“The Companionship of the Holy Ghost,” Ensign, Apr. 1988, 15
For many unmarried Latter-day Saints, particularly for some of the single sisters, courtship and eternal companionship are unrealized dreams. They long for them, they know eternal companionship is a crucial part of the gospel, and yet they feel frustrated because no worthy partner is available.
It is tempting to wish that I could match them with perfect companions in an instant and send them off for the eternities in blissful marriages. But such a solution would be satanic. Satan, you will remember, wanted to dictate the courses of our lives, doing away with our testing and choosing, thus frustrating our Father’s plan and stopping our progress.
The courtship with a mortal companion is not something anyone can dictate or plan. But there is a companionship of great and eternal significance over which we do have full and complete control. It is a companionship that can be obtained and enjoyed by all, regardless of age or sex. It is a companionship that heals loneliness, motivates to excellence, and gives meaning to life. It is the companionship of one of the members of the Godhead—the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Revelator, the Sanctifier, the Spirit of the Lord. It is a companionship that will assure us that we’re not alone, and will never be alone.
Mortal companionships—one person with another—are important and essential, and if they are cemented by love and mutual respect, they can become heavenly in nature and bring unspeakable joy. Any such companionship, however, becomes vacant and somewhat meaningless without the influence of the Holy Ghost. No mortal companionship ever overshadowed or surpassed in importance the binding of a person to the Spirit of the Lord.
It is significant that while Christ taught and prayed with the Nephites, “they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.” (3 Ne. 19:9.) As Church members, we have completed the prerequisites of faith, repentance, and baptism and have had authorized hands placed on our heads to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. But just as love between friends or companions must be cultivated and nourished like a tender plant, so likewise must a companionship with the Holy Spirit be cultivated.
When I was a young man I fell in love with a beautiful girl. More than anything in the world, I wanted to receive her love and eternal companionship. I therefore behaved my best, spoke my best, and gave my best as I courted her and sought to gain her favor. Even after she was promised to me, I recognized the need to continue the courting. My desire was, and still is, to please her and to avoid any offense. She is my inspiration, my motivation to live on a high and noble level.
The companionship of the Holy Ghost is cultivated in much the same manner. To obtain his influence and companionship, we must be our best; we must be worthy of his presence. I see five things we must do to attract and retain the Holy Spirit.
1. We must keep our bodies clean. We must not pollute our mortal tabernacles in any way. We must live the Word of Wisdom; we must not misuse our powers of procreation; we must do whatever is possible to avoid disease or other enemies of our physical bodies. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Cor. 3:16–17.)
2. We must keep our minds clean. We must guard against all suggestive and carnal notions and other satanic influences. From the Doctrine and Covenants, we receive this advice and promise: “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion.” (D&C 121:45–46.)
Few things are more repulsive than evil minds and the filth they produce. Can one hope to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Spirit when one is double-minded—when his mind shares time with the evil one? I think not.
3. We must exercise faith and reserve a place in our hearts for the Holy Spirit. Manifestations of the Spirit of God, we are told, are forfeited in the absence of faith. Moroni spoke openly of the gifts of the Spirit, including healing and tongues, then cautioned: “All these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.” (Moro. 10:19.)
It is imperative that we understand “that the Holy Ghost may have place in [our] hearts” only when we exercise faith in Christ. (Moro. 7:32.) How can we be acceptable to the Holy Ghost without recognizing and acknowledging those whom he represents—those of whom he testifies and bears record? Loving and seeking the Christlike life is true worship—the kind of worship that opens our lives to the power of the Holy Ghost.
4. We must avoid all iniquity, all manner of wickedness. As stated previously, gifts of the Lord cease when faith is missing. The same applies, and the problem is compounded, when iniquity is present.
Alma said, “No unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven.” (Alma 11:37.) Similarly, no unclean person can achieve a lasting relationship with the Spirit of God.
5. We must pray, feast upon the words of Christ, and walk uprightly before God. The Spirit of the Lord teaches and entices a man to pray. (See 2 Ne. 32:8–9.) The words of Christ help us to understand who the Holy Spirit is and how he may be invited into our presence. (See 2 Ne. 32:1–3.) The Spirit of God persuades men to do good and to believe in Christ. (See Ether 4:11–12; Moro. 7:16–17.) So prayer, scripture study, and righteous living are musts.
The skeptic or gospel novice might inquire: “Why seek the Holy Ghost? Why strive for his companionship? What is in it for me?” Answers to these questions are abundant if we are receptive to the testimonies of those who know and have associated with the Spirit of the Lord. Some of these testimonies help to answer questions about the value of association with the Holy Ghost.
Would you like to possess perfect foresight, perfected anticipatory powers? If so, you must do as Nephi directed: “Enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, [for] it will show unto you all things what ye should do.” (2 Ne. 32:5.)
I was touched deeply by an experience that President Thomas S. Monson shared with me. He told of visiting a stake, as a member of the Council of the Twelve, for the purpose of dividing it. As the conference started, he was prompted to inquire concerning the welfare of a former stake president, a man advanced in years. Elder Monson requested that the man be invited to sit on the stand and participate in the program. During the services several speakers felt impressed to pay tribute to this former stake president, acknowledging all he had done to build the Church in that area. Moreover, Elder Monson invited the man to assist in setting apart the newly sustained officers at the close of the conference.
That night the former stake president commented to his wife that the day had been one of the happiest of his life. A few hours later, the man passed away. What a blessing that President Monson was living close to the Lord! His foresight and anticipatory powers blessed the lives of many through this spiritual experience, including one whose mortal life was closing.
Would you like to have powers of discernment—the power to identify truth? If so, you must read the word of God, acknowledge God’s goodness, ponder, and ask of God. Through doing this, Moroni testifies, “By the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moro. 10:5.)
While I was a mission president in Texas, I was informed that a particular missionary had lost his testimony and wanted to go home. Some checking disclosed that doubts of the divinity of his call had been planted in the young man’s mind by an investigator. In an interview with the so-called investigator, I experienced special powers of discernment that enabled me to know that the man was a minister of a Protestant faith, posing as a college student and pretending to be an honest examiner of Mormonism. Confronted with the knowledge that had been revealed to me, he became confused and admitted his fraud. With the deceiver out of the way and the truth known, the missionary stayed and completed an honorable mission.
Would you like to have at your command the power and means by which you may be cleansed and born again—“born” of God? If so, you must enter into the covenant of baptism, receive the Holy Ghost, be of service to God and your fellowmen, and, as King Benjamin taught, “Because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you.” (Mosiah 5:7.)
On one occasion, a missionary in the final week of his mission reminded me that I had given him clearance two years previously to serve a mission. The clearance had been extended with some reservations on my part because his life before his mission had been dotted with transgressions. He said: “Elder Asay, you allowed me to go into the field after due repentance and after I promised that I would be strictly obedient and would work diligently. I can assure you that I have worked hard and have obeyed every rule.” Then he said something very significant. “I feel that my sins have been forgiven. I feel perfectly clean.” He had been cleansed through selfless service and by developing a close association with the Holy Spirit. He had been through the refiner’s fire, and impurities had been burned away.
Would you like to have the power to hear, feel, and know the revelations of God? Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord promised, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost. … This is the spirit of revelation.” (D&C 8:2–3.)
The Prophet of the Restoration states: “A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 151.)
I have heard President Marion G. Romney say something like this: “You may not have needed to hear what I have said today and you probably didn’t learn anything new. However, I learned something while speaking and I needed to hear these words.” This is a beautiful and open acknowledgment of the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Would you like to enjoy spiritual gifts—powers to heal, be healed, speak in tongues, for example? If so, give heed to the prophet Moroni’s words: “And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.” (Moro. 10:17.)
Would you like convincing powers of speech—the power to speak like an angel? If so, note Nephi’s question, “Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels?” (2 Ne. 32:2.)
Thirty years ago, while I served as a missionary in the Near East, my companion and I were assigned to visit a branch that had been torn apart by division and apostasy. We approached our assignment humbly and prayerfully. A crucial meeting was held involving the disaffected parties. My companion was selected to preach the conciliatory sermon. After we had fasted and prayed earnestly, he stood with confidence and worked the miracle. He spoke with the tongue of an angel. That young, inexperienced elder’s words healed wounds festering in the hearts of men much older than he, prompted confessions, and literally saved a branch of the Church.
Would you like the power to ward off and resist temptation? If so, do as Alma and Paul suggested: “Pray continually, … and thus be led by the Holy Spirit.” (Alma 13:28.)
Would you like to obtain perfect peace and assurance in all that you do? If so, make the Holy Ghost your companion and you, too, may receive the type of assurance given Nephi and Lehi: “Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world.” (Hel. 5:47.)
Finally, would you like the power to perform beyond your natural abilities? Would you like the help of unseen powers in all that you do? I refer to the power to speak with convincing authority—even the power to receive promptings that enable you to say things that you had not planned. I speak of the power to receive impressions, which, if heeded, bring blessings to you and others.
Mortal men and women are endowed with marvelous abilities and potential. But however great these mortal powers may be, they are only a shadow of those powers that can be claimed through a linkage with the Holy Spirit.
I hope you do not say to yourself that these words about a companionship with the Spirit are for someone else, not you. God is no respecter of persons. His blessings and gifts are not reserved for a precious few. It matters not whether you are an Apostle or a deacon, a Relief Society officer or a Primary teacher. All of us have the promise of gifts of the Spirit if we place ourselves in a position to claim them.
Isn’t it significant that the process of receiving the Holy Ghost is inextricably connected with everything we do in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
We enter the waters of baptism and accept certain baptismal commitments so that the Lord may pour out his Spirit. (See Mosiah 18:10.)
We meet together often and partake of the sacrament so “that [we] may always have his Spirit to be with [us].” (D&C 20:77.)
We strive for temple or celestial marriage, instead of marriage only by civil authority, so that our unions may be sealed and confirmed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.
It is wise from time to time to do some reflective thinking and determine whether you really know the Holy Ghost. If your introduction to this divine companion seems incomplete, review your baptism and confirmation and determine whether you have really received him as you were commanded to do. Pay careful attention to your physical cleanliness, the cleanliness of your thoughts, the extent of your faith in Christ, your inclination to avoid all manner of sin, and your prayer and study habits.
Pause long enough to measure your acquaintance with spiritual gifts and powers. See whether foresight, discernment, sanctification, revelation, spiritual gifts, angelic speech, peace of assurance, and attendant blessings are evident in your life. Determine whether spiritual experiences are sprinkled generously throughout your daily living. And, if you find yourself wanting, have the courage to change and place your life in order.
If you will do these things, you need never be alone, for you will have the most important companion of all—the Holy Ghost.