…VAN EEN VERNUFTIGE MAKELIJ…
(1 Nephi 18:1)
COMMUNICATION WITH GOD
In the early 1830’s, school teachers often would take room and board with the families that had children in school as a form of compensation using barter since money was hard to obtain. Oliver Cowdery was a teacher in Palmyra, New York and lived with the Smith Family. Joseph and Emma had moved to Harmony, Pennsylvania to escape the relentless persecution in Palmyra and were living with her parents. Oliver became intrigued by the story of the first vision and the golden plates told by the Smith family. He earnestly prayed to know the truth and felt that he must travel to Harmony to meet Joseph for himself. He soon began working as the scribe that Joseph needed to translate the Book of Mormon. Thanks to Oliver, Sections 6, 8 and 9 of the Doctrine and Covenants contain valuable insight into the nature of revelation for members of the church.
“ 14 … as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.
15 Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth;
16 Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.” (DC 6:14-15)
We learn that the Lord always answers prayers through instruction from the Spirit. If we pray for something then the way things turn out may very well be the answer. Answers to prayers may simply be “enlightening of the mind”. And, only God knows our thoughts and intends of our heart. Thus, Satan does not. I have heard many couples state they have a code they use so they together know they are planning to go to the temple. Their intent is therefore only in their minds, Satan does not know their thoughts, so they experience much less adversity to complete the temple trip.
“22 … cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
23 Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?
24 And now, behold, you have received a witness; for if I have told you things which no man knoweth have you not received a witness?” (DC 6:21-24)
Only Oliver and God knew he had poured out his soul in prayer. Joseph Smith did not know. Oliver’s answer revealed from God to his question was peace in his mind concerning the matter. For many, this could be a fairly imperceptible answer. It requires practice to learn the language of the spirit so we consistently stay on track: looking for, feeling, recognizing and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. When thoughts or new ideas come, rest assured they originate from the spirit.
“2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
3 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.” (DC 8: 2-3)
We think of a voice as words. In the language of the spirit, telling does not mean words in your ears. Spirit telling means thoughts in your mind and feelings in your heart. This also, for many, could be a fairly imperceptible answer that requires practice to learn which again requires careful: looking for, feeling, recognizing and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We often think of Cecil B. Demille’s version of Moses hearing the voice from heaven commanding him to part the Red Sea. The Lord said this revelation came through thoughts and feelings.
“ 7 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” (DC 9:7-8)
The Lord expects us to do the labor; work things out for success and make the effort. We must do this prayerfully and learn to take our own initiative and follow the Lord’s direction. There is no way we can faithfully follow PMG without becoming experts at looking for, feeling, recognizing and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Elders and Sisters, as we prayerfully go about our business, we will build a 5th Stake. The Lord said, “Where there is no vision the people will perish...” (Proverbs 29:18) We need to provide leadership in the Lord’s way and share the vision of real growth with the members by bringing progressing investigators to church. Let your results do the talking. President Teixeira has said, “Whenever we set a goal we put ourselves on the path of results. We have never seen a time like this. The Church is growing in Europe. The doubling of the missionaries is a big thing and the Lord did not do this for us to be ordinary.”