“Questions and Answers,” Liahona, Nov. 1995, 21–23
Questions and Answers
Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church policy.
Sometimes speakers in church will say, “The Spirit is so strong here today”—but I haven’t felt a thing. Are they just imagining things, or is something wrong with me?
First of all, we need to define a few things. The feeling that people refer to most often when talking about the Spirit is the presence of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost is “the convincing power of God of the truth of the gospel” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, page 649). In other words, the Holy Ghost witnesses to the divinity of the Father and the Son and to the truthfulness of the gospel. After we are baptized, we can have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost if we are worthy of it.
With that companionship, you can know if what a person says is true. The Savior said, “Ask the Father in my name, in faith believing that you shall receive, and you shall have the Holy Ghost, which manifesteth all things which are expedient unto the children of men” (D&C 18:18).
It takes some experience to learn what the presence of the Holy Ghost feels like. Sister Celia Work, serving in the South Africa Capetown Mission, wrote: “You do not necessarily need to feel a burning in your bosom to feel the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are ‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith’ (Gal. 5:22). Did you understand the topic the speaker was presenting? Did you feel good about what you heard? Did you want to act immediately upon the counsel given? Sometimes the Spirit will undeniably touch you, but most of the time it will come quietly and without great notice.”
If, when listening to a speaker, you feel that what is being said is true, stop for a moment and ask yourself how you are feeling. You may feel a comfortable feeling. Or you may feel warm and exhilarated. You may cry, but the tears are joyful. People respond to the Spirit differently.
Many readers, like Janilson Teixeira de Oliveira, below, suggested that being reverent and paying close attention to the speaker have made a big difference to them in being able to feel the Spirit testify of the truth.
I never used to feel the Spirit in meetings, and I imagined there was something wrong with me. Then I had the opportunity to accompany one of the full-time missionaries serving in our branch. For me, the conditions were far from ideal. After my regular work in a bank, I bicycled in extreme heat to the investigator’s home.
On our first visit, I only listened as the missionary presented the lesson. But on the second visit, I became involved in the message, and I felt the Spirit as I had never felt it before. It was such a wonderful feeling that I had tears in my eyes.
When I got home, I began to analyze why I had felt the Spirit so strongly. I came to the conclusion that it was because I was interested in the lesson and the message taught. I now make the effort to become interested in what speakers have to say in church meetings. When I become involved in their message and concentrate on what they are saying, I have felt the Spirit with me.
Janilson Teixeira de Oliveira, 21
Rondonopólis Aurora Branch, Brazil Brasília Mission
I don’t think everyone feels the Spirit in every meeting, but we can feel the Spirit in most meetings if we prepare ourselves through prayer, scripture study, and faithfully fulfilling our Church callings.
Taking notes of a speaker’s remarks might not only help us concentrate on what is being said but also create a spiritual record for our children and our descendants.
Park, Yoo Mi
Choong Jang Ward, Kwang Ju Korea Stake
I am grateful to know that I have been invited to a very special meeting each Sunday. There, with the members of my ward, we sing hymns of praise to the Savior, we remember his love and sacrifice for us, we partake of his sacrament, and we feed our hope in him.
Under these conditions, “he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together” (D&C 50:22).
Arlete Aparacecida Alexandre
Jardim Paulista, Brazil
Preparing yourself to feel the presence of the Holy Ghost is an individual responsibility, but help is available. Make the Savior the most important person in your life. Live by his commandments, accept counsel from his prophets and Church leaders, and you will always be prepared to receive the Holy Ghost.
All Sunday should be a holy day. There are many people who would like to attend a sacrament meeting but are unable to do so. Feel happy when you look around at your brothers and sisters in the congregation. You will see how great people can become when they work toward establishing the Lord’s kingdom upon earth.
Anikó Nagy, 19
Kecskemét Branch, Hungary Budapest Mission
The problem can lie either with the speaker or with the hearer—or with both. The speaker may not be properly prepared, and the hearer may be preoccupied with other thoughts.
To fully feast at the banquet our Heavenly Father has prepared for us, we must pray for guidance in preparing lessons or talks, and the intended hearer has to pray that he or she will be in tune with what is presented.
Jaime Enrique Correa Alvarez, 18
Paillaco Branch, Valdivia Chile Stake
I used to get upset at church when I was distracted by children making a noise or by people whispering together. One Sunday I prayed fervently to my Heavenly Father that I would be in tune with the speakers and feel the Spirit. I concentrated on what was said, and somehow the usual distractions seemed to disappear. I was so involved with the messages being delivered that I cried even through the closing prayer. I learned an important lesson that day.
Maria Espinoza Alveal
Chillan Chile Stake
Feeling the companionship of the Holy Ghost in our lives is like listening to a radio broadcast. We have to be properly tuned in to hear the broadcast clearly. Likewise, we have to be tuned into the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ to receive the Holy Ghost.
Like a radio transmission, the Holy Ghost can come and go, depending upon how well we are tuned in. The Lord has told us that “man may receive the Holy Ghost,” but he warned it may “not tarry with him” (D&C 130:23).
Edgar Romero Villamizar
San Antonio Branch, Venezuela Maracaibo Mission
Let’s arrive before meetings start, leave our problems outside, remember the great love our Savior has for us, and prepare our hearts and minds to listen and to feel the Spirit.
Rosa Eugenia Salguero Morales, 16
El Quintanal Branch, Guatemala City Guatemala El Molino Stake
Not feeling the Spirit during a meeting does not mean that the Spirit is not there. Remember, the scriptures tell us that many thousands of people were in the presence of the Savior during his mortal ministry. They heard him teach, they witnessed his miracles, and still they did not recognize him.
That sweet thought, the certainty of the presence of the Spirit, can be achieved only through faith, discipline, reverence, concentration, and by having “a sincere heart” (Moro. 10:4).
12- and 13-year-old class
Brasília Norte Ward, Brasília Brazil
Some people have to go through an inner change to make room for the Holy Ghost in their lives. For example, as a teenager I didn’t feel the Spirit in church meetings and often wondered why I was there. However, being married and becoming a mother developed my love and compassion, strengthened my testimony of Heavenly Father, and made me more receptive to a loving and compassionate Spirit.
Alexandra Sievers, 22
Langenhorn Ward, Neumünster Germany Stake
Sometimes we are preoccupied with day-to-day problems that simply do not allow us to pay close attention to what is being said in church meetings. For this reason, we fail to feel the presence of the Spirit. During church classes and meetings, we need to pay constant attention to what is being said and not allow our thoughts to wander.
Ivan de Gusmão Apolonio, 20
Barão Geraldo Ward, Campinas Brazil Castelo Stake