For my Come, Follow Me studies this week, I had the opportunity to review the principle of personal revelation and to deepen my determination to qualify to receive more.
The lesson material explained that in the fall of 1828, Oliver Cowdery was a young schoolteacher, who took a job teaching school in Manchester, New York. He found lodging with Lucy and Joseph Smith Sr. Oliver began asking them questions about their son Joseph, who had married and was living in Harmony, Pennsylvania.
The Smiths were hesitant at first to say much to Oliver, but they later realized that he was seeking truth. The Smiths described visits from angels, an ancient record, and a translation by the power of God. Oliver was fascinated and wondered if it was true. The Smiths gave him this counsel: ask God if it is true. Oliver followed the counsel and prayed to know for himself. The Spirit spoke peace and reassurance to his mind.
At the end of his teaching assignment, Oliver went to Harmony to seek the Prophet. After visiting with Joseph, Oliver offered his services as a scribe. As they worked together, they had questions and inquired of the Lord for answers. One of the first revelations that came to Oliver through the Prophet is now contained in Doctrine and Covenants 6.
14 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast receive instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.
15 Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth (Doctrine and Covenants 6:14-15).
Later, Oliver desired the gift of translation, so Joseph inquired of the Lord. Oliver was told many things, including how to receive revelation. In fact, the Lord told Oliver that he had a gift to receive revelation.
2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation… (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3).
Oliver tried his hand at translating but failed. The Lord told him that he had done nothing to prepare himself to receive the revelation. Besides, He did not need Oliver to translate at that time, but Joseph needed him to act as scribe. Oliver’s experience tells us that the Lord does not reveal His mind and will simply because we ask a question. We must prepare our hearts and mind to receive messages from God. We are blessed with a Prophet on earth today who teaches us how to receive revelation.
President Russell M. Nelson has been encouraging and even urging us to increase our ability to receive personal revelation. President Nelson is the Lord’s mouthpiece on earth in our day, and the Lord will reveal His will for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and/or the world to him. However, he continues to urge us to develop our ability to receive inspiration and revelation from God for our individual lives. In the January 2021 issue of the Liahona, President Nelson reiterated his invitation. He warns us that we are living in the last days, and we need divine help to make it through these troublesome times.
Physical and spiritual tempests are a part of life on the earth, as the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us. Of the time prior to His Second Coming, the Savior predicted days of great tribulation…Compounding such tribulation is the increasing darkness and deception that surround us. As Jesus told His disciples, “Iniquity shall abound” before His return (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:30)…
Satan has marshaled his forces and is raging against the work of the Lord and those of us engaged in it. Because of the increasing dangers we face, our need for divine guidance has never been greater, and our efforts to hear the voice of Jesus Christ—our Mediator, Savior, and Redeemer—have never been more urgent.
President Nelson continued his article by explaining what we should do to hear the divine voice of the Lord. He said that it is “essential” for us to know how the Spirit speaks to us as individuals, and he encouraged us to follow a pattern used by the Prophet Joseph Smith.
First, we immerse ourselves in the scriptures [to open] our minds and hearts to the Savior’s teachings and truths…
Next, we pray. Prayer requires initiative, so we humble ourselves before God, find a quiet place where we can regularly go, and pour out our hearts to Him…
Then we listen. If we will stay on our knees for a while after we finish our prayer, thoughts, feelings, and direction will come into our mind.
[Next, record.] Recording those impressions will help us remember what actions the Lord would have us take.
[Last, repeat.] As we repeat this process, we will, in the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith, “grow into the principle of revelation.”
The steps outlined by President Nelson are simple but practical. He knows how to receive revelation from God because he has had personal experience doing it. I encourage all of us to listen to the Prophet’s counsel and prepare ourselves to be taught by the Lord.