When I first heard President Russell M. Nelson share the theme “Hear Him,” it made me pause.
Hearing those two words, “Hear Him,” was a very mindful moment for me. It is easy to take it for granted that the Lord is always there, speaking to us, guiding and directing us. Personalizing President Nelson’s beautiful invitation gave me an opportunity to ponder, look at my life experiences, and consider, “How do I hear Him?”
It has helped me to be even more present in those moments when I do hear Him as I search the scriptures and the words of modern prophets, listen to inspiring music, express gratitude, spend time with children, and serve and testify of Him. I am searching, just like so many, to hear Him as effectively as I possibly can. We do not all have to hear Him the same way. I believe what is meaningful is that we do hear and that we recognize His voice so that we can learn to heed Him more frequently. Let me share some of the ways that I consistently strive to “hear Him.”
I Hear Him through Thoughts and Impressions
Very recently, I received a letter from a woman in another state who I did not know. The letter from this dear sister expressed how grateful she was for her childhood Primary teacher and the influence she had on her life. She admitted, “Sister Jones, I don’t know why I am writing this to you, but I feel that someone needs to know besides me how wonderful this woman is.” She explained that her former teacher was now experiencing stage-four cancer and was on hospice.
I reached out to the woman who wrote to me, and she gave me the phone number of her former teacher’s husband. I decided that I would give him a call after my meetings. I didn’t make it through very many meetings before I heard this woman’s name in my mind—followed by “Call now!” I picked up the phone and called immediately, and this wonderful husband told me his wife was awake. I read the letter to her, and we shared a very tender and meaningful experience. I would never take credit for God’s sweet, perfect love, but how grateful I am that He allows me to be a small piece of His puzzle.
I Hear Him through the Holy Ghost
This woman’s story illustrates that the voice of the Lord can be heard by anyone, anywhere, at any point in life. When I was 11 years old, I was sitting in a Church meeting in Oregon. My parents were both sitting on the stand, and I sat with my younger siblings. As I listened, I felt the Spirit through the speaker. I was completely engaged in listening to him, feeling his powerful testimony.
I felt as if the Lord was saying, “Joy, I know you. I love you. I care about you. I am aware of where you are and what you are doing.” It changed my heart and helped me grow spiritually that day. I am grateful for that experience because it reminds me that children can hear Him. God speaks to children because they have great faith and are open to receiving and acting on revelation from Him through the Holy Ghost.
I Hear Him in the Still of the Night
Much as a child is open to receiving revelation, I am open to learning new ways of hearing Him. I had an experience of waking up at about the same time for many nights thinking about a particular question I needed to ask someone. I was not sure if it was the right time to bring it up with this person, so I prayed to Heavenly Father for guidance. When it did feel right, I asked the question. And remarkably, this person said it was the exact time that we needed to talk about it and confirmed to me that what I was feeling was the Spirit.
I have come to a place in my life where I often find myself awake in the night. It is a peaceful time when I hear Him through sweet, gentle promptings that bless and guide my life. I realize what is important to me is to listen to the prompting, write it down, and act and not ignore it.
I Hear Him When I Am Out in Nature
Another peaceful way I can hear Him is when I am out in nature. I live near a beautiful, forested canyon where I can hike. When I am outside, I feel that everything testifies of Him—the trees, the grass, the blue sky, and the beautiful flowers and plants. I feel a nearness to Him and a greater ability to hear His voice in that stillness. All of His creations are a beautiful reminder of how much He loves me and how pleased He is to share His creations with me. I feel without question that He wants me to be happy.
I Hear Him by Listening Carefully
As willing as the Lord is to speak to us, it is, nevertheless, challenging to actually practice listening carefully and responding quickly. At times I have been prompted to reach out, to call, or to visit someone, only to find out later that I was too late. The moment had passed, and I missed that opportunity to help or make a difference. I was listening but did not follow through quickly enough, or I considered other things more important. I have learned through those experiences that it is crucial to act when the prompting comes. But like everyone else, I am a work in progress.
I Hear Him through Practice and Effort
Many years ago, when my husband was in school, he brought home his stethoscope. He asked me to try it to find out what I could hear. I put the stethoscope on, listened to his heart, and said, “Yep, you are alive. I can hear your heart beating!” He encouraged me to listen more closely to discover what else I might hear, and he described all of the things that he could hear. He had developed a more refined ability, through practice, to hear things I could not hear. That was a lesson to me because it reminded me of seeking the voice of the Lord more intently. I believe it gets easier as we keep putting forth sincere effort.
We can listen beyond the obvious heartbeat to hear, with our spiritual stethoscopes, the quiet whisperings of the Spirit. We can hear and heed those tender directions that the Lord seeks to give us. My desire is to keep practicing “listening” so that eventually I will always hear Him when He speaks to me.