I find the word "Hear" fascinating.
This word is used many times in the scriptures, and I do not believe it refers solely to physiological hearing with natural ears. Rather, it is hearing with the mind and hearing with the heart. How do I hear the voice of Jesus Christ, not necessarily by words or sounds alone, but “Hear Him” in my mind and in my heart? (See Doctrine and Covenants 8: 1-4)
I would like to describe several important lessons that I have learned about appropriately striving to “Hear Him.”
I Hear Him in Many Different Ways
As I reflect on patterns that help me to “Hear Him, I remember that revelations are conveyed through the Holy Ghost in a variety of ways, including dreams, visions, inspiration, and conversations with heavenly messengers (e.g., Joseph Smith’s First Vision). Some revelations are received immediately and intensely, some are recognized gradually and subtly.
I Hear Him by Pressing Forward in Service
Hearing Him and receiving inspiration typically occur when I am following Him and acting in accordance with what He has instructed me to do. For example, I find that as I am ministering to an individual, I more readily recognize inspired thoughts and feelings about the needs of that particular person. Acting in accordance with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ is an expression of our faith in Him, and pressing forward in service is an invitation to receive inspiration.
I Hear Him through Righteous Music
I love to sing the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation.” Nobody on the planet sings more terribly than I do. But the combination of the stirring music and the words to the hymn help me to learn about grace and the strengthening power of the Savior's Atonement in a powerful way. The hymns that I love the most focus on the restoration and teach powerful doctrinal lessons. And in those messages, in both the music and the lyrics, you can “Hear Him.” For me, music often is a channel for the voice of the Lord.
I Hear Him through the Scriptures and Sincere Prayer
I cannot think of anything more important in this day than having the promise that I can hear Him, that I can receive His guidance, His reassurance, and His protection in my life. Hearing Him is not complicated but is spiritually demanding and takes time. One of the ways that I can hear Him is in the scriptures. The scriptures are the pre-recorded voice of the Lord. It is not hearing an audible voice per se, although that can happen. It is hearing the scriptures in a feeling—a feeling in my mind, a feeling in my heart. For me, the scriptures are key in receiving and recognizing those thoughts and feelings.
Even in a busy, fast-paced world, where many voices beckon for our attention, I can “be still,” and “Hear Him.” As I strive to hear His voice in the scriptures, as I pray sincerely—not just saying prayers, but praying with a sincere heart and real intent—then according to the Lord’s will and timing I can be blessed in marvelous ways.
I Hear Him Through the Holy Ghost
I have learned over time that one of the great blessings of striving to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost is that I can see myself as I really am. Such experiences are both painful and joyful. By the power of the Holy Ghost, thoughts come to my mind and feelings to my heart that can help me to see things that are going well and the things that I need to improve and do better. The Holy Ghost enables me to see the good, the bad, and the opportunities to improve that I otherwise would never see.
I Hear Him by Recording Spiritual Impressions
Elder Richard G. Scott once taught me that spiritual knowledge, properly recorded, is available in times of need. As I record what I feel in my heart and the thoughts that come to my mind by the power of the Holy Ghost, it is like writing on “small plates” – my personal sacred writings. It is a pattern of hearing Him and recording the things that will help me to always remember what He said.
Perfection is Not Required to Hear Him
I think sometimes expectations get in the way. Pressing forward and doing my best does not require immediate perfection. Sometimes, I may think that a very dramatic spiritual impression is going to come. But most often His messages to me are quiet, subtle, and small. If I expect a big answer and I receive a series of small answers, I may not recognize them. And if I expect a loud answer and I receive many soft ones, I may not recognize them.
We also sometimes might feel unworthy or wonder, “was that just me or was that the spirit of the Lord?” “Was that an impression from the Holy Ghost?” The Spirit of the Lord always invites and entices God’s children to do good, to be good, and to become better. As we consistently do our best to remember and honor our covenants and keep the commandments, things work out. I do not have to be perfect; rather, I simply need to do my best and press forward on the covenant path.
As my desire to “Hear Him” increases, as I strive to live the restored gospel and work to overcome worldly distractions, and as I make time for simple moments of pondering and prayer, I am blessed by the power of the Holy Ghost to see with new eyes and “Hear Him” with new ears.