Chapter 3: The Companionship of the Holy Ghost

Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual Religion 130, (2005), 18–24


Note: Chapter 4 has a teaching suggestion that requires advance preparation (see “Missionaries should practice methods of teaching that edify” on p. 28). Ask two students to prepare a short teaching demonstration. Select students you feel would be comfortable teaching the class and then being evaluated. Ask them to prepare a four- or five-minute role play of missionaries teaching a principle of the restored gospel. Give them a choice of principles or events to teach (such as faith in the Lord Jesus Christ or the First Vision). Help them determine what scriptures to use. If applicable, offer them a picture, some suggested questions to ask their “investigators,” or any other recommendations to help them prepare. Explain to them that after they teach the principle to the class, their teaching will be evaluated.

Girl Confirmation

Introduction

Prospective missionaries should be learning how the Spirit influences their lives as they prepare for their missions. Since they will be doing the Lord’s work, having an ability to discern and follow the promptings of the Lord through His Spirit is essential. They should enter the mission field with vibrant testimonies. They should know by experience that prayers are answered. They should develop sensitivity to the Holy Ghost so that they will be qualified to carry out the Lord’s will in their fields of labor.

Note: This chapter focuses on the need for missionaries to personally receive and understand the Spirit. Chapter 4 addresses the subject of teaching by the Spirit.

Doctrines and Principles to Understand

  • The Light of Christ is a power for good in the lives of all people.

  • The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead.

  • There are many ways that the Holy Ghost influences our lives for good.

  • Sensitivity and obedience to the Spirit is one of a missionary’s greatest resources.

Teaching Suggestions

Note: The following two principles have been combined and addressed in a single teaching suggestion.

The Light of Christ is a power for good in the lives of all people.

The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead.

Write the following three titles and sources on the board:

Divide the class into three groups and assign each group one of these subjects. Have them search the sources to summarize facts about their subject. Then have them write their summaries on the board by the appropriate title.

Have each group turn to the student manual and silently read the corresponding statements to their assignment:

  • Holy Ghost. Elder Robert D. Hales (p. 23)

  • Gift of the Holy Ghost. Elder Dallin H. Oaks (p. 23) and Elder Bruce R. McConkie (p. 23)

  • Light of Christ. President Boyd K. Packer (p. 22) and Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (p. 22)

Invite those who studied the applicable section to discuss answers to the following questions:

  • Which of the roles of the Holy Ghost are especially important to missionaries and their investigators? Why?

  • In what ways might a missionary find Elder McConkie’s analogy useful when teaching an investigator?

  • Why do you think it will be important in your teaching to understand that everyone has been given the Light of Christ? (Review the concept that the Light of Christ will be a spiritual aid in bringing investigators closer to Christ by prompting them to accept the first principles and ordinances of the gospel as they progress toward becoming members of the Lord’s true Church.)

Have students pair off and take turns explaining the difference between the Light of Christ and the gift of the Holy Ghost. The second student should try to vary the explanation rather than duplicate what the first just taught.

There are many ways that the Holy Ghost influences our lives for good.

Ask students the following questions:

  • In what ways can the Holy Ghost influence us? (Write student answers on the board.)

  • Why is it important for a missionary to understand how the Holy Ghost communicates?

  • What happens when we receive promptings from the Spirit but do not act on them?

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 8:2–3 and the statement by Elder L. Lionel Kendrick in the student manual (p. 24).

Explain that there are times when people feel the influence of the Holy Ghost but do not recognize it for what it is. Have students read what happened to the Lamanites in 3 Nephi 9:20.

  • Why might some people have the Spirit with them but not recognize it?

Read together Galatians 5:22–23 and review what happens in the lives of those who receive spiritual communication.

Be sure students understand that we must be worthy to have the influence of the Holy Ghost. This will be addressed in more detail in chapter 4. Emphasize the following:

  • The Spirit of the Lord will never prompt an individual to act contrary to the standards of the restored gospel or the righteous priesthood authorities of the Church.

  • It is difficult, if not impossible, to receive impressions of the Spirit while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or similar things. “Your body really is the instrument of your mind and the foundation of your character” (Boyd K. Packer, in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 93; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 72). You must take proper care of it.

There are many ways the Spirit communicates to us. Discuss the following ideas with students: spiritual impressions; a feeling of peace; the still, small voice; bursts of ideas; and the sacred nature of spiritual manifestations.

We can receive spiritual impressions. Have students read 1 Nephi 17:45 and look for a way that Laman and Lemuel missed recognizing spiritual impressions. Share the following description from President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“[Spiritual] communication seldom comes audibly. Most of the time it comes through your feeling” (“The Gift of the Holy Ghost: What Every Missionary Should Know—and Every Member as Well” [seminar for new mission presidents, June 24, 2003], 4; see also D&C 8:2–3; 9:8).

Sometimes those feelings are described as a burning in the bosom (see D&C 9:8–9). See the definition of the burning of the bosom in the student manual quoted from True to the Faith (p. 24). Also read the following quotation from President Boyd K. Packer:

“This burning in the bosom is not purely a physical sensation. It is more like a warm light shining within your being” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 77; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 60).

Recall in your mind a circumstance when you had a spiritual impression.

  • Why is it important to recognize spiritual impressions?

We can receive a feeling of peace. Have a student read aloud Doctrine and Covenants 6:22–23. Peace is one way we can feel the influence of the Spirit in our lives. President Brigham Young told of a dream or vision he had in 1847, after the Prophet Joseph Smith’s martyrdom, in which the Prophet explained:

“They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls” (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1846–1847, ed. Elden J. Watson [1971], 529).

We can receive the still, small voice. Share the following experience related by President Wilford Woodruff about his mission in England:

“I was in the town of Stanley and held a meeting in the City Hall. I had a week’s appointments out in that town. Before I rose to speak to the people, the Spirit of the Lord said to me, ‘This is the last meeting you will hold with this people for many days.’ I told the congregation when I arose what the Spirit of the Lord had manifested to me. They were as much surprised as I was. I did not know what the Lord wanted, but I saw the purpose of God afterwards.”

  • Why do you think this message came as a surprise to President Woodruff?

Invite students to share what they know about why the Spirit led President Woodruff away from the town of Stanley, where he had many appointments, to teach in another location in England. Read the remainder of President Woodruff’s account:

“The Spirit of the Lord said to me, ‘Go south.’ I traveled eighty miles; went into the south of England. As soon as I arrived, I met John Benbow. It was clearly made manifest to me why I had been called thither. I had left a good field, where I was baptizing every night in the week. When I got to this place, I found a people—some 600 of them—who had broken off from the Wesleyan Methodists and formed themselves into a sect called the United Brethren. I found that they were praying for light and truth and that they had gone about as far as they could go. I saw that the Lord had sent me to them. I went to work amongst them and ultimately baptized their superintendent, forty preachers and some 600 members; I baptized every member of that denomination, but one. Altogether some 1800 were baptized in that field of labor” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff [1969], 60).

  • What lesson from this account might a modern missionary apply about recognizing and following the still, small voice?

  • How might President Woodruff’s mission have been different if he had ignored the promptings of the Spirit? How might his life have been different?

Have the students refer to 1 Kings 19:9–13, where Elijah learned to distinguish the still, small voice. Discuss what other events Elijah heard and the value of this scripture in describing the “voice” of Spirit.

Share the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Some have looked exclusively for the great manifestations that are recorded in the scriptures and have failed to recognize the still, small voice that is given to them. This is like making up our minds that we will learn only from a teacher who shouts and that we will refuse to listen to even the wisest teaching when it comes in a whisper.

“We need to know that the Lord rarely speaks loudly. His messages almost always come in a whisper” (“Teaching and Learning by the Spirit,” Ensign, Mar. 1997, 11–12).

We can receive new ideas. Have students read the statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the student manual (pp. 25–26). Ask them to identify how the Prophet described the “spirit of revelation.”

We should remember that spiritual manifestations are sacred. Some people experience very special revelations that are too sacred to discuss openly (see President Packer’s cautions in the student manual, 26). Visions do happen, and voices do come from beyond the veil. When people have such an experience, they should keep it sacred. Read together Alma 12:9; Doctrine and Covenants 63:64; 84:73.

  • Why is it inappropriate to pry or ask someone about sacred personal spiritual experiences?

The Lord gives us revelation in His own time. Have a student read Jacob 4:10.

  • Why are we sometimes too impatient to wait for an answer to prayer?

  • How might this principle be important for a missionary to understand? for his or her investigator?

DVD Track 8 You may want to refer to the statements by Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Neal A. Maxwell in the student manual (p. 26), or you may choose to use DVD track 8 (0:32) to play Elder Maxwell’s statement.

We should not expect revelation in all things. Explain that the Lord sets the conditions and the timetable for how He speaks to us. You may want to refer to the two cautions by Elder Dallin H. Oaks in the student manual (pp. 26–27).

Sensitivity and obedience to the Spirit is one of a missionary’s greatest resources.

After receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, members of the Church qualify to understand the workings of the Spirit and seek His guidance. Read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“It is important to remember that the illumination and revelation that come to an individual as a result of the gift of the Holy Ghost do not come suddenly or without seeking. President Spencer W. Kimball taught that the Holy Ghost ‘comes a little at a time as you merit it. And as your life is in harmony, you gradually receive the Holy Ghost in a great measure’ (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 114).

“The blessings available through the gift of the Holy Ghost are conditioned upon worthiness. … He will withdraw when we offend Him by profanity, uncleanliness, disobedience, rebellion, or other serious sins” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 80–81; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 61).

Explain to the students that it is important that they learn now to be worthy of the guidance of the Holy Spirit and have the courage to follow that guidance. The power and influence of the Holy Ghost does not come automatically when a person puts on the missionary nametag.

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 76:114–16.

  • According to verse 114, what does “them” and “they” refer to in verse 116? (“Works of the Lord” and “mysteries of his kingdom.”)

  • What are the prerequisites mentioned in verse 116 for having the Spirit with us?

  • What relationship is there between obedience and having the Spirit to guide your missionary work?

  • Why will it be vital for you to keep the mission rules while serving a mission?

Ask students to suggest reasons the Spirit is necessary and settings where inspiration is needed in the mission field.

Read the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer:

“Perhaps the greatest thing that can happen to you on your mission is to have experiences with the gift of the Holy Ghost. …

“The great blessing you will receive is to become familiar with the still small voice and learn that this voice will tell you all things that you must do. … These promptings can come many times, through many experiences. That is the voice of the Lord speaking. …

“… You can speak with the tongue of angels, which simply means that you can speak with the power of the Holy Ghost. It will be quiet. It will be invisible. There will not be a dove. There will not be cloven tongues of fire. But the power will be there” (“The Gift of the Holy Ghost: What Every Missionary Should Know,” 3, 6).

  • How do you think acting on the impressions you receive will influence future communication from the Holy Ghost?

Share the experience President Packer had while serving as a mission president (see student manual, 27). Invite students to share what lesson this account taught them that will be useful as a missionary and in their future lives.

Suggested Assignments for Students

  • Determine what adjustments you can make in your life to become more sensitive to the Spirit.

  • Choose a time and a place where you can be alone. You may want to fast. Begin with prayer and ask your Heavenly Father what He would have you do as you prepare to be one of His missionaries. After praying, take some time to consider thoughts and feelings that come to you. Record these impressions in your journal. This may be a good start to your missionary journal.

  • Record impressions and insights regarding the scriptures you study in a scripture study journal.

  • Prayerfully review your patriarchal blessing, noting counsel and impressions that could be applied to your mission. (If you have not received your patriarchal blessing, consider doing so.)

  • Prepare a talk on the subject “Why being guided by the Spirit is important to every missionary.” Give your talk to your family or a trusted friend.

  • Complete the scripture chart in the student manual and chain the verses in your scriptures (see student manual, 28).