The Still Small Voice
May 1976

“The Still Small Voice,” Ensign, May 1976, 22

The Still Small Voice

We welcome the four new members of the First Quorum of the Seventy and assure them of our love, our complete sustaining and acceptance of their appointments, and shall do our best to be cooperative with them in their work.

I read you an experience of Elijah which I find in 1 Kings, the nineteenth chapter.

“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

“And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

“And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?” (1 Kgs. 19:11–13.)

When Elijah knew that he was in communication with the Lord, he told him of his great trouble and why he was hiding in the cave. He then received instruction as to just what to do.

Twenty-seven hundred years later we have had restored to us the means by which we can hear the voice of the Lord. As Elijah discovered, it will not be in the whirlwind, or in thunder, or in lightning, or in any spectacular display. It will come, as to Elijah, in a “still small voice.”

I do not pretend to list all of the ways in which the Lord may choose to speak to his chosen prophet. We could name personal appearances, voices out of a cloud, and of course the one just mentioned.

But to the member of the Church intent on keeping the commandments, needing personal guidance in his daily affairs, pleading for the life of his wife or his child who is desperately ill, the Lord has indicated many times that the answer will come by the “still small voice.” How may I, then, know how to receive and what to expect?

First, the Lord will speak by his Spirit, which is the Holy Ghost. In speaking to the Twelve in 1829 the Lord said, referring to the words he had given:

“For it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you.” (D&C 18:35.)

Later, in 1832, he instructed the elders, “I who speak even by the voice of my Spirit. …” (D&C 75:1.)

It is important that we learn to understand when the Lord speaks to us through his Spirit, for it is certain he will do this to the righteous and deserving.

Secondly, it will come into the mind of the recipient. For example, the prophet Enos was praying to the Lord and described his experience thus:

“And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying …” (Enos 1:10.)

What he told Enos is not my immediate concern, but the means used to tell him is here illustrated. The word of the Lord comes into the mind.

Thirdly, let us now listen to the Lord’s instruction to Oliver Cowdery, who wanted to translate and was told he might do it.

“Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.”

And then further to declare its true power, if we should have that happen:

“Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.” (D&C 8:2–3.)

Here then we have added to what Enos said: mind and heart—not the heart that beats but the heart which means “feeling.”

Oliver Cowdery tried but failed and was told:

“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.

“But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.” (D&C 9:8–9.)

And I might say you might not think it, too, in the same manner.

Causing the bosom to burn is another way of saying that feeling is a big part of the process of revelation.

Fourthly, in the terrible rebuke given by Nephi to his brothers concerning their murderous intentions, he said:

“Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder.” (1 Ne. 17:45.)

I repeat: “He hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words.” (Italics added.) Why did he not say, “Ye are past hearing that ye could not hear his words?” Because the assurance comes through feeling.

If I am to receive revelation from the Lord, I must be in harmony with him by keeping his commandments. Then as needed, according to his wisdom, his word will come into my mind through my thoughts, accompanied by a feeling in the region of my bosom. It is a feeling which cannot be described, but the nearest word we have is “burn” or “burning.” Accompanying this always is a feeling of peace, a further witness that what one heard is right. Once one recognizes this burning, this feeling, this peace, one need never be drawn astray in his daily life or in the guidance he may receive. He may also know that if this revelation is in harmony with the revealed principles, that it is right, and if in disharmony, it is not from the Lord. The Lord does not contradict himself. It is vital to everybody to know that no one will ever receive revelation that is contrary to the word given to the living prophet. The application of this principle will prevent many of the frustrations experienced in daily life.

Most of us here have had this experience many times, but there is a great host of our children who have not and who need to be led to understand.

When do we teach this principle? When we become alert to situations which point the need for its application. On an occasion when a small boy got angry at a playmate, he came into the house stating that he would never play with that boy again and would not ever let him into the house. The mother—a wise woman—stopped what she was doing, not later, but that very moment, and said: “Son, we need to go into the bedroom and kneel down and talk to Heavenly Father.” There she explained that the boy needed to learn how to forgive and told him he should pray about it. She prayed first and then helped him to start. When they came from the bedroom, the boy looked up at the mother and said: “I guess I’ll play with him again. I think he can come here.” You might say, answer to prayer. Yes, but it was also the beginning of that boy’s hearing the voice of the Lord, and that’s important.

There are many times as our youth grow when they will need to seek the Spirit to know how to act or what to do. When do all parents start to teach them? How? Home evenings? Yes, but far more important, when the need is on them, at the moment they need it. Then they understand that, if righteous, the voice of the Lord comes into their minds with a certain feeling in the breast, accompanied by a peace. They are receiving the word of the Lord to them.

By this means the Prophet Joseph Smith received revelation, as have those who succeeded him as presidents of the Church. And by this means the Church keeps in harmony with the Lord’s will through President Spencer W. Kimball. By this means we may eventually find our way into eternal life, and I pray we may understand. I bear witness of its truth and of the fact that President Spencer W. Kimball is a prophet, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.