“Exercising Your Spiritual Muscles,” Liahona, April 2019
Think about a time in your life when you felt disconnected from God. Now think of the time when you felt the closest to Him. What do you think made the difference?
There was a time when I felt very distant from God. It seemed like He wasn’t answering my prayers or providing any guidance for my life. For me, I realized that I hadn’t been following through on the promptings I had already received. I had rationalized my inaction by attributing those thoughts to myself rather than the Holy Ghost.
President Russell M. Nelson said, “The privilege of receiving revelation is one of the greatest gifts of God to His children” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Liahona, May 2018, 94). We can develop our relationship with God by learning to receive revelation. Our ability to qualify for personal revelation depends on whether we act on the promptings we receive. It is not enough to believe in revelation from God—we have to act on it in order to receive the blessings that come from living the gospel.
Learning to follow the Spirit is like exercising a muscle. If we pray for revelation and then don’t act on the promptings we receive, it’s like thinking about lifting weights but not actually doing it. We not only fail to build muscle, but we lose what muscle we already have. It begins to atrophy from disuse. We wander back into the gym one day and wonder why we can’t lift as much as we could before. Maybe we get discouraged and stop exercising altogether.
The same goes for building our spiritual muscles: We have to be diligent in following the promptings we receive in order to stay strong and prevent the atrophy of our testimony. The more we listen and obey, the more revelation we will receive.
I decided to do an experiment. For two weeks, I committed to follow every prompting I received from the Holy Ghost without second-guessing myself. Here are three things I learned during this experiment that kept my spiritual muscles strong.
Counsel with the Lord. Prayer is essential communication that enables us to receive personal revelation. It is the basis of our personal relationship with God. If we counsel with Him, He promises to direct our paths for good, even if He doesn’t always tell us exactly what to do. As I prayed for guidance each day, I felt that Heavenly Father trusted me to make good decisions with His help.
Develop meekness and humility. The prophet Mormon taught, “Because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love” (Moroni 8:26). I had to acknowledge that I couldn’t navigate life without the help of other people and without the help of the Savior. When I feel inadequate, it usually means I’m trying to do it all on my own rather than seeking the Lord’s guidance. With His help, we can be more than enough for whatever challenges we’re facing.
Get moving! The Spirit speaks in different ways to different people. Sometimes that still, small voice sounds a lot like your own mind. But we can’t progress if we remain stagnant—the Lord will direct our paths, but we have to start walking and keep walking in the direction He shows us. The Book of Mormon teaches, “That which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God” (Moroni 7:13). We don’t need to ask ourselves, “Was that God?” but instead, “Is it good?” When we act on the thoughts that lead us to do something good, not only have we done His work, but we have also done something that will bring us closer to Him.
Remember the experiences you thought about earlier? I’m guessing one thing that made the difference in your relationship with God was how willing you were to act on promptings from the Holy Ghost.
From my own experience, I found that if we make a sincere effort to counsel with the Lord, remain humble, and act on promptings, we will continue to develop our relationship with God and receive revelation for our lives.