One of the great lessons that each of us needs to learn is to ask. Why does the Lord want us to pray to Him and to ask? Because that is how revelation is received.
When I am faced with a very difficult matter, this is how I try to understand what to do. I fast. I pray to find and understand scriptures that will be helpful. That process is cyclical. I start reading a passage of scripture; I ponder what the verse means and pray for inspiration. I then ponder and pray to know if I have captured all the Lord wants me to do. Often more impressions come with increased understanding of doctrine. I have found that pattern to be a good way to learn from the scriptures.
There are some practical principles that enhance revelation. First, yielding to emotions such as anger or hurt or defensiveness will drive away the Holy Ghost. Those emotions must be eliminated, or our chance for receiving revelation is slight.
Another principle is to be cautious with humor. Loud, inappropriate laughter will offend the Spirit. A good sense of humor helps revelation; loud laughter does not. A sense of humor is an escape valve for the pressures of life.
Another enemy to revelation comes from exaggeration or loudness in what is stated. Careful, quiet speech will favor the receipt of revelation.
On the other hand, spiritual communication can be enhanced by good health practices. Exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep, and good eating habits increase our capacity to receive and understand revelation. We will live for our appointed life span. However, we can improve both the quality of our service and our well-being by making careful, appropriate choices.
It is important that our daily activities do not distract us from listening to the Spirit.
Revelation can also be given in a dream when there is an almost imperceptible transition from sleep to wakefulness. If you strive to capture the content immediately, you can record great detail, but otherwise it fades rapidly. Inspired communication in the night is generally accompanied by a sacred feeling for the entire experience. The Lord uses individuals for whom we have great respect to teach us truths in a dream because we trust them and will listen to their counsel. It is the Lord doing the teaching through the Holy Ghost. However, He may in a dream make it both easier to understand and more likely to touch our hearts by teaching us through someone we love and respect.
- Richard G. Scott, “How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for your Personal Life“, April 2012 General Conference
There is so much we can learn from the example of the young Prophet Joseph Smith, whose persistent, prayerful study of the Holy Bible compelled him to seek the God of Heaven for divine guidance. This brought him to the threshold of the greatest revelation ever given to man since the mortal ministry of the Savior Himself. Throughout the Prophet’s life, he continued to probe and ponder until he gained a mastery of the scriptures. - J. Richard Clarke, “My Soul Delighteth in the Scriptures“, Ensign (CR), November 1982, p.13
Out of Nazareth and down through the generations of time come his excellent example, his welcome words, his divine deeds. They inspire patience to endure affliction, strength to bear grief, courage to face death, and confidence to meet life. In this world of chaos, of trial, of uncertainty, never has our need for such divine guidance been greater. - Thomas S. Monson, “Can Any Good Come from Nazareth?” Liahona, April 1989
We can all see by the candle of inspiration, which is the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. It will light our way out of darkness and difficulty. The most sure way to come out of darkness and into the light is through communication with our Heavenly Father by the process known as divine revelation. President Wilford Woodruff (1807-98) declared, "Whenever the Lord had a people on the earth that He acknowledged as such, that people were led by revelation." The inspiration of God is available to all who worthily seek the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is particularly true of those who have received the gift of the Holy Ghost. - James E. Faust, “Put Life in Your Life,” Liahona, June 2007
Always the thoughtful mind discerns the need for revelation and divine guidance. All that we see about us in science, technology, architecture, agriculture--civlization in general--can be truly said to be the fruit of history in the broadest sense. Where revelation and divine guidance have been absent, or ignored, we see the stark contrasts in history. - G. Homer Durham, “Why Study History?” Ensign, September 1978
In a particularly stressful time, or in the anticipation of a critical event, one can seek for a blessing under the hands of the priesthood. Even the Prophet Joseph Smith sought and received a blessing under the hands of Brigham Young and received solace and direction for his soul. Fathers, so live that you can bless your own wives and children. To receive and then consistently and prayerfully ponder one's patriarchal blessing can give helpful insight, particularly in an hour of need. The sacrament will "bless ... the souls" (D&C 20:77, 79) of all those who worthily partake of it, and as such it should be taken often, even by the bedfast. - Ezra Taft Benson, “Do Not Despair,” Liahona, March 1987
In similar ways, the key to gaining the spiritual strength we need lies in what President Thomas S. Monson once described as entering a "sacred grove" of our own. He was teaching bishops, but the counsel applies to all members of the Church: "Every bishop needs a sacred grove to which he can retire to meditate and to pray for guidance. Mine was our old ward chapel. I could not begin to count the occasions when on a dark night at a late hour I would make my way to the stand of this building where I was blessed, confirmed, ordained, taught, and eventually called to preside. The chapel was dimly lighted by the streetlight in front; not a sound would be heard, no intruder to disturb. With my hand on the pulpit I would kneel and share with Him above my thoughts, my concerns, my problems."
Of course, these "sacred grove" moments do not duplicate what happened to the Prophet Joseph in the Sacred Grove. We don't enter into these devotional times expecting to see the Father and the Son any more than Joseph Smith did. But we can trust that Heavenly Father will answer our prayers; how He answers them, however, is up to Him. - Yoshihiko Kikuchi, “Opening the Heavens,” Liahona, August 2009
All men may well ask themselves where they stand with reference to Joseph Smith and his divine mission. Do they inquire after his name and seek that salvation found only in the gospel of Christ as revealed to his latter-day prophet, or do they deride and despise the Lord’s living oracles and say that God no longer speaks to men in the way he did anciently? The great question which all men in our day must answer--and that at the peril of their own salvation--is: Was Joseph Smith called of God? - Bruce R. McConkie, “Joseph Smith-The Mighty Prophet of the Restoration,” Ensign (CR), May 1976, p.94
The latest MormonMessages video posted a few days ago talks about the work and conversion of a young bishop in England. It touched my heart as I watched it, for parts of it were my story as well.
What really touched me was when he was talking about the feelings he had when he read the Book of Mormon, for those are the same feelings I have had. He said:
“I just felt like I wanted to be a good person. It left me with a feeling that I never wanted to do a bad thing for the rest of my life.”
I remember that exact feeling in my own life when decided to ask God if the Book of Mormon was true. I had a great and fantastic seminary teacher who urged us to follow Moroni’s challenge in Moroni 10:3-5 to read, ponder, and pray and ask God if the Book of Mormon was not true.
I decided it was time for me to know for myself so I started an experiment and read the scriptures every day, and prayed every day to know if it was true. It did not come right away, in fact, I think it was more than a month later I was praying one day and I had this exact same feeling.
I wanted to do good.
I wanted to never do anything bad again.
I later on found this scripture that describes my feelings in Mosiah 5:1-2 right after King Benjamin gives his great teachings at the temple.
1 And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them.
2 And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.
Now unfortunately that does not mean I have always been perfect. At the end of the day I am still a man just like the rest of you. But that feeling has guided and driven my life to be a life of service. How grateful I am for that wonderful seminary teacher (Love you Sister Bybee!) and her challenge to me for it truly did change my life.
- Write down your testimony of the Book of Mormon, or the Gospel and share it with your family and/or put it in your journal.
- If you have not given a Book of Mormon away in a while get one from the missionaries and carry it around this week prepared to share it with someone and see if the Lord does not give you the opportunity to change someone else’s life.
- We all have different stories about how we learned the Book of Mormon is true. Share yours in the comments or as a post on LDS Spiritual Thoughts.
- Have you been spiritually born of God? (Alma 5:14)
- Lamoni and his people are taught by Ammon and converted and declare that their hearts have been changed and they have no more desire to do evil (Alma 19, see vs. 33)
- Alma the younger teaches his son Heleman about his conversion and being born again (Alma 36)
I have an amazing brother-in-law. Jon Gee is a spiritual giant among men and I am grateful my sister married him. He teaches and helps me to be a better man, especially since my father passed away a few years ago. One of the things he taught me, but he probably doesn’t even know, is the importance of listening to what the prophet and apostles are teaching. Every general conference he gets out a spreadsheet (he is an accountant so he loves a good spreadsheet when he can get one) and tracks the number of times topics are talked about. He is a bishop in his ward so he then takes that information and teaches lessons and directs his ward based off of what the prophet and apostles are teaching.
I am not to the point he is yet, but I often think about and try to notice what the brethren are teaching us. Today after reading my scriptures I went to LDS.org and looking for a pattern of what the Brethren want us to know. What I found on the front page was four references to reading the scriptures on the home page.
- Top DropDown – My Study Notebook: Annotate and highlight conference addresses, manuals, and manuals. Save notes and organize them into folders.
- Top Banner Item – The Power of Scripture: “Scriptures are like little packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and Inspiration on high”
- Top Left – Scriptures: Read, study, and ponder the word of God.
- Right Sidebar – First Presidency Message: Precious Promises of the Book of Mormon.
In the scriptures "we find principles of truth that will resolve every confusion and every problem and every dilemma that will face the human family" (Teaching, No Greater Call , 51).