Some may wish for a quick and easy guide to receiving personal revelation. But more important than a definition
of how revelation works is a testimony that it does work— and in a beautiful variety of ways.
Excerpted from ‘The Spirit of Revelation’ by David A. Bednar
Thoughts/teachings from Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were shared in the September/October issue of LDS Living magazine under the title ‘The Precious Whisperings of the Spirit’:
The roles of both the mind and the heart in personal revelation are crucial, and so simple formulas or recommended action steps can guide us through this rigorous spiritual process. Indeed, this . . . is not an attempt to define how revelation works. Rather it is a witness and a testimony that revelation does work—and in a multitude and a variety of ways.
The closest I can come to describing my purpose is with the metaphor of swimming. When we are learning how to swim, almost all of us start out being terrified. We do not know what to expect; we do not know what to do. We first learn how to hold our breath, how to float and how to perform a few basic strokes. As we gradually gain experience and confidence, and as our strokes improve, eventually we just begin to move through the water. Our movements become increasingly natural and graceful. The precision and rhythm of our strokes make air and water almost indistinguishable from each other. We know we are in the water, but it is no longer a big deal that we are in the water. Our learning and practice have replaced our fear with a settled assurance that “we can do this!”
We learn in the scriptures and in the sacramental prayers that we “may always have his Spirit to be with [us]” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77; emphasis added). And as we truly learn and trust the Spirit is operating in our lives, it is as if we have been swimming for a really long time: we are in the flow and have quit worrying about the strokes and about the mechanics involved. We increasingly move forward with the faith that we are being guided by the Spirit.
Just as we can learn to quit worrying about how to swim, we can come to a point where we stop worrying whether or not we are receiving personal revelation. Some people spend a good deal of time fretting about a basic question: “Was that revelation, or just me?” In essence, these individuals are flailing around in the beginning stages of trying to keep their heads above water. People can become so focused upon and preoccupied about “Am I receiving revelation? Is this a revelation?” that it actually may hinder their ability to receive revelation.
Getting our self out of our own way—overruling our personal desires, expectations, preferences, and lack of understanding in order to hear and feel the voice of the Spirit—is one of the great challenges of the our mortal probation. But the task is not so much to persuade the Spirit to guide us to recognize that He is and has been guiding us all along.
If we are striving to be and become good—not perfect right now, but gradually getting better—if we are honoring our covenants, seeking for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, worthily partaking of the sacrament and retaining a remission of our sins, and pressing forward, then indeed we can have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. We are not “preparing to receive revelation”‘ we are “living in revelation.”
. . . “I have attempted to summarize. . . a number of principles I have observed regarding the spirit of revelation. Then I have included examples of revelation from my own life and from the lives of others. These experiences will provide “practice” to help you recognize revelation operating in your own life, much as you would practice the strokes you learn in swimming.
My hope is that, as a result of the ideas I share and the whisperings of the Spirit to you, you will be able to discern more clearly the consistent help form heaven you have received in you life in the past. I pray that your faith in the Savior will grow stronger, your hope for the future will shine brighter, and your “confidence [shall] wax strong” [Doctrine and covenants 121:45] that the spirit of revelation is operating in your life.
David A. Bednar, (LDS Living Sept/Oct 2021), 20,23,25. . . .
Read the rest of Elder David A. Bednar’s principles of revelation as well as examples of revelation from his life and the lives of others in The Spirit of Revelation, Available at Deseret Book stores and deseretbook.com.