This study topic is on Gifts of the Spirit because in everything we do, we need to be seeking these gifts. What are these gifts? In my view, I believe the gifts of the spirit are little slices of the divine attributes of God that he bestows on men and women to experience a portion of what perfect, exalted life is endowed with. He wants us to experience his attributes so that we may become perfected, overcome our natural/carnal man, and step into a world filled with spiritual adventure.
There is no reason a person cannot obtain these gifts, except held back by their own unbelief. We need to repent of this state of mind and believe. If you have trouble believing you can obtain these, this post is for you. They are real, and they are yours to claim.
The following study topic is a sizeable project. Most study topics will not be so big or presented this way but this one will take you a little time. Your investment in this exercise will reap dividends though, so I encourage you to pursue it whether it takes you a day, a week, a month, or years to come. Your groundwork will lay a marvelous foundation for your pursuit of these gifts. It will also make you much more familiar with how to use Scripture Notes and give you ample opportunity to plan out how you will approach your organizing experiences moving forward with the software.
One of my favorite quotes regarding gifts of the spirit is by George Q. Cannon. He was ordained an apostle in 1860 at age 33 and served as a member of the First Presidency under the administrations of Presidents Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow. In 1894 he wrote (emphasis mine):
“We find, even among those who have embraced the Gospel hearts of unbelief. How many of you, my brethren and sisters, are seeking for these gifts that God has promised to bestow? How many of you, when you bow before your Heavenly Father in your family circle or in your secret places, contend for these gifts to be bestowed upon you? How many of you ask the Father, in the name of Jesus, to manifest Himself to you through these powers and these gifts? Or do you go along day by day like a door turning on its hinges, without having any feeling on the subject, without exercising any faith whatever; content to be baptized and be members of the Church, and to rest there, thinking that your salvation is secure because you have done this? I say to you, in the name of the Lord, as one of His servants, that you have need to repent of this. You have need to repent of your hardness of heart, of your indifference, and of your carelessness. There is not that diligence, there is not that faith, there is not that seeking for the power of God that there should be among a people who have received the precious promises we have…. I say to you that it is our duty to avail ourselves of the privileges which God has placed within our reach….
I feel to bear testimony to you, my brethren and sisters, … that God is the same today as He was yesterday; that God is willing to bestow these gifts upon His children…. If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections. If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind. Am I an envious man? It is my duty to seek for charity, which envieth not. So with all the gifts of the Gospel. They are intended for this purpose. No man ought to say, “Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.” He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them. If a man lack wisdom, it is his duty to ask God for wisdom. The same with everything else. That is the design of God concerning His Church. He wants His Saints to be perfected in the truth. For this purpose He gives these gifts, and bestows them upon those who seek after them, in order that they may be a perfect people upon the face of the earth, notwithstanding their many weaknesses, because God has promised to give the gifts that are necessary for their perfection. (Millennial Star, 23 Apr. 1894, 260)”
Clearly, President Cannon felt strongly that we should be seeking after and obtaining the gifts that will make us perfect. To illustrate how these gifts are given to us by God, I will share a personal story and my own admittedly limited experience with this. Your experiences may/will differ.
In general, God does not bestow a fullness of a gift, before a partial level of that gift. In other words, he doesn’t give us the keys to the Ferrari, before we’ve practiced with the Pinto. As we show genuine gratitude for what we’ve been allowed to access he gives us more latitude and teaches us the deeper meaning of the gift.
About a year ago, my wife, an angel woman who is well ahead of me in most areas of spirituality, told me that as she had been praying, the Lord informed her that I was allowed to ask for and receive a gift of the spirit. I had been lax in improving my gifts and seeking for more on my long road to perfection, and as I thought about this and what to ask for, I decided I would go to the temple and while in the Celestial room read the sections in scripture on gifts of the spirit. Those sections are found in Moroni 10, D&C 46, and 1 Corinthians 12 & 13. By the time I got to 1 Corinthians 13 on the gift of charity, I realized that was the gift I needed. I was an individual who felt frustrated way too often over the simple mistakes of my pretty well-behaved children and felt a spirit of anger well up in me far too fast. At times it would just flare up and I would ask myself how the anger would come so quickly. As I read that charity is not easily provoked, I realized there was a real need for me to have this gift. I bowed my head and explained to Heavenly Father in prayer my desire for this gift and how it would help me move toward perfection in my life.
Moroni tells us to pray for charity with all the energy of our heart (Moroni 7:48) and I think that’s a clue to all gifts from God. He needs us to need it, and know why we need it, so we can exercise faith in the gentle reminders we’re about to receive.
What happened over the next several days and weeks was very instructive. I learned that in seeking charity, the first step is for the Lord to start prompting you with reminders about how to change. Someone would yell at someone and escalate a situation and my emotions would start to well up about how we need to have the spirit in the house and by dang it wasn’t going to happen with them yelling at each other (while my voice mysteriously raised with just a hint of frustration). I would then hear that little voice in my head say things like “remember charity is not easily provoked,” “be calm,” “smile when you say it,” “a soft answer turneth away wrath,” etc…
The knowledge that I was seeking the gift of charity brought these promptings to my mind in a “just-in-time” fashion. I wasn’t perfect but I worked to resist the natural man tendencies and obey that voice enough that gradually, slowly, God’s grace was bestowed on me enough to change my nature. The help and promptings I received through the beginning stages of the gift came because I was willing and had a desirous heart. The changes that took place in my life came because I was obedient and hearkened to the voice of the Spirit as it taught me how to behave. I didn’t change my nature. God’s grace and enabling power changed aspects of my nature and removed the jagged edges bit by bit, decision by decision. The amazing thing was it was a big enough change in myself that I actually noticed it. Usually that doesn’t happen with gradual improvements. The Lord still didn’t give me keys to a Ferrari, but just put new tires on my Pinto so I could handle the road a little better. 🙂 This is the process of growing from grace to grace, from a part to a fulness (D&C 93:12-14).
For me this was a very instructive period. I realized that in seeking a gift, the Lord starts to teach us the basics of that gift and helps lift us toward something higher. Every gift is accompanied by the promptings of the Holy Spirit to direct us to notice things pertinent to that gift we are seeking, but there is a clue in Moroni 10:8 about this.
Moroni 10:8 “And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.”
There are two different ways to read this statement by Moroni. Obviously there are different ways we use (or administer) these gifts, all directed by and through the spirit. But there may also be a difference in the way God imparts these gifts upon us. Since these gifts unlock different aspects of God’s nature within us, when we receive a gift it may be that the promptings and experiences in gaining an understanding of the gift could differ significantly.
If you have had an experience in receiving a gift of the Spirit and want to share what unlocked that gift for you, please do so below in the comments. We’ll all benefit from understanding how a gift arrived for others.
Now for the project. There are different ways you can approach this. As you look for gifts of the spirit in the scriptures, there are many verses that mention gifts of the spirit that don’t use the word gift in the verse. It is up to you if you want to include every verse that mentions a gift of the spirit in the collection note, or if you want to document sections that contain the gifts and only have the first verse in the collection note, or something else. I will tell you how I’m approaching it and you can do it how you would like.
I am going to make a list of all the gifts of the spirit that I can find in the scriptures, conference talks, as well as note any gifts I have been told I have in my patriarchal blessing or other priesthood blessings. Remember, the gifts of God are innumerable and given for our perfection. Not every gift is listed in the scriptures. I have been told in blessings that I had certain gifts that aren’t listed in the scriptures and as the quote above by President Cannon describes, we can reason with God (Isaiah 1:18; D&C 50:10) as to why we need a particular gift to make us more perfect and ask him to bestow it on us.
In Scripture Notes, open a search pane and do a search for: Gift* (the wildcard symbol at the end will pick up variations of gift like gifts or gifted)
Nearly 200 results appear. Add these verses to a new collection note. This will be a top-level note and later on, beneath it, you can create sub-notes for a variety of things as I’ll explain below. Call this note “Gifts of the Spirit” and tag it “Gifts of the Spirit” and save it. You can copy the quote above by President Cannon into the master note area if you’d like to keep it as well, or even create a separate Collection Note for that quote and use the same tag “Gifts of the Spirit” but a different title like “George Q. Cannon on Spiritual Gifts” so you find it again easier.
Now we’re going to list all the gifts identified in the scriptures and list it in the master area. Type them in alphabetical order as you go and type them exactly as they appear in the scriptures. You may find a similar sounding gift worded slightly differently. For example, there is a gift to have wisdom, but also a gift to teach the word of wisdom (not referring to D&C 89). Read and type carefully.
Now decide if you want to do step 2A or 2B first. I would choose 2A, but you might choose 2B.
Open a reading pane to the side of the collection note and open up each of the following chapters and read them carefully for gifts.
Moroni 10, D&C 46, and 1 Corinthians 12 & 13, Alma 9
Start going through the verses you added to the collection note in step 1. Begin the process of removing verses that aren’t relevant to gifts of the spirit by clicking the minus button on verses that aren’t related. As you encounter a gift of the spirit, add it to a list you create in your master note area.
Finally, you’ll need to decide which verses you want as part of the collection note. You might want to open the chapters back up from 2A and see if some of the verses that don’t use the word gift in them are ones you want to have associated with this note. My rule of thumb is always have at least the beginning verse of a sequence of verses added to a collection note, and then any other verse that adds meaning to the topic. That way when you create a master note to accompany the list of gifts you have all the insightful verses that add meaning to the topic.
At any point if you need to pause or take a break, or just get a little paranoid, click save/update on your Collection Note so any accidental closings don’t lose the work you’ve been doing.
You might start researching what each gift is and how it operates and make a note out to the side of each gift or indent under it to tell a little about it.
You might even create collection notes for each gift as subtopics by tagging them “Gifts of the Spirit: [insert gift name]”. The colon creates a sub-level and these notes will create a single point of reference for information you gather on that gift. The more you understand a gift, the more you’ll recognize it and come to realize if it’s a gift you need in your life at a given moment.
This step is something you can do over many years. As you encounter stories and quotes about a particular gift you can add it to those topics for additional insight. You will also notice examples of these gifts and others in the scriptures which can be added to your work as you desire. For example, Ammaron noticed that Mormon at age 10 was “quick to observe” (Mormon 1:2). We might therefore reason that Mormon had a gift for observation.
It’s one thing to identify gifts and then learn about them. It’s another to acquire them. Now the real work begins.
Open a new collection note and title it “Seeking a gift” and tag it “Gifts of the Spirit:Currently Seeking”
Prayerfully ask the Lord to help you choose a gift you desire. Maybe it’s one spoken of in your patriarchal blessing that you haven’t realized fully. Maybe it’s something else that would help you at this moment like a gift of believing the Lord can give you a gift. Make notes in this collection note about why you want it. Journal your feelings about it and about what you view as a deficiency in your life that causes you to want this gift. Why do you feel empty without it. Create an intense desire for it. Give yourself little reminders of what you’re seeking for. Remember Moroni’s other clue about seeking charity: “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love…” (Moroni 7:48). That applies to all gift seeking to pray intently with the desire for God to change you so the gift becomes part of your spiritual nature.
Now go to God in prayer and ask for the gift. Reason with him. Tell him why you need it and what you’ll do with it to bless the lives of others around you. How will you minister better with that gift in your life? Ask him to open the way for you to receive it every day. Remember, it was “after many days” that Adam received the blessing he sought (Moses 5:6). Keep seeking till you obtain the gift by asking God every day some questions about what you can do that day to enhance your ability to receive the gift.
Now start paying attention to the spirit and what it tells you to do. It may be that to get that gift you have to go through some preparation. Maybe even receiving a different gift first as a stepping stone, like the gift of faith. Don’t put off the promptings you receive. Obey them as quickly as you can recognize them. When you find your brain in a state of confusion asking “what should I do,” realize you may have just received a prompting from the Spirit, a counter-prompting with an excuse from the dark side as to why not to do it (ex. too busy right now; someone else will do that, etc…), and now your own mind is confused and the natural man is trying to justify not taking the proper action. Once you recognize the conflict, you’ll realize you got a prompting and just need to follow it.
Express gratitude to God for every prompting you recognize and ask him to bless you with more. Document your experiences in this collection note (or your own personal journal). At least make this collection note a short summary of steps you saw the Lord take in your life to help bring it about. Writing about it is a form of sharing your testimony and showing your gratitude to the Lord for blessing you with this gift.
As your gift develops, your faith will be strengthened and your desire to experience this again will be enhanced.
When you’ve seen improvement in your gift and feel sufficiently changed, look over the list of gifts again and pick another and repeat the process.
1) I discovered a small resource online that someone posted and Google linked directly to. It’s a three page PDF on George Q. Cannon’s teachings about Gifts of the Spirit as compiled by Jerreld L. Newquist. You can download it here (Cannon-Gifts of the Spirit). You can also Google “spiritual gifts LDS” and find many resources. I wouldn’t copy someone’s list of gifts found in the scriptures because you won’t find a scriptural gift of “discernment” but many people list it. However, you will find the discerning of spirits which has a different meaning. That’s not to say there isn’t a gift of discernment and a thousand other gifts not mentioned in scripture, but start with the scriptures.
2) Then read this classic talk by Marvin J. Ashton. In it he supplies a lengthy list of less commonly talked about gifts that should give you something to think about, and something to copy/paste into your collection note.
Please share your story below about how the Lord guided you into using a particular gift of the Spirit.
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