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How is your Spiritual Communication?

candle of the lord boyd k. packer

The question isn’t is God speaking, rather are we listening? Have you taken a serious inventory of your spiritual communication with your Father in Heaven?

He desires to commune with us, but we can miss the message, mistake the purpose, and manufacture many of our own answers. Because we can’t force spiritual things, we must prayerfully study and diligently work to learn the frequencies, feelings, and facts of personal revelation.

Below is a seminar given on June 25, 1982 to new mission presidents by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve:


Perhaps the most well-known passage in the Book of Mormon is found in the last chapter:

And when ye shall receive these things, 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.’ (Moro. 10:4-5.)

We do not learn spiritual things in exactly the same way we learn other things that we know, even though such things as reading, listening, and pondering may be used.

I have learned that it requires a special attitude both to teach and to learn spiritual things. There are some things you know, or may come to know that you will find quite difficult to explain to others. I am certain it was meant to be that way. . . .

We cannot express spiritual knowledge in words alone.

We can, however, with words show another how to prepare for the reception of the Spirit. The Spirit itself will help. ‘For when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. . . .’ (2 Ne. 33:1.)

Then when we have a spiritual communication, we can say within ourselves, this is it! This is what is meant by those words in the revelation. Thereafter, if they are carefully chosen, words are adequate for teaching about spiritual things.

We do not have the words (even the scriptures do not have the words) which perfectly describe the Spirit. The scriptures generally use the word voice, which does not exactly fit. These delicate, refined spiritual communications are not seen with our eyes, nor heard with our ears. And even though it is described as a voice, it is a voice that one feels, more than one hears.

Once I came to understand this, one verse in the Book of Mormon took on a profound meaning, and my testimony increased immeasurably. It had to do with Laman and Lemuel, who rebelled against Nephi. Nephi rebuked them and said, `Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoke to you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words. . . .’ (1 Ne. 17:45; italics added.)

There may be more power in your testimony than even you realize. The Lord said to the Nephites: `Whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not. . . .’ (3 Ne. 9:20; italics added.)

There is great power in this work, spiritual power. The ordinary member of the Church, like you, having received the gift of the Holy Ghost by confirmation, can do the work of the Lord.

Nephi, in a great, profound sermon of instruction, explained that “angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Ne. 32:3.)

Should an angel appear and converse with you, neither you nor he would be confined to corporeal sight or sound in order to communicate. For there is that spiritual process, described by the Prophet Joseph Smith, by which pure intelligence can flow into our minds and we can know what we need to know without either the drudgery of study or the passage of time, for it is revelation.

And the Prophet said further:

“All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed to us in the abstract … revealed to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all; and those revelations which will save our spirits will save our bodies.” (Teachings, p. 355.)

The voice of the Spirit is described in the scripture as being neither “loud” nor “harsh.” It is “not a voice of thunder, neither … voice of a great tumultuous noise.” But rather, “a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper,” and it can “pierce even to the very soul” and “cause [the heart] to burn.” (3 Ne. 11:3; Hel. 5:30; D&C 85:6–7.) Remember, Elijah found the voice of the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but was a “still small voice.” (1 Kgs. 19:12.)

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.

(No wonder that the Word of Wisdom was revealed to us, for how could the drunkard or the addict feel such a voice?) Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, “Speak [Lord], for thy servant heareth.” (1 Sam. 3:10.)

By Boyd K. Packers in a sermon entitled “Candle of the Lord.”

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