The scriptures mention a multitude of different ways in which the Spirit can communicate with us. Many of these are in the D&C, but other volumes of the standard works also teach rich and rewarding lessons on this topic. In this lesson, I will try to give an overview of the many passages from the scriptures that suggest the different forms that inspiration and revelation can take.
If we seek divine direction, but anticipate that it will only come in one way, we may miss the very thing for which we have asked.
1. UNDERSTANDING HOW THE HOLY GHOST COMMUNICATES WITH US
1 Sam. 3:4,5,10—An audible voice
Samuel heard the voice so clearly he thought Eli was calling him. President Harold B. Lee recorded this experience:
As a young boy I was out on a farm, waiting for my father to finish his day's work, playing about, manufacturing things to while away the time, when I saw over the fence into the neighbor's yard some broken down buildings with the sheds caving in and with rotting timbers. I imagined as a young boy that that might be a castle that I should explore, so I went over to the fence and started to climb through, then I heard a voice as distinctly as you are hearing mine. "Harold, don't go over there." I looked in every direction to see where the speaker was. I wondered if it was my father, but he couldn't see me. There was no one in sight. I realized that someone was warning me of an unseen danger (Harold B. Lee, "The Way to Eternal Life," Ensign, Nov. 1971).
D&C 6:22,23—The Spirit speaks (gives) peace
I may not know how things will work out, or even if they will work out according to my desires, but I know that the Lord will cause things to work according to his will. This imparts a great sense of peace.
D&C 8:2-3—I will tell you in your mind and in your heart
The Lord tells us that this experience—the combination of intellect and spirit—is the spirit of revelation. Many of you will remember experiences in the mission field when you taught the gospel or were being taught the gospel, and this phrase was spoken: “I have always believed that.” That is the heart confirming the intellectual evidence of the mind.
D&C 11:12—The Spirit leads to do good
We are told that Jesus went about doing good (Acts 10:38). Often we are satisfied with just going about. In any situation, those moved by the Spirit will choose to do the good thing. We are led by the Spirit to offer ourselves in service to others, for which we will be blessed. “And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward” (D&C 58:28).
D&C 11:12—The Spirit leads to walk humbly
A temple president once told a group of young people attending the temple:
After your own baptism, you were told to receive the Holy Ghost, which means that the Holy Ghost will guide and bless you if you are worthy. If anyone should oppose you, or bring harm to you, you can overcome that opposition by the influence of the Holy Ghost.”
The president soon noticed one young woman sobbing. She explained that her mother opposed her activity in the Church and was angry that she had left for the temple. “I have been fasting ever since I left home that here in the temple I would be given a guide and the power to overcome the opposition of my mother. I was going away disappointed. But now, at the last moment, you have given me the key. I am going to bring Mother within the influence of the power of the Holy Ghost.”
A few weeks later the temple president received a letter. The young woman explained that her mother was still angry when she returned home. She wrote: “On other occasions I had fought back, but this time I walked over and put my arm around her shoulder. I told her what a wonderful experience I had had in the temple. And to my amazement, Mother burst into tears and begged my forgiveness (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 96-97).
D&C 11:12—The Spirit leads us to judge righteously
The King James Version reads: “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matt. 7:1), making it sound as if no one should ever judge others. But the JST footnote clarifies the doctrine: “Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgment.”
The context of verses 2-5 suggests that looking for fault in others or critically condemning others is what is being censured by the Savior. He warned us to “cease to find fault one with another” (D&C 88:124) because “with [that same] judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged” (Matt. 7:2). (W. Jeffrey Marsh, “Prophetic Enlightenment on the Sermon on the Mount,” Ensign, Jan. 1999, 20)
D&C 11:13—My spirit will “fill your soul with joy.”
I sat in the temple ten years ago for the sealing of my daughter to a wonderful returned missionary. It was a sublime moment, one we had hardly dared hope for over the preceding years. I was nearly overcome with the sense of joy and victory.
D&C 9:7-9—The Spirit can cause our hearts to burn or give us a stupor of thought
Elder Oaks spoke of D&C 9:7-9 as follows:
This may be one of the most important and misunderstood teachings in all the Doctrine and Covenants. The teachings of the Spirit often come as feelings. That fact is of the utmost importance, yet some misunderstand what it means. I have met persons who told me they have never had a witness from the Holy Ghost because they have never felt their bosom “burn within” them.
Enos 1:10—A voice might speak in our mind
President Marion G. Romney said that the Lord sometimes reveals answers to prayer in complete sentences (See Improvement Era, Dec. 1961, pp. 947-49), or what others have called finished sentences. At times, a person may actually hear an audible voice; at other times, a person may have an impression or a thought come into his mind expressed in one or more complete sentences. Enos reported that while he was "struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into [his] mind.” (Enos 1:10.)