Because we can no longer see God, it can seem as though He is a distant relative on a long journey without any way to send messages at home. The scriptures are wonderful, but a lot has changed since Biblical times and we don’t always know how to adjust the information to our own times. In addition, we have personal decisions to make and need to know what God would want us to choose.
Happily, when He sent us to earth, He planned ways for us to stay in touch. Adam and Eve spoke directly to God, but even today, when He no longer talks to us in person, we can learn to recognize His voice.
Mormons have always taught their members and prospective members to ask God if the Church is true and if they should join it. Sometimes people who want to keep them from joining will discourage them, saying there is no way to know who is answering your prayer, so you shouldn’t trust it. However, the Bible tells us to pray for wisdom:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)
Since God told us to pray for wisdom—and knowing what church to join is certainly wisdom—we know God will answer us. Furthermore, if He asks us to do something, He will make certain it is possible. That means He will help us learn to recognize His “voice.”
The better we know God, the easier it becomes to know who is answering our prayers. Answers to prayers come through the Holy Ghost and most often, the answer is a feeling in our heart, one of warmth, comfort, and rightness. Sometimes thoughts will enter our minds and we learn to know which thoughts are ours and which come from the Holy Spirit, another term for the Holy Ghost. Very rarely, usually in an emergency with just moments to react, a voice will speak. However, the most common answer is a peaceful warmth in the heart.
As we study God’s words and spend time thinking about Him, pondering, and getting to know Him, we become more familiar with how His gospel operates. This helps us to make decisions about what is right. Often, something deep inside will confirm or deny something we are being told and we recognize that it is not our intellect or even our hearts speaking; it is the Holy Spirit.
We are taught to first study an issue in our mind, learning what God has to say on the subject or on related subjects. Then we make a decision that we feel fits with what we have learned as we studied. Next we pray for confirmation that our choice is right. If we feel a negativity or confusion, we back up and start over. Finally, we act on what God tells us. If we ask for wisdom, but refuse to act on it when it comes, we show disrespect for God and His patient attention to our requests. The more often we act on the personal revelation we receive, the more often we will receive it.
God is speaking to us—we just have to remember to listen.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.