¶ 2007-05-27 22:00:00 +0000
The ninth Article of Faith reads:
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. [Articles of Faith 1:9]
This statement concisely expresses our belief, as Latter-day Saints, in the pattern God our Eternal Father uses to teach truth to us, his children. Breaking it down into three periods of time testifies that God is the same yesterday (“… all that God has revealed …”), today (“… all that He does now reveal …”), and forever (“… He will yet reveal …”).
It is my purpose today to concentrate on revelation in the present tense: we believe all that God does now reveal.
Revelation can come through various channels. Here are three examples: first, the prophet receives revelation that is meant for the whole Church, and often the entire world; second, our local leaders receive revelation concerning our ward or stake; finally, we can also receive personal revelation for ourselves.
We live in a time when God has called prophets and apostles to direct his work on the earth. Do we count ourselves truly blessed to have these watchmen on the tower? Do we study and follow their counsel, and seek a testimony that they are indeed men of God? Do we bring their words into our homes, either through the Church magazines or the Church website?
Do we study the scriptures and pray daily? Do we live within our means and strive to get out of or stay out of debt? Do we attend Family Home Evening? Are we doing what we need to do to prepare ourselves to make covenants in the temple? This is only a small example of the counsel we have recently received from our prophets.
If we profess a belief in this Church and the restoration of the Gospel, if we testify of the prophet Joseph Smith and the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, and we do not abide the counsel of our latter-day prophets, we are no better than the people of Zarahemla to whom Samuel the Lamanite said,
And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out.
Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him … [Helaman 13:25-26]
Latter-day prophets are a blessing we cannot treat lightly.
The organization of the Church is divinely inspired. It is as important to heed the counsel of our bishop and stake president as it is for us to follow the prophets. These men are uniquely situated to receive revelation on behalf of our ward and stake.
While latter-day prophets and local leaders are an essential part of Godʼs pattern of revelation, equally essential is the role of personal revelation. The prophets teach us the commandments and the framework of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They give counsel that should be followed by all members of the Church, but they are probably not aware of the personal challenges we face.
Our bishop is closer to home, and it is appropriate to seek his counsel and guidance as we face the challenges of life. But he cannot make our decisions for us, or give us our own testimony that the principles he teaches us are true. We must seek out and receive revelation for ourselves.
How do we prepare ourselves to receive this revelation? Here are nine ways we can prepare to receive the promptings of the Holy Ghost:
First, we pray for guidance. Last night I had a nightmare. I was at church, attending a fireside, sitting in the back of the room. As we were singing the opening hymn, someone came to me and whispered in my ear. I was told that I was responsible for the lesson at that fireside.
This was news to me. I quietly stood up and left the room. Then I began to panic. I was not in a comfortable situation. I began to enter other rooms of the building, frantically searching for something that would help me teach a lesson, or give me an idea of what I should share. Each time I passed the room with everyone else in it, I could hear them singing a different hymn. I was taking too long. They were stalling for me.
I entered the kitchen and discovered piles of large red and yellow napkins. This gave me an idea. Everyone at the fireside could split into pairs. One of each pair would blindfold themselves with a napkin, and the other would guide them around the building with their voice. This would represent our reliance on the promptings of the Holy Ghost as we walk, often blinded, through this life.
But would it work? The napkins were just barely big enough to be used as blindfolds. I left the kitchen, looking for a better idea. After several more minutes I returned to the kitchen, having found nothing better. I grabbed a pile of napkins and made my way back to the room in which the fireside was being held.
I donʼt know how many hymns they had to sing as I was bumbling about the meetinghouse, and I donʼt know how my lesson turned out; I woke up. But I had two very distinct impressions as I lay there in my bed.
The first thing I thought as I woke up was how great that lesson idea sounded. I should try it sometime.
The second thing that entered my mind was the words of a familiar hymn:
Ere you left your room this morning,
Did you think to pray?
In the name of Christ, our Savior,
Did you sue for loving favor
As a shield today? [Hymns, Did You Think to Pray?, no. 140]
Why did I not think to pray? Surely, had I taken a moment to ask the Lord for inspiration, would I not have experienced such panic? The Lord has promised,
If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things–that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal. [Doctrine and Covenants 42:61]
Second, be reverent.
Revʼrence is more than just quietly sitting: Itʼs thinking of Father above, A feeling I get when I think of his blessings.
Iʼm revʼrent, for revʼrence is love. [Childrenʼs Songbook, Reverence Is Love, p. 31]
When we are reverent we invite revelation. We open our minds and our hearts to the positive influence of the Spirit of God. As we quietly reflect on and nurture our love for our Heavenly Father and his Son, we prepare to receive revelation that will help us become more like them.
Third, be humble. If we do not recognize our dependence on the Lord, we will be far less likely to receive his help. The Lord pointed out the direct connection between humility and receiving guidance when he stated,
Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers. [Doctrine and Covenants 112:10]
Fourth, keep the commandments. The Lord, through Joseph Smith, has revealed:
But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life. [Doctrine and Covenants 63:23]
Fifth, partake of the sacrament worthily. When we make and keep the sacramental covenant, the Lord promises
… that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. [Doctrine and Covenants 20:77]
The sacramental prayers teach us that we must be willing to take upon us the name of Christ, always remember him, and keep his commandments, if we desire the Spirit of God. We will not receive revelation if we do not have his Spirit with us.
Sixth, study the scriptures every day. From the scriptures we can learn from the examples of others who have sought and received revelation. He can reveal to us the importance of certain passages in relation to our personal life.
When we study the scriptures we are generally more receptive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. On several occasions as I have studied the scriptures, I have received inspiration and answers to prayer that had nothing to do with the passage I was reading at the time.
Seventh, take time to ponder. In The Book of Mormon, Nephi tells us,
For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord … [1 Nephi 11:1]
A grand vision unfolded before him because he was pondering the things he had been taught. Pondering takes our thoughts from the trivial things of the world and brings us closer to the Spirit.
Eighth, study it out in your mind. The Lord does not always immediately give us an answer to a question. He expects us to do some work, to study the choices, to decide upon a course of action and ask for confirmation. If we proceed along the right path, the Lord
… will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong … [Doctrine and Covenants 9:8]
Ninth, patiently seek Godʼs will. Revelation cannot be rushed.
Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will. [Doctrine and Coventants 88:68]
Let the Holy Spirit guide;
Let him teach us what is true.
He will testify of Christ,
Light our minds with heavenʼs view.
Let the Holy Spirit guard;
Let his whisper govern choice.
He will lead us safely home
If we listen to his voice.
Let the Spirit heal our hearts
Thru his quiet, gentle powʼr. May we purify our lives
To receive him hour by hour. [Hymns, Let the Holy Spirit Guide, no. 143]