Revelation is communication from God to His children. This guidance comes through various channels according to the needs and circumstances of individuals, families, and the Church as a whole. When the Lord reveals His will to the Church, He speaks through His prophet. Prophets are the only people who can receive revelation for the Church, but they are not the only people who can receive revelation. According to our faithfulness, we can receive revelation to help us with our specific personal needs, responsibilities, and questions and to help us strengthen our testimony.
The scriptures tell of different types of revelation, such as visions, dreams, and visitations by angels. Through such channels, the Lord has restored His gospel in the latter days and revealed many truths. However, most revelations to leaders and members of the Church come through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.
Quiet spiritual promptings may not seem as spectacular as visions or angelic visitations, but they are just as powerful and lasting and life changing. The witness of the Holy Ghost makes an impression on the soul that is more significant than anything we can see or hear. Through such revelations, we will receive lasting strength to stay true to the gospel and help others do the same.
Preparing to Receive Revelation
The following counsel will help us prepare to receive promptings from the Holy Ghost:
Pray for guidance. The Lord said, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Matthew 7:7–8). In order to find and receive, we must seek and ask.
Be reverent. Reverence is profound respect and love. When we are reverent and peaceful, we invite revelation. Even when everything around us is in commotion, we can have a reverent attitude and be prepared to receive guidance from the Lord.
Be humble.Humility is closely related to reverence. When we are humble, we recognize our dependence on the Lord.
Keep the commandments. When we keep the commandments, we are prepared to receive, recognize, and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Partake of the sacrament worthily. The sacramental prayers teach how to receive the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit. When we partake of the sacrament, we witness to God that we are willing to take upon ourselves the name of His Son and that we will always remember Him and keep His commandments. Our Heavenly Father promises that when we keep these covenants, we will always have the Spirit to be with us. (See D&C 20:77, 79.)
Study the scriptures every day. As we diligently study the scriptures, we learn from the examples of men and women whose lives have been blessed as they have followed the Lord's revealed will. We also become more receptive to the Holy Ghost in our own lives. As we read and ponder, we may receive revelation about how a certain scripture passage applies to us or about anything else the Lord desires to communicate to us.
Take time to ponder. When we take time to ponder the truths of the gospel, we open our mind and heart to the guiding influence of the Holy Ghost (see 1 Nephi 11:1; D&C 76:19; 138:1–11). Pondering takes our thoughts from the trivial things of the world, helping us gain a more eternal perspective and bringing us closer to the Spirit.
When seeking specific guidance, we should study the matter out in our minds. At times the Lord's communication will come only after we have studied a matter out in our minds.
Patiently seek God's will. God reveals Himself "in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will" (see D&C 88:63–68). Revelation will often come line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. We should be patient and trust in the Lord's timing.
Recognizing the Promptings of the Holy Ghost
Amid the many noises and messengers in the world today, we must learn to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Following are some of the principal ways the Holy Ghost communicates with us:
He speaks to the mind and heart in a still, small voice. The Lord taught: "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. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation" (D&C 8:2–3). Although such revelation can have a powerful effect on us, it almost always comes quietly, as a "still small voice" (see 1 Kings 19:9–12; Helaman 5:30; D&C 85:6).
He prompts us through our feelings. Although we often describe communication from the Spirit as a voice, that voice is one that we feel more than we hear.
—See True to the Faith (2004), 140–44
"Eight Ways God Can Speak to You"
Dallin H. Oaks, New Era, Sept. 2004, 4–8
I hope you will recognize the extent to which you have already received revelation or inspiration and resolve to cultivate this spiritual gift for more frequent use in the future.
"Revelation in a Changing World"
Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, Nov. 1989, 14–16
The patterns of revelation are not dramatic. The voice of inspiration is a still voice, a small voice.
"Revelation: The Word of the Lord to His Prophets"
Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, May 1977, 76–78
Of all things, that for which we should be most grateful today is that the heavens are indeed open and that the restored Church of Jesus Christ is founded upon the rock of revelation.
"The Lord's People Receive Revelation"
Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign, June 1971, 77–78
It is the privilege and the right of every member of the Church to receive revelation and to enjoy the gifts of the Spirit.
"Communion with the Holy Spirit"
James E. Faust, Liahona, Mar. 2002, 2–7; or Ensign, Mar. 2002, 2–7
Personal revelation comes as a testimony of truth and as guidance in spiritual and temporal matters.
L. Lionel Kendrick, Ensign, Sept. 1999, 6–13
It is a tender experience to petition our Heavenly Father in sincere, heartfelt prayer and look to Him for personal guidance.
James E. Faust, Liahona, Aug. 1996, 2–8; or Ensign, Aug. 1996, 2–7
Revelations have come by different means. Among other ways, they have come by the guidance of the Holy Ghost (which is perhaps most common), by the spoken word, and by visits from holy messengers.
"Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise"
Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, Nov. 1994, 59–62
You have your agency, and inspiration does not—perhaps cannot—flow unless you ask for it.
"How Do Mormon Beliefs Differ from Other Christians?"
A video clip of Elder M. Russell Ballard addressing this question.
Guide to the Scriptures
Encyclopedia of Mormonism
(Please note that the contents of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, a joint product of Brigham Young University and Macmillan Publishing Company, do not necessarily represent the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)
"Recognizing Personal Revelation"
Preparing for Exaltation, Lesson 15
"This Is the Spirit of Revelation"
Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual, Lesson 5