Learning to Recognize the Holy Ghost

rattlesnake rattleKnow what this is? When you hear it, you know it’s a warning to flee quickly, lest you be subjected to painful, venomous, even deadly bites. It is an audible warning of a physical danger. But what of spiritual danger? Are there warning rattles we can attune ourselves to that if heeded will protect us spiritually? Of course there are. We have the words of prophets, scriptures, and the best guide of all—the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. Sister Julie B. Beck taught, “The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important ability that can be acquired in this life…

“Education is wonderful, but being able to feel the Lord’s power and Spirit upon us is the highest education we can achieve. With that, we have power and influence. Without it, we will not be able to navigate in this life. The adversary will pick us off one by one, and we will be drawn off course by the many, many voices that are out there distracting us. With the Lord’s Spirit upon us, we are strong and solid and will be able to walk with Him. “

My goal as a mother is to teach my children to recognize when they are feeling the Spirit, to be immersed in it, so when they are confronted with evil they will know it immediately and flee. The first chapter of Moses illustrates this beautifully. Moses first became acquainted with God and His ways. He felt His spirit and power. When Satan came to Moses, Moses was able to discern Satan’s darkness, but only because he first felt of God’s goodness. President Boyd K. Packer taught: “Discovering how the Holy Ghost operates in your life is the quest of a lifetime.” We must constantly try hard to remain open and sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit. The following are a few suggestions that have worked for me personally and have helped me in teaching my children to recognize the Holy Ghost.

Study the scriptures with your children.

The language may be hard to understand at first, but your children will learn the beauty of it. As you read and discuss the words of the scriptures the Spirit will distill upon all, helping even the youngest of children to recognize the truth that is contained in them.

Talk about your own spiritual experiences.

Some are too sacred to share but others can be shared. Discuss with your children why you made certain decisions when moved upon by the Holy Ghost. Tell them what you experienced, felt, heard so they can begin to understand the different ways the Holy Ghost communicates to us.

Create an environment and climate where the Spirit of God can dwell.

  • What pictures adorn the walls of your homes?
  • Is there a feeling of order or chaos?
  • What movies, music, magazines, books, and tv programs are you, as a parent, letting into your home? Mothers, especially, have a great influence here.

 “Women are like lionesses at the gate of the home. Whatever happens in that home and family happens because she cares about it and it matters to her. She guards that gate, and things matter to that family if they matter to her.” ~ Julie B. Beck, BYU Women’s Conference, April 29, 2010

Woman writing in journalKeep a journal of spiritual experiences or promptings you receive.

This is helpful as time goes on, because, as you look back to what has been written you begin to see a pattern of the ways the Holy Ghost communicates to you.  Writing down when we have received a prompting also shows the Lord we are listening and paying attention. Teaching your children to do the same will greatly aid them as they learn to identify when the Holy Ghost is speaking to them.

Learn to differentiate between emotions and the Spirit.

This is a little more difficult but very important. When we feel the Spirit we do feel happy, joyful but every time we feel happy and joyful we are not always feeling the Spirit. These quotes will help clarify what I am trying to say here.

“The inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, hate, passion, fear, or pride. When such influences are present, it is like trying to savor the delicate flavor of a grape while eating a jalapeño pepper. Both flavors are present, but one completely overpowers the other. In like manner, strong emotions overcome the delicate promptings of the Holy Spirit.” (Richard G. Scott) “Thoughts and feelings are the most common ways the Lord gives His children personal revelation. And therein lies a challenge. . .If something is counterfeit, it means it resembles the original so closely that it is difficult to distinguish which is the true and which is the false. We must ever be on guard against being deceived by our emotions or by revelation from an unworthy source.” ~Gerald N. Lund, “Is It Revelation?,” New Era, Jul 2004, 44~ “To teach by the Spirit is not just a matter of telling inspirational stories or relaying experiences that appeal to the emotions. It is much more than this. In fact, some might confuse an emotional appeal with the gentle working of the Holy Spirit, but they are not necessarily the same.” ~ Loren C. Dunn,“Teaching by the Power of the Spirit,” ~

We have tried to teach our children to just be aware of music, rhetoric, images, beats that would be used to manipulate an emotional response.

Learn to follow through.

This is perhaps one of the most difficult things for us to do. President Packer said, “You must learn to seek the power and direction that is available to you, and then follow that course no matter what.” Many times we know what we should do but fail to act because we perceive it will be hard. It’s painful to realize when you have done something wrong or allowed evil to creep into your life or even neglected to do what you know you should have been doing. Our pride is a nasty little stumbling block to following the Spirit. There have been times I haven’t wanted to pray about something because I already knew what was required of me and I didn’t want to do it. I fall into the category of “treating lightly those things [I] have received.” (D&C 84:54) Going back to my journal of spiritual experiences helps me get over myself and realize the Lord really does know what is best. My life turns out so much better when I follow through with the promptings I receive. What have you done to teach your children about the Holy Ghost? What do you find difficult about discerning the promptings of the Holy Ghost from emotions?

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About Montserrat Wadsworth

Montserrat is completely devoted to her wonderful husband, Joseph, and their eleven children. They live on a 5,000 acre alfalfa farm nestled in a small Northern Nevada valley. Montserrat enjoys homeschooling, photography, cooking, crafting, chocolate, and sloppy goodnight kisses. She strives to live each day as God would have her do following Mary’s biblical supplication, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38) You can follow her family's varied adventures at CranialHiccups.com

2 thoughts on “Learning to Recognize the Holy Ghost

  1. Delirious

    I have to admit that although I do try to live by the promptings of the Spirit, when I have important decisions to make I struggle to recognize the guidance. I think it’s easier to feel the Spirit when you are bearing testimony than it is to receive guidance about important decisions. Usually looking back I can see the guidance was there,, but when I am in the midst of the decision process, it’s hard to discern. 🙂

  2. Angela

    “Discovering how the Holy Ghost operates in your life is the quest of a lifetime.” What a great quote. I remember reading about a Church leader who said that the best way to find out how to do this is to take a new copy of The Book of Mormon and mark a little red “x” each time you see an instance of the spirit in the hands of the lives of those people and how the Lord communicated with them. This way, we can get in the habit of noticing it in our life.

    Great blog post!


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