Ever since Joseph Smith put in writing the Articles of Faith, prophets have referred to the 13 basic tenets of the Church as the backbone of LDS doctrine and a microcosm of all that members hold sacred.
President Wilford Woodruff, in a letter published in the Illustrated American in 1891, recited the 13 articles, concluding with the conviction, "I expect before very long to meet my Maker and give account for my earthly acts and words. In view of this I testify before God and all mankind that the foregoing Articles of Faith and discipline are the true doctrines of our Church. . . . " (Messages of the First Presidency 3:210.)President Woodruff, in a newspaper interview in 1891 declared, "We ought to state to you that we have no creed. We have what are called the Articles of Faith. . . . " (Messages of the First Presidency, p. 215.)
President Spencer W. Kimball told of the importance of memorizing the Articles of Faith, something he did as a young boy on the farm: "When I was 9 years old, I milked nine cows each day at my home in Thatcher, Ariz. I thought, `What a waste of time, to sit on a three-legged stool. Maybe there is something else I could do while I am milking.' So I sang the songs of Zion until I knew all the well-known hymns that are generally sung.
"Then I said, `Well, I have got to have something more!' So I got a copy of the Articles of Faith and put it on the ground right beside me and I went through them, over and over again, a thousand times." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 131.)
President Ezra Taft Benson, in his book God, Family, Country, wrote: "When the Prophet Joseph Smith outlined the Articles of Faith, he set forth in clear, unmistakable terms the foundations of our worship and of our relationships with one another.
"In view of the troubled times which the nations of the earth are experiencing at present, it is well for us as members of the Lord's kingdom to understand clearly our responsibilities and obligations respecting governments and laws as declared in the twelfth article of faith: `We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.' "