to Elder Ballard’s birth, his mother had learned in a remarkable way that the baby she was carrying would become an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 This spiritual experience was confirmed when Elder Ballard was told in his patriarchal blessing that he would be one of the Lord’s special witnesses.
The death of President Smith and the reorganization of the First Presidency had left a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Many of the Apostles thought President Grant would call his good friend and faithful Church member Richard W. Young to that position. President Grant intended, with the consent of his two counselors, to call Richard Young to the apostleship. He began to reflect and pray about the vacancy. When the First Presidency met with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Grant reached into his pocket and pulled out a slip of paper with Richard W. Young’s name written on it, fully intending to present it for approval. Instead, he found himself saying that the Lord wanted Melvin J. Ballard, the Northwestern States mission president, to fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President Grant later testified that he learned from this experience that the Lord does indeed inspire the President of the Church. 3
3. See Francis M. Gibbons, Heber J. Grant: Man of Steel, Prophet of God (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979) pp. 174–76.