Have you ever been in a challenging situation and felt you needed guidance from the Lord? He knows you and makes guidance available when it will be most helpful. We can increase our chances to sense and understand His guidance.
We have guidance available to us through many means. We have access to the holy scriptures and the words of living prophets and apostles. We receive guidance from other leaders and those close to us. Guidance can also come by dreams, visions or visitations, but most of the direct inspiration we receive comes through the still, small voice of the Spirit. The Lord said, “…I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost…Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation…”1 Thoughts come to our minds and feelings to our hearts. The Spirit can communicate to us through thoughts and feelings. If we are not careful we may miss this type of communication.
President Boyd K. Packer taught, “The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all…”
“Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening…”2
If the inspiration from the Spirit generally comes through quiet thoughts and gentle feelings how can we increase our ability to recognize this inspiration? If someone were whispering to us and we were struggling to hear them we would naturally try to diminish other noise that interfered with the whispering and also try to get closer to the person whispering to us.
There are things in our lives that create spiritual “noise” and can interfere with our ability to understand or even sense inspiration from the Spirit. Much of the media available today is not uplifting and can create spiritual noise in our lives. We can also be so consumed by social media and be so focused on our digital devices that we may miss quiet time away from the noise of the world that helps us sense the inspiration from the Lord. Sin creates spiritual noise in our lives. Repentance, proper Sabbath day worship, and finding quiet time to study the gospel, ponder and pray bring us closer to the Lord, and quiet the noise of the world. This heightens our ability to sense and understand thoughts and feelings from the Holy Ghost.
We should be careful not to try to force or insist on guidance from the Lord in everything. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that “A desire to be led by the Lord is a strength, but it needs to be accompanied by an understanding that our Heavenly Father leaves many decisions for our personal choices. Personal decision making is one of the sources of the growth we are meant to experience in mortality….
“We should study things out in our minds, using the reasoning powers our Creator has placed within us. Then we should pray for guidance and act upon it if we receive it. If we do not receive guidance, we should act upon our best judgement. Persons who persist in seeking revelatory guidance on subjects on which the Lord has not chosen to direct us may concoct an answer out of their own fantasy or bias, or they may even receive an answer through the medium of false revelation.”3
As we live our lives according to our covenants and find ways to mute the worldly noise around us we can more easily receive guidance from the Lord when he offers it.
1 D&C 8: 2-3
2 Boyd K. Packer, Preach My Gospel, chapter 4, “Learn to Recognize the Promptings of the Spirit”, p.96
3 Dallin H. Oaks, Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall, Ensign, Oct. 1994, 13-14