How do you #HearHim? Elder Jeffrey R. Holland says that vocalizing our prayers can foster greater communication with  God.

To “Hear Him” Is the Essence of the Restoration

My first impression on the two-word theme “Hear Him,” shared by President Russell M. Nelson, was how absolutely natural and obvious it was.

At the heart of the “Hear Him” message is the Restoration of the gospel and that the heavens are opened for the final dispensation. The First Vision in 1820 was an introduction for Joseph Smith to hear the voice of Jesus Christ. “Hear Him” 200 years later, in 2020, is the ongoing mission for the world to “hear Him” until the Savior returns.

The words “Hear Him” focus and capture the essence of the Restoration, the fundamental declaration that God lives, that prophets exist, and that communication is open. There is a constant relevance until everybody has heard, been warned, or had the opportunity to hear the gospel, until the Savior comes.

With that said, I would like to share some of the ways that I “hear Him.”

I Hear Him through Determined Prayer

To continue with the significance of the First Vision for a moment, there are many lessons that come out of that Sacred Grove experience. Not the least is the opposition that Joseph Smith faced before the great revelatory moment of the Father and the Son. The adversary was opposing that experience, including the prohibition of his prayerful speech—particularly because this supplication was going to lead to the great revelation. Then Joseph exerted his power against the adversary’s, made that breakthrough, and had his great revelatory experience.

There is a great lesson in that about muscular, urgent, determined prayer to fight through, whether it is the adversary’s opposition, the cares of the day, or the distractions of our mind. We have many things that can keep us from having that divine experience. And we, like Joseph, will have to exert all our power to have the magnificent experience that God wants us to have.

I Hear Him by Making Quality Time to Pray Vocally

As Joseph did, I believe it is important for us to pray out loud. It is basic to what God intends for us in our communication with Him. He invites a conversation, if you will, and wants so much to “hear us.” We should make every effort to let Him hear us—literally.

The scriptures occasionally talk about the Lord speaking, and they sometimes describe His voice. Sometimes it is a soft voice. Sometimes it is a loud voice. But it is always a penetrating voice. It is always a voice that captivates and engages the whole soul. For me, to say out loud the words of my prayer is to make it crisp and almost visible. Prayer takes on a meaning and a life that is not quite the same when I am just thinking words or mumbling a bit. When we communicate clearly to Him, we can expect to “hear Him” more clearly in return.

If you wait until midnight, when you are exhausted, and then say your prayers, it might be only a half-hearted effort before you tumble into bed. Consider moving that prayer up to earlier in the evening, when you are alert and attentive and can make it more powerful. Prayer time ought to be quality time, not just time that happens to be left over when everything else is done—the last gasp of the day, so to speak.

I Hear Him through Reading the Scriptures

I grew up on the little adage that if you wanted to talk to God, you prayed, and if you wanted God to talk to you, you read the scriptures. That is still a handy formula for “hearing Him.” There is a reason that the best blood of human history has gone into the writing, preserving, and canonizing of those records. We ought to treat them with the adoration they deserve.

For me, the most obvious and most immediate way that God has spoken to me, day in and day out, has been through the scriptures. The 18th section of the Doctrine and Covenants teaches that if you have read the words, you have heard the voice of God (see Doctrine and Covenants 18:36). It is literal to me that those words on that page are His words. They are canonized and carry a spiritual impact. If I am in tune, I hear His voice.

I Hear Him through My Wife’s Example

Since my youth I have sought to “hear Him.” One of the ways I heard the Lord in my youth was through my wife. We were childhood sweethearts and dated in high school—she had a tremendous impact on me. Growing up, I had never really entertained the idea of going on a mission, and I did not come from a mission-oriented family. But my wife came from a long tradition of missionaries, and my going on a mission was a very high priority for her. That had a tremendous influence on me and my decision to serve. Wives or husbands should reinforce each other in that way. One is entitled to receive guidance, direction, and counsel for the other when there is true unity in the relationship. My mission then became a pivotal experience in my gaining a testimony and hearing Him more clearly ever since.

I Hear Him by Trusting My Feelings

Another way I “hear Him” is to trust what I feel. I often get asked, “How do I know that what I am feeling is coming from the Lord?” We don’t always get a written, certified statement issued in response to our prayers, but if your searching is honorable and true and clean and noble, trust the feelings that come. I encourage people to act on those feelings and to believe that their instincts can be founded on truth. At that point you do not have to ask, “Did it come from Him?” He will make sure that it doesn’t come from an evil source.

God wants us to be like Him. We mature, and with effort we become more like God. We think more of His thoughts and feel more of His feelings. We are one with Him, and our impressions ought to be indistinguishable from His promptings. That unity is one of the things the Savior prayed for. By striving to live as one with Him, you will be more like God and you will “hear Him” and trust Him, even as you trust your own feelings when praying to Him.

Jeffrey R. Holland
Jeffrey R. Holland was ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 23, 1994.