This is part 2 of the post “How do I get more revelation.” Please click that link to read part 1 first.
As a reminder, here is the infographic displayed in last week’s blog post.
Getting an answer requires listening. Sometimes an answer comes fast, but as mentioned above, meditation to achieve a state of peace is extremely helpful, sometimes necessary. One does not need to do this on your knees all the time. I find that sitting is just as effective. I still have kneeling prayers, but sitting upright to meditate and talk with God is also effective.
In my 51 years of life so far, most of it consisted of praying to be led, and not understanding how to properly pray for answers. There were times when I got a direct answer to a question and I was very grateful for those experiences, but it took some guidance and mentoring from others to teach me a bit more about how to pray and get answers. You can read about that experience here: https://scripturenotes.com/ask-and-ye-shall-receive
I have also written an article about praying as a family for answers to family questions. We have had some good success with this as well and it’s a great opportunity to both formulate the right questions, as well as teach your children how to receive answers.
Nephi tells us that sometimes we get answers from “the words of Christ” and sometimes the “Holy Ghost…will show unto you all things what ye should do,” (2 Nephi 32:3-5) such as when President Nelson had a diagram pop into his head about a surgical procedure to save someone’s life.
If we do not get an answer to our question, assuming we did prior steps properly, there are a few points to consider.
Is it a timing issue? God does things in a timetable that is best for us. It may be that further preparation is required to receive the answer, or that by delaying, there is some further blessing that will manifest in our life by delaying the answer. If you don’t get an answer but feel you’ve done the prior steps properly, ask if it’s just a timing issue and if he says yes, accept that answer and reformulate your question to what can you do to prepare to receive the answer at the right time. Have faith that God knows what is best for you and will bring everything together for your best interest at the right time (D&C 90:24).
Is it an unbelief issue? Do you believe the Lord will answer you? Do you fear the Lord won’t speak to you because you aren’t at a high enough level? The Lord spoke with Cain, someone whose heart was corrupted by a love of Satan. Cain was raised to speak with God but rejected the gospel and turned to Satan. Yet there was some open communication line there because God tried to warn him to change his course. God definitely WANTS to communicate with us. Believe it.
Did you reject the answer by your unbelief? Perhaps the answer came but was something you rejected because it would lead to an action you think illogical. It may be best to trust that first impression and write it down and act on it to see what comes of the action.
Is there an answer available to the question? It may be that you need to rework the question and get more specific or ask a series of questions that all touch on the issue. It may be that you even need revelation to get the question that will lead to the answer you seek. Ask God to help you rework the question so that you can get an answer.
An answer you may not immediately recognize is a stupor of thought. Elder Scott describes it as “an unsettling, discomforting feeling.” It may be that you did receive an answer but don’t recognize it as such.
If you have checked yourself on these things and still don’t feel like you have received an answer, there are some interventions you can try.
Did you do sufficient study? The Lord told Oliver Cowdery the reason he couldn’t translate was because he thought he could just ask and have it given to him. He didn’t try to work things out in his mind. (D&C 9:7)
Are you sufficiently prepared to receive the answer? Fasting prepares the spirit to receive more power and clarity from the Holy Spirit. Immersion in the scriptures is also something President Spencer W. Kimball suggested.
“I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.” – “What I Hope You Will Teach My Grandchildren” [Address delivered at seminary and faculty seminar, 11 July 1966], p. 6)
Is the answer expedient for you? Is this a trivial thing that you should know better about or you are just rejecting what you already know to be true because you don’t want that answer?
Are you counseling God and living in confirmation bias thinking your false beliefs are right and true, instead of seeking counsel from him and making yourself as a little child, willing to submit and accept what he tells you even if it contradicts your views?
Sometimes no answer comes in the moment because God intends the answer to come later as a result of personal sacrifice. It may be that in service to someone, they will mention the answer you are looking for. President Kimball shared this insight:
“God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other” – Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 82.
Richard G. Scott said:
“When we are acting as instruments in behalf of others, we are more easily inspired than when we think only of ourselves. In the process of helping others, the Lord can piggyback directions for our own benefit.” – https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2012/04/how-to-obtain-revelation-and-inspiration-for-your-personal-life?lang=eng
It may be that this answer will come piecemeal, line upon line (2 Nephi 28:30), so we get more knowledge as we increase our capacity and faith to receive it. Or we receive the answers unexpectedly over time.
It may even be the Lord is testing us to see how strong our desire is for the answer. Finding ways to build our desire, faith, and belief, may be what is required. We may need to ascend the spiritual ladder to be prepared to see a new point of view.
Elder Richard G. Scott also mentions we need to be mindful of emotions that can drive away the spirit, don’t give in to loudness or exaggeration, have good health practices, and a good sense of humor. These will aid in receiving revelation.
So you felt something or heard a voice. You feel like you have received an answer. Was it from God? This is a tricky area. The devil is all too happy to answer prayers as well or fill you with spiritual warmth. Even give you direct revelation in words or visitations while looking like an angel of light. Avoiding deception is a huge topic beyond the scope of this article so I will not go into it more than briefly.
I don’t know if this is how it works all the time, but it seems like we get an answer from God, and it’s almost like Satan (and his minions) can hear the spiritual answers to us and then try to counter them.
Some people will talk about 3 voices. God’s voice, Satan’s voice, and our voice. God’s voice is typified in direct instructions like “do X.” Satan’s voice is typified in excuses and confusion planting immediate seeds like “you’re busy” or “that doesn’t make sense” and such. Our voice is one of confusion where we start asking ourselves, “what should I do?” The first direct answer is almost always the correct answer.
However, if you are harboring doubts, or you are unsure, you may need to do some things to build your ability to trust in the answers you receive.
One practice someone suggested is keeping a tiny notebook with you for a week to write all the promptings you receive and then act on them and see what the result is. Learn to just notice as ideas come into your mind and act on them.
Another thing you can do is pray to be shielded. The armor of God describes faith as a shield (Eph. 6:16; D&C 27:17). When you begin your prayer, ask the Lord to bless you with the shield of faith to repel not just the fiery darts of the adversary but also his ability to communicate with you. Ask to be clothed in light and to have the Holy Spirit with you and the Holy Ghost to reveal the truth to you.
When you trust that you have received an answer from God, believe it, write it down, and act on it. Without an internal commitment to act, God has warned us that he won’t give us answers. Moroni wrote that we have to ask “with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ” and if we do so, meaning we are promising to act on the answer, “he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moroni 10:4)
There is a General Conference talk I remember but cannot locate the quote from. If you remember the quote, please share it in the comment section. I thought it was Elder Richard G. Scott, but it could be someone else. It went like this: after praying and receiving an answer from the Lord, he asked, “is there more?” After which came an outpouring of additional light and truth that he hadn’t asked for. If the Lord is willing to give more than we ask for, just for the asking, we should make a habit of asking if there is anything more to receive.
“As spiritual knowledge unfolds, it must be understood, valued, obeyed, remembered, and expanded.”
-Elder Richard G. Scott, Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge, Oct. 1993 GC
Elder Scott explains that when we get revelation, we should be grateful for it and show the Lord we cherish that knowledge and our interactions with him. Continue to study in light of this new information and the Lord will often reward us with more understanding.
He also shared:
“Powerful spiritual direction in your life can be overcome or forced into the background unless you provide a way to retain it… Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it. That practice enhances the likelihood of your receiving further light.” – https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1993/11/acquiring-spiritual-knowledge?lang=eng
This is one of the primary reasons I wanted to create Scripture Notes, to allow for recording revelatory thoughts that came to me and associate them with the scriptures (at least for doctrinal revelation). Not every revelation will be recorded as associated with a scripture, so of course, you should keep a regular journal to record spiritual experiences and revelation in.
President Russell M. Nelson has stated:
“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.” – https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/04/revelation-for-the-church-revelation-for-our-lives?lang=eng
Seek the gift of revelation by practicing at it. Start keeping a journal or use Scripture Notes to write questions and the answers that come to you. Frankly, there has rarely been a time in the history of earth as important as now in obtaining personal revelation. President Nelson has been encouraging this for years. Everyone needs revelation from God to survive what’s happening around us.