How to Seek Out, Recognize, and Act Upon the Inspiration of the Holy Ghost
by William Jackson on 2017-05-14
[This is the transcript of a talk I gave in church on Sunday, May 14, 2017.]
We are all here on Earth to follow the plan of salvation and return to live with our Heavenly Father. We all agreed to come to Earth and knew that when we did, we would forget about our heavenly home.
God sent prophets to teach us the plan of salvation. We read their words in the scriptures, and are privileged to live in a time when there are prophets living on the Earth with us and givings us counsel appropriate for our time.
In addition to this, God has promised us the help of a member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost can give us personal counsel appropriate for the very moment and situation we may find ourself in.
Today I would like to speak about how to seek out, recognize, and act upon the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said,
When we are confirmed, we are given the right to the companionship of the Holy Ghost, but it is a right that we must continue to earn through obedience and worthiness. We cannot take this gift for granted.
We can prepare ourselves to receive the inspiration of the Holy Ghost through obedience. The apostle Peter taught that God gives the Holy Ghost to those that obey him. Paul wrote that
the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Elder Wirthlin also said,
I fear that some members of the Lordʼs Church “live far beneath our privileges” with regard to the gift of the Holy Ghost. Some are distracted by the things of the world that block out the influence of the Holy Ghost, preventing them from recognizing spiritual promptings. This is a noisy and busy world that we live in. Remember that being busy is not necessarily being spiritual. If we are not careful, the things of this world can crowd out the things of the Spirit.
If we wish to seek out the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, we may need to make changes to our environment to make it more conducive to the presence of the Spirit. Elder Wirthlin asks,
Do we allow influences into our homes that drive the Spirit from our homes? The type of entertainment that we permit into our homes will certainly have an impact on the power of the Holy Ghost. Much of the entertainment of the world is offensive to the Holy Ghost. Surely we should not watch movies or television shows that are filled with violence, vulgar language, and immorality.
Elder Wirthlin also makes the following suggestions:
Our homes need to be more Christ-centered. We should spend more time at the temple and less time in the pursuit of pleasure. We should lower the noise level in our homes so that the noise of the world will not overpower the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost. One of our greatest goals as parents should be to enjoy the power and influence of the Holy Ghost in our homes. We should pray and study the scriptures. We could sing the hymns of the Restoration to invite the Holy Ghost into our home. Regular family home evening will also help.
After we have prepared ourselves and prepared our environment to invite the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, the best thing we can do to seek that inspiration is to pray and ask for it.
The Lord has said,
the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith.
President Boyd K. Packer taught,
Learn to pray. Pray often. Pray in your mind, in your heart. Pray on your knees. Prayer is your personal key to heaven. The lock is on your side of the veil.
The Savior said,
Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Sincere prayer is how we knock, ask, seek, and draw near unto the Lord.
As we seek out the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, how do we recognize it when it comes? I have heard many people, in one way or another express the following question: If I have a thought to serve someone, how do I know if that thought is inspired by the Holy Ghost, or if I just came up with it myself?
To that question I offer as answer the words of Moroni in the Book of Mormon:
But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
Notice that Moroni did not say, “a thing which inviteth to do good might be inspired of God.” He said, “every thing which inviteth […] to do good […] is inspired of God.”
You can recognize the inspiration of the Holy Ghost by asking yourself whether the thought you just had is an invitation to do good. Moroni also said, “all things which are good cometh of God.” Not some things, “all things.”
Once we have recognized the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, it becomes our privilege and duty to act upon the inspiration we receive.
One of the most dramatic and well-known events involving the inspiration of the Holy Ghost is recorded in the New Testament, in Acts, chapter 2. While preaching on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost came upon the apostles, and as they preached, each person heard them speak in their own native language.
After Peter boldly testified of the divinity of Jesus Christ, we read that many in the multitude “were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
Upon recognizing the influence of the Holy Ghost, these people immediately wanted to know what to do next. Peterʼs answer was, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.” We learn from the scriptures that about three thousand people were baptized that same day, acting on the inspiration that they received.
When we recognize the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, we should not wait to act on it. In the words of a hymn,
Children, God delights to teach you
By his Holy Spiritʼs voice.
Quickly heed its holy promptings.
Day by day youʼll then rejoice.
We may not always understand the purpose of a prompting, or how a small act of kindness can make a difference to anyone, but when we quickly act on inspiration, we show to the Lord that we will do what He wants us to do. If we do not act, it may make it harder to recognize inspiration in the future.
For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.
If you feel like it has been a long time since you last recognized the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, do not be discouraged. God is our Father and loves each of us perfectly.
He sent [us] here to earth, by faith to live his plan.
The Spirit whispers this to [us] and tells [us] that [we] can.
I know that as we keep the commandments we make ourselves worthy to receive the Holy Ghost. I know that as we build sacred and holy environments around us, we invite the Holy Ghost to be close. I know that if we pray sincerely to receive inspiration, that inspiration will come.
We are Godʼs angels on Earth. Through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, God instructs us and sends us forth to serve his children, our brothers and sisters.
I know the Holy Ghost will teach us. He will show us what we need to do so that all of us, as the family of God, can return to live with our Father in Heaven.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.