Many years ago when I was a college student, I was listening to general conference on the radio since we did not have a TV in our small apartment. The conference speakers were marvelous, and I was enjoying an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
I remember well as one General Authority spoke about the Savior and His ministry and then bore a fervent testimony, the Holy Spirit confirmed to my soul that he had spoken the truth. At that moment I had no doubt that the Savior lives. I also had no doubt that I was experiencing personal revelation which confirmed to me “that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”1
As an eight-year-old child I was baptized and confirmed and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. It was a wonderful blessing then but has become increasingly important as I have grown and experienced the gift of the Holy Ghost in many ways since then.
Often as we grow from childhood to adolescence and then to adulthood, we have challenges and experiences along the way which cause us to know that we need the divine help that comes through the Holy Spirit. As struggles come, we may ask ourselves, “What is the answer to my problem?” and “How can I know what to do?”
I often remember the account in the Book of Mormon about Lehi teaching his family the gospel. He shared with them many revelations and teachings about things to come in the latter days. Nephi had sought the guidance of the Lord in order to more fully understand the teachings of his father. He was lifted, blessed, and inspired to know that the teachings of his father were true. That enabled Nephi to carefully follow the commandments of the Lord and live a righteous life. He received personal revelation to guide him.
On the other hand, his brethren were disputing with each other because they did not understand the teachings of their father. Nephi then asked a very important question: “Have ye inquired of the Lord?”2
Their response was a weak one: “We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.”3
Nephi took that opportunity to teach his brethren how to receive personal revelation. He said: “Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.”4
The way to receive personal revelation is really quite clear. We need to desire to receive revelation, we must not harden our hearts, and then we need to ask in faith, truly believe that we will receive an answer, and then diligently keep the commandments of God.
Following this pattern does not mean that every time we ask a question of God, the answer will immediately appear with every detail of what to do. However, it does mean that if we diligently keep the commandments and ask in faith, answers will come in the Lord’s own way and in His time.
As a child I thought personal revelation or answers to prayers would come as an audible voice. Indeed, some revelation does come by hearing an actual voice. However, I have learned that the Spirit speaks in many ways.
Excerpt from Barbara Thompson’s October 2011 General Conference Address, Personal Revelation and Testimony. Barbara Thompson is the Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. View Barbara Thompson’s full address here.