As I was leaving a Young Women camp this summer, a sweet young woman handed me a note. In it, she asked, “How can I tell when God is trying to tell me something?” I love her question. Our souls long for a connection with our heavenly home. We want to feel needed and useful. But at times we struggle to distinguish between our own thoughts and the gentle impressions of the Spirit. Prophets, ancient and modern, have taught that if something “invites and entices to do good, it comes from Christ.”1
President Russell M. Nelson has extended a simple, powerful invitation: “My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation. … Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.”2
My desire this morning is to speak to you from my heart about four ways to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.
1. Be Intentional about Creating Time and Space to Hear God’s Voice
As you use your agency to carve out time every day to draw close to God’s voice, especially in the Book of Mormon, over time His voice will become clearer and more familiar to you.
In contrast, the distractions and noise that fill the world and our homes and our lives can make it more difficult to hear His voice. These distractions can so occupy our minds and hearts that we leave no room for the gentle promptings of the Holy Ghost.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that most often God reveals Himself “to individuals in private, in their chamber; in the wilderness or fields, and that generally without noise or tumult.”3
Satan wants to separate us from God’s voice by keeping us out of those quiet places. If God speaks in a still, small voice, you and I need to draw close to hear Him. Just imagine what would happen if we were as intent on staying connected with heaven as we are on staying connected to Wi-Fi! Pick a time and place, and listen for God’s voice every day. And keep this sacred appointment with exactness, for so very much depends on it!
2. Act without Delay
When you receive promptings and then act with intention, the Lord can use you. The more you act, the more familiar the voice of the Spirit becomes. You will increasingly recognize God’s guidance and that He is “willing … to reveal His mind and will.”4 If you delay, you might forget the prompting or miss the chance to help someone for God.
3. Get Your Errand from the Lord
The prayer Heavenly Father seems eager to answer is our plea to be led to someone who needs our help. President Henry B. Eyring has taught us to seek revelation by asking God who we can help for Him. “If you ask questions like that, the Holy Ghost will come and you’ll feel nudges about things you can do for other people. When you go and do those things, you’re on the Lord’s errand, and when you’re on the Lord’s errand, you qualify for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”5
You can pray and ask the Lord for an errand. As you do, He can use your ordinary skills to accomplish His extraordinary work.
My grandfather, Fritz Hjalmar Lundgren, emigrated from Sweden when he was 19 years old. He arrived in America alone, with a suitcase and six years of formal schooling. Unable to speak any English, he made his way to Oregon and worked there as a lumberjack and then later, with my grandmother and my mother, joined the Church. He never presided over a ward, but as a faithful home teacher, he brought more than 50 different families into Church activity. How did he do that?
After Grandpa’s death, I was going through a box of his papers and came across a letter written by a man who had come back to church because of Grandpa’s love. The letter read, “Brother Fritz’s secret, I believe, is that he is always on an errand for Heavenly Father.”
That letter was from Brother Wayne Simonis. Grandpa visited him and got to know each member of the family. In time, Grandpa told them that they were needed and invited them to attend church. But that Sunday, Brother Simonis awoke with a dilemma—he had not finished reroofing his house, and rain was expected that week. He decided that he’d go to church, shake hands with Grandpa, and then leave and go home to finish the roof. His family could attend sacrament meeting without him.
His plan was working just fine until, on the roof, he heard someone climbing the ladder. In his words: “When I looked up, … standing at the top of the ladder was Brother Fritz. He just gave me that big smile. At first, I was embarrassed and felt like a little kid getting caught for skipping school. Then … I felt anger. [But Brother Fritz just] took off his suit coat and hung it on the ladder. As he rolled up the sleeves of his white shirt, he turned to me and said, ‘Brother Simonis, do you have another hammer? This work must be very important or you wouldn’t have left your family, and if it’s that important, I want to help you.’ As I looked into his eyes, I saw only kindness and Christlike love. My anger left. … I laid my tools down that Sunday and followed my good friend down the ladder and back to the chapel.”
Grandpa had obtained his errand from the Lord, and he knew he was to seek out lost sheep. Just as when the four men who carried their friend with palsy onto a roof and then let him down to be healed by Jesus Christ,6 so too did Grandpa’s errand take him to a rooftop. The Lord sends revelation to those seeking to help others.
4. Believe and Trust
Recently, I read in the scriptures about another great missionary who obtained his errand from the Lord. Aaron was teaching the king of the Lamanites, who wondered why Aaron’s brother Ammon had not also come to teach him. “And Aaron said unto the king: Behold, the Spirit of the Lord has called him another way.”7
The Spirit spoke to my heart: each of us has a different mission to perform, and at times the Spirit may call us in “another way.” There are many ways to build the kingdom of God as covenant-making, covenant-keeping disciples of Jesus Christ. As His faithful disciple, you can receive personal inspiration and revelation, consistent with His commandments, that is tailored to you. You have unique missions and roles to perform in life and will be given unique guidance to fulfill them.
Nephi, the brother of Jared, and even Moses all had a large body of water to cross—and each did it differently. Nephi worked “timbers of curious workmanship.”8 The brother of Jared built barges that were “tight like unto a dish.”9 And Moses “walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea.”10
They each received personalized direction, tailored to them, and each trusted and acted. The Lord is mindful of those who obey and, in the words of Nephi, will “prepare a way for [us to] accomplish the thing which he commandeth.”11 Note that Nephi says, “a way”—not “the way.”
Do we miss or dismiss personal errands from the Lord because He has prepared “a way” different from the one we expect?
My grandpa was led to an unusual place—in a suit, on a rooftop, on a Sunday. Trust God to lead you, even if that way looks different than you expected or is different from others.
Latter-day Saints come in many shapes and sizes, but “all are alike unto God”—“black and white, bond and free, male and female,” single and married, rich and poor, young and old, lifelong member and recent convert.12 No matter who you are or what you’re dealing with, you are invited to the Lord’s table.13
As seeking and doing the will of the Father becomes the cadence of your daily life, you will, of course, be led to change and repent.
The Church’s new program for children and youth is built on the foundation of learning to seek revelation, discovering what the Lord would have us do, and then acting on that direction. Each one of us, regardless of age or circumstance, can strive to seek, receive, and act. As you follow this eternal pattern ordained for our day, you will draw nearer to Jesus Christ—His love, His light, His direction, His peace, and His healing and enabling power. And you will increase your spiritual capacity to become an everyday instrument of His hands in accomplishing His great work. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.