Sunday, September 15, 2013

Will God Speak to Me?

Last week I testified that God speaks today as he did anciently – through his Prophets. But what about me, will he speak directly to me and if so, how will I know it is really God that is speaking to me?

One of the greatest witnesses that God does speak to individuals today is the experience Joseph Smith had when he was almost 14 years old. He wanted to know the truth about religion. He lived in the early 1800’s during a time of spiritual revivals. All of the ministers claimed to have the truth. Joseph wanted to know which church he should join, which one was really God’s true Church. He was reading in the bible and found a scripture in James that touched him deeply:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” (James 1:5-6)

Joseph Smith tested James’ promise and went to the Lord in prayer and the result was the appearance of God and Jesus Christ personally to the boy Joseph. That experience ushered in the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Another person that was involved at the beginning of the restoration of the Gospel was Oliver Cowdery. He was a scribe to the Prophet Joseph Smith and wrote most of the Book of Mormon as Joseph dictated it to him from the gold plates. Before Oliver became involved in the work with Joseph, he prayed to the Lord to know if it was true and if he should help Joseph. Later in a revelation from the Lord to Oliver, the Lord said:

“11 And if thou wilt ainquire, thou shalt know bmysteries which are great and marvelous; therefore thou shalt exercise thy cgift, that thou mayest find out mysteries, that thou mayest bringdmany to the knowledge of the truth…

14. …for thou hast ainquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit…

22. …if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might aknow concerning the truth of these things.

23 Did I not speak apeace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater bwitness can you have than from God?” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:11-14, 22-23)

You are probably saying, ya but they were the leaders of the church. True, but they were not church leaders when they went to God in prayer with their questions. Joseph Smith was a 14-year-old boy with only a 3rd grade education. Oliver Cowdery was a young schoolteacher wanting to know if what he had heard about Joseph Smith was true. Both of them learned through personal revelation that God does exist and that he will answer their prayers.

But what about today does God still answer personal prayers today? Absolutely, the scriptures say that God does not change. If that is true then he will answer the prayers of anyone that comes to him in faith knowing that he will answer their prayers in his own time and in his own way.

Sister Caryn Esplin spoke at a BYU-Idaho devotional on personal revelation. She shared an experience that she and her daughter had one day at a Walmart store. She said that as they were walking out to their car a $20 bill blew by them. Her daughter ran to it and picked it up. Sister Esplin told her daughter is was her lucky day. She said that they both had the feeling that they should take the $20 back into the store and turn it in. They went in and the person at the service desk told them to keep the money, that no one ever came looking for lost money. Just then the phone rang and she answered it. She hung up and said: “You won’t believe this. That was a young mother (she could hear the baby crying in the background) and she had lost a $20 bill somewhere at the store and was wondering if someone had turned it in. She said it was all she had for the rest of the month and needed it. (“Recognizing and Increasing Personal Revelation”, BYU-Idaho Devotional, August 31, 2012). The Lord had answered two prayers that day; the mother that had lost the money and Sister Esplin and her daughter when they prayed to know what to do with the money.

When we go before the Lord in prayer, the answers most likely will come through the Holy Ghost instead of direct communication with Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ. The Lord speaks to us through the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost testifies of truth and of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John 14:6 Christ tells the people what the purpose of the Holy Ghost is:

But the Comforterwhich is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

To receive the Holy Ghost we must be clean before the Lord, by keeping his commandments and living a Christ like life. As best as we can The Holy Ghost is also described as a still small voice. President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, had this to say about receiving inspiration from the Holy Ghost:
“Inspiration comes more easily in peaceful settings. Such words as quiet, still, peaceable, Comforter abound in the scriptures: “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10; italics added.) And the promise, “You shall receive my Spirit, the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom.” (D&C 36:2; italics added.) (“Reverence Invites Revelation”, President Boyd K. Packer, General Conference, October 1991)

Today we live a fast paced life that is full of noise and distractions. We must take the time to unplug from the noise that surrounds us and immerse ourselves in the scriptures to prepare our minds and spirit to communicate with the Lord. He is there waiting for us. He has said, “Ask and it shall be given, knock and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). But we must pause and listen for the answers in a quiet manner. We cannot be distracted by technology and the noise of the world.

One of the ways that answers come for me is through feelings and thoughts. I maybe reminded of something that I need to do. One time at work I had misplaced something and I really needed to find it. I was trying to think of all the places that I had been and all of the individuals that I had visited that day. I retraced my steps as best as I could but the thing I had lost was not to be found. I remember simply praying to know where to look or where to go. I was prompted to look in a drawer in my desk and there it was. I have no idea why I would have put it in that drawer, but the thought to look there was a direct answer to my simple prayer.

We may not even know of the many times that our prayers, spoken and unspoken, have been answered unless we look back at the end of the day and we are reviewing our day with the Lord giving thanks to him for the blessings we received when the Holy Ghost will remind us of the things that happened that were answers to our pleading for the Lord to direct us throughout the day.

We need to express gratitude to the Lord for his grace and kindness to us each day. We need to be thankful that he is willing to bless us with his spirit to guide us and teach us.  I am grateful to know that we have a loving Heavenly Father and that he wants to commune with us if we take the time and effort to be still and know that he is God.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

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