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. The scriptures contain many such revelations—the word of the Lord through ancient and latter-day prophets. Today the Lord continues to guide the Church by revealing His will to His chosen servants.
Prophets are not the only people who can receive revelation. According to your faithfulness, you can receive revelation to help you with your specific needs, responsibilities, and questions and to help you strengthen your 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 truths concerning such doctrines as premortal existence, the redemption of the dead, and the three kingdoms of glory. 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 more powerful and lasting and life changing. The witness of the Holy Ghost makes an impression on the soul that is more significant than anything you can see or hear. Through such revelations, you will receive lasting strength to stay true to the gospel and help others do the same.
The following counsel will help you prepare to receive promptings from the Holy Ghost:
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, you must seek and ask. If you do not knock—praying to your Heavenly Father for guidance—the door of revelation will not be opened to you. But if you approach your Father in humble prayer, you can eventually “receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal” (D&C 42:61).
Reverence is profound respect and love. When you are reverent and peaceful, you invite revelation. Even when everything around you is in commotion, you can have a reverent attitude and be prepared to receive guidance from the Lord.
Humility is closely related to reverence. When you are humble, you recognize your dependence on the Lord. The prophet Mormon taught, “Because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love” (Moroni 8:26).
When you keep the commandments, you are prepared to receive, recognize, and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. The Lord promised, “Unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life” (D&C 63:23).
The sacramental prayers teach how to receive the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit. When you partake of the sacrament, you witness to God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of His Son and that you will always remember Him and keep His commandments. Heavenly Father promises that when you keep these covenants, you will always have the Spirit to be with you. (See D&C 20:77, 79.)
As you diligently study the scriptures, you learn from the examples of men and women whose lives have been blessed as they have followed the Lord’s revealed will. You also become more receptive to the Holy Ghost in your own life. As you read and ponder, you may receive revelation about how a certain scripture passage applies to you or about anything else the Lord desires to communicate to you. Because scripture reading can help you receive personal revelation, you should study the scriptures every day.
When you take time to ponder the truths of the gospel, you open your 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 your thoughts from the trivial things of the world and brings you closer to the Spirit.
At times the Lord’s communication will come only after you have studied a matter out in your own mind. The Lord explained this process to Oliver Cowdery, who served as Joseph Smith’s scribe for much of the translation of the Book of Mormon. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord spoke to Oliver Cowdery, explaining why Oliver had not been able to translate the Book of Mormon even though he had been given the gift to translate: “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. 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” (D&C 9:7–8).
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 probably come to you “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30; see also Isaiah 28:10; D&C 98:12). Do not try to force spiritual things. Revelation does not come that way. Be patient and trust in the Lord’s timing.
Amid the many noises and messengers in the world today, you must learn to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Following are some of the principal ways the Holy Ghost communicates with us:
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). Sometimes the Holy Ghost will help you understand a gospel truth or give you a prompting that “seems to occupy [your] mind, and press itself upon [your] feelings” (D&C 128:1). Although such revelation can have a powerful effect on you, it almost always comes quietly, as a “still small voice” (see 1 Kings 19:9–12; Helaman 5:30; D&C 85:6).
Although we often describe communication from the Spirit as a voice, that voice is one that we feel more than we hear. And while we speak of “listening” to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, we often describe a spiritual prompting by saying, “I had a feeling …” The Lord’s counsel to Oliver Cowdery in section 9 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which is discussed on page 143, teaches this principle. However, this counsel is sometimes misunderstood. Upon reading that passage, some members of the Church become confused, fearing that they have never received a prompting from the Holy Ghost because they have never felt a burning in their bosom. Note the Lord’s final words in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8: “Therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” The burning described in this scripture passage signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity, not necessarily a sensation of heat. As you continue to seek and follow the Lord’s will in your life, you will come to recognize how the Holy Ghost influences you personally.
The Holy Ghost is often called the Comforter (see John 14:26; D&C 39:6). As He reveals the will of the Lord to you, He will “speak peace to your mind” (D&C 6:23). The peace He gives cannot be counterfeited by worldly influences or false teachings. It is the peace the Savior promised when He assured His disciples that He would send the Comforter: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).