How well do we know the voice of our God? Do we have a personal dialogue with Him at least daily? Why should becoming familiar and conversant with God be our ultimate and eternal goal? John the apostle, and brother of Jesus Christ, said this of our relationship with God: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3). Should we be seeking this intimacy daily or even hourly, if knowing God is truly eternal life?!
How can we be familiar and conversant with God without understanding and knowing His voice, intimately?
I have had many individuals (friends, loved ones and even a newly sustained bishop) divulge that they had never recognized a “spiritual experience”, never received a direct answer to prayer, and surely had never “heard” the voice of God. However, it wasn’t until just this last week when another individual approached me with the same frustration, that I figuratively bowed myself before my Heavenly Father, sincerely asking how I might explain this dilemma and share my knowledge of recognizing His voice.
As I was in this attitude of prayer, a thought entered my mind, accompanied by a very distinct feeling in my heart. (“Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.” D&C 8:2). I define my heart, or bosom, as a location from my throat to my belly button, but mainly centered in my chest. This was the thought: “Roy, philosophy calls the heart, the seat of all emotion. I call the heart the seat of revelation, or the seat of my spirit. My voice is a specific emotion in the heart, accompanied by a distinct flash of thought or an impression, or a flood of revelation and truth.” And this was my accompanying emotion: a combination of the sensations of peace, love, joy, reverence, gladness, thankfulness. The emotion began as a small flicker in my heart, but as I focused on the sensation and the thoughts, the emotion began to swell until it filled my bosom like a large warm fire.
Additional thoughts gently washed through my mind as the spirit lead me and I spent 20 minutes pondering, listening and feeling. The last impression as I pulled into the parking lot at my place of work was: “Roy, I want you to document and share this little insight.”
How do you feel positive emotion? Where do you feel it? What does it feel like to you? You might consider pondering this and experimenting as you observe the previous questions.
I also recommend reading “Teachings of the Presidents of the Church” Gordon B. Hinckley, chapter 7. In section 3, the prophet Gordon B. Hinckley says: “How does revelation come to the prophet of the church? … There is a still, small voice. … It comes by the whispering of the spirit. … Such almost invariably has been the word of God as it has come to us, not in trumpets, not from the council halls of the learned, but in the still small voice of revelation.” He continues by quoting the experience of Elijah following his contest with the priests of Baal: “And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11–12). Pres. Hinckley continues: “That is the way it is. There is a still, small voice. It comes in response to prayer. It comes by the whispering of the Spirit.”
The voice of God is the same for all individuals and throughout all generations of time.
“Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.” (D&C 8:3) (see previous verse D&C 8:2)
The prophet Moroni said “… I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:4-5)
“God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost.” (D&C 121:26.)
Listen to the example that Enos the son of Jacob, who was the brother of Nephi, gave: “And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens. And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, …” (Enos 1:4-5) What kind of a voice was this? Enos describes the voice that had been coming to him: “And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying:” Enos 1:10 It was a voice in his mind!
If we have doubts and fears, just pray. Experiment on the word.
When we don’t feel the emotions of the spirit is the perfect time to act in faith and to kneel and pray. When we kneel in sincerity, even only able to hope, is when the contrast of the still small voice to what we are not feeling will become more obvious. Just focus on the emotions that will come to your heart and you will feel it. As Alma teaches in the book of Alma 32:27, 28 “… even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.”
God has given every person that cometh into the world the gift of the light, or the spirit of Christ to enlighten our minds. This is His voice. The Father speaks to man through this channel, the spirit of Christ. How wonderful and important then is the promise that as we participate in the covenantal ordinance of the sacrament, we “may always have His spirit to be with us”! (D&C 20:77)