Words of the Prophet: The Gift of the Holy Ghost
January 2005

“Words of the Prophet: The Gift of the Holy Ghost,” New Era, Jan. 2005, 5

Words of the Prophet:

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

President Gordon B. Hinckley

I remember the story of one of our LDS chaplains, a man of great faith, devotion, and courage. For a year or more he had been in the central highlands of South Vietnam during the war there. …

He was not always a member of this Church. As a boy in the southern U.S. he grew up in a religious home where the Bible was read and where the family attended the little church of the community. He desired the gift of the Holy Ghost of which he had read in the scriptures but was told that it was not available. The desire never left him. He grew to manhood. He served in the U.S. Army. He searched but never found the thing he most wanted. Between military enlistments, he became a prison guard. While sitting in the gun tower of a California prison, he meditated on his own deficiencies and prayed to the Lord that he might receive the Holy Ghost and satisfy the hunger which he felt in his soul. That hunger had not been fully satisfied with sermons to which he had listened.

One day two young men knocked at his door. His wife invited them to return when her husband would be at home. These two young men taught that family by the Holy Spirit and they were baptized. I have heard this man testify to the effect that as he was taught by the power of the Holy Spirit, he was edified and rejoiced with those who taught him. Out of that marvelous beginning, with the gift of the Holy Ghost, came a shedding forth of light and truth that gave peace to the dying, comfort to the bereaved, blessings to the wounded, courage to the timid, and faith to those who had scoffed.1

You Are Not Alone

If we keep the commandments “the Holy Ghost shall be [our] constant companion” (D&C 121:46) to buoy us up, to teach us, lead us, comfort us, and sustain us. To obtain this companionship, we need to ask for it, to live for it, to be loyal to the Lord.

I think Mormon knew very well from his own experience the truth of his words that the “Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God” (Moro. 8:26). Though we may sometimes be alone while among those of the world, we need not be lonely, for the Lord has given us the Holy Ghost to be our companion to walk with us.2

Is It the Spirit?

How do we recognize the promptings of the Spirit? That which is of Christ does edify, and if we have that feeling of edification, then we may know that the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost, is speaking to us. If we are in an attitude of prayer, if we are in an attitude of anxiously seeking the direction of the Spirit, we will receive it. There isn’t the slightest doubt in my mind concerning this.3

The Third Member of the Godhead

I believe in the Holy Ghost as a personage of spirit who occupies a place with the Father and the Son, these three comprising the divine Godhead.

The importance of that place is made clear from the words of the Lord who said: “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

“And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matt. 12:31–32). …

The Holy Ghost stands as the third member of the Godhead, the Comforter promised by the Savior who would teach His followers all things and bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever He had said unto them (see John 14:26).4

A Teacher of Truth

There is a continuity and consistency in this work that is remarkable to witness and experience. Its strength and power lie in the ability of every member and every earnest investigator to know for himself or herself by the power of the Holy Spirit that it is true. Critics may wear out their lives in trying to deny or demean or cast doubt, but all who ask of God in faith have the assurance that by the voice of the Spirit will come the certainty that this work is divine.5

The Holy Ghost is the Testifier of Truth, who can teach men things they cannot teach one another. In those great and challenging words of Moroni, a knowledge of the truth of the Book of Mormon is promised “by the power of the Holy Ghost.” Moroni then declares, “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moro. 10:4–5).6

Sacramental Promise

The sacrament and the partaking of these emblems is the very heart of our sabbath worship. It includes a renewal of covenants with God. It carries with it a promise of His Holy Spirit to be with us.7

Learning from the Spirit

The things of God are understood by the Spirit of God. That Spirit is real. To those who have experienced its workings, the knowledge so gained is as real as that which is acquired through the operation of the five senses. I testify of this. And I am confident that most members of the Church can so testify. I urge each of us to continue to cultivate a heart in tune with the Spirit. If we will do so, our lives will be enriched. We will feel a kinship with God our Eternal Father. We will taste a sweetness of joy that can be had in no other way.8

Simply “do what is right [and] let the consequence follow” (Hymns, no. 237). So live that each morning you may kneel in prayer, seeking the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit, as well as its protective power, as you go about your work of the day. So live that each night, before retiring, you may come before the Lord in prayer without shame or embarrassment or the need to plead for forgiveness. I do not hesitate to say that God will bless you if you will do so.9

I wish you—each of you, wherever you are—to know that you are loved. You are loved by your Father in Heaven, of whose divine nature you have partaken. And He desires that His Holy Spirit will be near you wherever you go if you will invite it and cultivate it.10


  1. “Feed the Spirit, Nourish the Soul,” Ensign, Oct. 1998, 4.

  2. “Living with Our Convictions,” Ensign, Sept. 2001, 5.

  3. “Inspirational Thoughts,” Ensign, Aug. 2000, 2.

  4. “The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 51.

  5. “He Slumbers Not, nor Sleeps,” Ensign, May 1983, 7.

  6. “The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 51.

  7. “Priesthood Restoration,” Ensign, Oct. 1988, 72.

  8. “The Continuing Pursuit of Truth,” Ensign, Apr. 1986, 6.

  9. “The Shepherds of the Flock,” Ensign, May 1999, 51–52.

  10. “The Light within You,” Ensign, May 1995, 99.

Illustrated by Daniel Lewis

Joseph Smith Leaving the Sacred Grove, by George W. Handrahan, may not be copied

Photography by Jed Clark