Skip to main content

Increase Your Capacity to Receive Personal Revelation

Audio: "Increase Your Capacity to Receive Personal Revelation"
0:00 / 0:00

You all might not have noticed, but during the musical number, the podium was lowered, and lowered, and lowered, and it finally went low enough that they didn't have to get out the small primary stool for me.

It was so amazing to hear so many voices singing our opening song. Individually, we are just one, but collectively, working together, we make a strong group of disciples of Jesus Christ.

I would like to start with a statement from our prophet from April 2018: “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.” [1]

Then two years later, in April 2020, our prophet said, “I renew my plea for you to do whatever it takes to increase your spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation.” [2]

So he isn’t just letting us know what to do, but pleading with us. And he has told us more than these two times to increase our spiritual capacity.

At first, I thought of all the primary answers, like read your scripture, daily prayer, attend the temple, but then I thought back to various talks from our prophet in the last five years—Hear Him, Give Thanks, Let God Prevail, Become a Peacemaker—and I started wondering if there isn’t a higher, holier action I/we need to take.

In the early 2000s, Church leaders talked about “raising the bar” for missionaries. [3] In 2018, President Russell M. Nelson, Elder Jeffery R. Holland, and Sister Jean B. Bingham all talked about a higher, holier form of ministering, not just visiting. [4] For years, we were told to go to the temple, then we were told to take family names through the temple, and now, in Elder Gerrit W. Gong’s conference talk from October 2023, he said, “As we recognize Jesus Christ at the heart of temple covenants, we refer less to ‘going to the temple’ and more to ‘coming to Jesus Christ in the house of the Lord.’” [5] With these three examples, I’m starting to see that increasing my spiritual capacity means increasing my spiritual work. I have to put in more spiritual effort, building on original primary answers.

Years ago, a student asked me how to receive inspiration. Now I have to tell on myself a little bit. I prayed for six years to receive inspiration, and then, thanks to a 2012 conference talk, I realized I had been receiving inspiration for many years. So then I prayed to recognize inspiration. Five years later, during Elder Ronald A. Rasband’s talk in the April 2017 general conference, I realized I had been recognizing inspiration, again for many years, but I was arguing with inspiration.

Elder Rasband explained the first inspiration is the voice of God or the Holy Ghost and the second voice is Satan trying to talk you out of the inspiration. [6] Elder Rasband’s talk helped me realize I was listening to the second voice, not the first voice. So, I started praying again. This time, I have been praying to act on the first voice. And when I catch myself having a conversation or argument in my head, I have to stop and ask myself if I am agreeing or arguing with the Lord.

Camilla Kimball, wife of Spencer W. Kimball, said, “Never suppress a generous thought.” [7] For me, this was a lightbulb moment. Now Sister Kimball passed away in 1987, and I didn’t see this statement until 2019, but when I saw her quote, it became my new screensaver so I could be reminded every day to never suppress a generous thought, which is basically inspiration. Is there any time inspiration to act as Christ’s hands to help others is not a good thing? Remember in Mathew 25:40 when the Lord says, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”? [8]

Let me share four examples with you about inspiration and the first voice vs the second voice:

  1. A woman received a prompting while driving home to stop and get gas even though her tank was more than half full. That prompting is the first voice. A first inclination might be to think, “My tank is full,” or “I’ll be late getting dinner started,” or “I don’t know how much is left in the bank account or credit card” (you almost need a loan nowadays to afford a tank of gas). Those are all second voices.
  2. A man received a prompting to go to the store just after his wife called him in for dinner. The prompting is the first voice. My husband (and kids) know not to go to the store right after I call them in for dinner—second voice.
  3. My friend had a prompting to bake an extra pan of lasagna while cooking dinner for her family. I would have thought, “Why would I take the extra time to bake an extra pan of lasagna just to go to waste? My family won’t eat two pans, and they won’t want the same meal two nights in a row.”
  4. A friend received a prompting while in the grocery store to get an extra gallon of milk and who to deliver it to. I would have had this second thought: “Why would I presume they drink the same milk as me? Why would I presume they need milk? It is out of my way.”

The first promptings are the Holy Ghost trying to communicate with each of us. If you have had any of the second thoughts, like I have, that is the second voice or Satan. Who do you listen to? Satan is trying to prevent you from increasing your spiritual capacity. Now when a student asks me about receiving inspiration, I tell them, “Never suppress a generous thought.” I invite them (and you) to act on the first voice.

When I heard Elder Rasband’s talk about acting on the first prompting, I wish I could say it turned my life around. Unfortunately, I have a lifetime of listening to the second voice. For example, I felt prompted when in the pharmacy section of a grocery store to buy yellow flowers and who to take them to. Instantly, I argued saying, “I don’t know her. What will she think?” Because I was more concerned with what man thinks of me. I am ashamed to say I didn’t buy the flowers. The next Sunday, during fast and testimony meeting, the sister got up and thanked the person who brought her yellow flowers. It was her anniversary, and her husband had passed away earlier in the year. He had always brought her flowers, and yellow were her favorite.

If you suppress a generous thought, then you are suppressing to do a kind act for Christ. Christ even told us, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” [9] I never want to feel that way again.

A comment from Sister Marjorie Payne Hinckley, has helped me to act, especially when I don’t understand the prompting. She said simply, “First I obey, then I understand.” [10]

Let’s look at those four examples again:

  1. Following the prompting, and stopping at the gas station allowed a sister to give her deceased mother’s portable oxygen machine to an elderly woman struggling to breathe. Gas had nothing to do with the inspiration or the need. This particular example is from Elder Gong’s talk at the April 2024 general conference. [11] I recommend reading his talk for other examples of following inspiration.
  2. The husband whose wife called him into dinner followed the prompting, headed to town, passed by a pond, and noticed a three-year-old fall in and was able to save him. Following a prompting that made no sense saved a life. This example is from a general conference talk by Elder Gary E. Stevenson, titled “Simply Beautiful, Beautifully Simple.” [12] I encourage you to read it and learn multiple other examples of following promptings.
  3. My friend prayed in the morning to know how she could serve that day. In the afternoon, when she was making lasagna, she had a prompting to make a second pan, so she did (she is better at acting on the first prompting than me). Later that day, a pregnant sister in the neighborhood called with difficulties, and my friend could take dinner to the family.
  4. The family didn’t need the milk, but this person showed up right after an accident had occurred and was able to stay with young children while the parents rushed to the hospital.

We learn in Come, Follow Me this week that we can “be an instrument in God’s hands,” [13] as each of these four examples demonstrated. While you watch this two-minute video, [14] I want you to write down how many different ways you could be an instrument in God’s hands.

How many ways did you see in this video to offer help? People don’t walk around with words in white appearing with their issues as your prompting like you saw in this video clip. And honestly you don’t need to know their issues—you just need to act. You never know what someone is dealing with, so please just act on any prompting or inspiration you receive.

Sometimes inspiration is as simple as looking up from your phone and smiling at a stranger passing by as you walk across campus. You could follow Sister Darby Stapelman’s suggestion in her devotional earlier this semester to keep your phone in your pocket as you walk across campus. [15]

You may not know why you received a prompting. Later in this video a student brings food for his group. Did this student know another student wasn’t going to eat that day? I bet not. I bet he just didn’t suppress a generous thought to share his extra with others. The four examples I shared are all people who knew within hours why they had received the promptings, but they had to act on their promptings first, and then they learned why. You may never know why you received a prompting, but I encourage you to act promptly anyway.

President Henry B. Eyring, in a devotional on this campus, addressed leading like the Savior. I have invited Tapiwa Mashaya to read President Eyring’s quote. “The day will come that that capacity to influence people around you for good will have you singled out as one of the great leaders in whatever place you’re in. They will not quite know why, but you will know that the reason you are being singled out is not because of your innate gifts as a leader but because you have done what the Savior would do—learned how to, and did, reach out to those around you to try to lift them, to help them to be better even when it might be a little bit difficult.” [16]

In Elder Alexander Dushku’s April 2024 general conference talk, [17] he lists half a dozen personal examples. Reading his examples may help you recognize when you have received inspiration and revelation in your own life.

My youngest son swallowed caustic poison when he was three (he is now 22). The hospital took X-rays of his lungs, and the doctor or technician said he was fine and was going to send us home. I said, “What is this cloud in the lower left lung?” Please understand I am not a medical professional in any capacity; I should not have known anything about X-rays except for what a doctor told me. Another doctor walking by heard me, stopped to look at the X-ray, and shortly, we were admitted with a team of doctors and nurses streaming in and out of the room. The gas from the poison was solidifying in Chase’s lungs. If they had sent us home, he would have died in the night. I could not have told you at the time that I received revelation to question the X-ray, but after acting on inspiration, learning how the Lord communicates with me, and listening to Elder Dushku’s examples, I now know I received revelation to save my child.

We learned in Come, Follow Me in 2021, “Sometimes revelation comes even though we do not seek it. But more often, it comes because we diligently search and prepare for it.” [18] The prophet said, “It has never been more imperative to know how the spirit speaks to you than right now.” [19] I started to realize that when I understand how I receive inspiration, I am better prepared to understand how I receive revelation.

In October 2020, the prophet said, “The Lord has promised that if we will ask, we may receive ‘revelation upon revelation.’ I promise that as you increase your capacity to receive revelation, the Lord will bless you with increased direction for your life and with boundless gifts of the Spirit.” [20]

I have two suggestions for you to increase your opportunity to receive inspiration and, therefore, revelation. These two suggestions were shared by Sister Sheri Dew in her talk “We Are Not Alone”: “Our ability to hear spiritually is linked to our willingness to work at it. President Hinckley has often said that the only way he knows to get anything done is to get on his knees and plead for help and then get on his feet and go to work.” [21]

Knees then feet. Pray then act. [22] It is almost as simple as our prophet’s message in October 2023 to “think celestial.” [23]

As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional. In April 2020, our prophet shared, “The very first word in the Doctrine and Covenants is hearken. It means ‘to listen with the intent to obey.’ To hearken means to ‘hear Him’—to hear what the Savior says and then to heed His counsel. In those two words—'Hear Him’—God gives us the pattern for success, happiness, and joy in this life. We are to hear the words of the Lord, hearken to them, and heed what He has told us!” [24]

So how do we take our primary answers and make them higher/holier so we can hear Him and increase our spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation? I have a few ideas.

Scriptures. In Primary, we are taught the words “hold to the rod, the iron rod.” [25] At devotional, we are asked to raise our scriptures. Multiple prophets have encouraged us to read daily from the Book of Mormon. If the scriptures become your personal Liahona, isn’t that a higher and holier way to relate to the scriptures?

Temple. In his October 2023 general conference, the prophet said, “Spending more time in the temple builds faith. And your service and worship in the temple will help you to think celestial. The temple is a place of revelation. There you are shown how to progress toward a celestial life. There you are drawn closer to the Savior and given greater access to His power. There you are guided in solving the problems in your life, even your most perplexing problems.” [26] Maybe one way to increase your spiritual capacity is to let your bishop know you would like to work/serve in the temple. I have received countless insights while serving in the baptistry with my husband.

Follow the Prophet. The prophet said, “What will happen as you more intentionally hear, hearken, and heed what the Savior has said and what He is saying now through His prophets? I promise that you will be blessed with additional power to deal with temptation, struggles, and weakness. I promise miracles in your marriage, family relationships, and daily work. And I promise that your capacity to feel joy will increase even if turbulence increases in your life.” [27]

What does increasing spiritual capacity mean in your life? What do you need to do (or stop doing)?

Sister Dew shared additional ways to increase our spiritual capacity: “That combination of faith and hard work is the consummate curriculum for learning the language of the Spirit. The Savior taught, ‘Blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost’ (3 Nephi 12:5; emphasis added). Hungering and thirsting translate to sheer spiritual labor. Worshiping in the temple, repenting to become increasingly pure, forgiving and seeking forgiveness, and earnest fasting and prayer all increase our receptivity to the Spirit. Spiritual work works and is the key to learning to hear the voice of the Lord." [28]

President Lorenzo Snow said, “This is the grand privilege of every Latter-day Saint . . . it is our right to have the manifestations of the Spirit every day of our lives.” [29]

In April 2024, Elder Alexander Dushku shared some personal experiences from his life and then said, “You have had your own experiences—your own light-filled bursts of testimony. As we recognize, remember, and gather these rays ‘together in one,’ something wonderful and powerful begins to happen. ‘Light cleaveth unto light’—'truth embraceth truth.’ The reality and power of one ray of testimony reinforces and combines with another, and then another, and another. Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a ray and there a ray—one small, treasured spiritual moment at a time—there grows up within us a core of light-filled, spiritual experiences.” [30]

The rays he mentions could be inspiration, scriptures, prayer, attending the temple, and anything else that builds your testimony.

I would like to issue you an invitation: Pray. Then stay on your knees for a minute and listen. And finally, act on any inspiration you receive. Remember President Hinckley’s advice—Knees then feet. Pray then act. [31]

I want to end with words from our dear prophet, “If we will truly receive the Holy Ghost and learn to discern and understand His promptings, we will be guided in matters large and small. We will build our spiritual capacity to receive spiritual revelation for our personal lives.” [32] In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Notes

[1] Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/04/revelation-for-the-church-revelation-for-our-lives.

[2] Russell M. Nelson, “Hear Him,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2020, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2020/04/45nelson.

[3] See M. Russell Ballard, “The Greatest Generation of Missionaries,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2002, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2002/10/the-greatest-generation-of-missionaries.

[4] See Russell M. Nelson, “Ministering with the Power and Authority of God,” Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2018, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/04/ministering-with-the-power-and-authority-of-god; Jeffrey R. Holland, “‘Be With and Strengthen Them,’” Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2018, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/04/be-with-and-strengthen-them; Jean B. Bingham, “Ministering as the Savior Does,” Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2018, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/04/ministering-as-the-savior-does.

[5] Gerrit W. Gong, “Love is Spoken Here,” Liahona, Nov. 2023, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2023/10/54gong.

[6] Ronald A. Rasband, “Let the Holy Spirit Guide,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2017/04/let-the-holy-spirit-guide.

[7] Camilla Kimball, “Never Suppress a Generous Thought,” Media Library, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/image/meme-kimball-suppress-generous-thought-d7112be.

[8] Mathew 25:40.

[9] Matthew 25:45; emphasis added.

[10] Marjorie Hinckley, quoted in Linda K. Burton, “Priesthood Power—Available to All,” Ensign, June 2014, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2014/06/priesthood-power-available-to-all.

[11] Gerrit W. Gong, “All Things For Our Good,” Liahona, May 2024, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2024/04/25gong.

[12] Gary L. Stevenson, "Simply Beautiful—Beautifully Simple," Liahona, Nov. 2021, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2021/10/29stevenson.

[13] “July 1–7: ‘I Will Make an Instrument of Thee:’ Alma 17–22,” Come Follow Me—For Home and Church: Book of Mormon 2024, 135.

[14] BYU-Idaho, BYU-Pathway Worldwide, and Ensign College, “Choose to Teach One Another,” 2021, https://cdnapisec.kaltura.com/html5/html5lib/v2.99/mwEmbedFrame.php/p/1157612/uiconf_id/33020032/entry_id/1_eesxg9lc?wid=_1157612&iframeembed=true&playerId=kaltura_player_1630687434&entry_id=1_eesxg9lc.

[15] See Darby Stapleman, “Numbered Among the Sheep,” BYU-Idaho Speeches, May 28, 2024, https://www.byui.edu/speeches/devotionals/darby-stapleman/numbered-among-the-sheep.

[16] Henry B. Eyring, "A Steady, Upward Course," BYU-Idaho Speeches, Sept. 18, 2001, https://www.byui.edu/speeches/devotionals/henry-b-eyring/a-steady-upward-course.

[17] Alexander Dushku, “Pillars and Rays,” Liahona, May 2024, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2024/04/15dushku.

[18] “November 29–December 5: Doctrine and Covenants 137–138,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021, 207; emphasis added.

[19] Russell M. Nelson, “Hear Him;” emphasis added.

[20] Russell M. Nelson, "Embrace The Future With Faith," Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2020, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2020/10/37nelson.

[21] Sheri L. Dew, "We Are Not Alone,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1998/10/we-are-not-alone.

[22] See Gordon B. Hinckley, “To the Women of the Church,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2003, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2003/10/to-the-women-of-the-church.

[23] Russell M. Nelson, “Think Celestial,” Liahona, Nov. 2023, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2023/10/51nelson.

[24] Russell M. Nelson, “Hear Him.”

[25] “The Iron Rod,” Hymns, 274.

[26] Russell M. Nelson, "Think Celestial.”

[27] Russell M. Nelson, “Hear Him.”

[28] Sheri L. Dew, "We Are Not Alone,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 1998, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1998/10/we-are-not-alone.

[29] “Chapter 4: Strengthened by the Power of the Holy Ghost,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow (2012), 76.

[30] Alexander Dushku, “Pillars and Rays.”

[31] See Gordon B. Hinckley, “To the Women of the Church.”

[32] Russell M. Nelson, "Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives.”