1. Our need for personal revelation
I will, in the commencement of my remarks, take up a subject upon which much has been said in the pulpit and in the chimney corner. It is regarding the Spirit of the Lord manifesting his will to his children. There is no doubt, if a person lives according to the revelations given to God’s people, he may have the Spirit of the Lord to signify to him his will, and to guide and to direct him in the discharge of his duties, in his temporal as well as his spiritual exercises. I am satisfied, however, that in this respect, we live far beneath our privileges. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.32-33)
2. Understanding what we should do to receive revelation
D&C 9:8 Study it out in your mind
“‘It is impossible to advance in the principles of truth, to increase in heavenly knowledge, except we exercise our reasoning faculties and exert ourselves in a proper manner. …
“‘Although the gift to translate had been conferred, he (Oliver Cowdery) could not prosecute the work, simply because he failed to exert himself before God with the view of developing the gift within him; and he became greatly disappointed, and the Lord, in his goodness and mercy, informed him of his mistake. …
“‘So in regard to us, respecting the things which we are undertaking. If we expect to improve, to advance in the work immediately before us, and finally to obtain possession of those gifts and glories, coming up to that condition of exaltation we anticipate, we must take thought and reflect, we must exert ourselves, and that too to the utmost of our ability.’ (Lorenzo Snow, Journal of Discourses, 18:371-72.)
D&C 138:1-11 Ponder and meditate over the scriptures
‘Pondering, which means to weigh mentally, to deliberate, to meditate, can achieve the opening of the spiritual eyes of one’s understanding. Also, the Spirit of the Lord may rest upon the ponderer as described by President Smith.
And Jesus admonished the Nephites, “Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand.” 3 Ne. 17:3
We are constantly reminded through the scriptures that we should give the things of God much more than usual superficial consideration. We must ponder them and reach into the very essence of what we are and what we may become.’ (Joseph B wirthlin, General Conference, April 1982)
‘I sometimes think that one of the best-kept secrets of the kingdom is that the scriptures open the door to the receipt of revelation.’ (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrines of the Restoration, p.243)
D&C 6:5-7,14 The Lord Giveth Bountifully to Faithful Saints Who Ask
“There is no reason in the world why any soul should not know where to find the truth. If he will only humble himself and seek in the spirit of humility and faith, going to the Lord just as the Prophet Joseph Smith went to the Lord to find the truth, he will find it. There’s no doubt about it. There is no reason in the world, if men would only hearken to the whisperings of the Spirit of the Lord and seek as he would have them seek for the knowledge and understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for them not to find it—no reason, except the hardness of their hearts and their love of the world. ‘Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.’ This is my testimony, I know it is true.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, in Conference Report, Apr. 1951, p. 59.)
D&C 88:63-64 Whatsoever ye ask the Father
‘I want you to know that I know God hears and answers prayers. He has answered many of mine. I have lived sufficiently long on this earth to see that some of the prayers which I concluded were not answered were answered for my best good. I am still trying to recognize a “no” answer. I am still trying to recognize and accept silent answers.
I have total confidence and faith in the wisdom and omniscience of a loving, merciful Heavenly Father. To be dependent on Him, yet to communicate with Him, I must make faithful personal effort on a never-ending basis. (Marvin J Ashton, “Know He Is There,” Ensign, Feb. 1994, 54)
D&C 63:23 A well of living water
‘Be believing and your faith will be constantly replenished, your knowledge of the truth increased, and your testimony of the Redeemer, of the Resurrection, of the Restoration will be as “a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life.” You may then receive guidance on practical decisions in everyday life.’ (Boyd K Packer, General Conference, October 1994)
D&C 93:1,28 He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light
‘In closing, I refer to the relationship between obedience and knowledge. Members who have a testimony and who act upon it under the direction of their Church leaders are sometimes accused of blind obedience.
Of course, we have leaders, and of course, we are subject to their decisions and directions in the operation of the Church and in the performance of needed priesthood ordinances. But when it comes to learning and knowing the truth of the gospel—our personal testimonies—we each have a direct relationship with God, our Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, through the powerful witness of the Holy Ghost. This is what our critics fail to understand. It puzzles them that we can be united in following our leaders and yet independent in knowing for ourselves.
Perhaps the puzzle some feel can be explained by the reality that each of us has two different channels to God. We have a channel of governance through our prophet and other leaders. This channel, which has to do with doctrine, ordinances, and commandments, results in obedience. We also have a channel of personal testimony, which is direct to God. This has to do with His existence, our relationship to Him, and the truth of His restored gospel. This channel results in knowledge. These two channels are mutually reinforcing: knowledge encourages obedience (see Deuteronomy 5:27 Moses 5:11 and obedience enhances knowledge.’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 2008)
D&C 101:7-8 In the day of their trouble
‘A repentant heart and good works are the very conditions required to have grace restored to us. When someone pleads fervently in prayer for an answer, the answer may be more conditioned on repentance of personal sins than on any other factor.’ (Gene R Cook, General Conference, April 1993)
D&C 5:24 Humble himself in mighty prayer
‘Martin Harris was promised that he could become a witness of the plates or “these things” (D&C 5:2, 11) if he would humble himself and acknowledge the wrongs he had committed (see vv. 24, 28). Even after the lesson learned from the loss of the 116 pages, humility came hard for Martin, though he succeeded, and he finally saw the angel and the plates.’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)
D&C 112:10 Be thou humble
‘Those who engage in self-congratulation over a supposed strength have lost the protection of humility and are vulnerable to Satan’s using that strength to produce their downfall. In contrast, if we are humble and teachable, hearkening to the commandments of God, the counsel of his leaders, and the promptings of his Spirit, we can be guided in how to use our spiritual gifts, our accomplishments, and all of our other strengths for righteousness. And we can be guided in how to avoid Satan’s efforts to use our strengths to cause our downfall.’ (Dallin H Oaks, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 19)
D&C 30:2 Your mind has been on the things of the earth
‘The early leaders of the restored church had to learn that mortal reasoning was secondary to the revelations of God. On several occasions the Lord rebuked Joseph Smith, David Whitmer, and others for not having their minds on the things of God, for yielding to “the persuasions of men” (D&C 3:6; 5:21), and for being “persuaded by those whom [the Lord had] not commanded” (D&C 30:2). Like some members of today, these early leaders had to learn that the gospel includes “many great things . . . which [are] hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord.” (1 Ne. 15:3.)
In the acquisition of sacred knowledge, reason must yield to revelation.’ (Dallin H Oaks, The Lord’s Way, p.21)