One of the most wonderful gifts God has given His children is the privilege of speaking to Him and hearing His voice. Jesus Christ taught His disciples that they must pray always to the Father in His name, with a promise that He would ask the Father to send the Comforter, even the Spirit of truth, which shall teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance (John 14:14-17, 26). That Comforter was the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit.
Why is Hearing the Voice of the Spirit so Important?
Talking to the people about the mission of the Holy Spirit, Jesus taught that the Spirit of truth “will guide you into all truth… and shew you things to come” (See John 16:13). In the Book of Mormon, Nephi exhorted his people to feast upon the words of Christ, and the words of Christ, through the Holy Ghost, would tell them all things that they should do. (See 2 Nephi 32:3-5). Hearing the voice of the Spirit not only gives us wisdom to solve our problems, but it also protects us from being influenced by misleading voices and philosophies of men that are designed to turn us away from God.
How Do We Recognize the Voice of the Spirit?
At first, communications from the Holy Spirit can be hard to recognize. You can easily get it wrong and may not act upon its promptings only to realize afterward that it was the Spirit talking to you. I myself have had that kind of experience in the past. However, just like developing certain skills, I observed that recognizing the promptings of the Holy Ghost required diligent study, obedience, and a strong faith in Jesus Christ.
The scriptures are an excellent place to start looking for clues on how to recognize the voice of the Spirit. ” In the Old Testament Elijah explained the Spirit speaks in a “still, small voice.” No wonder the Lord revealed the Word of Wisdom through the Prophet Joseph Smith, for how could anyone who is under the influence of alcohol ever hear, let alone understand that voice?
In the Book of Mormon, Nephi used the same description of the Spirit when he scolded his brothers: “Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words” (1 Nephi 17:45). Referring to this scripture, Boyd K. Packer, one of the Church’s modern apostles observed that the voice of the Spirit comes as a feeling rather than a sound – something that is “felt” rather than “heard”.
The Apostle Paul gave a more profound description of how the Spirit communicates to us. In his letter to the Church in Galatia, he explained that the Spirit communicates the truth through feelings of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatians 5:22-23).
In my experience, the Spirit comes most of the time as a strong feeling of comfort or confirmation that what I am doing is right.
The Hearing the Voice of the Holy Spirit is the Best Way to Know the Truth
As our Father in Heaven, God wants all of us, His children, to know the truth about His plan. When we ask in faith, He answers. His answers can come anywhere and in His own due time. Our responsibility is to prepare ourselves to be worthy to receive and understand spiritual promptings when they come.
My experience praying to know the truth of the Book of Mormon has taught me that the Holy Spirit is the best way to acquire a testimony of the gospel. When the Spirit spoke to me, it communicated pure intelligence that I could never doubt. The Holy Ghost spoke not to my ears but to my heart. It was a Spirit-to spirit communication beyond words which left a strong and undeniable impression in me. It was so strong that I cried for reasons I did not completely understand at the time. Those were tears of joy… for knowing the truth and realizing that God answers every humble and sincere prayer.
As Moroni promised, “by the power of the Holy Ghost, you shall know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:3-5).