1. Understanding how the Holy Ghost communicates with us
D&C 8:2-3 I will tell you in your mind and in your heart
‘The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear. It is described as a “still small voice.” And while we speak of “listening” to the whisperings of the Spirit, most often one describes a spiritual prompting by saying, “I had a feeling …”
…Revelation comes as words we feel more than hear. Nephi told his wayward brothers, who were visited by an angel, “Ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words.”
The scriptures are full of such expressions as “The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened,” or “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart,” or “I did enlighten thy mind,” or “Speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts.” There are hundreds of verses which teach of revelation.
President Marion G. Romney, quoting the prophet Enos, said, “While I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind.” Enos then related what the Lord put into his mind.
“This,” President Romney said, “is a very common means of revelation. It comes into one’s mind in words and sentences. With this medium of revelation I am personally well acquainted.”
We do not seek for spectacular experiences. President Spencer W. Kimball spoke of the many who “have no ear for spiritual messages … when they come in common dress. … Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication.”‘ (Boyd K Packer, “Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 60)
D&C 85:6 Still, small voice
‘Because the Spirit is often described as a still, small voice, it is also important to have a time of quiet in our lives as well. The Lord has counseled us to “be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 see also D&C 101:16 If we provide a still and quiet time each day when we are not bombarded by television, computer, video games, or personal electronic devices, we allow that still, small voice an opportunity to provide personal revelation and to whisper sweet guidance, reassurance, and comfort to us.’ (Vicki F Matsumori, General Conference, October 2009)
D&C 6:15 Enlighten thy mind
‘Personal revelation—sometimes called “inspiration”—comes in many forms. Most often it is by words or thoughts communicated to the mind, by sudden enlightenment, or by positive or negative feelings about proposed courses of action. Usually it comes in response to earnest and prayerful seeking. “Ask, and it shall be given you;” Jesus taught, “seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7). It comes when we keep the commandments of God and thus qualify for the companionship and communication of the Holy Spirit.’ (Dallin H Oaks, Talk Given at Harvard Law School, 26 February 2010)
D&C 11:13-14 By this shall you know
‘Sometimes the feeling is like a memory. We first learned the gospel in our heavenly home. We have come to this earth with a veil of forgetfulness. And yet lingering in each of our spirits are those dormant memories. The Holy Ghost can part the veil and bring those things out of their dormancy. Often my reaction to a supposedly newfound truth is, “Oh, I remember that!”’ (Glenn L Pace, General Conference, April 2007)
D&C 6:22-23 Did I not speak peace to your mind?
‘Revelation can come in many ways and in various degrees of directness. In some cases God Himself may appear to a person; in other cases He may send an angel, show a vision, or speak through the whisperings of the still, small voice. Here the Lord bore witness to Oliver Cowdery of one way of giving revelation—a feeling of peace. When one is torn with despair or confusion, the sweet feeling of peace conveyed by the Comforter can instantly dispel the turmoil that reigned in the soul previously. Such a feeling is a real, definable experience, and as much a revelation as a vision, though more subtle and less direct in the way it is given.’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)
D&C :7-9 I will cause that your bosom shall burn
‘This may be one of the most important and misunderstood teachings in all the Doctrine and Covenants. The teachings of the Spirit often come as feelings. That fact is of the utmost importance, yet some misunderstand what it means. I have met persons who told me they have never had a witness from the Holy Ghost because they have never felt their bosom “burn within” them.’ (Dallin H Oaks)
D&C 98:12 Line upon line, precept upon precept
‘This pattern for receiving promptings follows the principle by which the Savior was taught and tutored during the meridian of time. John bore witness that “he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness” (D&C 93:13). The Prophet Joseph Smith counseled, “It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time.” ‘(L Lionel Kendrick, “Personal Revelation,” Ensign, Sept. 1999, 10)
2. Cautions about personal revelation
D&C 28:2 Appointed to receive commandments and revelations
‘When visions, dreams, tongues, prophecy, impressions or any extraordinary gift of inspiration, convey something out of harmony with accepted revelations of the Church or contrary to the decisions of its constituted authorities, Latter-day Saints may know that it is not of God, no matter how plausible it may appear. Also, they should understand that directions for the guidance of the Church will come, by revelation, through the head. All faithful members are entitled to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for themselves, their families, and for those over whom they are appointed and ordained to preside. But anything at discord with that which comes from God through the head of the Church is not to be received as authoritative or reliable. In secular as well as spiritual affairs, saints may receive divine guidance and revelation affecting themselves, but this does not convey authority to direct others, and is not to be accepted when contrary to Church covenants, doctrine or discipline, or to known facts, demonstrated truths, or good common sense.’ (Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose in Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, by Roy W. Doxey, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 1: 297 – 298.)
D&C 43:2-4 None other appointed
‘The Prophet Joseph Smith stated that “it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church … to receive instruction for those in authority, higher than themselves.”
In addition, some have claimed higher spiritual gifts or authority outside the established priesthood authority of the Church. They say that they believe in the principles and ordinances of the gospel and accept the President of the Church as the legal administrator thereof, but claim they have a higher order which the President does not have. This is often done to justify an activity which is not in accordance with the doctrines of the Church. There can be no higher order, however, because the President of the Church both holds and exercises all of the keys of the kingdom of God on earth. The Lord has said of the President of the Church “that none else shall be appointed [to receive commandments and revelations] except it be through him.”
…The Prophet Joseph explained in the winter of 1832-33 that “no true angel from God will ever come to ordain any man, because they have once been sent to establish the priesthood by ordaining me thereunto; and the priesthood being once established on earth, with [the] power to ordain others, no heavenly messenger will ever come to interfere with that power by ordaining any more. … You may therefore know, from this time forward, that if any man comes to you professing to be ordained by an angel, he is either a liar or has been imposed upon in consequence of transgression by an angel of the devil, for this priesthood shall never be taken from this church.”
May I now review five of the fundamental prophetic truths of the Church:
First, the keys and the authority of God have been given by Him to Joseph Smith and each of his successors who have been called as Presidents of the Church.
Second, those keys and authority are never to be given to another people, and those who have such authority are “known to the Church.”
Third, continuing revelation and leadership for the Church come through the President of the Church, and he will never mislead the Saints.
Fourth, individual members of the Church may receive revelation for their own callings and areas of responsibility and for their own families. They may not receive spiritual instruction for those higher in authority.
Fifth, those who claim direct revelation from God for the Church outside the established order and channel of the priesthood are misguided. This also applies to any who follow them.’ (James E Faust, “The Prophetic Voice,” Ensign, May 1996, 6-7)
D&C 50:23-24 That which doth not edify is not of God
‘Each of us has the responsibility to choose. You may ask, “Are decisions really that important?” I say to you, decisions determine destiny. You can’t make eternal decisions without eternal consequences.
May I provide a simple formula by which you can measure the choices which confront you. It’s easy to remember: “You can’t be right by doing wrong; you can’t be wrong by doing right.” Your personal conscience always warns you as a friend before it punishes you as a judge.’ (Thomas S Monson, General Conference, April 2002)
3. When revelation is not received or recognized
Here is a great talk by S Michael Wilcox on this subject: