Spiritual Promptings

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“Spiritual Promptings,” Ensign, Sept. 2008, 18–22

Spiritual Promptings

Every Latter-day Saint is given the gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism. It “is the right to have, whenever one is worthy, the companionship of the Holy Ghost” (Bible Dictionary, “Holy Ghost,” 704), providing each of us the opportunity to have personal inspiration and comfort each day of our lives.

The following stories from Church members tell of experiences in which this gift blessed their lives.

Speaking Words I Didn’t Understand

Unmistakable spiritual promptings attended me as a new missionary in Fitiuta, Manua, American Samoa, when I had to conduct a sacrament meeting in a room filled with curious villagers not of our faith.

Aviu, the only Samoan priesthood holder in the village, was bedridden with an illness and couldn’t conduct the meeting. I fasted and prayed fervently, deeply concerned because I could not understand the Samoan language well enough to converse with the people.

When Sunday came, my companion and I blessed the sacrament in English and passed it. I then stood and looked at the congregation. I knew what I wanted to communicate. I tried to open with traditional, polite greetings in Samoan, but the words didn’t come out right. I stopped and closed my eyes, feeling I’d have to speak in English. As I began speaking again, I had a sensation that my mouth was several inches in front of me, speaking in Samoan. The animated expressions on the faces in the congregation showed they understood my words.

After the meeting my companion told me that our Church members said they were happy to hear my talk and that I was speaking perfect Samoan.

I acknowledged the gift in my prayers that night. As the following Sunday approached, Aviu was still unable to leave his sickbed. I again fasted and prayed and had the same experience as the previous Sunday. I was humbled, recognizing again the feeling of being a tool in the Lord’s hands.

The third Sunday approached with Aviu still sick. This time I felt confident the Spirit would prompt me. I wasn’t anxious. I didn’t fast or pray with the same urgency as before. I felt proud to have received the gift of tongues. But this time I failed. The congregation was puzzled when I couldn’t speak Samoan clearly.

Pride stopped me from being receptive to the Spirit that time. This experience helped me learn that promptings will come to me only if I pray humbly and rely on the Spirit.

Blaine L. Gale, Utah

Trapped Outside in the Cold

I was the wrestling coach for a small high school in Alaska, and when we traveled for tournaments we often slept in the hosting school.

During one particular excursion, I got up in the night to use the restroom, but it was locked. Luckily I had propped open the door that led to our sleeping quarters because it locked automatically when closed. Otherwise I would have been locked in a very cold hallway with the only exits leading to the frigid -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees C.) outside air. I returned to our sleeping quarters, closed the door, and went back to sleep.

About 2:00 a.m. I awoke with the thought, “What if one of the wrestlers got trapped in that hallway?” I jumped up and saw an empty sleeping bag. I ran to the hallway, making sure the door was propped open behind me. I ran to the front door of the school building and saw no one, but I propped open the door. Then I checked the back door and still saw no one. When I returned to our sleeping quarters, I found that George had gotten back inside through a door I had left open. He was sitting on his sleeping bag shivering uncontrollably. He had been outdoors in subzero temperatures for nearly half an hour wearing only underwear and socks. Anyone familiar with extreme cold temperatures knows that one can go into hypothermia quickly if unclothed. The results could have been devastating if George had been outside even a few more minutes. I put him in his sleeping bag, covered him with my sleeping bag, and sat with him until he stopped shivering and fell asleep.

I had been praying for more guidance from the Holy Ghost in my life, and I recognized this experience as a prompting of the Spirit. I know now that if I pray for spiritual guidance, I will receive it.

Steven A. Wolfe, Alaska

Check the Rear Door

One way I distinguish my own thoughts from the promptings of the Holy Ghost is by recalling how I feel when I think about my testimony of the Savior. If I feel the same about spiritual promptings as I do when I think of my testimony—warm and sure—then I know I need to obey.

I first experienced this one day when I received an impression to check the rear door hatch on our van. I had just loaded our three daughters into their car seats while the grocery clerk placed several weeks’ worth of groceries into the back of our van and slammed the hatch door. I dismissed the feeling to stop and check the door, and drove away. But the thought persisted.

As I compared the feelings I had about the persistent thought to how I feel when I think about my testimony of Jesus, I realized the warm and sure feelings were the same. I felt the guidance was from the Holy Spirit, so I stopped to check the hatch door just before we reached a steep hill.

Not believing there would be anything to discover, I was surprised to find that, although the door was completely closed, the 20-year-old latch was jammed and not secure. If I had driven up the hill, the force of the tilting grocery sacks could have been enough to push the door open. Several weeks’ worth of food would have spilled out the back, a loss our poor student budget could not have replaced. I am grateful the Lord was watching out for our needs.

S. Jill Wirtz, Wisconsin

One Scripture

Although I had not been active in the Church for nearly 18 years, I had decided to say daily prayers. On one particular morning, each time I drifted out of sleep, I would say a silent prayer asking my Heavenly Father to help me wake up and stop being unhappy. I was weighed down by sadness and hopelessness, which I had often felt throughout the past year or so, but today was particularly difficult.

Then I heard a voice speak very clearly, “Psalm 24:7.” I hadn’t thought about the scriptures in years. I got dressed and headed toward my bookshelf, but I began to doubt. I didn’t make it to the bookshelf until later that day when sheer curiosity got me to open the scriptures. I read the passage carefully: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.”

“What a coincidence,” I thought. “Does God speak to people this way?” I decided to search for further answers in the scriptures. One passage stood out to me:

“Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.

“For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:4–5).

From that passage I learned I needed to ask, knock, enter by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost in order to know all things I should do.

It was such a small thing—one passage of scripture. It was such a small voice, one that seemed it could have been my own thought. I could have shrugged off the experience as my mind playing tricks on me, but instead I continued to ask, knock, enter, and receive—here a little and there a little. I have been an active member of the Church since this experience and have also received my temple endowment.

Kristi Gatti, Texas

A Mother’s Intuition

My daughter Stacey became ill a few days before her 14th birthday. When her condition did not improve over the weekend, my husband took her to the doctor the following Monday. She was diagnosed with the flu, and over the next two days her condition worsened. She coughed all night and burned with fever.

Something seemed terribly wrong, and I wondered what the problem could be. I felt I heard someone whisper, “She has pneumonia.”

I didn’t know the symptoms of pneumonia but knew the disease could be deadly. I immediately called our doctor and scheduled an appointment for the same morning. At 10:00 a.m. our daughter had a fever of 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.6 degrees C.). After checking her again, the doctor maintained that Stacey had only the flu.

“Could she have pneumonia?” I asked. He shook his head no. I asked him to check her lungs. He did so reluctantly and answered my searching look with a noncommittal shrug. “How can we eliminate the possibility of pneumonia?” I asked.

He clearly did not want to test her, but I insisted. His tone was strong when he said, “She would have to be X-rayed at the hospital, and she is clearly ill and needs bed rest. Don’t drag her out anymore. Let her rest.”

I felt guilty when we left his office. Doctors are professionals. I wondered if I had overreacted, but I had learned to trust my feelings, so I decided to have her X-rayed.

The X-ray found pneumonia in her left lung. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic, and we thought that would be the end of it. It wasn’t.

Her condition worsened so much that I felt I should take Stacey to the hospital immediately. When we arrived, the emergency room doctor told us to take her home. Because of the promptings I had already received, we refused and asked for another opinion from the pediatrician on duty. I felt peace the moment I saw him. He prescribed a different medication and admitted her to the hospital with acute pneumonia. Within three days Stacey was well enough to return home, and two weeks later she was healthy again. I believe the promptings I received from the Spirit had probably saved her life.

Diana Loski, Pennsylvania

Illustrations by Dan Burr; photograph of sky by Robert Casey