Personal Revelation (Pt 3/5): “Seeking and Obtaining Revelation”

Personal revelation comes as a gift of grace and as a reward for striving to live the gospel and hearkening to the voice of the Lord.

Personal Revelation Comes in the Lord’s Time and Manner, Not Ours

We cannot control when or how personal revelation comes to us. Thus, we must be patient in seeking inspiration and revelation

David A. Bednar: “Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation.” (David A. Bednar, The Spirit of Revelation.)

D&C 88:68:  “Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.” 

John 3:3-5: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou herest the sound thereof, but canst tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

You Cannot Force Spiritual Things

Boyd K. Packer: “Sometimes you may struggle with a problem and not get an answer. What could be wrong? It may be that you are not doing anything wrong. It may be that you have not done the right things long enough. Remember, you cannot force spiritual things. Sometimes we are confused simply because we won’t take no for an answer. …
“Put difficult questions in the back of your minds and go about your lives. Ponder and pray quietly and persistently about them.
“The answer may not come as a lightning bolt. It may come as a little inspiration here and a little there, ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’ (D&C 98:12) .
“Some answers will come from reading the scriptures, some from hearing speakers. And, occasionally, when it is important, some will come by very direct and powerful inspiration. The promptings will be clear and unmistakable” (Ensign, Nov. 1979, 21).

The Lord Will Not Force Himself Upon People

Spencer W. Kimball: “The Lord will not force himself upon people, and if they do not believe, they will receive no visitation.  If they are content to depend upon their own limited calculations and interpretations, then of course, the Lord will leave them to their chosen fate…. The same revelations, visions, healings, and tongues are all available today as in any other day, providing there is the necessary faith.  The Almighty is with this people.  We shall have all the revelations we shall need if we will do our duty and keep the commandments of God.  If there be eyes to see, there will be visions to inspire.  If there be ears to hear, there will be revelations to experience.  If there be hearts which can understand… all earnest seekers may know God… “(Teachings, p 454)

What Happens When an Answer to Prayer Doesn’t Come When We Expect

Dallin H. Oaks:

“We do not always receive inspiration or revelation when we request it. Sometimes we are delayed in the receipt of revelation, and sometimes we are left to our own judgment.  We cannot force spiritual things.  It must be so.  Our life’s purpose to obtain experience and to develop faith would be frustrated if our Heavenly Father directed us in every act, even in every important act.  We must make decisions and experience the consequences in order to develop self-reliance and faith.
“Even in decisions we think very important, we sometimes receive no answer to our prayers.  This does not mean that our prayers have not been heard.  It only means that we have prayed about a decision which, for one reason or another, we should make without guidance by revelation.  Perhaps we have asked for guidance in choosing between alternatives that are equally acceptable or equally unacceptable.  I suggest that there is not a right and wrong to every question.  To many questions, there are only two wrong answers or two right answers….
“Similarly, the Spirit of the Lord is not likely to give us revelations on matters that are trivial….  I believe the Lord expects us to use the intelligence and experience He has given us to make these kinds of choices.  When a member asked the Prophet Joseph Smith for advice on a particular matter, the Prophet stated: ‘It is a great thing to inquire at the hands of God, or to come into His presence: and we feel fearful to approach Him on subjects that are of little or no consequence’” (History of the Church, 1:339).   (Dallin H. Oaks, “Revelation,” BYU devotional September 29, 1981; see New Era, Sept. 1982, p. 46)

We Must Listen Intently Within to Hear the Still Small Voice

Obviously, we must listen in order to hear.  Since the Spirit has a still small voice, we must listen intently. 

Boyd K. Packer: “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.  Most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening.” (The Ensign, Jan 1983, p 53) 

Cultivate an Ear to Hear the Promptings of the Spirit

Harold B. Lee: “The most important thing you can do is to learn to talk to God.  Talk to Him as you would talk to your father, for He is your Father, and He wants you to talk to Him.  He wants you to cultivate ears to listen, when He gives you the impressions of the Spirit to tell you what to do. If you learn give heed to the sudden ideas which come to you minds, you will find those things coming through in the very hour of your need.  If you will cultivate an ear to hear these prompting, you will have learned to walk by the spirit of revelation.” (Church News, 3 March 1973, p. 3)

Become a Good Listener to the Spirit

Upon becoming President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Harold B. Lee was asked by a reporter, “What qualifies you to be President of the Church?”  President Lee replied simply, “I’m just a good listener.”  This was a very profound statement.  We must listen to the voice of the Lord and the still small voice of the Spirit.

“Be Still and Know”

In both the Old Testament and the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord declared: “Be still, and know that I am God.” That is the key. (Psalm 46: 10; D&C 64:10) (See: blog article on “Deceased Son Appears to His Mother to Explain His Death,” Jan. 12, 2020)

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