When I was writing that post about prayer journaling, of course it made me think about personal revelation and how to learn to hear and recognize the voice of the Lord.
I used to really struggle with being able to recognize and trust personal revelation. I felt so inadequate in this area and often felt like I was just talking to a brick wall when I prayed…even though I believed that Heavenly Father was there and listening. I just had a hard time feeling like He was communicating back to me… or if He was… I couldn’t make out hardly anything He was saying. … and if I ever did have any thoughts/feelings come to me, I questioned over and over again if those thoughts/feelings were actually from God, or if they were “just from my own head.”
Things are different now.
I am definitely not saying that I’m always good at receiving and recognizing revelation now. I still have plenty of moments where I struggle and revelation seems more challenging.
But I can certainly see improvement in my own life over the past couple of years of intentionally trying to work on and practice this skill and that makes me feel hopeful. I have gained more confidence in my ability to receive personal revelation. I have been making progress with growing into the principle of revelation.
“Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will “grow into the principle of revelation.” (Russell M. Nelson)
Prayer journaling is definitely a big part of what has helped me. I mentioned several other things in my “Come Unto Christ toolkit” post that have helped me tremendously as well.
When I think about implementing these tools in my life, they seem like small and simple things… but I know that they have brought about great things.
I thought I would share a couple of experiences/stories that have taught me about personal revelation. The first one is something that I wrote in my journal on August 15, 2020 as we were up in the mountains, having a campfire dinner.
“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. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation;” (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3)
The Same Voice
Evangelina was a little girl that grew up in a devout Jewish household. Her family believed that the world was still waiting for the Messiah to come. When she was a little girl, her parents taught her to read the word of God in the Torah, which we know of as the first five books of the Bible. She was taught, especially by her mother, to really hear the voice of the Lord. The word in Judaism that is used to describe this kind of real hearing is Shema and Evangelina was taught Shema from a very early age.
When she was 6 years old, she started to go to school. Since she lived in the country, this was her first real experience with interacting with children of other faiths. Up until this point in her life, she had only ever interacted with her family and other people of the Jewish faith.
As the end of the year approached, the children at school started talking about Christmas. Evangelina was curious about what Christmas was so she asked the other children. When they told her about Jesus Christ and about celebrating His birthday, she got really excited and said “The Messiah has come!”
She couldn’t wait for school to be over so she could go home and share the exciting, and much awaited news, with her family.
When she got off the school bus that afternoon, she ran up to her house, excitedly proclaiming “The Messiah has come! The Messiah has come!”
She was surprised to discover that her parents were not happy to hear this news. Instead, they sat her down and had a talk with her about the differences between Christianity and Judaism. They tried to explain to her that the Messiah hadn’t actually come yet – despite what her friends believed and had told her.
Evangelina was disappointed and felt sad that her parents had not felt the same excitement that she had. She dropped the topic and didn’t mention it to her family anymore but she couldn’t deny what she had felt and always kept this feeling in her heart that what her friends had said was true.
As she grew up, she began to search for this Jesus Christ that her friends had told her about.
When she was around 20 years old, she was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and given a copy of The Book of Mormon and as she read it, she knew that it was true. She knew because she recognized the voice in the book – it was the same voice that she had been taught to hear throughout her life. The God of the Torah was the same God of the Book of Mormon.
Without realizing it, her mother had taught her to hear and recognize that same voice – the voice of the Lord.
It’s been almost 10 years since I heard Evangelina tell this story about her life. And in those 10 years since then, this story has come to my mind many, many times. It really made an impact on me.
It struck me again, recently as I was doing my scripture study.
Like I mentioned in this post, this year we are studying the Doctrine and Covenants. In this book of scripture, nearly every section is spoken directly by Jesus Christ, often to regular individuals, and is written in first person.
As I was reading one of the sections a couple weeks ago during my personal scripture study, I realized that I recognized the voice of the Lord in the verses that I was reading.
I mean, of course it was Him. I was reading His written words. But that wasn’t what stood out to me in that moment.
It was His voice that stood out to me. I realized that it was the same voice that I hear when I am writing the Lord’s response to me in my prayer journal. The same voice that I feel in my heart and hear in my mind as He is speaking to me.
This little experience and ah-ha moment gave me another witness that I am indeed improving in hearing and recognizing the voice of the Lord. And that feels exciting to me.