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Hearing the Voice of the Spirit Personally
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ speak to us in a variety of ways—it’s up to us to learn to recognize the voice of the Spirit.
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want a deep, personal relationship with each of us, and They know so much about us—even our personalities—that they know exactly how to reach us. I believe They often send the Spirit to communicate with us in the ways we personally resonate with the most (see 2 Nephi 31:3).
By studying psychology, I have learned a lot about personalities. Everyone receives and processes information differently. And perhaps this pertains to the way we feel the Spirit too.
There are different ways to feel the Holy Ghost and receive answers. For example, Enos reports, “Behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind” (Enos 1:10). Paul teaches that the Spirit comes as feelings of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness” (Galatians 5:22; see also verse 23). And Joseph Smith knew he was receiving revelation because a certain thought “occup[ied his] mind, and press[ed] itself upon [his] feelings the strongest” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:1).
Considering the prophets’ counsel to seek the Spirit, I have always wondered how I can best identify His voice in my life and if He speaks to me in a way that is especially unique to me.
Learning to Recognize the Spirit
Growing up I thought the Spirit only spoke in an audible voice, which made me think very few people were privileged to hear that voice. So when I met with missionaries and accepted their invitation to pray to Heavenly Father for a confirmation that the gospel is true, I expected to hear an audible voice. And I was disappointed when I didn’t. Even though I felt their message was true, I was reluctant to be baptized because I had not heard the voice of the Spirit.
As my family members were baptized and bearing testimonies, I felt like I wasn’t doing something right, since Heavenly Father wasn’t “speaking” to me. When my mum and older brother went to the temple, I had a strong feeling that the temple was truly the house of the Lord and that I needed to prepare to go there one day. But I still didn’t recognize that my feelings were promptings from the Spirit.
One day I was reading from the Book of Mormon with the missionaries, and I had a strong feeling that what we were reading was true. I told the elders what I was feeling, and they helped me understand that the witness I felt was the Holy Spirit speaking to me. In that moment I realized I had been feeling the Spirit in so many ways, but I hadn’t considered He speaks with us all so differently. I accepted the invitation to be baptized that day.
The Spirit’s Presence in My Life
Many of us may struggle to feel the Spirit or know if He is speaking to us. But if we learn about the different ways He communicates with us and ask Heavenly Father for help, we will be able to recognize promptings, even if they come differently than we anticipated.
I’ve noticed that for me, promptings have always come through my feelings. Even before I joined the Church, I always had a powerful feeling that the gospel was true. I remember attending sacrament meeting for the first time and feeling peace, which I now recognize was the Spirit.
Even though I have realized that the Spirit speaks with me most often through my feelings, I’m still learning how to recognize His presence in my life each day.
President Russell M. Nelson has given us counsel on learning how the Spirit speaks to us, saying: “Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will ‘grow into the principle of revelation’ [Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 132].”1
As we strive to recognize the Spirit, we can remember He knows us and speaks to us individually. If we live worthy of His companionship and exercise faith in Jesus Christ, we will be able to recognize His voice and allow Him to guide us.