I Learned to Hear Him in My Youth
When I was a young boy, my mother taught me to pray and to love the Savior in order to “hear Him.” I remember in my earliest experiences, when I was just about five, my mother’s brother was serving in the Second World War on a battleship in the Pacific. Just as the war appeared to be over, she found out that he had been killed, and it was very devastating to her. She was so close to this brother, and I had never seen her so anguished. She went in her room, and I was worried about her. I opened the door and peeked in, she was kneeling beside her bed, praying. I started to feel a real sense of peace come over me. When I was a young boy, she always helped me understand how to pray—not using canned words, but in a very direct way. My first experiences with respect to the influence of the Holy Ghost were solace, comfort, and peace.
As I grew older, I continued to “hear Him” in different ways, as we all do. Here are some examples I would like to share.
I Hear Him through the Scriptures, Prayer, and the Holy Ghost
Learning to recognize the Holy Ghost early in life helped me work through big decisions that have shaped my life in tremendous ways. When my brother reached missionary age, my family assumed he was not going to go because it was during the Korean War. A government arrangement allowed only one person from each ward to serve at a time, and ours had someone already serving.
To our surprise, the bishop spoke with him and said, “We are not issuing you a call at this time, and we know your father is not active, but would you talk to him?” My brother did so. My father really did not want him to go on a mission and offered to help him get into medical school instead.
My brother and I stayed up most of the night discussing the issue. We came to the conclusion that Jesus Christ was the Savior of the world, He had asked people to be His emissaries as missionaries, the Book of Mormon was true, the Restoration was real, and those factors should be extremely important in making a decision to go on a mission. So he decided to go. We went through a whole thought process, turning to the scriptures and prayer. It was the first time I had prayed with “real intent” and received an answer in the way that I have come to recognize the Holy Ghost operates with me. I realized that almost every decision I would make for the rest of my life would be based on this process and testimony.
I Learned to Hear Him through Strong Impressions as a Missionary
That night I made up my mind that I too would go on a mission. It was powerful. There was no way I would not have gone on a mission after that—I was determined.
In the mission field, there was an occasion when all of our appointments had fallen through. My mission companion and I were new in town and were striving to find somebody to teach because there were no members. We went to a hill and prayed, and on our way home we both had the strongest impression to “stop here and tract,” so we listened. We went to five homes, and at the time we did not think it was particularly significant. However, those households continued to be taught afterward. Two of those families joined the Church, and the husbands were subsequently branch presidents. The wife from another of those households joined the Church and became a Relief Society president.
I Heard Him as a Bishop
Years later, when I was a bishop, I received much guidance. One experience I have shared before was when a married couple called me with an urgency in their voice. They said, “We have got to see you right now!” I was trying to catch a plane for a New York business appointment, but I told them to come anyway. After I hung up, I got on my knees and I prayed. I had a revelatory experience that told me what their problem was and how I should counsel them. When they came in, I was able to give them the exact counsel they needed to receive.
Even though I was short on time, the Holy Ghost gave me precise guidance and direction. When I need a special spiritual blessing—whether as a minister, a missionary, or a teacher—that is when the Holy Ghost most often comes. It is a blessing to receive this guidance. But our lives have to be in order, and we have to be willing to accomplish the Lord’s purposes.
I Hear Him When I Show Commitment and Effort
I feel that we can receive revelation through regular, steady commitment, striving to serve other people, and striving to bless our own families. If we try to hear Him, we can receive that guidance in times of need.
I love what President Spencer W. Kimball said: “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 67). If I try to live my life with love and respect and with very little anger, that invites the Holy Ghost to give guidance.
Everybody can have that kind of guidance if they strive to hear Him, desiring to receive answers from the Lord.