In his published history, Joseph Smith recalled that there was "an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country." He also noted how moved he was one day while reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse.
Somewhere in the forest on the Smith farm was a quiet place "where members of the Smith family were wont to hold secret prayer." Accordingly, Joseph was determined to ask of God, and "retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty."
It was then and there that a new gospel dispensation opened with a visitation of God the Father and his son Jesus Christ.