Latter-day Saint Life

Prophet and Apostles on When You Don’t Receive Answers to Prayers + How to Increase Personal Revelation

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Getting Answers to Questions

President Russell M. Nelson

Our Heavenly Father and His Son stand ready to respond to your questions through the ministering of the Holy Ghost. But it is up to you to learn how to qualify for and receive those answers.

Where can you start? Begin by spending more time in holy places. The temple is a holy place. So is the chapel, where you make new sacramental covenants each Sunday. I invite you also to make your apartment, your dorm, your home, or your room a holy place where you can safely retreat from the dark distractions of the world.

Prayer is a key. Pray to know what to stop doing and what to start doing. Pray to know what to add to your environment and what to remove so the Spirit can be with you in abundance.

Serve with love. Loving service to those who have lost their way or who are wounded in spirit opens your heart to personal revelation.

Spend more time—much more time—in places where the Spirit is present. That means more time with friends who are seeking to have the Spirit with them. Spend more time on your knees in prayer, more time in the scriptures, more time in family history work, more time in the temple. I promise you that as you consistently give the Lord a generous portion of your time, He will multiply the remainder.

When We Don't Receive Revelation

President Dallin H. Oaks

What about those times when we seek revelation and do not receive it? We do not always receive inspiration or revelation when we request it. Sometimes we are delayed in the receipt of revelation, and sometimes we are left to our own judgment. We cannot force spiritual things. It must be so. Our life’s purpose to obtain experience and to develop faith would be frustrated if our Heavenly Father directed us in every act, even in every important act. We must make decisions and experience the consequences in order to develop self-reliance and faith.

Even in decisions we think very important, we sometimes receive no answers to our prayers. This does not mean that our prayers have not been heard. It only means that we have prayed about a decision which, for one reason or another, we should make without guidance by revelation.

No answer is likely to come to a person who seeks guidance in choosing between two alternatives that are equally acceptable to the Lord. Thus, there are times when we can serve productively in two different fields of labor. Either answer is right. When a choice will make a real difference in our lives—obvious or not—and when we are living in tune with the Spirit and seeking His guidance, we can be sure we will receive the guidance we need to attain our goal.

The Spirit of Revelation

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Revelation almost always comes in response to a question, usually an urgent question—not always, but usually. In that sense it does provide information, but it is urgently needed information, special information. For example, Moses’s challenge at the Red Sea was how to get himself and the children of Israel out of the horrible predicament they were in. There were chariots behind them, sand dunes on every side, and just a lot of water immediately ahead. He needed information all right—what to do—but it wasn’t a casual thing he was asking. In this case it was literally a matter of life and death.

You will need information too, but in matters of great consequence it is not likely to come unless you want it urgently, faithfully, humbly. Moroni calls it seeking “with real intent” (Moroni 10:4). If you can seek that way, and stay in that mode, not much that the adversary can counter with will dissuade you from a righteous path. You can hang on, whatever the assault and affliction, because you have paid the price to—figuratively, at least—see the face of God and live.

There may come after the fact some competing doubts and some confusion, but they will pale when you measure them against the real thing. Remember the real thing. Remember how urgently you have needed help in earlier times and that you got it. The Red Sea will open to the honest seeker of revelation. The adversary does have power to hedge up the way, to marshal Pharaoh’s forces and dog our escape right to the water’s edge, but he can’t produce the real thing. He cannot conquer if we will it otherwise.

The Power of Your Prayers

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

With the right attitude, you will be able to effectively communicate with your Heavenly Father, and not to just say your prayers. You will be able to say prayers that will go beyond the ceiling of the room—prayers not filled with trite repetitions or spoken without thinking but filled with your deep yearning to be one with your Father in Heaven.

In order to lift, enhance, and cultivate your relationship with God as His spiritual children, you have the unique opportunity to converse with the supreme source of wisdom and compassion in the universe.

Daily, simple but sincere and mighty prayers will help you to lift your lives onto a higher spiritual altitude. In your prayers you praise God, give thanks to Him, confess weaknesses, petition needs, and express deep devotion to your Heavenly Father. As you do this, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, you perform a spiritual effort that leads to increased inspiration, revelation, and righteousness—not self-righteousness—and brings the brightness of heaven into your lives.

Recognizing When the Holy Ghost Is Speaking

Elder David A. Bednar

Because the Holy Ghost typically uses our minds and our hearts to convey spiritual messages, it can sometimes be difficult to discern the difference between our own thoughts and feelings and those communicated from our Heavenly Father. May I suggest four principles that can help us to receive, recognize, and respond to the Holy Ghost in our daily lives.

Principle #1: We must desire the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Simply stated, we must desire, yearn for, and seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Do you and I remember to pray, both morning and night, for that which we should most desire, even the Holy Ghost? Or do we get caught up in the routine of daily living and the cares of the world and neglect this most valuable of all gifts? Receiving, recognizing, and responding to the Holy Ghost starts with our sincere and constant desire for His companionship and influence in our lives.

Principle #2: We must invite the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

We receive more readily and recognize more clearly the influence of the Holy Ghost as we specifically invite Him into our lives. We cannot compel or coerce or command the Holy Ghost. We must invite Him into our lives with the same gentleness and tenderness by which He influences us. Frankly, I am troubled by frequently repeated language that suggests we can “call down the powers of heaven.” Certainly we can invite such power, but I would never suggest we can “call it down” according to our will and timing.

Our invitations for the companionship of the Holy Ghost can occur in many ways. We invite the Holy Ghost into our lives through the making and keeping of sacred covenants. Meaningful personal prayer every morning and every night invites the Holy Ghost into our lives. Searching the scriptures daily and diligently invites the Holy Ghost into our lives. Sincere worship in our homes and at Church invites the Holy Ghost into our lives.

Principle #3: We must heed simple promptings.

We are prompted by the Holy Ghost every day to do ordinary and simple things. For example, we are prompted to say our personal prayers every morning and every night. We are prompted to study the scriptures. To the degree that we heed these simple promptings, then our capacity to recognize and respond to the Holy Ghost is increased. To the degree that we do not heed these simple promptings, then our capacity to recognize and respond to the Holy Ghost is decreased. We are either progressing or regressing in our ability to recognize and respond to the Holy Ghost. There is no neutral ground; there is no standing still.

Principle #4: We must heed promptings quickly.

Have you ever received and recognized a prompting from the Holy Ghost, and then decided to respond to it later? And then when later arrived, you found that you could not remember the prompting. I have learned that acting upon promptings quickly greatly increases our capacity to receive and recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost. I have also learned that properly recording spiritual impressions demonstrates to the Savior how much I treasure His direction. The simple practice of writing down spiritual thoughts and feelings greatly enhances the likelihood of receiving and recognizing additional promptings from the Holy Ghost.

Lead image from Pixabay.

You can learn more from We're With You.

"This is your world. The future is in your hands. The outcome is up to you." With those simple words, President Thomas S. Monson urges a generation of young adult members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to find the best within themselves. He is joined in this exciting new book by the remaining members of the Church's First Presidency as well as all twelve members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

With chapters such as "Recognizing Spiritual Promptings," "Applying the Atonement," "Uncovering Your Life's Work," "When Blessings Are Delayed," and many more, the Brethren address issues that are of particular interest and concern to young adults, though readers have found the counsel applicable to people of all ages. These bite-sized excerpts are perfect for pondering, sharing, and discussing.

Authoritative yet approachable, this uniquely designed and formatted book offers great insights on navigating life in challenging times. And what better source could there be for such insights than the fifteen men we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators on the earth today?


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