Elder Bednar begins by talking about what is revelation and how do we listen in our everyday lives for it.
The Spirit of Revelation
- Revelation is communication from God to His children on the earth and one of the great blessings associated with the gift and constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. The spirit of revelation is available to every person who receives by proper priesthood authority the saving ordinances of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost—and who is acting in faith to fulfill the priesthood injunction to “receive the Holy Ghost.” This blessing is not restricted to the presiding authorities of the Church; rather, it belongs to and should be operative in the life of every man, woman, and child who reaches the age of accountability and enters into sacred covenants. Sincere desire and worthiness invite the spirit of revelation into our lives.
The Spirit speaks so lightly that the slightest distraction or noise can overshadow the messages that the Spirit is sending us. It is important to live our lives in a way that allows us the hear the whispering of the spirit.
- Because the Spirit whispers to us gently and delicately, it is easy to understand why we should shun inappropriate media, pornography, and harmful, addictive substances and behaviors. These tools of the adversary can impair and eventually destroy our capacity to recognize and respond to the subtle messages from God delivered by the power of His Spirit. Each of us should consider seriously and ponder prayerfully how we can reject the devil’s enticements and righteously “apply unto it,” even the spirit of revelation, in our personal lives and families.
Patterns of Revelation
There are two examples of light that show God's pattern for revealing truth.
- A light turned on in a dark room is like receiving a message from God quickly, completely, and all at once. Many of us have experienced this pattern of revelation as we have been given answers to sincere prayers or been provided with needed direction or protection, according to God’s will and timing. These mighty miracles do occur. However, this pattern of revelation tends to be more rare than common.
- The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God “line upon line, precept upon precept”. Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation. This pattern of revelation tends to be more common than rare and is evident in the experiences of Nephi as he tried several different approaches before successfully obtaining the plates of brass from Laban. Ultimately, he was led by the Spirit to Jerusalem, “not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do”. And he did not learn how to build a ship of curious workmanship all at one time; rather, Nephi was shown by the Lord “from time to time after what manner [he] should work the timbers of the ship”.
Elder Bednar shares another example of light when he talks about the sun coming up on a foggy morning. We might not know when the sun comes up but we can be assured that it is happening. Just because we can't see it, doesn't mean we shouldn't move forward with the day.
- Another common experience with light helps us learn an additional truth about the “line upon line, precept upon precept” pattern of revelation. Sometimes the sun rises on a morning that is cloudy or foggy. Because of the overcast conditions, perceiving the light is more difficult, and identifying the precise moment when the sun rises over the horizon is not possible. But on such a morning we nonetheless have sufficient light to recognize a new day and to conduct our affairs. In a similar way, we many times receive revelation without recognizing precisely how or when we are receiving revelation.
Elder Bednar reminds us that we might not have amazing experiences that strengthen our faith right away. But we should be patient and continue to act in ways that will allow the Holy Ghost to inspire us and teach us. As we do, we will be blessed with assurances that we are walking in the right paths.
- We may not see angels, hear heavenly voices, or receive overwhelming spiritual impressions. We frequently may press forward hoping and praying—but without absolute assurance—that we are acting in accordance with God’s will. But as we honor our covenants and keep the commandments, as we strive ever more consistently to do good and to become better, we can walk with the confidence that God will guide our steps. And we can speak with the assurance that God will inspire our utterances.
However we receive revelation, we can be assured that God knows us and is helping us to grow.
- Sometimes the spirit of revelation will operate immediately and intensely, other times subtly and gradually, and often so delicately you may not even consciously recognize it. But regardless of the pattern whereby this blessing is received, the light it provides will illuminate and enlarge your soul, enlighten your understanding, and direct and protect you and your family.
These analogies of light was great examples of how the Spirit communicates with us. I have experienced immediate answers to my prayers. But I more commonly am instructed on the things I should do in my life through the quiet, simple, whispering of the Spirit throughout my week, As I try to put my actions in line with what God wants, I am able to listen for the instruction that the Spirit gives me. As I study, pray, and put my actions in line with Christ, I am given small, meaningful instruction that allows me to be a helper to the Lord in moving His work forward. That might come in a peaceful assurance that I am doing the right things, or instruction on how I can help someone else. But I know as I live my life in harmony with the teachings of Christ, that instruction comes and it is up to me to be living so I can hear what the Spirit wishes for me to do.