Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Acting on Revelation

  • Act on any instructions you may receive through revelation

The prophet Joseph Smith wrote, “No month ever found me more busily engaged than November; but as my life consisted of activity and unyielding exertions, I made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it.” (

The prophet Nephi tells us that the Holy Ghost tells us what we should do in order to spiritually progress in 2 Nephi 32:

3) Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
4) Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
5) For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
6) Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.

The prophet Isaiah explains that the Spirit tells us how to walk in the way (of salvation) – “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21).

Lehi and Nephi understood the word ‘commandment’ to mean a revelation from God in which he gives you a task to accomplish. For example, in 1 Nephi 2, Nephi tells us about the revelation-commandment that God gave Lehi to flee from Jerusalem:

1) For behold, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto my father, yea, even in a dream, and said unto him: Blessed art thou Lehi, because of the things which thou hast done; and because thou hast been faithful and declared unto this people the things which I commanded thee, behold, they seek to take away thy life.
2) And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.
3) And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.
4) And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.

In the next chapter, 1 Nephi 3, Nephi tells us about the revelation-commandment God gave Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem to get the brass plates:

4) Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness.
5) And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.
6) Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured.
7) And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

After Nephi and his brothers return with the brass plates, Nephi comments that “thus far I and my father had kept the commandments wherewith the Lord had commanded us.” (1 Nephi 5:20). Later, Lehi received another revelation-commandment to send his sons back to Jerusalem to convince Ishmael and his family to join them so that Lehi’s sons could marry Ishmael’s daughters as found in 1 Nephi 7:

1) And now I would that ye might know, that after my father, Lehi, had made an end of prophesying concerning his seed, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him again, saying that it was not meet for him, Lehi, that he should take his family into the wilderness alone; but that his sons should take daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise.
2) And it came to pass that the Lord commanded him that I, Nephi, and my brethren, should again return unto the land of Jerusalem, and bring down Ishmael and his family into the wilderness.

In this passage, Nephi uses the word ‘commandment’ in such a way that you could substitute it with the word revelation without losing any meaning:

And after I had made these plates by way of commandment, I, Nephi, received a commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these plates; and that the things which were written should be kept for the instruction of my people, who should possess the land, and also for other wise purposes, which purposes are known unto the Lord. (1 Nephi 19:3)

Abraham desired to receive revelation-commandments and to do them in order to progress from one spiritual level to the next – “And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.” (Abraham 1:2).

As we receive revelation-commandments and then do as instructed, we are given more and more light – “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (D&C 50:24).

Recording Revelation

  • We ought to write down our conversations with God in a journal

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26)

Several passages of scripture talk about the need to write down our revelations, including these passages – Habakkuk 2:2, 1 Nephi 1:16, 2 Nephi 4:2, 2 Nephi 25:26, 2 Nephi 29:11, 2 Nephi 33:3, Ether 12:24, and D&C 76:28, 49, 80, and 113.

Notice how critical it was for Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve to write down his revelations as he received them as he recounted some personal experiences in a talk he gave at a BYU devotional. Also notice how after he had written everything down he prayed to ask if what he had written was accurate and then he asked if there was more and then he received more revelation:

The following personal experience integrates several of the points I have attempted to emphasize today. Every time I contemplate this event, I am moved by how kind the Lord is in answering our pleas for help. It occurred some time ago when I had responsibilities in Mexico and Central America that were far beyond my personal capacity to fulfil. I spent much sincere effort in seeking guidance and understanding from the Lord in study, prayer, fasting, and anxious service. Help came unexpectedly one Sunday as I attended a meeting where a humble, unschooled, Mexican priesthood leader struggled to communicate truths of the gospel identified in his lesson manual. It was obvious they had touched his life profoundly. I felt his intense desire to communicate those principles because they would be of great worth to his brethren. In his manner there was evidence of a pure love of the Savior and love for those he taught.

That love, sincerity, and purity of intent permitted a spirit to envelop the room. I was so touched that in addition to receiving again a witness of the truths he presented, I began to receive some personal impressions as an extension of those principles taught by the humble instructor. These impressions, intended for me personally, were related to my assignments in the area. They came in answer to my prolonged efforts to learn.

As each impression came, I wrote it down. I was given precious truths needed for me to be more effective. The specific counsel began with this impression: “Continue to build the Church on the foundation of true principles, but with increased expression of love and appreciation for the great Lamanite people.” There followed matters of great benefit to me.

Next I visited the Sunday School class, where a well-educated individual presented his lesson. That experience was a striking contrast to that of the priesthood meeting. It seemed as though the instructor had purposely chosen obscure references and unusual examples to illustrate the principles in the lesson. I will confess that I had the distinct impression that he was using the teaching opportunity to impress the class with his vast store of knowledge. He did not seem as intent on communicating truth as the humble priesthood leader had been.

This experience also created an environment where strong impressions flowed. I wrote them down. One paragraph began, “Testify to instruct, edify, and lead others to full obedience, not to demonstrate anything of self. All who are puffed up shall be cut off.” Another signaled, “You are nothing in and of yourself, Richard.” That was followed with some specific counsel on how to be a better servant. The impressions became so personal that I felt it inappropriate to record them in the midst of a Sunday School class. I sought a more private location. There I continued to write the feelings that flooded into my mind and heart as accurately and as faithfully as possible. After each powerful impression was recorded, I meditated upon it and pondered the feelings I had received to determine if I had accurately interpreted them. Then I studied their meaning and application in my own personal life.

Subsequently I prayed, expressing to the Lord what I thought I had felt. There came a feeling of peace and serenity when it was confirmed. I asked if there was yet more that I should be given to understand. There came further impressions, and the process was repeated until I received the most precious, specific direction for which I will ever be grateful.

This event embodies several principles I feel are true regarding communication from the Lord to his children here on earth. I believe that we often do not learn the truths the Lord would freely share because we do not in humility earnestly seek light. We also can leave the most precious personal direction of the Spirit unheard because we do not strive to understand, value, use, remember, and expand the first promptings that come to us when we are in need or when impressions come in response to earnest, intense prayer.

You can see the things that I have been teaching you are not theory. I have learned them in the crucible of personal experience. I am sorry I cannot communicate them more clearly, but I know how you can also receive that kind of direction: Ask the Lord, seek the light, have faith in the Savior, strive to obey his commandments. He will bless you with light to lead you as you walk through this treacherous world in which we live.

I know he lives. I certify he lives. He knows each of us personally. Your efforts to learn of him, to learn truth, to be better prepared are appreciated by the Redeemer. As you continue faithfully, he will bless your efforts and inspire you and lead you to greater knowledge and capability. I testify that he guides this church, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. (

Defending Yourself Against the Wiles of the Devil

  • How can I defend myself against “the wiles of the devil”?

We can be spiritually shielded against “the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). The Psalms tell us that the Lord is a shield:

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. (Psalm 28:7)

Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)

For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. (Psalm 91:2-4)

The apostle Paul called this spiritual shielding “the armor of God” in Ephesians 6:

10) Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

The Lord revealed a key to Joseph Smith on how we can be spiritually shielded and armored against the devil – “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.” (D&C 10:5). One way to “put on the whole armor of God” is to ask God in prayer to shield you and put the armor of God on you so that you will not be subject to “the wiles of the devil”. The prophet Mormon provides another key, which is to receive and follow the word of God – “Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—” (Helaman 3:29).

Another key is provided by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:

3) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4) (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

We can “cast down” or cast out the “imaginations” (false revelation) and every high thing (evil and unclean spirits). In D&C 84 we read that anyone who believes, is baptized, and receives the Holy Ghost has power to cast out devils:

64) Therefore, as I said unto mine apostles I say unto you again, that every soul who believeth on your words, and is baptized by water for the remission of sins, shall receive the Holy Ghost.
65) And these signs shall follow them that believe—
66) In my name they shall do many wonderful works;
67) In my name they shall cast out devils;

See also Mark 16:14-17, Mormon 9:21-25, and D&C 124:98.

We can also ask the Lord to cast evil spirits away from us, because an angel told king Benjamin that part of Jesus’ messianic mission is to “cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.” (Mosiah 3:6).

In practice, when you set aside some time and space and get into a quiet state of mind to intentionally be open to and receive revelation, you can first ask God in prayer to cast all evil spirits away or command them yourself to depart and then ask God be a shield and put spiritual armor on you so that you will be protected against any attempts of evil spirits to send you deceptive revelation.

The Devil and Deceptive Revelation

  • Does the devil try to deceive us with false revelation?

Boyd K. Packer described the devil’s attempts to thwart revelation:

You should know also that, in addition to static and interference which jam the circuits, there are counterfeit signals.

Some have received revelations and heard voices that are put there deliberately by wicked sources to lead astray. You can learn to recognize those and tune them out, if you will. (

In another talk, Boyd K. Packer spoke more about the devil’s work to mislead us:

All inspiration does not come from God. (See D&C 46:7.) The evil one has the power to tap into those channels of revelation and send conflicting signals which can mislead and confuse us. There are promptings from evil sources which are so carefully counterfeited as to deceive even the very elect. (See Matt. 24:24.)

Richard G. Scott explained how the devil works to prevent us from receiving revelation:

I share a warning. Satan is extremely good at blocking spiritual communication by inducing individuals, through temptation, to violate the laws upon which spiritual communication is founded. With some, he is able to convince them that they are not able to receive such guidance from the Lord. (

These scriptures talk about how the devil attempts to give us false revelation – D&C 28:11-12, D&C 46:7-11, and D&C 50:13-15.

  • How can I recognize the deceptions of the devil?

The scriptures provide important keys in how to recognize the voice of the devil. In Moroni 7 we read what the prophet Mormon said with respect to distinguishing between inspiration from God and inspiration from the devil:

12) Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
13) But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
14) Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
15) For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
16) For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17) But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
18) And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
19) Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

Nephi made these observations about how the devil attempts to deceive us, as found in 2 Nephi 28:

19) For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish;
20) For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
21) And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
22) And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.
23) Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.
24) Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!
25) Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!
26) Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!
27) Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!
28) And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.
29) Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!
30) For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

31) Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Medium of Revelation

  • What is the medium of communication between God and man?

One of God’s mediums of communication is the light of Christ, which is perhaps best described in this passage of Doctrine and Covenants 88:

11) And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;
12) Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—
13) The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.

In the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 31 we read how God gives light (the light of Christ) to the understanding:

3) For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.

Merrill J. Bateman, former president of BYU, gave a devotional at BYU in August 2000 entitled Learning in the Light of Truth in which he described the light of Christ like this:

There is another form of light not often studied by physicists–light in the spiritual dimension. … [We] are privileged to know about, access, and benefit from a more refined light that emanates from Christ. It, too, is the source of life–eternal life. This light, the Light of Christ, is the source of truth. In speaking to Joseph Smith, the Savior said:

For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. [D&C 84:45–46]

The visible spectrum of light has a spiritual counterpart. The spiritual spectrum relates to various levels of intelligence, beginning with animal instinct and moving to more refined forms of light and truth. These gradations include man’s reasoning ability and conscience, the light that comes through the Holy Ghost prior to baptism, and the light one receives through the gift of the Holy Ghost after entering the Lord’s kingdom. Finally, a fullness of light is received when one has proven worthy of the Second Comforter and receives the “more sure word of prophecy” (2 Pet. 1:19; D&C 131:5). (The spiritual spectrum of light is based on statements by Parley P. Pratt in Key to the Science of Theology, 9th ed. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1965], 46–47; and Charles W. Penrose, JD 26:21–22.)

In 1884 President Charles W. Penrose, citing section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants, stated that the physical and spiritual spectrums of light are related and belong to one continuum. Speaking of the Light of Christ, the Spirit of God, he said:

It is the light and the life of all things. It is the light and the life of man. It is the life of the animal creation. It is the life of the vegetable creation. It is in the earth . . . ; it is in the stars . . . ; it is in the moon . . . : it is in the sun, and is the light of the sun, and the power by which it was made; and these grosser particles of light that illuminate the heavens and enable us to behold the works of nature, are from that same Spirit which enlightens our minds and unfolds the things of God. As that light comes forth from the sun, so the light of God comes to us. [Charles W. Penrose, JD 26:21] (

In Lectures on Faith, Lecture Fifth- The Godhead, we learn that the Holy Spirit, which could also be called the light of Christ, is the mind, wisdom, power, glory and fullness that the Father and the Son both possess, and that this spirit is shared with man:

2) There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things—by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space—They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;—he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him, and was ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh—and descended in suffering below that which man can suffer, or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be. But notwithstanding all this, he kept the law of God, and remained without sin: Showing thereby that it is in the power of man to keep the law and remain also without sin. And also, that by him a righteous judgment might come upon all flesh, and that all who walk not in the law of God, may justly be condemned by the law, and have no excuse for their sins. And he being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father—possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one, or in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things: by whom all things were created and made, that were created and made: and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one: The Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power and fulness: Filling all in all—the Son being filled with the fulness of the Mind, glory and power, or, in other words, the Spirit, glory and power of the Father—possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom: sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father—a Mediator for man—being filled with the fulness of the Mind of the Father, or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father: which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on his name and keep his commandments: and all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all: being filled with the fulness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one.

God also communicates to us by sending angels to deliver messages and to impart spiritual power and blessings. In an article published in the Ensign, Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy stated:

Other personal manifestations [of angels] have been so quiet that those who received them were unaware of the angelic presence. The ministry of these unseen angels is among the most sublime forms of interaction between heaven and earth, powerfully expressing God’s concern for us and bestowing tangible assurance and spiritual sustenance upon those in great need.

The veil between heaven and earth usually hides the angels from our sight. Yet often in the early stages of our spiritual development, we may experience unmistakable contact with the angels of the unseen world. These experiences may move our sense of belief to a sure sense of knowledge, as we exclaim with Alma, “O then, is not this real?” And Alma replies to us, “Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible.” (Alma 32:35; italics added.) (

David A. Edwards, who works for Church magazines, wrote an article published in the Ensign entitled Angels We Have Heard on High in which he explained:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has given us a succinct explanation of what angels do:

“From the beginning down through the dispensations, God has used angels as His emissaries in conveying love and concern for His children. …

“Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. Sometimes their assignments are very grand and have significance for the whole world. Sometimes the messages are more private. Occasionally the angelic purpose is to warn. But most often it is to comfort, to provide some form of merciful attention, guidance in difficult times. …

“… I testify that angels are still sent to help us, even as they were sent to help Adam and Eve, to help the prophets, and indeed to help the Savior of the world Himself. … Such ministrations will be to the righteous until the end of time.”

Because “angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost” (2 Nephi 32:3), it’s possible that when we perceive the voice of the Spirit in our lives, it may be the result of angelic ministration. Of course, the Holy Ghost can and does speak directly to us and can dwell in our hearts (see D&C 8:2), but it seems that angels always deliver their messages through the medium of the Spirit, whether they are unseen and speaking in a “still small voice” or standing before our eyes and speaking with a “voice of thunder” (1 Nephi 17:45). In fact, even the actual beholding of angels is a spiritual gift (see Moroni 10:14).

Also, it’s clear from the scriptures that the important thing about the ministering of angels isn’t really that we see or hear them with our natural senses but that we heed their messages as we humbly receive them in the intended way—with hearts that are softened so that we can “feel [their] words” through the Spirit (1 Nephi 17:45), by which God can reveal things “to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all.” (

After doing a lot of research on the ministering of angels, Donald W. Parry gave a talk at a BYU devotional explaining his findings entitled Angels, Chariots and the Lord of Hosts, given on July 31, 2012. That talk can be accessed at this link -

Here are some scriptures that teach about how angels are a source of communication between God and man – Moroni 7:25 and 30, 2 Nephi 32:3, and Alma 32:23.

Frequency of Revelation

  • How often is God willing to communicate with each of us?

In a general conference talk, Boyd K. Packer said that we receive a “constant signal” from the Lord:

The Lord has a way of pouring pure intelligence into our minds to prompt us, to guide us, to teach us, to warn us. You can know the things you need to know instantly! Learn to receive inspiration.

There is a spiritual beam, with a constant signal. If you know how to pray and how to listen, spiritually listen, you may move through life, through clear weather, through storms, through wars, through peace, and be all right. (

The prophet Mormon said:

But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God. (Moroni 7:13)

In the sacrament prayer we are promised that we may “always have [the spirit of Jesus Christ] to be with [us].”

The Lord told Moses, “there is no end to my works, neither to my words.”( Moses 1:38).

In a revelation through Joseph Smith, the Lord told Oliver Cowdery “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, 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.” (D&C 6:14).

In Psalm 139, David implies that the Lord is constantly sending revelation or thoughts to him:

17) How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

18) If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Recognizing Revelation

  • How do you recognize revelation when you receive it?

Yea, behold, 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; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground. (D&C 8:2-3)

  • How can you tell if you are receiving revelation or how can you verify that you have received revelation if you think you have received it?

President Harold B. Lee said that revelation is often simply thoughts placed in our minds by God:

Thus the Lord, by revelation, brings thoughts into our minds as though a voice were speaking. May I bear humble testimony to that fact? I was once in a situation where I needed help. The Lord knew I needed help, as I was on an important mission. I was awakened in the wee hours of the morning and was straightened out on something that I had planned to do in a contrary way, and the way was clearly mapped out before me as I lay there that morning, just as surely as though someone had sat on the edge of my bed and told me what to do. Yes, the voice of the Lord comes into our minds and we can be directed thereby. (

Church member Lindsay R. Curtis , M.D. answered the question “How can I tell when I’m receiving revelation?” in the March 1984 New Era:

Elder Boyd K. Packer tells of experiments conducted with audiospectographs in which the songs of birds were recorded on graphs. Through this means it was discovered that there are many, many songs of birds that are not audible to the human ear simply because our hearing apparatus is not attuned to those particular wavelengths. Is it not possible that we are missing many messages from our Father in Heaven, messages in which he would like to instruct us through revelation regarding our lives, our decisions, and our destinies? Is it not possible that we are receiving far more answers to our prayers and supplications than we think, but we are not hearing them because we are not attuned to the proper wavelength to hear these sacred and important communications? Perhaps we are simply too busy or too preoccupied to listen attentively for that particular revelation that the Lord wants to give us.

A revelation for me? Yes, if I desire one badly enough to tune in and listen attentively. Yes, I can have a revelation from God, a revelation just for me, one through which my life and the lives of others may be blessed. (
In a CES fireside for young adults, Linda K. Burton, General Relief Society President provided this counsel on how to recognize the voice of the Spirit:

Just as learning an instrument or a language is a process, learning the language of the Spirit is also a process, one that is vital for each of us to learn, whether we are recently baptized or long-time members of the Church.
How can we know if we have heard the voice of the Spirit?

We might ask ourselves a few additional questions as we ponder this question:

• Have I experienced feelings of love, joy, peace, patience, meekness, gentleness, faith, hope, and comfort?
• Have ideas come to my mind, or feelings to my heart, that I know are from the Lord and not from me?
• Have I heard my voice speaking truth without having planned what I would say?
• Have I experienced a magnification of my own skills and abilities?
• Have I felt guidance and protection from deception?
• Have I recognized sin in my life and had the desire to correct it?
• Have I felt the Spirit glorifying and bearing record of God the Father and Jesus Christ?3
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you have felt the Spirit of the Lord at some time in your life. But the most important question is “Can ye feel so now?”4

The prophet Mormon’s counsel about following the Light of Christ can help us know how to receive the Holy Ghost. Mormon said:

“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

“But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.”5

President Gordon B. Hinckley observed: “That’s the test, when all is said and done. Does it persuade one to do good, to rise, to stand tall, to do the right thing, to be kind, to be generous? Then it is of the Spirit of God.”

Why does discerning the whisperings of the Spirit seem so difficult? Perhaps one reason is that the Spirit communicates both to our minds and to our hearts. In learning the language of the Spirit, we sometimes confuse our own thoughts and our own emotions with the promptings of the Spirit. Another reason is that discerning the Spirit is a gift of the Spirit. Just as learning a language comes easily to some and not to others, so does the ability to understand the whisperings of the Spirit. Most often, learning an instrument or language takes a great deal of effort, including practicing and sometimes making mistakes. So it is with the process of learning the language of the Spirit. (

Joseph Smith said that once you become aware of the spirit trying to communicate with you that intelligence will flow into you:

A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus. (

Richard G. Scott gave this insight into how God sometimes answers prayers:

Some truths regarding how prayers are answered may help you.

Often when we pray for help with a significant matter, Heavenly Father will give us gentle promptings that require us to think, exercise faith, work, at times struggle, then act. It is a step-by-step process that enables us to discern inspired answers.

I have discovered that what sometimes seems an impenetrable barrier to communication is a giant step to be taken in trust. Seldom will you receive a complete response all at once. It will come a piece at a time, in packets, so that you will grow in capacity. As each piece is followed in faith, you will be led to other portions until you have the whole answer. That pattern requires you to exercise faith in our Father’s capacity to respond. While sometimes it’s very hard, it results in significant personal growth.

He will always hear your prayers and will invariably answer them. However, His answers will seldom come while you are on your knees praying, even when you may plead for an immediate response. Rather, He will prompt you in quiet moments when the Spirit can most effectively touch your mind and heart. Hence, you should find periods of quiet time to recognize when you are being instructed and strengthened. His pattern causes you to grow. (

In another talk, Richard G. Scott spoke about how to frame questions in order to receive a yes or a no answer:

When we explain a problem and a proposed solution, sometimes He answers yes, sometimes no. Often He withholds an answer, not for lack of concern, but because He loves us—perfectly. He wants us to apply truths He has given us. For us to grow, we need to trust our ability to make correct decisions. We need to do what we feel is right. In time, He will answer. He will not fail us.

Perhaps Oliver Cowdery’s experiences were recorded for us to understand how to pray and how to recognize answer to prayer. Oliver was told: “That assuredly as the Lord liveth, … even so surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive. …

“I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost.” (D&C 8:1–2; italics added.)

When we receive an impression in our heart, we can use our mind either to rationalize it away or to accomplish it. Be careful what you do with an impression from the Lord.

Oliver was further taught: “Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith. Trifle not with these things; do not ask for that which you ought not. …

“According to your faith shall it be done unto you.” (D&C 8:10–11; italics added.)

“Ask in faith” means ask with confidence in our holy Father. Like many of us, Oliver did not recognize the evidence of answers to prayers already given by the Lord. To open his, and our, eyes, this revelation was given through Joseph Smith:

“Blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, 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.

“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.” (D&C 6:14–15; italics added.)

If you feel that God has not answered your prayers, ponder these scriptures—then carefully look for evidence in your own life of His having already answered you.

To help each of us recognize answers given, the Lord said: “If you desire a further witness, 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 6:22–23; italics added).

The Lord provides further insight by counseling us to study a problem out in our mind and then to ask if it be right: “If it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

“But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought.” (D&C 9:8–9; italics added.)

It is vitally important to recognize that the Lord also responds a third way to prayer by withholding an answer when the prayer is offered. Why would He do that?

He is our perfect Father. He loves us beyond our capacity to understand. He knows what is best for us. He sees the end from the beginning. He wants us to act to gain needed experience:

When He answers yes, it is to give us confidence.

When He answers no, it is to prevent error.

When He withholds an answer, it is to have us grow through faith in Him, obedience to His commandments, and a willingness to act on truth. We are expected to assume accountability by acting on a decision that is consistent with His teachings without prior confirmation. We are not to sit passively waiting or to murmur because the Lord has not spoken. We are to act.

Most often what we have chosen to do is right. He will confirm the correctness of our choices His way. That confirmation generally comes through packets of help found along the way. We discover them by being spiritually sensitive. They are like notes from a loving Father as evidence of His approval. If, in trust, we begin something which is not right, He will let us know before we have gone too far. We sense that help by recognizing troubled or uneasy feelings.

The counsel about prayer is true. I have tested it thoroughly in the laboratory of my own personal life. I have discovered that what sometimes seems an impenetrable barrier to communication is a giant step to be taken in trust.

If you seek His help, be sure your life is clean, your motives are worthy, and you’re willing to do what He asks—for He will answer your prayers. He is your loving Father; you are His beloved child. He loves you perfectly and wants to help you. (

Richard G. Scott talked about how God does give us spiritual guidance through our dreams in addition to the still, small voice of the Spirit:

Revelation can also be given in a dream when there is an almost imperceptible transition from sleep to wakefulness. If you strive to capture the content immediately, you can record great detail, but otherwise it fades rapidly. Inspired communication in the night is generally accompanied by a sacred feeling for the entire experience. The Lord uses individuals for whom we have great respect to teach us truths in a dream because we trust them and will listen to their counsel. It is the Lord doing the teaching through the Holy Ghost. However, He may in a dream make it both easier to understand and more likely to touch our hearts by teaching us through someone we love and respect. (

Here are some scriptures that give information on how to recognize the spirit and voice of God – Psalm 139:17-18, 1 Nephi 17:45, 2 Nephi 31:3, Enos 1:4-5, Alma 32:28-35, D&C 6:14-24, D&C 8:2-3, D&C 9:7-9, D&C 11:11-14 and D&C 50:22-24.

Ideas for Prayer Questions

  • What are some questions to ask God in prayer to begin developing my ability to receive revelation?

Larry R. Lawrence of the Seventy gave a general conference talk in which he provided several examples of questions that people have asked God in prayer in order to progress spiritually:

The journey of discipleship is not an easy one. It has been called a “course of steady improvement.”2 As we travel along that strait and narrow path, the Spirit continually challenges us to be better and to climb higher. The Holy Ghost makes an ideal traveling companion. If we are humble and teachable, He will take us by the hand and lead us home.

However, we need to ask the Lord for directions along the way. We have to ask some difficult questions, like “What do I need to change?” “How can I improve?” “What weakness needs strengthening?”

Let’s consider the New Testament account of the rich young ruler. He was a righteous young man who was already keeping the Ten Commandments, but he wanted to become better. His goal was eternal life.

When he met the Savior, he asked, “What lack I yet?”

I knew a faithful mother who humbled herself and asked, “What is keeping me from progressing?” In her case, the response from the Spirit came immediately: “Stop complaining.”

A humble young man who couldn’t seem to find the right young woman went to the Lord for help: “What is keeping me from being the right man?” he asked. This answer came into his mind and heart: “Clean up your language.”

A single sister bravely asked the question: “What do I need to change?” and the Spirit whispered to her, “Don’t interrupt people when they are talking.” The Holy Ghost really does give customized counsel. He is a completely honest companion and will tell us things that no one else knows or has the courage to say.

One returned missionary found himself stressed with a very heavy schedule. He was trying to find time for work, studies, family, and a Church calling. He asked the Lord for counsel: “How can I feel at peace with all that I need to do?” The answer was not what he expected; he received the impression that he should more carefully observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy. He decided to dedicate Sunday to God’s service—to lay aside his school courses on that day and study the gospel instead. This small adjustment brought the peace and balance that he was seeking.

Years ago I read in a Church magazine the story of a girl who was living away from home and going to college. She was behind in her classes, her social life was not what she had hoped for, and she was generally unhappy. Finally one day she fell to her knees and cried out, “What can I do to improve my life?” The Holy Ghost whispered, “Get up and clean your room.” This prompting came as a complete surprise, but it was just the start she needed. After taking time to organize and put things in order, she felt the Spirit fill her room and lift her heart.

I would like to suggest that each of you participate in a spiritual exercise sometime soon, perhaps even tonight while saying your prayers. Humbly ask the Lord the following question: “What is keeping me from progressing?” In other words: “What lack I yet?” Then wait quietly for a response. If you are sincere, the answer will soon become clear. It will be revelation intended just for you.

Perhaps the Spirit will tell you that you need to forgive someone. Or you may receive a message to be more selective about the movies you watch or the music you listen to. You may feel impressed to be more honest in your business dealings or more generous in your fast offerings. The possibilities are endless.

The Spirit can show us our weaknesses, but He is also able to show us our strengths. Sometimes we need to ask what we are doing right so that the Lord can lift and encourage us. When we read our patriarchal blessings, we are reminded that our Heavenly Father knows our divine potential. He rejoices every time we take a step forward. To Him, our direction is ever more important than our speed. (

Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve suggested that we ask to be taught about priesthood:

Are you willing to worship in the temple regularly? The Lord loves to do His own teaching in His holy house. Imagine how pleased He would be if you asked Him to teach you about priesthood keys, authority, and power as you experience the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood in the holy temple. Imagine the increase in priesthood power that could be yours. (
Mark Virkler recommends starting with questions such as, “Lord, do you love me?”, “Lord, how do you see me?”, and “Lord, what would you like to tell me right now?”

Harold B. Lee observed that you can receive revelation for anything in your life:

Every man has the privilege to exercise these gifts and these privileges in the conduct of his own affairs; in bringing up his children in the way they should go; in the management of his business, or whatever he does. It is his right to enjoy the spirit of revelation and of inspiration to do the right thing, to be wise and prudent, just and good, in everything that he does. I know that is a true principle, and that is the thing that I would like the Latter-day Saints to know. Now then, all of us should try to strive and give heed to the sudden ideas that come to us, and if we’ll give heed to them and cultivate an ear to hear these promptings we too—each of us—can grow in the spirit of revelation. (

Purpose of Prayer and How to Pray Effectively

  • What is the purpose of prayer and how can we pray effectively?

The Bible Dictionary gives us this information on what the purpose of prayer is:

As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.

There are many passages in the New Testament that teach the duty of prayer (Matt. 7:7; 26:41; Luke 18:1; 21:36; Eph. 6:18; Philip. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Thes. 5:17, 25; 1 Tim. 2:1, 8). Christians are taught to pray in Christ’s name (John 14:13–14; 15:7, 16; 16:23–24). We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ—when His words abide in us (John 15:7). We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent His mind but spring out of the selfishness of man’s heart. (

Marion G. Romney explained the purpose of prayer in a talk he gave in general conference in April 1978:

The purpose of prayer, however, is not to appease a vindictive Deity; nor is it to court favors from an indulgent Father. It is to attune oneself with the spirit or light which “proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space.” (D&C 88:12.) In that light is to be found sure answers to all our needs.

Prayer is the key which unlocks the door and lets Christ into our lives.

“Behold,” said He, “I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20.) (

In an article on the website, church member Celeste Davis described how she has learned to pray effectively:

What are those things it is possible for God to grant? How could I make sure my wishes are the wishes of Christ?

To figure this out, I drew a little diagram: my desires on the left, God’s on the right, and things we both want in the middle.

I came up with a little formula to help me in my prayers. It is simply this—whenever you ask for something you want and you’re not totally sure if it’s something God wants for you, tack on the phrase “but if not” and then add something you’re sure God would want for you.

Mary Jane Woodger is an associate professor of church history and doctrine who wrote an article published in the Ensign about how she has learned to pray effectively. She focuses on the following – prepare for prayer, remember that God loves you, express sincere gratitude, pray fervently, pray in specifics, and pray aloud. (

Kersten Campbell is a church member who wrote an article published in the Ensign about how she has learned to pray effectively. She wrote the following:

. . . I was listening to “O Holy Night” in my bedroom. As I pondered the Savior and His mission, the music penetrated my heart. A feeling of joy and gratitude washed over me as I thought of the Savior’s love and His great Atonement. I got on my knees and uttered a simple prayer of thanksgiving, with the hope that I could become more like Him. As a gentle warmth and happiness enveloped my heart, heaven felt very near, and the Spirit helped me to understand that this is what it meant to have mighty prayer.

. . . I understood the difference between . . . “mighty” prayers and all the others. It was the Spirit. In [mighty] . . . prayers, the Holy Ghost was present and taught my heart and mind what to say so that my will was in line with the will of my Heavenly Father. The Spirit had helped to make my prayers mighty.

Since then I have tried hard to invite the Spirit into my heart before, during, and after prayer. Sometimes it comes through reading the scriptures, sometimes through listening to good music, pondering my blessings, or thinking about the Savior. Sometimes just a humble heart with a strong intent to follow through will bring the Spirit. Other ways I have prepared for prayer are by serving others, praying for others, or even just asking for the Spirit to be present. Though not every prayer is like the two I have described above, I have felt much closer to my Heavenly Father and, over time, have received more personal revelation than ever before.

Inviting the Spirit into my prayers helps me to feel like I regularly have real two-way communication with my Father in Heaven. I am able to better understand His will for me when the Holy Ghost is there teaching it to me. (

Kevin W. Pearson of the Seventy wrote the following in an Ensign article about prayer:

Prayer is powerful and compelling evidence of the reality of God the Eternal Father. Personal prayer is indispensable to understanding God and our divine identity.

Prayer is less about changing our circumstances and more about changing us. It is about seeking His will and asking for His help to do what we need to do. (

Richard Rohr, a Franciscan Priest in the Catholic Church, described prayer this way in his book The Naked Now (p. 101-103):

The traditional and most universal word to describe a different access to truth was simply “to pray about something.” But that lovely word “prayer” has been so deadened by pious use and misuse that we now have to describe this different mental attitude with new words. I am going to introduce a different word here, so you can perceive prayer in a fresh way, and perhaps appreciate what we mean by contemplation. The word is “resonance.” Prayer is actually setting out a tuning fork. All you can really do in the spiritual life is get tuned to receive the always present message. Once you are tuned, you will receive, and it has nothing to do with worthiness or the group you belong to, but only inner resonance and a capacity for mutuality. (Matthew 7:7-11) The Sender is absolutely and always present and broadcasting; the only change is with the receiver station.

Prayer is indeed the way to make contact with God/Ultimate Reality, but it is not an attempt to change God’s mind about us or about events. Such attempts are what the secularists make fun of – and rightly so. It is primarily about changing our mind so that things like infinity, mystery, and forgiveness can resound within us. The small mind cannot see Great Things because the two are on two different frequencies or channels, as it were. The Big Mind can know big things, but we must change channels. Like will know like.

Without prayer, the best you can do is know by comparison, calculation, and from the limited viewpoint of “you.” Prayer, as very traditionally understood, knows reality in a totally different way. Instead of presenting a guarded self to the moment, true prayer stops defending or promoting its ideas and feelings, lets go of any antagonistic attitudes or fears, and waits for, expects, and receives guidance from Another. It offers itself “nakedly” to the now . . . Now you surely see why you have to allow some major surgery in your own heart, mind, and eyes to even pray at all. (see Matthew 5:23-26) Prayer is about changing you, not about changing God.

Most simply put, as we’ve seen, prayer is something that happens to you, (Romans 8:26-27), much more than anything you privately do. It is an allowing of the Big Self more than an assertion of the small self. Eventually you will find yourself preferring to say, “Prayer happened, and I was there” more than “I prayed today.” All you know is that you are being led, being guided, being loved, being used, being prayed through – and you are no longer in the driver’s seat. God stops being an object of attention like any other object in the world, and becomes at some level your own “I am.” You start knowing through, with, and in Somebody Else. Your little “I Am” becomes “We Are.” Please trust me on this. It might be the most important thing I am saying in this book.

Notice how he said prayer is like resonance. What is resonance? In the church we use the phrases “tune in” and “attune”, which have nearly identical meanings to “resonance”. Watch this video on resonance – – and then contemplate how prayer is like resonance.

Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve said:

Our Heavenly Father loves each of us. We are his children. He wants us to return to him. It is the adversary’s purpose to deter us from a course that leads to happiness and eternal life. Knowing that, our Heavenly Father ordained prayer as a means by which we could always keep in contact with him and not become a stranger to him. We will know with total assurance that he is there and that misuse of free agency on our part is not a prayer-motivated conduct pattern.

If we know he is there, that he loves us, and is our advocate, why do we pray? Individuals pray for different reasons, but the primary purpose of our prayers is to attune ourselves to our Heavenly Father so that we can receive light and truth. It is light and truth that enables us to forsake the evil one. (

President Howard Hunter said:

There is nothing more helpful than prayer to open our understanding of the scriptures. Through prayer we can attune our minds to seek the answers to our searchings. The Lord said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9). Herein is Christ’s reassurance that if we will ask, seek, and knock, the Holy Spirit will guide our understanding if we are ready and eager to receive. (

Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke at a BYU devotional in which he expanded on how Psalm 37 contains instructions on how to prepare to pray and then how to pray effectively. He said:

In Psalm 37 David revealed an inspired process for active prayer and faith. It is a step-by-step process that may serve as a pattern for us to follow as we seek to increase our faith and improve the efficacy of our prayers.

“Fret not” is the first step (verse 1). Fret means to worry or to brood about something. The first thing we must do is stop worrying. When we worry about the future, we create unhappiness in the present.

The second step is to “trust in the Lord” (verse 3). Why should we trust in Him? Because He is our loving and all-wise Father in Heaven. Because He is the giver of all good gifts. Because He knows us and wants us to be happy, successful, and to return to Him. God is in His heaven. He is perfect. He loves us.

The third step is “do good” (Psalm 37:3). We do good because we are followers of Christ. We do good because we are members of His church. We do good because we have made solemn covenants to serve as a light unto the world. Our Heavenly Father expects our actions to serve as a living testimony to our words. As we do good, the Lord can bless our efforts.

The fourth step is to “delight thyself also in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4). What a wonderful doctrine! Instead of worrying or grumbling that our prayers have gone unanswered, we should delight ourselves in the Lord. Be grateful. Be happy. Know that the Lord, in His time, will bring about all your righteous desires—sometimes in ways we predict, sometimes in ways we could not have possibly foreseen. What a wonderful recipe for happiness and peace.

The fifth step is to “commit thy way unto the Lord” (verse 5). No matter what your worries are, commit yourself to keeping His commandments. Brethren, honor your priesthood. Sisters, cleave unto the principles of light and truth.

The sixth step is to “rest in the Lord” (verse 7). Sometimes the hardest thing we can do is wait. The Lord has His own timetable, and, although it may frustrate us, His timing is always perfect. When we rest in the Lord, we allow Him to work His will for us in His own time and in His own way.

Rich blessings are promised to those who pray in this manner: “So shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed” (verse 3). The Lord “shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (verse 4). “He shall bring it to pass” (verse 5). “And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday” (verse 7).

Prayer is the way we commune with the Infinite. It is a time of gratitude, a time of introspection, a time of emotion: sorrow, joy, enlightenment, and peace.

The more time we spend in righteous prayer, the more our beings will be filled with light. “And if your eye be single to my glory,” the Lord has promised, “your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:67).

The more our souls are filled with light, the more we become like our Father in Heaven and the more we are capable of feeling the fruits of the Spirit. This light grows within us, often slowly. It banishes the darkness of this mortality. It sets to flight fear and doubt and all desire to do evil. It fills the soul with love, peace, and unspeakable joy.

The challenge of this mortality is to come out of the darkness into the light. Through prayer, the light of the Spirit can distill upon us line upon line, precept upon precept, until, as Brigham Young taught, the Holy Spirit “opens the vision of the mind, unlocks the treasures of wisdom, and [we] begin to understand the things of God” (JD 1:241).

The things of God can only be understood by the Spirit of God. The Apostle Paul taught, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

In the Book of Mormon we learn again and again of people who fell away from the light and embraced darkness. “Because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened” (Mosiah 26:3).

As we commune with our Father in humble prayer, our hearts receive the gentle outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Lord tells us, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24).

My brothers and sisters, such spiritual experiences are available to all who come before their Eternal Father with a broken heart and contrite spirit. One of the things we must do in this mortality is chase away the darkness. We must fill our souls with the light of the Holy Spirit.

As we approach our Heavenly Father in the name of Christ, we open the windows of heaven. We can receive from Him truth, light, and knowledge.

Prayer is the doorway through which we commence our discipleship to things heavenly and eternal. We will never be alone so long as we know how to pray.

Other passages of scripture that describe processes for getting into the right frame of mind to receive revelation include 2 Nephi 4:15-35, 3 Nephi 12:19 (19-45) and D&C 98:1-3.

President Joseph F. Smith explained how feeling and desire are important components of prayer:

I pray that you will know how to approach God in prayer. It is not such a difficult thing to learn how to pray. It is not the words we use particularly that constitute prayer. Prayer does not consist of words, altogether. True, faithful, earnest prayer consists more in the feeling that rises from the heart and from the inward desire of our spirits to supplicate the Lord in humility and in faith, that we may receive his blessings. It matters not how simple the words may be, if our desires are genuine and we come before the Lord with a broken heart and contrite spirit to ask him for that which we need. (

President David O. McKay explained how prayer is less about the words we use and more about the heart and the spirit:

Prayer is the pulsation of a yearning, loving heart in tune with the Infinite. It is a message of the soul sent directly to a loving Father. The language is not mere words but spirit vibration. (,

Donald Perry, a professor of Hebrew Bible at BYU, compiled several short statements from church leaders on what prayer is, which were published in a Book of Mormon commentary:

Prayer is the goal of an individual to place him or herself in spiritual harmony with God the Father and Creator of all. According to latter-day prophets and apostles, prayer consists of much more than directing “mere words” or thoughts towards deity, but represents “the pulsation of a yearning, loving heart in tune with the Infinite.” Prayer is “a message of the soul sent directly to a loving Father. . . [it is] spirit vibration” (McKay 308). Prayer is having “a consciousness that there is something within us which is divine, which is part of the Infinite, which is the offspring of God, and until we can feel that harmony with that Infinite, we have not sensed the power of prayer” (302). Prayer, accompanied by works, “is the invisible switch to tune us with the infinite” (Kimball 62), it is placing ourselves “in harmony with divine forces” (Widtsoe, “The Articles of Faith” 288), it is attuning ourselves “with the spirit or light which ‘proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space’ (D&C 88:12). In that light is to be found sure answers to all our needs” (Romney, “Prayer and Revelation” 50). Further, “prayer is the passport to spiritual power” (Kimball 115). To “live without prayer is to live a mere animal existence. It is to leave the best part of our natures in a starving condition; for without prayer the spirit is starved, and men dwindle in their feelings and die in their faith” (Cannon 2:170). (

Donald Perry also wrote an article that was published in the Ensign where he described how to pray with all our hearts:

The Book of Mormon shows us that Jesus Christ prayed with great power and emotion; he wept as he prayed unto the Father over the little Nephite children, and his prayer was a prelude to the ministration of angels (see 3 Ne. 17:21–24). We, too, should try to pray with all the spiritual power we possess and with all the feeling of our hearts. It has been said that “prayer is made up of heart throbs and the righteous yearnings of the soul.” A prayer is not effective unless the individual prays with “real intent of heart” (Moro. 7:9), with “all the energy of heart” (Moro. 7:48), and “in the sincerity of his heart” (D&C 5:24).

As with all spiritual matters, the prayers of the righteous can also be understood with the heart.

“And tongue cannot speak the words which [Jesus] prayed, neither can be written by man the words which he prayed.

“And the multitude did hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed” (3 Ne. 19:31–33).

The Prophet Joseph Smith once said that “it is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another.” ... individuals should converse with Heavenly Father in the same direct, trusting, and sincere manner that they converse with friends and family members. The Prophet Joseph also said: “Be plain and simple and ask for what you want, just like you would go to a neighbor and say, I want to borrow your horse to go to mill.” (