Our 12-year-old daughter has been taking the lead in some of our family scripture study as part of her focus on her Young Women Personal Progress work. We’ve been reading scriptures from the section on Faith. Last night, she read the verses in the Joseph Smith History.
It’s been a while since I’ve read his story. And I was actually feeling pretty awful last night, so at first, I felt a little detached from what she was reading. (We’ve had many late nights as we’ve gathered together as a family to watch the Olympics, and it’s been a stressful week, and I’ve been under the weather to boot.)
But the power of these words quickly shot right into my heart. The message of Joseph Smith‘s story is both miraculous and a wonder for the world, but is also extremely personal.
We believe in God. We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe in a restoration of the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ, through a prophet, called of God like those of old. We believe God and His Son appeared to Joseph Smith to begin this process of restoration.
And we believe God answers prayers of individuals. He knows us by name. He is real, and ready to respond to our heartfelt pleas.
I was struck by Joseph’s words:
“In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it? ….”
We live in a time when wars of words are rampant. Opinions swirl around us daily on all sorts of topics, many of them of little consequence. But many of them matter a great deal.
The scripture that drove Joseph to a grove of trees applies to you and to me.
If any of you lack bwisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
I know God answers prayers. When I feel confused or concerned, I find guidance in the scriptures and through God’s Spirit as I pray to my Father for help. I’ve never had visions (and most of us won’t), but I have experienced a taste of what Elder Richard G. Scott has taught:
“As you gain experience and success in being guided by the Spirit, your confidence in the impressions you feel can become more certain than your dependence on what you see or hear.”
We are here to learn to walk by faith, and prayer and personal revelation are key to being able to get help beyond our own. This is something we are taught about often in scripture and through the words of living prophets.
Elder Scott teaches:
Father in Heaven knew that you would face challenges and be required to make some decisions that would be beyond your own ability to decide correctly. In His plan of happiness, He included a provision for you to receive help with such challenges and decisions during your mortal life. That assistance will come to you through the Holy Ghost as spiritual guidance. It is a power, beyond your own capability, that a loving Heavenly Father wants you to use consistently for your peace and happiness.
I am convinced that there is no simple formula or technique that would immediately allow you to master the ability to be guided by the voice of the Spirit. Our Father expects you to learn how to obtain that divine help by exercising faith in Him and His Holy Son, Jesus Christ. Were you to receive inspired guidance just for the asking, you would become weak and ever more dependent on Them. They know that essential personal growth will come as you struggle to learn how to be led by the Spirit.
What may appear initially to be a daunting task will be much easier to manage over time as you consistently strive to recognize and follow feelings prompted by the Spirit.
Is there something that is feeling daunting to you right now? What questions or decisions are pressing on your mind and heart? Are their opinions you are trying to sort through in your own life?
If you lack wisdom, ask of God. He is real. He loves us. We are His children. He knows all that is happening in our lives and He wants for us to seek His help.
I am so grateful to know I can turn to Him for help, guidance, knowledge, and comfort. I’m grateful for His Spirit that helps me know He is there and helps me find truth and clarity in my life.
Michelle, thank you for this. I think I so often look at Joseph Smith’s experience as HIS story and forget how much it applies to my life here and now. We do absolutely live in a “war of words and tumult of opinions” and I just love the thoughts you quoted form Elder Scott. He has a couple of talks on personal revelation that have been almost life-changing for me. There is no simple formula, but we DO have access to the Spirit, and that makes all the difference.