Nephi promised that, if we will receive the Holy Ghost, “it will show unto [us] all things what [we] should do” (2 Nephi 32:5). The Lord told Joseph Smith that the Holy Ghost speaks to our mind and to our heart (D&C 8:2). But it can be hard to distinguish thoughts and feelings which come from the Spirit from our own thoughts and feelings. What does the Book of Mormon teach that can help us learn to recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost?
- The Holy Ghost can calm negative emotions, such as anger, fear, or discouragement. Nephi said that the Lord softened his heart so that he did not rebel against his father’s words (1 Nephi 2:16). When Ammon and his brothers became depressed during their missionary service, the Lord comforted them (Alma 26:27). And Helaman wrote to Captain Moroni that, before a difficult battle, the Lord “did speak peace to [their] souls” (Alma 58:11).
- The voice of the Holy Ghost is quiet but piercing. When Nephi and Lehi were delivered from prison by the power of God, the people who saw the miracle heard a voice. “It was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul” (Helaman 5:30). When a group of people were gathered at the temple in Bountiful following the Savior’s death, they also heard a voice. “It was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn” (3 Nephi 11:3).
- Sometimes we may recognize that God is speaking to us without understanding what He is saying. That group of people at the temple heard the voice three times. The first two times, “they understood not the voice which they heard.” But the third time, they did something different: “They did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came. And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard” (3 Nephi 11:5-6). Sometimes, we don’t understand because we aren’t listening intently enough.
- On some occasions, the Holy Ghost can fill us with overwhelming power. At the beginning of the Book of Mormon, Lehi is “overcome with the Spirit” (1 Nephi 1:7-8). Nephi later tells his brothers, “I am full of the Spirit of God, insomuch that my frame has no strength” (1 Nephi 17:47). He later said that God had filled him with His love, “even unto the consuming of my flesh” (2 Nephi 4:21).
Today, I will strive to recognize the voice of the Holy Ghost. I will remember that the Spirit speaks peace to my soul, that His voice is soft but piercing, and that I must remove distractions and pay attention in order to understand the message. I will also remember and be grateful for the occasions when I have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost with overwhelming and undeniable power.