{Introduce myself and Emma, short bio, small talk and jokes} My talk today is on an aspect of the gospel

I personally have trouble with, as do many others I know. It is not a matter of faith. More specifically, it is a matter of understanding and clarity, not on principles, but how those principles apply. I am talking about the communication of Holy Ghost with from our Father to ourselves. The concept of prayer, communication to our Father, is easy enough. Most of us have been doing it since before we could remember, and, unfortunately to many of us, it has almost become a rote practice. But we would not be honest with ourselves, even the most stubborn and skeptical among us if we claimed we have not had those moments of severe supplication, where we have put all our physical and emotional strength behind our prayers. What would the act of prayer, the invitation from our Father to speak to Him directly in the name of His Son, if it weren’t a two way mode –We’ve all seen the Mormonad about prayer showing a telephone in the clouds. That being said I often find it discouraging to try and “figure out” the answers I have received to such prayers, or just recognizing the whisperings of the Spirit in general. I have trouble delimiting my own emotions from that of a heavenly source. I am sure the majority of you have had similar problems on various occasions and have desperately wished for some “pillar of light” experience for yourselves (and why not, you say!, have we not been promised the Comforter with our confirmation?). I hope that some of you have not had much struggle with this– maybe you can speak more accurately about this topic than I can. Perhaps it is a spiritual gift given to you for God’s greater purposes and I say bless you for it, I admire your faith - but to most of us, the Holy Ghost just does not work that way. Elder Scott’s address at this most recent conference provides counsel for this very issue, and provided some solace for me in those moments that I am agonizing on my knees wondering, “why is this so darn HARD?” Elder Scott makes it clear that it a communication that must be absolutely free from impure distraction. By very nature our mortal and impure minds cannot grasp the mind of heaven, so any sort of connection made has to inherently be a pretty delicate one. It’s not that the Holy Ghost is stubborn or fickle; he is an Eternal Man according to Nephi, not a teenager. He just cannot function with any impurity, which includes any distraction from the sacred. Elder Scott states: “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.

It is important that our daily activities do not distract us from listening to the Spirit.” If buildings need to be dedicated before the Lord in order to invite His Spirit to reside within them, should not we need to do the same with our own mortal structure? This dedication process, implicit from what Elder Scott says, requires the same reverence that we need to have in the Lord’s temple. I don’t think I’m just speaking for myself when I say that this is excruciatingly difficult. With the worldly distractions of everyday life and the hundreds of conscious or subconscious thought processes derived from these distractions that we have in our minds at any given moment, perhaps the bigger question is: how on Earth do we tune these out? It gives more meaning to the commandment for the Saints to “keep an eye single to the glory of God.” To “be therefore perfect.” Of course, we all know that that is never going to happen in this life. That is why we have a “this life” at all. But we have to live like Saints in order to be treated like one. We have our side of the baptismal covenant to keep as well as the Lord’s, and I think we fail to remember how involved that covenant really is, even though we hear it reiterated every week. The sacramental prayers say: that we must “bwitness…that [we] are willing to take upon [us] the name of [the] Son, and always remember him and keep his ccommandments which he has given [us]; that they may always have his dSpirit to be with them.” The contract is right there. We must ALWAYS remember the Savior (and therefore stand as witness to him by emulating Him as best we can) and then we will have the Spirit. Elder Scott elaborates: “The Lord has declared: “And ye are to be taught from on high. Sanctify yourselves and ye shall be endowed with power, that ye may give even as I have spoken.”2 The words sanctify yourselves may appear puzzling. President Harold B. Lee once explained that you can replace those words with the phrase “keep my commandments.” Read that way, the counsel may seem clearer.3 One must be ever mentally and physically clean and have purity of intent so that the Lord can inspire.” Always remember the Savior, likewise keeping a clean mind as He would, be completely obedient of the commandments to the point of sanctification. Yes it sounds draconian. Not fair to us mere mortals. Did not the Lord promise that when “ask and we will receive, knock and it shall opened unto you?” The Lord is forgiving and merciful, and He is not going to expect complete sanctification on our part – that is impossible – but I believe the words “purity of intent” spoken by Elder Scott are the key words here, and that purity of intent is something the Lord knows better than you do yourself. So, yes, His hand is always outstretched, He is always ready to receive you and counsel you, but often times our lives are so cluttered that the Lord just can’t get to the door. We need to clear a path for him. We need to want to clear a path for Him. I know from personal experience that we need to ask for inspiration with a completely open mind, fully expecting and accepting the fact that our answer may not be one we want to hear.

(Should I share personal experience?) [An example like that…]This is where our emotions interfere, and that is another obstacle to tackle altogether. It is the Saint who has mastered the principle “keeping His eye single to the glory of God” will not suffer from this dilemma. Only when we can say with confidence “my will is thine” will we not have this problem. So with our emotions and other such impurities of purpose, whether or not we know they are there, It is one thing to invite the Spirit into our hearts, and yet quite another to recognize what it is saying, or even acknowledge the prompting. Elder Scott reminds us that even Oliver Cowdery needed to be told he had had a spiritual experience at all (ironically by the Lord through Joseph Smith). Doctrine & Covenants 6:14-15 state: “Blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time. Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth.” Interestingly, not only did Oliver Cowdery receive a prompting without recognizing it, but he even acted on It without realizing it. This brings me to some insight that I have gained over the years, insight that I believe was most fundamental throughout my mission. Often times the source of our inspiration is not given directly through the Spirit. It’s from our own minds and spirits. There is a place in our heart of hearts where we already know the answers. For a lot of us, that’s where our testimony comes from. We have a lot of knowledge of eternal matters already – we lived a long time in the preexistence. Of course, the veil has dropped and obscured much of this, but it still there. The Spirit may have to nudge us, remind us, or perhaps part the veil a little ways in order for us to access to that part of our spirits, but it has always remained with us. Even those without the gift of the Comforter have that light of Christ mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants. As a favorite seminary teacher of mine put it: “You know, you just don’t know you know.” I think this applies even after we’ve received revelation or inspiration in this way, as Oliver Cowdery had. Perhaps because we are accessing such knowledge from inside ourselves it seems to be more discreet and confusing as it “new knowledge” may be, but the Lord is not going to blatantly give us any answers that we have the capability of reaching for ourselves. It would do us no good to get these free handouts, because if we can’t learn for ourselves how to tap into our own spiritual resources, I don’t think we could ever become the people we are capable of becoming. And so there is yet another reason to keep our minds clean, as well as our bodies. It was interesting to note that Elder Scott mentions actual physical cleanliness and hygiene, as well as exercise, as principles upon which to receive revelation. This may seem irrelevant, but I don’t think so. In this mortal life, our

carnal and primitive needs have a way of cutting to the head of line in our attention, (I’m hungry, tired, not feeling good, this mosquito bite itches really bad) and if we take care of ourselves physically, we will have more capability of clearing and purifying our minds. Not only does the Lord help us remember answers we already know, but He follows the principle of working through our own capacity by helping us to find the answers for ourselves, usually from Scripture or other divine counsel. Elder Scott gives this advice: “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.” Elder Scott not only asks for inspiration, but he asks where to find it. Seeking for personal revelation does not end at “Amen,” it is a constant exercise. Nothing in this gospel comes easy and despite the Lord’s mercy, you don’t get somethin’ for nothin’. Again, it is how we grow, and it is what this life is for. There are some avenues the Lord has in place, however, that makes it clear to me that he knows that receiving inspiration is difficult for us. Quite commonly the revelation does not come through the Spirit at all (though it is no doubt confirmed by it) and instead comes through other people. Elder Scott says that this happens through those we love and respect “because we trust them and will listen to their counsel.” Elder Scott, as well as numerous scriptural accounts, also mention revelation received in a dream. I feel the Lord does this because we are already in state of a clear mind; our conscious mind is shut down. Elder Scott describes this sort of prompting thusly: “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.” Obviously dreams are so full of spontaneity that it’s hard for one not to take them with a grain of salt. Perhaps that is why this form of revelation is relatively rare. I know that if I took any of my dreams seriously, I would, well, I would probably be dead considering the number of flying dream I’ve had. However, Elder Scott implies that revelatory dreams are very clearly identifiable though I would imagine one must pretty in tune to spiritual matters for this to be the case – indeed this only has ever seemed to happen to prophets or apostles (or those about to become such). At least I have never heard of a personal case of it.

But despite the difficulty recognizing a prompting, some of us my not know what it is we have to recognize. What is this “sacred experience” Elder Scott mentions that we should be seeking? For many, it is a “you know it when it comes” sort of experience, but for others it may not be so clear. Here I can give a one-word answer that is echoed in the scriptures, in prophetic wisdom, and in my own life. It is PEACE. Nothing bad or unsettling comes out of a sacred personal experience with the Lord. It is, as Elder Scott describes: “ a peaceful, warm feeling”, and as the Lord describes in that same experience of Brother Cowdery’s I mentioned earlier: “Did I not speak PEACE unto you concerning the matter?” Many of us are looking for some in-your-face experience, but it’s not as conspicuous as that. It is simply, peace. Tranquility. Assurance that one is on the right track. That is how I felt when I knew I should I marry my wife. There was no fire etching YES into my soul, no voice in my head saying such. I already knew I wanted to marry her, and the Lord confirmed my desire as being an righteous and eternal one. Likewise, when I knew it was right to start trying for a child. Any insecurities I had in my mind, financial, personal readiness, or what have you, seemed to be not a burden to me anymore. You can even ask my wife. If you were to ask me individually if I was ready to have a child, I would always be unsure of myself, but I once I recognized it within myself to put it in the Lord’s hands, those burdens left me. It was night and day. I am of a nature to have a lot of anxiety and I will admit that certain misgivings and stressors still did remain in my mind – they have not gone away nor may ever go away. But I don’t feel them as worries anymore. As one with clinical anxiety, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, I can tell you with certainty that there is a difference between feelings and emotions that come from the mind, and feelings and emotions that come from the heart, nay, your spirit. It is a fine line, but it is there. It is a hefty struggle at times to recognize, but I can assure you that Lord will make sure you recognize it, on His own time. In conclusion, let me tell you this: if a decision weighs on your heart in any way, if it is more than just a mental worry, it has not been answered by the Lord yet, or you have not recognized it, and I urge you to continue to seek His counsel. Purify yourselves. Put your heart in His hands. Search the scriptures and be open-minded as Elder Scott advises. If you put all your effort into this, the Lord will not leave you hanging. Once you receive an inner peace that puts your soul at ease, no matter what your personal desires may be, no matter what worries you may have, you will know that you have been counseled by the Comforter. Take that title to heart: Comforter. But you must let yourself be comforted. I bear testimony that these promptings will come as promised, and they always will. I testify that the words of Elder Scott are divinely inspired from these very same principles, and they have come at a proper time. I know that this Church is true, that the Lord loves us, and the Comforter has come and dwells with us and within us, through the power of the Atonment, if we let it. {Close ITNOJCA}

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful