Learning to Recognize the Holy Ghost

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“Learning to Recognize the Holy Ghost,” For the Strength of Youth, Feb. 2021, 6–7.

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Learning to Recognize the Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost will guide and direct our lives as we learn to recognize and follow His promptings.


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When I was a youth, I didn’t know what the Holy Ghost felt like. I was around 12 years old when my mother sat me down and asked me this important question: “Mark,” she said, “has the Lord ever told you through the Holy Ghost that the Church is true?”

I wasn’t in the business of lying to my mom, so I honestly and sheepishly responded “No?”

She then said, “Heavenly Father wants you to know for yourself, but you need to put in the effort. If you will read the Book of Mormon and pray, He will let you know of its truthfulness by the Holy Ghost.”

I had my own copy of the Book of Mormon, but I had never read it on my own. With the determination to take this invitation seriously, I started my own spiritual journey. Each night before I went to bed, I read a chapter or so in the Book of Mormon. As I knelt down to pray, I asked Heavenly Father to let me know that it was true. As I prayed, a peaceful feeling rested upon me. I felt good inside.

Were these feelings from the Holy Ghost? I wasn’t really sure. This was all new to me, and I didn’t know what the promptings of the Holy Ghost felt like. I wondered if an angel was going to come visit me or if perhaps a great divine light would appear in my room. Nevertheless, with sincere desire to receive the promised knowledge from the Holy Ghost, I continued to read and pray night after night. Every time I prayed, I felt feelings of peace, and I felt good inside.

It wasn’t until later that I realized the Lord had been answering my prayers all along, but I had been looking for a different kind of answer. I just didn’t realize that we can “feel” the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

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Learn to Recognize Promptings

Oliver Cowdery once struggled to recognize promptings from the Spirit. When he asked the Prophet Joseph Smith about it, he received this response from the Lord: “Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:23). He had already received an answer, but he didn’t recognize it. The answer was peace to his mind—much like I had felt as a youth.

A little later, the Lord provided additional counsel for Oliver and the rest of us: “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. … This is the spirit of revelation” (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2–3).

The Apostle Paul teaches us to recognize these feelings of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [and] meekness” (Galatians 5:22–23).

Promptings from the Holy Ghost are often quiet and subtle. God will rarely shout to try and get our attention. Instead, as we take time to pause, feel, and ponder, we show Him that we are listening and desire answers through the Holy Ghost. The next time you kneel in prayer, instead of jumping up after saying “amen,” wait for a few moments. Stay on your knees and just listen. The Lord might be trying to “speak peace to your mind” just as He did with Oliver Cowdery and with me.

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The Great Gift of the Holy Ghost

After baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. This divine gift provides help from a member of the Godhead throughout our lives. We are promised that as we strive to live worthy of this gift, the Holy Ghost “will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:5). The Holy Ghost confirms truth to our hearts, protects us from evil, and guides us throughout our lives. What a wonderful blessing!

I am grateful for the incredible gift of the Holy Ghost and His direction in my life.