promptings

Does God still speak?

I’ve heard the following story told a couple of times this month. You may be familiar with it.

…The young man couldn’t help but wonder, “Does God still speak to people?”  About ten o’clock at night the young man started driving home.   Sitting in his car, he began to pray, “God…If you still speak to people speak to me.  I will listen. I will do my best to obey.”

As he drove down the main street, he had the strangest thought to stop and buy a gallon of milk.  He shook his head and said out loud, “God is that you?” He didn’t get a reply and started on toward home.  

But again the thought, “Buy a gallon of milk”.  The young man thought about Samuel and how he didn’t recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli.

“Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk.”  It didn’t seem like too hard a test of obedience.  He could always use the milk.  

He stopped, purchased the gallon of milk and started off toward home.  As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, “Turn down that street.”  This is crazy he thought and drove on past the intersection.  Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street.

At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh.  Half jokingly, he said out loud, “Okay, God, I will.”  He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop.  He pulled over to the curb and looked around.  He was in semi-commercial area of town.  It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst of neighborhoods either.  The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were already in bed.

 “Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street.”  The young man looked at the house.  It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep.  He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat. 

 “Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid.”   Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk.

Finally, he opened the door, “Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk.  If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay.  I want to be obedient.  I guess that will count for something.  But if they don’t answer right away, I’m out of here.”

He walked across the street and rang the bell.  He could hear some noise inside. A man’s voice yelled out, “Who is it?  What do you want?”  Then the door opened before the young man could get away.  The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt.  He looked like he just got out of bed.   He had a strange look on his face and he didn’t seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep.  “What is it?”  

The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, “Here, I brought this to you.”

The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway speaking loudly in Spanish.  Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby.  The baby was crying.  The man had tears streaming down his face.  The man began speaking and half crying, “We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn’t have any milk for our baby.  I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk”.

The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put in the man’s hand.  He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears were streaming down his face.  He knew that God still answers prayers.

I don’t know its source or whether this story is true. However I appreciate any story that does remind us that God still speaks. I know that He is faithful to connect with His children in a diversity of ways.

Powerful, Clear Thoughts

Sometimes people actually do hear a voice speaking. Most often the Holy Ghost speaks to our minds. When he does this, we might get a sudden powerful feeling or clear thought.  Here’s one example:

 “One of my earliest childhood recollections is of riding a horse through an apple orchard. The horse was tame and well broken, and I felt at home in the saddle. But one day something frightened my mount, and he bolted through the orchard. I was swept from the saddle by the overhanging limbs, and one leg slipped down through the stirrup.

 I desperately hung to an almost broken leather strap that a cowboy uses to tie a rope to his saddle. My weight should have broken the strap, but somehow it held for the moment. Another lunge or two of the stampeding horse would have broken the strap or wrenched it from my hands and left me to be dragged to injury or death with my foot entangled in the stirrup. runawayhorse

Suddenly the horse stopped, and I became aware that someone was holding the bridle tightly and attempting to calm the quivering animal. Almost immediately I was snatched up into the arms of my father.

What had happened? What had brought my father to my rescue in the split second before I slipped beneath the hoofs of my panic-driven horse?

My father had been sitting in the house reading the newspaper when the Spirit [the Holy Ghost] whispered to him, ‘Run out into the orchard!’

Without a moment’s hesitation, not waiting to learn why or for what reason, my father ran. Finding himself in the orchard without knowing why he was there, he saw the galloping horse and thought, ‘I must stop this horse’.

He did so and found me. And that is how I was saved from serious injury or possible death.” (Bruce R. McConkie, “Hearken to the Spirit,” Friend, Sept. 1972, p. 10).

Persistent Reoccurring Thoughts

Although I have recognized another sort of communication from the Lord and experienced it in the past, very recently it has come to my awareness that it is another method the Holy Spirit may choose– repeating a steady refrain upon our mind until we act upon it. This seems to be true in this favorite episode:

Years ago, Elder Monson and his wife were sent by the prophet to visit the islands of Samoa. While they were there, they visited a class of children who lived in the village of Sauniatu. Elder and Sister Monson each spoke to the class.

After they finished their talks and as the children’s teacher was announcing the closing song, a thought came into Elder Monson’s mind. He was prompted to personally greet each one of the 247 children.

However, when he glanced at his watch, he realized that it was getting late and that he wouldn’t have time to greet each child individually.

He tried to put the thought out of his mind, but he couldn’t.

Before the closing prayer, he was prompted again to take the time to shake the hand of each child.

President Thomas S. Monson

President Thomas S. Monson

He finally turned to the teacher and said, “I would like so much to shake the hand of each boy and girl. Would this be possible?”

The teacher smiled and, in the Samoan language, spoke to the children. They nodded their heads eagerly in approval. He told Elder Monson the reason for the children’s smiles.

When the teacher learned that the President of the Church had asked one of the Twelve Apostles to visit them in Samoa, the teacher had told the children that if they would each pray sincerely and have faith as did the people in the Bible and Book of Mormon, the Apostle would visit their village.

He would also be prompted by the Holy Ghost to shake the hand of every child. (see Thomas S. Monson, “Talofa Lava,” Friend, May 1972, pp. 12–13).

“Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer….ye shall receive.”  

Doctrine and Covenants 29:6

A persistent reoccurring thought is indeed another way that the Spirit communicates with us.

Last week I finally had opportunity to relax with a book. Yes! I hadn’t read more than a half dozen pages when I realized that I could not absorb another word.

The Spirit had interrupted me insisting several times that I write to my friend. I didn’t feel it important because I had previously thought I’d share some of the information the next time we connected.

Giving up my coveted reading moments, I proceeded to pray for help and indeed the Lord confirmed it to be His will for me to do this.

The nature of the letter had to do with sharing a major spiritual lesson I had recently learned. I experienced a bit of a vulnerable feeling, to be in a position of sharing something sacred with a person I don’t know very well. My friend being more mature in the gospel likely knows much more than the little I shared.

While I fully desired to obey the direction I’d been given, I was not totally enamoured with the task. I wondered why I was to do this. However, I sent it off with the confidence that I’d done Heavenly Father’s will.

Days later, when I did not hear back from my chum, the adversary began to whisper and worry me, “You shouldn’t have done it.”

I felt similar feelings like the young man above who said, “Lord, this is insane… they are going to be mad and I will look stupid.”  Well, not quite as strongly…but you get the idea.

How grateful I have been for the Lord’s confirmation while I studied out in my mind and in my heart my actions and the resulting lesson.

This is another way that the Spirit will communicate with us. If I never hear how my friend responds or why I was directed so does not matter. The letter may bless someone I love or be passed on to help someone I don’t know.

“For God does speak—now one way, now another—though man may not perceive it.”

Job 33:14

Or, it may have been a test from Heavenly Father for me. Would I hear? Would I obey?

What is of most import is that I received the message, recognized the Spirit’s influence and I did the will of our Father in heaven. His approval is all the assurance I seek.

I am deeply grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost and for Heavenly Father’s guidance and inspiration. I am eternally grateful that indeed, God does still speak. If it were not so, I may never have found my way to this gloriously true gospel.

Have you had any experiences when you feel you have received guidance from God?

Someone had gotten into, and spilled a box of odds and ends. I was six-perhaps seven years old and in that mess I noticed a small box of Chinese matches. Very tiny and cute, they were different from regular matches. Concerned that my younger brother would find and play with them I hid them under my mattress.

I completely forgot to mention this to my parents. Weeks later, my father discovered them. Immediately, we children were summoned. Dad demanded a confession from the guilty, along with the promise of a whipping.

Exactly what is an open and honest heart? We know that the condition of our heart is important because there are many references in the scriptures.

“Seek the Lord your God …with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5).  “The Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Righteous people are identified:

“…heard these things, our hearts did melt” (Joshua 2:11)

“…he who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:4)

And rebellious people are recognized:

“…hardened their heart” (John 12:40)

“…their heart is far from Me (Matthew 15:8)

This past weekend, I met a beautiful woman.  I was enthralled as we shared our beliefs and explored our feelings regarding the gospel. Not ever had I spoken with someone who enquired as openly of our Latter-Day Saint beliefs with pure intentions, open to truth and without prejudice.  Incomparable joy filled our hearts as we connected for a few hours.

What is an open heart? In “Whisperings of the Spirit”, Nancy Murphy describes it very clearly.

“A person who has an open heart is full of faith and free from pride and unrighteous judgment. An open heart demonstrates complete trust in and devotion to the Lord as well as a willingness to accept any answer, which is itself an indication that the person who asks has the faith necessary to obey the promptings given. Having an open heart is a condition that invites the Holy Ghost to speak unabated and operate unrestrained.

Why must we have an open heart? To hear the will of the Lord, we must open ourselves up to any possibility, be ready to accept any answer, for then our spirits, through humility, are willing to conform to the Lord’s desires for our lives. If our heart is closed in any way or to any degree, the Lord cannot freely bless us with answers we seek.”

Whenever, I think of an honest heart, I am reminded of my sad experience so many years ago. I chose to tell the truth fully knowing the consequences. My father did not believe me and the promised beating left its bruises. Years later, he acknowledged that I must have been honest, but his fears of children playing with matches had persuaded him otherwise.

How do you know if you have an open heart? Again, taken from “Whisperings of the Spirit”, answering a few questions will help you see clearly whether you do possess an open heart.

  1. Am I prepared to accept the Lord’s will?
  2. Am I willing to act on the answer the Lord may give-despite disappointments I feel or any disagreement I might have with the promptings that come?
  3. Have I turned my life over to Him with complete submissiveness and surrender?
  4. Are my personal desires the true issue or is the will of the Lord my greatest desire?

 

 

 

Last week, I promised that we would examine the effects of strong emotions and address how to recognize feelings from the Holy Spirit before we end this series on feelings.

In Part One I mentioned that a couple of the synonyms for ‘feelings’ were of interest:

“EMOTION is applied to an intensified feeling: agitated by emotion.

PASSION is strong or violent emotion, often so overpowering that it masters the mind or judgment: stirred to a passion of anger.”

I was surprised when I learned how important it is to keep these two aspects of feelings under control, for the power of the Holy Spirit to guide my life. Growing up in a French Canadian family did not lend itself to teaching me constraint with my emotions-glad or sad.

Strong emotions such as revenge, contempt, contention or fear will drive away the Holy Ghost. The Lord cannot communicate with us when our hearts are hardened, filled with bitterness, anger, resentment, malice or pride.

“Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” Hebrews 4:7

As I’ve learned a little at a time to seek and acquire the strength, companionship and confidence of the Spirit of the Lord, the outcome is always much more superior than my past attempts of controlling outcomes (fear) and loud confrontations. “Strong emotion” and “passion”- I confess it’s a relief and very empowering as I’ve let go of such demonstrations.

“Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled …” 1Peter 4:10

Even to be enabled to write and share with you, the Lord reminds me to be at peace and calm in my body that my mind may have clarity and to be able to feel the Spirit’s promptings. I assure you, whenever I’ve become agitated, I may as well not bother typing a word. His inspiration and direction is that important to me. It is impossible to feel the Spirit and at the same time feel worried, unsettled, unhappy or afraid.

Recognizing Feelings from the Holy Spirit

There are occasions when the Lord is manifest in miraculous ways through dreams, visions or visitations. Most often He is heard through a soft and gentle voice that comes into our hearts and minds. This ‘still small voice’, is accompanied by a deep peace in the heart and a quiet warm feeling in the bosom. This confirmation is a feeling, a thought, an impression that speaks deeply to our soul.

“Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

President Ezra Taft Benson has expressed it this way: “We hear the words of the Lord most often by a feeling. If we are humble and sensitive, the Lord will prompt us through our feelings. That is why spiritual promptings move us on occasion to great joy, sometimes to tears. Many times my emotions have been made tender and my feelings very sensitive when touched by the Spirit.”

When we feel the Spirit’s influence, we feel content, relaxed, and serene. The Holy Ghost causes our feelings to become very tender. We feel more charitable and compassionate. We are calmer. We have a greater capacity to love. We feel comfort in His touch.

To determine whether or not it is His voice that we hear, we can ask ourselves, “Do I feel the emotions the Spirit would bring?” When goodness and positive emotions- the feelings of love, joy, peace longsuffering, gentleness, goodness and faith (Galatians 5:22) surround us, we can be sure the Spirit is near.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says” Revelation 2:11

Recently, my friend posted this marvelous quote on his blog: “The Greatest Guarantor of Inward Peace

“The Spirit of the Holy Ghost is the greatest guarantor of inward peace in our unstable world. It can be more mind-expanding and can make us have a better sense of well-being than any chemical or other earthly substance. It will calm nerves; it will breathe peace to our souls. This Comforter can be with us as we seek to improve. It can function as a source of revelation to warn us of impending danger and also help keep us from making mistakes. It can enhance our natural senses so that we can see more clearly, hear more keenly, and remember what we should remember. It is a way of maximizing our happiness.” James E. Faust, Ensign, May 1989, 32–33

“Behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask Me if it be right, and if it is right I 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;” Doctrines and Covenants 9:8-9

There is never a time we feel closer to our Father in Heaven than when the Holy Ghost is with us. Oh that every one of Heavenly Father’s children would accept the glorious privileges that He bestows on His faithful children. His peace and joy, His love and comforting hand are the sweetest of all glimpses into an exalted life with Him. Meanwhile, these feelings bring us closest to experiencing a bit of heaven on earth.