Latter-day Saints often speak of revelation. Whether the church-guiding revelation that comes through the prophet or the daily, personal revelation that helps us navigate through this complicated mortality, revelation is fundamental to both our institutional practices and individual devotion. Simply put, revelation is any communication from God to His children. That communication typically comes through the Holy Ghost, who, as Jay E. Jensen explained, “is the third member of the Godhead, and with the Father and the Son, He knows all things. He has several important roles; foremost among them is to teach and testify of the Father and the Son. Other roles are that He reveals the truth of all things and He leads to do good.”
Of course, revelation is more than a flow of information—it is also a demonstration of God’s love for us and of His desire to be involved in the details of our lives. I have been continually grateful for the divine guidance that has come to me through the influence of the Holy Ghost. My experience has taught me that the promise made in the Book of Mormon, that “by the power of the Holy Ghost [we] may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5), is still in force. As I’ve asked for and sought heavenly wisdom, I’ve been led by the Holy Ghost through missionary service, personal relationships, work assignments, and graduate school applications among other things. These experiences have taught me not only that God knows, for example, how to plan a lesson on the research process—but that He also cares enough about me that He will help me to find success even in my secular pursuits.
Surely, the Holy Ghost can guide us in any aspect of our lives, as He has guided me in various aspects of mine, but I haven’t always been able to recognize the voice of the Holy Ghost as readily as I do now. And, even still, I certainly don’t recognize it is often as I would like to. However, a couple of principles have helped me to develop my ability to recognize and respond to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
First, the Holy Ghost speaks quietly. The prophet Elijah, as the Bible describes, went out on a mountain to speak with the Lord. While there, he witnessed a “great and strong wind,” “an earthquake,” and “a fire,” but the Lord’s voice was not in any of those things. Instead, Elijah heard the Lord in “a still small voice” (I Kings 19:11-12). The Lord does not speak in earthquakes—He speaks through the still small voice of the Holy Ghost. As a result, if we refuse to acknolwedge God in anything quieter than an earthquake, we’re likely to miss His messages.
Second, the fruits of the Holy Ghost are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22). We can recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost by its fruits. In my experience, guidance from the Holy Ghost has always been accompanied by at least one of these positive feelings. The Holy Ghost will never make us feel bad but will instead always and exclusively build us up. I have been warned from danger by the Holy Ghost, but even then, the warning came as a firm and reassuring feeling, not as a feeling of dread or anxiety. Dread and anxiety are not fruits of the Holy Ghost.
Third, the Holy Ghost leads us to do good. Often, I’ve asked God to guide me to do the right thing. I’ve expected revelation to come with a schematic diagram that tells me exactly what things to do and at exactly what times I should do them. In my experience, though, revelation rarely works that way. Instead of telling me the one right thing that I should do, the Holy Ghost prompts me to do a good thing followed by another good thing and so forth. Often, the Holy Ghost leads us a step at a time, from one good thing to the next. If we follow along faithfully, the Holy Ghost will get us wherever we need to be. In a revelation given through Joseph Smith, the Lord counseled, “put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously” (Doctrine and Covenants 11:12). This standard has helped me to recognize and follow the Holy Ghost more consistently in my life. Now, rather than worry about whether I’m being inspired to do the one right thing, I can go forward with the confidence that I’m doing a good thing that will get me at least one step to closer to whatever righteous objective I may have at the moment.
Surely, the divine guidance that comes through the Holy Ghost is a sign that God knows and loves His children. Through the Holy Ghost, I’ve come to understand truth, have been guided through the various stages of my life, and have felt of God’s love—blessings that are available to each and every one of God’s children that will seek Him out.