Recently, whilst studying a Sunday School lesson on personal revelation, it hit me just how vital this amazing opportunity is from God – to receive personal, customised guidance from Him!
In the Bible Dictionary pg 762, it says:
“…Continuous revelation from God to his saints…makes possible daily guidance along true paths and leads the faithful soul to complete and eternal salvation in the celestial kingdom…Without revelation, all would be guesswork, darkness, and confusion.”
We all need revelation in our daily lives to help guide us. It’s fantastic having a living prophet who can receive direction for the whole Earth, but he can’t give each of us revelation individually everyday – that would be impractical and impossible!
How do we ensure we are receiving this vital revelation? We can learn from the example of Joseph Smith’s study in JSH 1:8-17. First, his “mind was called up to serious reflection…[his] feelings were often poignant…[he] attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit.” (v8) Here we see that he thought deeply and actively about a problem he wanted answered – to know which Church to join himself to. He then was “…one day reading the Epistle of James…” (v11) – he searched the scriptures! Elder Dallin H. Oakes in the Jan 1995 Ensign said:
“Scripture reading may…lead to current revelation on whatever [subject] the Lord wishes to communicate to the reader at the time. We do not overstate the point when we say that the scriptures can be a Urim and Thummim to assess each of us to receive personal revelation.”
This is why it is so important that we read the scriptures everyday – they are a conduit to allow the Holy Ghost to speak to us.
Continuing with the experience of Joseph Smith, he must have recognised the power of what he felt and read because he then said “…I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God.” (v13) He made a conscious decision to act and that can often be where we fall – not having the real intent to act when we receive an answer. For example, when teaching investigators on my mission – the first struggle was to help people feel comfortable to pray to ask God if the Book of Mormon was true. The second stumbling block was the investigators intention. Those who were sincere seekers of truth and wanted to change if it were true invariably got an answer (not in the same ways or times but an answer they did receive). A handful of investigators simply prayed merely for educational or general knowledge about the Book, and they often struggled to receive a clear answer. Joseph Smith had real intent – even when all powers combined against him to stop his efforts. He recalled he “…was exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me,” (v16), in other words he didn’t give up when things got (extremely) difficult! And then, finally, he received his personal revelation…and what a revelation it was!
Now, in Joseph Smith’s story, we see Satan trying to stop him from receiving this personal revelation. Note where Joseph Smith went to receive his answer. “I retired to the woods to make the attempt…to the place I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God.” (v14-15) He was in a quiet woodland which he had planned to go to beforehand. Today we see – physically and mentally – that Satan is making the world a louder and louder place to be in. Elder Boyd K. Packer in the October 1991 General Conference told us that:
“This trend to more noise, more excitement, more contention…is not coincidental…The first order issued by a commander mounting a military invasion is the jamming of the channels of communication of those he intends to conquer.”
Don’t forget this was declared in 1991! Satan uses these loud distractions even more so today to jam our ability to receive quiet, calm and peaceful revelation from God. He is crafty and this is working. Set some quiet time aside. Plan to go to your own Sacred Grove and listen! The Lord wants to – needs to – guide us (for our own sake). Open your ears, mind and heart and he will speak to you.