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Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go visit one of the sisters I visit teach this month because she got strep 🙁 But I promised her that I would at least email her the lesson and some thoughts if I couldn’t get to visit her this month. I figured so long as I was doing it I might as well post it as a blog post too. So here it is…
The lesson for April is on personal revelation. I was really excited about it because it’s something that has been on my mind recently. I’ve had a couple of interesting experiences in the past month that I wanted to share in conjunction with this topic. I’ve found a few different ways that the Lord answers our prayers through these experiences.
Last week I had sent Sam over to my sister’s house for a few hours while I worked on some urgent projects for work. When I had completed my work I had a little bit of extra time so I decided to take advantage of it by listening to some of the talks from the most recent General Conference while I did some cleaning. I was listening to Elder Eyring’s talk I had the thought pop into my head that I needed to email my little brother’s friend, Ashley, and see if she needed help with her personal progress. Ashley isn’t a member of the church because her parents won’t allow her to get baptized until she is 18. She’s been investigating the church for about two years now and it’s been really neat to see her testimony growing. I’d been noticing on facebook as she’s been posting about trying to complete her personal progress. That’s a pretty big project to take on and it took me all 6 years in Young Women’s to complete it all, so for her to try to take it on in the past little while was pretty impressive to me.
However, I don’t know Ashley that well. I’ve met her a couple times when I’ve gone home for holidays, and we’re facebook friends, but that’s about the extent of it. I felt kinda weird asking out of the blue if she wanted help with her personal progress. But I remembered something that Amanda England told us once about her attitude towards inspiration. She says whenever she’s trying to decide if something is inspiration or just her own thought she asks herself, “is it a good thing to do?” If the answer to that question is yes then she’s decided that it doesn’t matter if it’s inspiration or herself, and she does it. I liked that, so since I decided that offering to help a young woman with personal progress was a good thing to do, I acted on it and sent that email. I’m SO glad that I did. That night I got an email back from Ashley saying that she’d been looking for someone to help her with her personal progress and praying that someone would step forward. She doesn’t come from a great family environment and needed someone who could help her with the goals that require you to talk to a woman about characteristics that are valuable in a wife and mother. What a blessing! I felt so good to be needed and that I decided to act rather than wait.
I had another experience with a completely different matter. Eric and I have been making some serious considerations as to our plans for the future. As we’ve been doing so it’s obviously been a subject in our prayers and we definitely are seeking the will of the Lord in our actions. A couple weeks ago I was working on our laundry while Sam was at my sister’s (again, hmm, there seems to be a pattern here!). While I was doing so I was thinking about these decisions and trying to study them out in my mind. The thought came to me that while the house was quiet and I had some time to myself that I needed to kneel down and pray and pour out my soul to the Lord on the things we’ve been considering. So, I did. Not five minutes later I received an IM from Eric about a situation that had come up (probably in the time that I was kneeling and praying) that directly related to what we had been considering. I don’t know if that situation would have come up the same way, or if we would have dealt with it in the same way if I hadn’t just been praying before it happened. The experience didn’t directly answer our prayers but it helped us decide what path we ought to pursue and I was so grateful for that guidance.
So far I’ve just shared a couple of experiences but what I really want to share is what I learned from them.
- Apparently Sam is a detriment to my ability to receive revelation. Just kidding! Although, the fact is that both of these experiences happened when I didn’t have him around. I think the real message for me was that I need to seek out quiet time to ponder on things if I want to receive revelation. It’s much easier to hear the still small voice if we’re taking the time to be still and listen.
- When you receive revelation – act on it! Don’t worry too much about whether it’s really from the Lord or from yourself. My mom was at a fireside with Elder Bednar last week and someone asked him how to know when she was receiving answers to prayers. His answer was to stop asking and start doing. He told the girl asking the question that if she was asking the Lord sincerely for guidance and trying to follow the guidance she got, the He would not let her go astray. Once we’ve finished praying our job is to get on our feet and start moving in a direction, and if it’s the wrong direction, we’ll be stopped and guided in the right direction. I know I’ve found this so many times in my life that I don’t receive answers to my prayers as thoughts or feelings while I’m praying, but that I’m directed in my actions as I get up and go to work.
- The Lord loves us and is mindful of the things that are important to us. I think this is what impressed me most of all is however big or small our problems are the Lord finds ways to help us through them. Because Ashley prayed I was able to receive revelation to help her with her personal progress. Because I prayed, the situation with Eric became a little guide to us in our decision making process, rather than a frustration.
I loved the quotes in this month’s message so I wanted to share a couple of them.
“We prepare to receive personal revelation as the prophets do, by studying the scriptures, fasting, praying, and building faith. Faith is the key. Remember Joseph’s preparation for the First Vision:
“‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God. …
“‘But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.’”
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
I liked how Elder Hales points out that the way we gain personal revelation is the same process that the prophets do. We have access to the same powers and guidance that President Monson has, if we are willing to put the work in on our end to study and ask and then listen and do.
“Prayer is your personal key to heaven. The lock is on your side of the veil.
“But that is not all. To one who thought that revelation would flow without effort, the Lord said:
“‘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.’”2
President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
I liked this quote because it points out very clearly that we need to be the ones to seek revelation. The Lord can’t help us unless we’re willing to come to Him. Even though He knows the desires of our heart He has given us free agency to choose to accept His help and guidance or decide to do it on our own.
“In its more familiar forms, revelation or inspiration comes by means of words or thoughts communicated to the mind (see Enos 1:10; D&C 8:2–3), by sudden enlightenment (see D&C 6:14–15), by positive or negative feelings about proposed courses of action, or even by inspiring performances, as in the performing arts. As President Boyd K. Packer, … President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has stated, ‘Inspiration comes more as a feeling than as a sound.’”3
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
I liked how Elder Oaks illustrates some of the different ways we receive revelation. I know for me it comes in different ways at different times depending on what I have my mind opened to. At times I have a hard time always trusting my feelings, but later I’ve found that in many cases those feelings were leading me in the right way all along. I need to learn better to trust those feelings rather than putting too much stock in logical decision making processes.
“The temple is a house of learning. Much of the instruction imparted in the temple is symbolic and learned by the Spirit. This means we are taught from on high. … Our understanding of the meaning of the ordinances and covenants will increase as we return to the temple often with the attitude of learning and contemplating the eternal truths taught. … Let us enjoy the spiritual strength and the revelation we receive as we attend the temple regularly.”4
Silvia H. Allred, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.
Sister Allred’s quote might have been my favorite. I think this is something I overlook too often. We are so blessed to live so close to so many temples. But somehow it’s still always hard to make the time to go. You have to block out a chunk of time, find a babysitter, get dressed up and not let anything get in the way. And something ALWAYS tries to get in the way 😛 But I know that when you go to the temple with a prayer in your heart the Lord will help you find your answers.
Sorry this is so long, apparently I had a lot on my mind on this subject.