I prepared this talk for the Los Lunas Ward, Los Lunas Stake, but because I was left with less then 5 minutes to deliver it, I mostly just summarized it.
Assigned Topic: Receiving revelation (preparing for conference)
As you know General Conference is coming up in a couple weeks. I have always loved General Conference for a number of reasons.
For one thing, It’s a break from the normal routine and, depending on the calling you have, it’s often a break from some of those responsibilities.
General Conference is a time to learn of major announcements and changes.
I’ve always felt that decision made back in the early days of the church to hold regular General Conferences was truly an inspired one. It’s something that sets us apart
General Conference is a wonderful way to build unity. It helps us all to stay on the same page so to speak.
By having regular opportunities to see and hear our Prophet and other leaders, we grow to love and respect them, making us more likely to heed their counsel and advice.
General Conference can bring feelings of peace and comfort just knowing that we are lead by capable and loving men and women.
Perhaps, above all, General Conference provides opportunities to receive answers to our prayers and direction in our lives as we listen to our Prophet and other leaders and apply what they say.
As I have pondered these things, my mind has gone back to a GC some 40 years ago, in Oct of 1979.
That conference was a turning point in my life.
But before I tell you about it, I want to jump back even further to Oct 1976. That’s when I moved to Salt Lake City.
Time does not permit me to relate all the events that led to this decision, but I will say that I felt drawn there. I was a member of another church at the time, but felt that something was missing. When I met my first Mormon, which happened just a few months prior to my move, the spirit touched me and I wanted to know more.
Shortly after moving to Salt Lake, I became friends with some neighbors who invited me to church and before long I was meeting regularly with the missionaries.
But I was a stubborn investigator. Although I felt drawn to the church and felt comfortable with most everything I was taught, I insisted on holding out for some sort of sign.
Eventually the missionaries ran out of things to teach me and because I wasn’t making progress, they announced that they could no longer meet with me. This did not make me happy and knew I needed to take some kind of action.
I decided to move from an apartment to a home in Salt Lake City. I made new friends, became involved with the local ward and began attending single adult activities, and once again, I started meeting with the missionaries.
But the same thing happened, as before. The missionaries eventually ran out of things to teach me and told me they needed to move on because I wasn’t making progress.
When they announced that they couldn’t meet with me any more I fell into a state of depression. That very night, after they left my home, I decided to go out for a walk, and as I walked I contemplated my sad situation. I felt impressed to walk toward the Sale Lake Temple which was a few miles from my home in the Avenues area of Salt Lake City.
Although it was late, the Temple Square visitor center was still open. Inside I met a man who expressed some interest in me and we began to talk. I reluctantly explained my situation and he advised me to return home and pray sincerely for guidance.
I returned home. By this time, the hour was very late, but I was determined to heed his advice.
So I got on my knees and prayed for a very long time. I was hoping for an immediate answer, but none came, or so I thought.
Time has clouded my memory a bit, but I believe it was the very next day that my boss called me into his office and informed me that I was being laid off from my job.
This came as a total shock. I loved that job and hated to lose it. This, on top of feeling of rejection Iby the missionaries, put me further into a state of depression. Nevertheless, I felt I had no choice to move forward as best I could.
I began looking for a new and was quite surprised when I ran into the same man I had met at the Visitor Center just a few days earlier. It turned out that he worked for an employment agency. It was through his efforts that I did find a new job, although it required me to sell my house and move to Springville, Utah.
Although I was extremely reluctant to give up my life in SLC, I knew from experience that moving can give you a fresh perspective on life, and the move to Springville was no different. After finding an apartment there I became friends with my next door neighbor, Bob. He and his family were devout members, and soon I was attending church with them, and once again began meeting with the missionaries.
So the cycle began again, but this time it was a little different. I knew that I needed to make a real decision about the church. Nevertheless, I was still slow to act. After several months, another job change sent me back to Salt Lake, but not before I had built a strong friendship with the family in Springville.
It was now September of 1979. I had been investigating the church for 3 years. It was time to take a stand. As the Oct GC approached, I was earnestly seeking answers to my prayers and hoping to receive guidance from those who would be speaking during the conference.
I was listening to the Saturday afternoon session as Elder Boyd K Packer took the stand:
“Many years ago John Burroughs, a naturalist, one summer evening was walking through a crowded park. Above the sounds of city life he heard the song of a bird.
He stopped and listened! Those with him had not heard it. He looked around. No one else had noticed it.
It bothered him that everyone should miss something so beautiful.
He took a coin from his pocket and flipped it into the air. It struck the pavement with a ring, no louder than the song of the bird. Everyone turned; they could hear that!
It is difficult to separate from all the sounds of city traffic the song of a bird. But you can hear it. You can hear it plainly if you train yourself to listen for it.
One of our sons has always been interested in radio. When he was a little fellow, his Christmas present was a very elementary radio construction set.
As he grew, and as we could afford it, and as he could earn it, he received more sophisticated equipment.
There have been many times over the years, some very recently, when I have sat with him as he talked with someone in a distant part of the world.
I could hear static and interference and catch a word or two, or sometimes several voices at once.
Yet he can understand, for he has trained himself to tune out the interference.
It is difficult to separate from the confusion of life that quiet voice of inspiration. Unless you attune yourself, you will miss it.
Answers to prayers come in a quiet way. The scriptures describe that voice of inspiration as a still, small voice.
If you really try, you can learn to respond to that voice.
There are so many of us who go through life and seldom, if ever, hear that voice of inspiration, because “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” (1 Cor. 2:14).
The answer may not come as a lightning bolt. It may come as a little inspiration here and a little there, “line upon line, precept upon precept” (D&C 98:12).
Some answers will come from reading the scriptures, some from hearing speakers. And, occasionally, when it is important, some will come by very direct and powerful inspiration. The promptings will be clear and unmistakable.
As I listened to Elder Packer, I felt that he was speaking directly to me. I realized that the answers I had been seeking, as an investigator, had been there all along. I just wasn’t listening.
I had received those answers many times as I had met with the missionaries and the members and as I had studied the Scriptures and other church materials.
My memory of exactly what happened next has faded, but what I do know is that I met with the missionaries following the conference and told them that I was finally ready for baptism and agreed to set a date for the following Saturday, Oct 13th. With excitement, I called my friend Bob in Springville and asked him if he would baptize me, and he gladly accepted.
It was such a relief and a wonderful feeling to finally be able to accept baptism after three years of indecision.
Brothers and Sisters, my experiences from 40 years ago are a treasured memory for me. They are also an example of what can happen to anyone who sincerely seeks guidanceFrom the spirit when faced with difficult challenges.
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been studying the Apostle Paul’s letters to the Corrinthians in Sunday School and in the Come Follow Me manual for Individuals and families. In 1 Corinthians chapters 12 through 14, Paul speaks about the gifts of the spirit.
Personal revelation is a vital gift of the spirit, but interestingly, Paul does not list personal revelation (or any kind of revelation) as a gift of the spirit. He does, however, talk quite a bit about the gift of prophecy.
The first time I heard about the gift of prophecy, I thought Okay, that make sense. That’s what the Prophet needs as he leads and guides the church.
But then I read this definition of prophecy in the church’s Guide to the Scriptures found on it’s website and in LDS Tools:
A prophecy consists of divinely inspired words or writings, which a person receives through revelation from the Holy Ghost…When a person prophesies, he speaks or writes that which God wants him to know, for his own good or the good of others. Individuals may receive prophecy or revelation for their own lives..”
We can see from this that the words “prophecy” and “revelation” can be used interchangeably. Thus, when Paul speaks about the Gift of Prophecy, he is speaking about the Gift of Revelation, which is available to all who earnestly seek it.
The scriptures tell of different types of revelation, such as visions, dreams, and visitations by angels. Through such channels, the Lord has restored His gospel in the latter days and revealed many truths. However, most revelations to leaders and members of the Church come through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.
As we approach this General Conference, How should we prepare to receive revelation? I would like to list 10 things you can do:
Pray for guidance. The Lord said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7–8). In order to find and receive, we must seek and ask.
Be reverent. Reverence is profound respect and love. When we are reverent and peaceful, we invite revelation. Even when everything around us is in commotion, we can have a reverent attitude and be prepared to receive guidance from the Lord.
Be humble. Humility is closely related to reverence. When we are humble, we recognize our dependence on the Lord.
Keep the commandments. When we keep the commandments, we are prepared to receive, recognize, and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Partake of the sacrament worthily. The sacramental prayers teach how to receive the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit. When we partake of the sacrament, we witness to God that we are willing to take upon ourselves the name of His Son and that we will always remember Him and keep His commandments. Our Heavenly Father promises that when we keep these covenants, we will always have the Spirit to be with us. (See Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79.)
Study the scriptures every day. As we diligently study the scriptures, we learn from the examples of men and women whose lives have been blessed as they have followed the Lord’s revealed will. We also become more receptive to the Holy Ghost in our own lives. As we read and ponder, we may receive revelation about how a certain scripture passage applies to us or about anything else the Lord desires to communicate to us.
Take time to ponder. When we take time to ponder the truths of the gospel, we open our mind and heart to the guiding influence of the Holy Ghost (see 1 Nephi 11:1; Doctrine and Covenants 76:19; 138:1–11). Pondering takes our thoughts from the trivial things of the world, helping us gain a more eternal perspective and bringing us closer to the Spirit.
When seeking specific guidance, we should study the matter out in our minds. At times the Lord’s communication will come only after we have studied a matter out in our minds.
Pres. Russell M Nelson taught that “good inspiration is based upon good information”. This goes along with studying the matter out in your mind..
Be Patient. Patiently seek God’s will. God reveals Himself “in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will” (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:63–68). Revelation will often come line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. We should be patient and trust in the Lord’s timing.
How do you recognize the Promptings of the Holy Ghost?
Amid the many noises and messengers in the world today, we must learn to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Following are some of the principal ways the Holy Ghost communicates with us:
He speaks to the mind and heart in a still, small voice. The Lord taught: “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation” (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2–3). Although such revelation can have a powerful effect on us, it almost always comes quietly, as a “still small voice” (see 1 Kings 19:9–12; Helaman 5:30; Doctrine and Covenants 85:6).
He prompts us through our feelings. Although we often describe communication from the Spirit as a voice, that voice is one that we feel more than we hear.
He brings peace. The Holy Ghost is often called the Comforter (see John 14:26; Doctrine and Covenants 39:6). As He reveals the will of the Lord to us, He will “speak peace” to our minds (Doctrine and Covenants 6:23).
Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives by Pres. Russell M Nelson
Brothers and sisters, how can we become the men and women—the Christlike servants—the Lord needs us to be? How can we find answers to questions that perplex us?
Follow the example of the Prophet Joseph. Find a quiet place where you can regularly go. Humble yourself before God. Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him for answers and for comfort.
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.”9
Does God really want to speak to you? Yes! “As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course … as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.”10 Doctrine and Covenants 121:33
I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation, for the Lord has promised that “if thou shalt [seek], 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.”12
Oh, there is so much more that your Father in Heaven wants you to know. Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon,14 and regular time committed to temple and family history work.
To be sure, there may be times when you feel as though the heavens are closed. But I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek. Every blessing the Lord has for you—even miracles—will follow. That is what personal revelation will do for you.
Brothers and Sisters, what do you need? What are you struggling with? What answers do you seek?
The messages we hear during General Conference can provide the guidance that you seek. My hope and prayer is that you will prepare yourself to receive personal revelation as you listen to the inspired counsel of our Prophet and the other church leaders who will be speaking to us during General Conference.
You can experience, as I have, the still small voice of the spirit. You will not necessarily receive direct answers to your prayers, but through his servants you can receive peace and assurance and the knowledge that Heavenly Father is mindful of you and your struggles. He does not always answer our prayers the way we would like, but He does answer them in ways that will help us grow and will be for our good.