President Boyd K. Packer taught that divine revelation may come in various ways: “The Lord reveals His will through dreams and visions, visitations, through angels, through His own voice, and through the voice of His servants. ‘Whether by mine own voice,’ He said, ‘or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”1 Depending on the needs of mortals and according to the will of the Lord, angels communicate with mortals in a variety of ways—by a visitation, by a voice, by thoughts, by feelings, or in other ways. . . .
Many visitations from the spirit world are from relatives, including grandparents, parents, and siblings. Deceased friends, too, may visit loved ones with messages from God. President Joseph F. Smith wrote, “Our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing from the divine Presence messages of love, of warning, or reproof and instruction, to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh.”2 President Smith then gave an example of Sister Cannon, who “can return and visit her friends,” but he added, it had to “be in accordance with the wisdom of the Almighty” because “there are laws to which they who are in the Paradise of God must be subject, as well as laws to which we are subject.”3
1. Angels can communicate through dreams and visions.
Is there a difference between a vision and an inspired dream? Elder James E. Talmage explained: “In general, visions are manifested to the waking senses whilst dreams are given during sleep. In the vision, however, the senses may be so affected as to render the person practically unconscious, at least oblivious to ordinary occurrences, while he is able to discern the heavenly manifestation. In the earlier dispensations, the Lord frequently communicated through dreams and visions, oftentimes revealing to prophets the events of the future even to the latest generations.”4 Examples of angels communicating with persons in dreams include Jacob (“And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream”; Genesis 31:11), and Joseph (“the angel appeared unto him in a dream”; Matthew 1:20; 2:13, 19).
Some individuals may tend to minimize the significance of dreams originating from God. Some indicate that a vision is greater or more important, but both President Spencer W. Kimball and President Harold B. Lee taught regarding the importance of God-inspired dreams.5 Even as various persons, both men and women, from the Bible and Book of Mormon had God-inspired dreams and visions that included angels, both men and women in the last days may also experience heavenly communications. Such was the testimony of the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28; see also Acts 2:17). When he visited the young Joseph Smith on the evening of September 21, 1823, the angel Moroni cited Joel 2:28–32 and stated that the words of these verses would soon be fulfilled (see Joseph Smith–History 1:41).
2. Angels communicate with mortals by speaking to them.
We know that angels communicate with mortals by speaking to them. For example, “the angel of the Lord called unto [Abraham] out of heaven . . . the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time . . .” (Genesis 22:11, 15). Alma 12:29 states that God “sent angels to converse with them.” President Brigham Young told his audience that “there are persons in this congregation that will converse with angels just as freely as we converse with each other.”6
President Boyd K. Packer, citing passages from the Book of Mormon, explained: “We are told that ‘angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost.’ We are even told that when we speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, we ‘speak with the tongue [or in the same language] of angels.’ (2 Nephi 31:13; 2 Nephi 32:2.)”7 President Packer further explained: “Nephi explained that angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, and you can speak with the tongue of angels, which simply means that you can speak with the power of the Holy Ghost. It will be quiet. It will be invisible. There will not be a dove. There will not be cloven tongues of fire. But the power will be there.”8
On one occasion, Elder Parley P. Pratt was seeking men to join Zion’s Camp; he had traveled for many hours by carriage, ridden through the night, and finally stopped to rest at noon. He loosened the horse to permit it to graze, and then he fell asleep. Because of his exhaustion, he later recorded, he “might have lain in a state of oblivion till the shades of night had gathered about me. . . . I had only slept a few moments till the horse had grazed sufficiently, when a voice, more loud and shrill than I had ever before heard, fell on my ear, and thrilled through every part of my system; it said: ‘Parley, it is time to be up and on your journey.’” Elder Pratt quickly responded, found his horse, and traveled on until he rejoined Zion’s Camp. When he told Joseph Smith of this experience, the Prophet explained that it was “the angel of the Lord who went before the camp” who woke him.9
Although angels are a vital part of Latter-day Saint history and doctrine, their roles and purposes are often misunderstood. In this inspiring volume, author Donald W. Parry discusses in a clear and understandable way what we can learn from the scriptures and from modern prophets and apostles about angels and their missions.
Here you will find answers to such questions as the following:
What are angels?
What powers and abilities are angels given?
How do angels communicate with mortals?
What are the assigned missions and roles of angels?
How do angels reveal truth and teach the doctrines of the gospel?
How do angels minister to and comfort mortals?
What is the role of guardian angels in the modern world?
When just the thought of someone watching out for us can give us hope in challenging times, to realize that angels minister light, love, and power to us, whether we are aware of them or not, gives us unparalleled understanding, comfort, and peace.