Recognize That Revelation Is a Process

“Recognize That Revelation Is a Process,” Topics and Questions (2023)

young woman in Ghana sits outside on a step and writes in a journal

Seeking Answers to Your Questions

Recognize That Revelation Is a Process

It’s easy to imagine that when God wants to communicate something, He simply reaches out to Church leaders to let them know. But the history of the Restoration demonstrates that revelation is a process of seeking to know God’s will and is most often received after pondering and pleading. This is true for prophets and for each of us. President Russell M. Nelson urged us all to “stretch beyond [our] current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation.”1

Here are a few principles that will help you as you study the unfolding of revelation, both in the Church and in your own life:

  • Remember that revelation usually starts with questions. Joseph Smith’s example illustrates that our agency and sincere questions play a vital role in the process of revelation. Nearly every section of the Doctrine and Covenants came in answer to a question. The Lord taught Joseph to study things out in his mind and seek the spirit of revelation. The process of confronting problems, seeking understanding, testing out different possible answers, and praying for guidance prepares our hearts and opens our minds. It helps us to receive, understand, and act on revelation.

  • Recognize that revelation comes line upon line. “We’re witnesses to a process of restoration,” as President Russell M. Nelson has said. “If you think the Church has been fully restored, you’re just seeing the beginning.”2 This is a living Church. While essential gospel truths are unchanging, the Church‘s policies, programs, organizations, and teachings have been revealed line upon line over months, years, and decades. And the process continues. We can’t always see the end from the beginning, but we can trust that the Lord will continue to work with His children to bring them more light.

  • Remember that God speaks to us according to our understanding. All human beings are shaped by culture: the beliefs, customs, languages, and values we share. Cultures vary greatly from place to place and over time. God’s willingness to deliver revelation that speaks to us within our cultures and according to our understanding is a beautiful truth of the Restoration. Remembering this can help us approach the scriptures and the words of past prophets with humility. God spoke to the ancient Israelites according to their ancient near-Eastern understanding. He spoke to Joseph Smith using symbols and language from his 1800s American culture. And God communicates to us today according to our own limited capacity in ways we can understand.

  • Be faithful and believe. Latter-day Saints often declare “I know” when they share their testimonies. These heartfelt expressions describe personal spiritual experiences obtained by studying and living the gospel. But we all walk by faith in this life. Jesus Christ simply asks us to start by believing. It is OK if you have uncertainties. It is OK if right now all you have is a desire to believe. Like the father who asked Jesus to heal his child you can say, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”3

  • Remember that all good comes from God. When the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith, he recited Joel’s prophecy that the Lord would pour out His Spirit on all flesh in the last days.4 While there is much evil in the world, it’s also filled with goodness and truth. This includes advances in science and medicine and efforts to increase respect for all people. Church leaders have taught that God speaks to individuals in every culture. Just as we invite others to join us and “bring with you all the good that you have,” we embrace truth wherever we find it.5

  • Know that obtaining revelation can be a struggle. While answers to our questions sometimes come quickly and easily, revelation can also take years of work. Our situation in life can also cause us to struggle when we seek personal revelation. For example, some people experience illnesses like depression that make it harder to feel close to God. We can do our part to address these challenges while continuing to trust that the Lord will help us find peace. Just because you have not received answers from God does not necessarily mean that you are doing something wrong. Be patient and cultivate your faith as you wait on the Lord.

  • Continue to seek revelation. While you search for peace relating to your questions, continue to do the basics: pray, study the scriptures, partake of the sacrament, strive to keep the commandments, and worship in the temple. In addition, you could seek closeness to the Lord by serving others in your family, congregation, or community; by spending time in nature; or by meditating on spiritual things. Drawing closer to God will help ensure that channels of revelation remain open.

Key scriptures: James 1:5–6; 2 Nephi 28:30; 31:3; Alma 5:45–47; Doctrine and Covenants 1:24; 88:63