Since we believe that God can speak to everyone individually through the spirit, why then would we need a prophet (Such as Russel M. Nelson)? What would God reveal to the Prophet that he could not tell me directly instead? My first guess is that it is good because it keeps us united,
Thank you so much for your question.
One reason we have a need for a prophet is that the Lord would not want to give every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the Church revelation as to how He wants His church to be run. The Lord runs and directs His church through His prophets. As individuals we do not receive revelation for the church. We receive revelation for our own personal needs and the needs of our family.
Here are some of reasons the apostles and prophets of old gave:
Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:11-15)
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. . .
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2: 13, 18-22)
According to Gospel Topics on the official Church website it states:
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to be led by living prophets—inspired men called to speak for the Lord, as did Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, and other prophets of the scriptures. We sustain the President of the Church as prophet, seer, and revelator—the only person on the earth who receives revelation to guide the entire Church. We also sustain the counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators.
Like the prophets of old, prophets today testify of Jesus Christ and teach His gospel. They make known God’s will and true character. They speak boldly and clearly, denouncing sin and warning of its consequences. At times, they may be inspired to prophesy of future events for our benefit.
We can always trust the living prophets. Their teachings reflect the will of the Lord, who declared: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38).
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf had this to say:
Heavenly Father reveals this wisdom to His children on earth through His servants the prophets (see Amos 3:7). From the days of Adam, God has spoken to His children through appointed oracles who are charged with revealing His will and counsel to others. Prophets are inspired teachers and are always special witnesses of Jesus Christ (see D&C 107:23). Prophets speak not only to the people of their time, but they also speak to people throughout all time. Their voices echo through the centuries as a testament of God’s will to His children.