Latter-day Saint Life

Elder Bednar’s 3 tips for having the Holy Ghost as a constant companion (rather than an occasional visitor)

Elder David A. Bednar studies the scriptures.
“Everything the Savior’s gospel teaches us to do and become is intended to bless us with the companionship of the Holy Ghost.”
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While we’re promised “that [we] may always have his Spirit to be with [us]” in the sacrament prayers, it’s not always easy to feel the Holy Ghost’s presence constantly. On an episode of the All In podcast with Morgan Pearson, Elder David A. Bednar said:

“[We] talk about the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, [but] we seem to have little recognition that that's real. We say it—but do we believe it? …

“Obviously, the Spirit is stronger on some occasions than it is on other occasions, but as long as we are doing our best and pressing forward on the covenant path, and repenting as we go, then indeed, we are influenced by the Holy Ghost all the time.”

So, how can we live in such a way to feel the Holy Ghost as “a constant companion in [our lives], rather than an occasional visitor”?

In his October 2010 general conference talk, Elder Bednar suggested: “We need to (1) sincerely desire to receive the Holy Ghost, (2) appropriately invite the Holy Ghost into our lives, and (3) faithfully obey God’s commandments.” Let’s take a closer look at how we can apply these simple principles to make the Spirit’s companionship more of an “ongoing reality.”

1) Sincerely Desire

Remembering why we need “this most valuable of all gifts,” as Elder Bednar called it, can help us to be more sincere and consistent about seeking the Holy Ghost’s constant companionship.

Eliza R. Snow spoke eloquently about the importance of receiving this gift. She suggested that because we are children of God, we won’t feel truly fulfilled unless we continually receive guidance and comfort “from the Fountain above”:

“[The Holy Ghost] satisfies and fills up every longing of the human heart. … When I am filled with that Spirit my soul is satisfied, and I can say in good earnest, that the trifling things of the day do not seem to stand in my way at all. … Is it not our privilege to so live that we can have this constantly flowing into our souls?”

This good desire to make room for the Spirit in our lives will lead us to repent and rely on Christ even more. It’s important to remember that He makes it possible for us to have this companionship—not our efforts alone. So let go of any pressure to be perfect! As President Henry B. Eyring recently taught:

“We desire [the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost], yet we know from experience that it is not easy to achieve. We each think and say and do things in our daily lives that can offend the Spirit.

“When that happens, as it will, we may feel disapproval from the Lord. And we may be tempted to feel we are alone. It is important to remember the sure promise we receive each week as we repent and partake of the sacrament: ‘That they may always have his Spirit to be with them.’

“If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost today, you may take it as a sweet evidence that the Atonement is working in your life” (emphasis added).

Just as President Eyring reminded us, the Lord knew we would need help accessing the Spirit’s constant companionship. When we want to feel His presence more, we can look at areas where we may need to repent and seek Christ’s grace.

Sometimes, even when we are trying our best, mental health challenges can make it difficult to feel the Holy Ghost in our lives. These feelings of numbness or apathy don’t mean that He isn’t there. As we desire and look for His presence, God will help us find different ways to feel the Spirit, remember past spiritual assurances, and address contributing factors.

2) Appropriately Invite

In his talk, Elder Bednar shared several suggestions for inviting the Spirit into our lives, including:

  • Making and keeping covenants
  • Praying sincerely as individuals and families
  • Searching the scriptures diligently
  • Strengthening appropriate relationships with family members and friends
  • Seeking after virtuous thoughts, actions, and language
  • Worshipping in our homes, the temple, and church

When I first read this list, I was surprised to see nurturing relationships as an action item for inviting the Spirit into my life. But the more I thought about it, the more it made complete sense. Many of my answers to prayer have come through speaking with and being around people I trust and respect, and I find I can recognize the Spirit’s voice better as I see His presence in others’ lives.

I’ve found I especially feel the companionship of the Holy Ghost as I focus on others. As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf has taught, “Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we’re on our knees but while we’re on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us.”

3) Faithfully Obey

Living the gospel not only lays the groundwork for feeling the Spirit but also helps us to experience His presence as we obey. As Elder Bednar said, “[Everything] the Savior’s gospel teaches us to do and become is intended to bless us with the companionship of the Holy Ghost.”

By living the gospel, we also build trust with the Lord—learning about our relationship with Him and opening ourselves to receiving revelation.

We can show Him we value the Spirit’s promptings by writing them down and then acting on them. My mission president often talked about the importance of “praying with a pencil,” recording thoughts and impressions that come before, during, or after a prayer. In this way, we can quite literally receive the Spirit’s guidance “line upon line” (see 2 Nephi 28:30) and strengthen our understanding of His role in our spiritual development.

As President Russell M. Nelson has taught:

“Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will ‘grow into the principle of revelation.’”

These daily habits of obedience open our minds and hearts to more light and knowledge. And ultimately, the Holy Ghost’s companionship will help guide us back home to God.

“Praying, studying, gathering, worshipping, serving, and obeying are not isolated and independent items on a lengthy gospel checklist of things to do,” Elder Bednar said. “Fundamentally, all gospel teachings and activities are centered on coming unto Christ by receiving the Holy Ghost in our lives.”

As we follow Elder Bednar’s three suggestions to “[receive] the Holy Ghost,” we can recognize the Spirit’s companionship consistently and live in such a way that He can dwell with us—always.

The Spirit of Revelation

In this landmark book, Elder David A. Bednar outlines several principles of revelation, then provides a host of examples in which we can observe these principles in action for ourselves. As we come to recognize the role of revelation in our lives, we can move forward in confidence that the Lord is guiding our steps. Elder Bednar writes, "If we are striving to be and become good—not perfect right now, but gradually getting better, ... then indeed we can have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. We are not 'preparing to receive revelation'; we are 'living in revelation.'"

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