Helping Children Recognize Personal Revelation

    By David Craig Nielsen

    One day after being sustained as the president of the Church, President Russell M. Nelson said, "In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost."1

    As a parent, teaching your child how to recognize this influence is one of your most important responsibilities. So, where do you start? What are the basic principles? Here are a few suggestions.

    1. Teach that God wants to communicate with us.

    First, teach your children that Heavenly Father wants to communicate with us. President Nelson went on to say, "One of the things the Spirit has repeatedly impressed upon my mind since my new calling as President of the Church is how willing the Lord is to reveal His mind and will."2

    Teach your children that they can pray and ask for guidance in any of their activities. Heavenly Father is interested in them and ready to offer guidance. In many cases, we just need to ask.

    Start the conversation with your child. Consider asking:

    • What are the big questions in your life right now?
    • What are your challenges?
    • Have you asked Heavenly Father for guidance?

    2. Teach how the Holy Ghost communicates.

    Children will need guidance on how the Holy Ghost communicates to our hearts and minds. The scriptures mention that the Lord spoke to Elijah through a "still, small voice" (1 Kings 19:12), but what exactly does that mean? Is it a voice we hear with our ears, or something that we sense in our minds? And does the Holy Ghost actually speak in words, a sentence or two telling us what God wants us to do? Or is it a feeling of warning or comfort?

    All of these are ways the Holy Ghost can communicate, but the Holy Ghost might not communicate with you in all of them. The Holy Ghost speaks differently to different people—but always in a way that inspires peace and confidence, or that prompts us to do something good for someone else.3

    Ask your child:

    • When is a time you have felt the Holy Ghost?
    • What are some other ways that the Holy Ghost has communicated with you?
    • How has the Holy Ghost helped you make a difficult decision?

    Consider asking how the Holy Ghost communicates with you.

    3. Teach that the Lord often allows us to make our own decisions.

    The Lord allows us to make our own decisions, and that's a good thing. In fact, it's one of the reasons we came to earth in the first place. Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, "Often He withholds an answer, not for lack of concern, but because He loves us—perfectly. He wants us to apply truths He has given us. For us to grow, we need to trust our ability to make correct decisions.”4

    Other times, the Holy Ghost may give us just enough information to take the first step. This, too, is intentional—it gives us the chance to practice and develop our faith. If we’re really stuck, Elder Scott counseled us to look for evidence that God might have already given us an answer.

    Ask your child:

    • When was a time you had to act in faith without knowing if it was the right decision?
    • What truths of the gospel did you rely on as you made that decision?

    4. Teach how they can invite the presence of the Holy Ghost in their lives.

    Finally, make sure your children know that there are many ways we can invite the Holy Ghost into our lives. President Nelson named five:

    • Increased purity
    • Exact obedience
    • Earnest seeking
    • Daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon
    • Regular time committed to temple and family history work5

    What does living these ideas look like in your child's life? Find out by asking and having a conversation.

    Ready for more ideas? Try some of these:

    1. The Gospel Library app has many features that can help you and your children participate in the kinds of activities President Nelson is describing. For example, if you have a goal to read the Book of Mormon more regularly, select Study Plans on the main menu of the app. This feature allows you to select content to study regularly, tracks your progress, and sends you reminders.
    2. You can use the gallery of discovery activities on FamilySearch.org for ideas to help with family history work.
    3. Be sure to teach your children how to use Ordinances Ready on the FamilySearch family tree app. It's a tool that finds ancestors in need of temple baptism and ordinances.6

    Notes

    1. Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 93–96.
    2. Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, ;May 2018, 93–96.
    3. See “Let the Holy Spirit Guide,” Ronald A. Rasband, Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 93–96.
    4. Richard G. Scott, “Learning to Recognize Answers to Prayer,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 30–32.
    5. Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 93–96.
    6. Ordinances Ready Inspiring Members around the World,” by Amie Tennant, FamilySearch blog, Jan. 11, 2019, familysearch.org.

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