Recognizing and Following the Spirit

During our Stake Conference on February 7th, Brother John Evans gave a talk about how we can recognize and follow the Spirit. Below is a portion of his talk that can help each of us in living our lives in a way that we can recognize the spirit and be ready to follow the promptings we receive.

“…Recognizing and following the Spirit will be a great guide and protection in our lives. How do we recognize that voice? How do we know when it is the Lord guiding us and not just us listening to our own desires?

You have the Spirit when: you have a sense of deep gratitude for the leaders of the Church—that they have lived lives that enable them to be trusted agents for Heavenly Father and give us reliable guidance; when you sincerely want to sustain them in building the Kingdom.

You have the Spirit when: you accept others as they are. This doesn’t mean you accept sin as not-sin, or participate with them in unwholesome activities, but that you accept them as they are. You don’t demand that they live up to your expectations. You acknowledge they are dealing with their own challenges, perhaps the best they can, just as you are dealing with your own.

You have the Spirit when: you encourage people. Your desire is to build others up, not tear them down.

You have the Spirit when: you have an intense desire to help others and are willing to sacrifice for their well-being.

You have the Spirit when: you are in awe of the Book of Mormon because it is filled with the most profound truths and knowledge relevant to your personal success in life.

You have the Spirit when: you are not defeated by your past mistakes. You know Christ did not bleed from every pore in the Garden of Gethsemane and cry out to His Father from the cross for nothing. You know, deep down, that He was doing something essential for you. It was so you could be cleansed from the sins you have committed and others could be healed from the harm you have caused them.

You have the Spirit when: you love the hymns of the Church. They change your mood from anxiety and fear to tranquility and hope.

You have the Spirit when: you pray a lot. You know that there are many things that matter a great deal to you that you have no control over. But you know all things are possible for Heavenly Father. You lay those problems at His feet.
ou have the Spirit when: you forgive yourself. No message comes more strongly through the Holy Ghost than that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you. Knowing that they love you, you can love yourself—or learn to love yourself again if you have forgotten how.

You have the Spirit when: you can accept the challenges of life: the physical handicaps, the illnesses, the setbacks, even the failures. You trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with your life and that your experiences here are necessary preparation for a future wonderful beyond the mind of mortal man to comprehend.

You have the Spirit when: you love the temple. You go there to marinate in the Holy Spirit.

To have the Holy Spirit we must implement procedures that will invite His presence. Many of you already do what is needed, and your list may be different than mine. I am intensely aware, however, that when someone comes to receive a patriarchal blessing it is the only one they will ever receive and that both Heavenly Father and the individual expect me to do it right. It is a heavy responsibility. My only job—one single thing—is to say the words the Holy Spirit puts into my mind. There is nothing unusual about that, however. It is exactly the same process every Elder uses when he gives a blessing for healing or comfort. It is exactly the same process a bishop uses when he is giving counsel, or a mother when she is thoughtfully advising a child. All of us need inspiration daily.

Here are some of the things I do to invite the Spirit:

I read a chapter from one of the four gospels about Christ every day because the Sacrament prayer promises that if we remember Him we will have His Spirit. When I read about Him, I remember Him.

Mary Ann and I read a chapter of the Book of Mormon together every day. There is such a power in that book I am afraid not to read it each day.

I read a conference talk every day. I believe it is easier to be in tune with what the Spirit wants said to this generation if I study what that same Spirit has instructed our Church leaders to teach us.

I seek and pray to be forgiven of my sins. I believe the Lord can do that so there will be less impediment to inspiration.

I pray, before giving each blessing, that I will say everything Heavenly Father wants me to say and that I will not say anything He doesn’t want me to say.

I don’t speak disrespectfully of Church leaders nor dismissively of revealed doctrine. If I disrespect what has been revealed through them, how can I expect the Spirit to reveal more to me?

I write down and review the personal revelations I receive. Receiving personal inspiration and direction is not rare. It is not unusual. If I don’t value what I have received, why should I expect to be given more?

I try to avoid conflict and contention. I don’t always succeed at that—after all, I’m an attorney. But I’m aspiring to get better at it.

Learning to recognize the Spirit is important because His touch is often a very soft one—just a gentle nudge…”

These are some great ideas for us to try and implement in our own lives, as well as a reminder for small steps we can take each day to be more like our Savior.
Happy Sabbath Day!

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