Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

“After a spiritual experience, the feeling fades so soon I begin to wonder if what I felt was real. How can I be sure that feeling came from the Spirit?”

New Era

  • Learn about the Holy Ghost from the scriptures and Church leaders.

  • The Spirit enlightens your mind and gives you a feeling of peace.

  • The Spirit may also warn, teach, testify, fill your soul with joy, or inspire you to be good.

  • Do what invites the influence of the Spirit to be with you: pray, attend seminary, take the sacrament worthily, and so on.

There’s a reason the Spirit is called “a still small voice” (1 Kgs. 19:12). Most people learn to recognize the influence of the Spirit by effort and experience. Even some people in the scriptures had a hard time recognizing spiritual experiences (see 3 Ne. 9:20; 3 Ne. 11:3–7).

Learn How the Spirit Speaks

The Lord told Oliver Cowdery two ways the Spirit speaks: “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; …

“Cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.

“Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter?” (D&C 6:15, 22–23; emphasis added).

Have you also at times felt an enlightened mind? Have you also felt peace? Those are ways God can speak to you through the Holy Ghost. Other ways include feeling inspired to believe in Christ, to be humble or patient, or to do something good. (See Gal. 5:22; Moro. 7:12–17; D&C 11:12–13.)

Two recent New Era articles can help. In this issue, study “Eight Ways God Can Speak to You” on page 4. In July’s issue, see “Is It Revelation?” on page 44. They will teach you how to know if what you felt came from the Spirit.

Seek the Spirit

You can also learn to recognize spiritual experiences by doing things that invite the Spirit into your life. The Spirit testifies of Heavenly Father, so you may feel the influence of the Holy Ghost as you pray. The Spirit testifies of truth, so you may feel the Holy Ghost as you read the scriptures. The Spirit accompanies priesthood ordinances, so you may feel the Holy Ghost as you attend sacrament meeting. As you recognize the Spirit at these times, you can learn to recognize His promptings in your daily life.

Recognizing spiritual experiences can be hard because the devil wants you to forget or doubt what you felt. Fortunately, spiritual experiences, though quiet, are unmistakable. Brigham Young said: “The Spirit of God filling the creature with revelation and the light of eternity, cannot be mistaken—the revelation which comes from God is never mistaken” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 319).

Recall the feeling you had. If you are honest with yourself and with Heavenly Father, you will know if that feeling came from God or not.

President Boyd K. Packer

The voice of the Spirit is a still, small voice—a voice that is felt rather than heard. It is a spiritual voice that comes into the mind as a thought put into your heart.” —President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Cloven Tongues of Fire,” Ensign, May 2000, 8.

Readers

I can tell if what I am feeling is the Spirit by how I want to be during and after a spiritual experience. When I am filled with the Spirit, I want to be righteous and return to my Father in Heaven. After a spiritual moment, I pray to see if my feelings were real. So far, Heavenly Father has answered my prayers every time. Ashli Booth, 14, El Centro Ward, Sacramento California North Stake

Spiritual experiences fade from us for a reason. If we had a spiritual experience that never faded, would we ever try to seek for others? Compare it to the sun: when the sun sets, you don’t give up hope. You remember it until it comes back. Elder Devin Baker, 19, Illinois Chicago North Mission

The feelings were true if (1) you felt the joy and happiness the Spirit can give you; (2) you felt you were being blessed; (3) you felt relieved of the troubles that were around you before the spiritual experience; and (4) joy replaced the troubled feelings. Adrienne Lambert, 15, Saco Branch, Augusta Maine Stake

Pray about your feelings. Ask Heavenly Father if what you felt was real. Write your spiritual experiences in your journal. When you read them again, you will remember what you felt and why you felt that way. It has worked for me. Kara Morris, 15, Grandview Second Ward, Mesa Arizona Central Stake

One way I know that I have felt the Spirit is that I have a peaceful, calm feeling. If I have a prompting and I’m not sure it came from the Spirit, I think about it for a minute. If it is a prompting to do something good, I just do it. Caitlyn Wright, 15, Kirkland First Ward, Kirkland Washington Stake

When I am blessed with a spiritual experience, the first thing I do is write it in my journal. I try to write down every detail and feeling. That way, when I am struggling, I can remember the Spirit I felt, and it is a testimony to me. Maddison DeWolf, 14, Lakeside 10th Ward, Provo Utah West Stake

To recognize revelation, do the good things you are prompted to do. As you exercise faith and act on the feelings you receive, you become acquainted with the Holy Ghost. Elder Josiah Umeh, 20, Nigeria Uyo Mission

All good things come from the Lord. I have discovered, however, that Satan is real as well. Every time you feel the Spirit and peace comes into your soul, Satan is doing his best to push the peace out. But you have the Lord on your side. Never give up, and continue to pray to have the Spirit with you. Melissa Peay, 19, Morgan Sixth Ward, Morgan Utah Stake

Sharing your experience can bring back the Spirit. It can also help the other person to feel the Spirit. Prayer is another way. I believe the more you pray, the more spiritual experiences you will have and the more your testimony will grow. Kari Vanzanten, 17, Crockett Ward, Logan Utah Mount Logan Stake

If you start to wonder if the feeling was real, you should try to continue to do things that will help you feel the Spirit. As you feel the Spirit more often, you will begin to more easily recognize those feelings. Annie Tanner, 18, Kirksville Second Ward, Nauvoo Illinois Stake