“We all know that human judgment and logical thinking will not be enough to get answers to the questions that matter most in life. We need revelation from God. And we will need not just one revelation in a time of stress, but we need a constant stream. We need not just one flash of light and comfort, but we need the continuing blessing of communication with God.”
– Henry B. Eyring
We all have different ‘questions that matter most’. Depending on our situation, those questions may change from ‘shall I marry this person’ to ‘am I ready for children’ to ‘what sort of occupation or school goals should I have’ or even ‘should I move my family across the country.’ While the individual questions that matter most will change from one person to another, there is a background of questions that matters most to all of us — ‘what is my purpose’ or ‘am I following Christ’ to ‘how can I be happy’.
Revelation is defined as communication from God to his children on earth through the light of Christ or the Holy Ghost by way of inspiration, visions, dreams, or visits from angels. Revelation provides guidance. Isn’t it comforting to know that there is a source of knowledge and light that we can call and count on for guidance?
“Revelation continues in the Church; the prophet receiving it for the Church; the president for his stake, his mission, or his quorum; the bishop for his ward; the father for his family; the individual for himself.” – Boyd K. Packer
President Eyring mentions an equally important aspect of revelation. He calls it confirming revelation. This is how or what we feel or come to know as we feel the Holy Spirit testifying to us that the words that one speaks are true. An excellent example of this comes from the scriptures. Lehi has a vision (revelation) that he should flee Jerusalem with his family. Laman and Lemuel murmur, while Nephi takes it to the Lord. He seeks and receives confirming revelation. “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young… nevertheless having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father.” (1 Nephi 2:16)
Nephi backs up his words with his actions. When Lehi later asks his sons to return for the brass plates, Nephi famously responds, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded…” (3:7). Nephi didn’t see the task as something that his visionary father wished for, but a commandment from the Lord. Nephi learned to feel and understand the promptings of the Spirit – and more importantly – to follow those promptings. The guidance of the Spirit became crucial to completion of retrieving the brass plates and surviving the journey to the promised land.
So how do we receive revelation? President Eyring states: Personal revelation of acceptance, for which we all long, does not come easily, nor does it come simply for the asking. The Lord gave this standard for the capacity to receive such witnesses from God. It is a guide for anyone seeking personal revelation, as we all must: ‘Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion.’ (D&C 121:45-46).
We all have some experience with dew. Interestingly enough, dew forms very gradually and happens quietly. Revelation and gospel strength happens the same way. Now, there are times, especially in the history of the church when the floodgates of heaven are opened and angels, Jesus Christ, or even Our Eternal Father visit to communicate directly with man. However, the majority of our growth will be steady and subtle, like the forming of dew. We at times may not even feel our own growth, until morning comes, we run outside to play, and feel the cold and wet on our feet so distinctively that we cannot deny it.
Alright, now for the secret ingredient… At least, something that I leave out ALL THE TIME. The secret to receiving revelation is shared with everyone who reads the book of Mormon. The ‘Book of Mormon promise’ is given to us by Moroni. As I am certain that you have read Moroni 10:3-5, I would ask you: How do you receive revelation? What is the (my lacking) secret ingredient? Pray? Pray with real intent? Pray with a sincere heart? Recognize the spirit? Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes. But, before, all of that, Moroni exhorts us to “ponder it in your hearts” specifically the mercy of the Lord.
We see a pattern repeated both in the scripture and in our dispensation. While a prophet is pondering, they are caught up in the spirit, they hear a voice, or the eyes of their understanding are opened. Joseph Smith went to the grove to pray after pondering James 1:5. He writes “I reflected on it again and again” (JSH 1:12). The resurrected Savior even commands his other sheep to ponder and pray about his teachings (3 Nephi 17:3).
Truly, this is not a new thing for me. We all learned very young: search, ponder, and pray are the things that [we] must do. (Children’s songbook 109). I have just forgotten about that simple, yet critical step in receiving revelation. I know that we all can and do receive revelation. I, like President Eyring, know that Heavenly Father hears our prayers. He loves us. He knows my name and he knows your name. He pours out revelation to his children. We just need to seek it, be worthy to receive it, recognize it, and have the courage to act upon it.
Something to ponder…
*Notes from EQ 1/25. The lesson was based on the talk by President Eyring called “Continuing Revelation”