I was in a Gospel Doctrine class last year, as I sat quietly listening to the lesson. I tend not to say too much, seems like every time I’m about to comment the Spirit tells me, “Not today.” But this day I got the green light.
We were discussing Elijah and the story where he had gone up to a mountain and had an encounter with the Lord.
“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:11-12
The Gospel Doctrine teacher asked the question, “How do you know if it is the Spirit talking to you?” He waited two seconds and called on the Stake Relief Society President. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t know.” The teacher talked about how the Lord speaks to us through our feelings.
I rose my hand and said, “I noticed in this verse that it says the Lord spoke to Elijah in a still small voice, not a still small feeling.” I then said, “Can the Lord not speak to us in words in our minds? Feelings can be deceptive sometimes. What do you think?”
The teacher held up his hand and said, “That is not true. The General Authorities say it is a feeling.” and then read a quote from a General Authority.
During the lesson I clearly recalled my memory of what the Lord had shown me from this moment in Elijah’s life. From my journal I had written:
He prayed to the Lord in a cave and asked God, “Where are you?” Why can the people not see you or find you as I? Elijah went out of the cave as a strong gust of wind, like a hurricane blew him harshly and he wondered why. Then there was an earthquake and he fell to his knees. Then he saw fire in the sky and smoke in the distance. It was truly powerful, he thought. Then, Elijah heard a soft voice in his mind and heart that overcame Him, and it said, “I am here Elijah, I am always here.” Elijah then understood that the most powerful communication the Lord has with us is by His Spirit through revelation. It is here that one is truly converted and seeks repentance and comes to Him.
I believe that the Lord can speak to us in our feelings, but feelings alone are difficult to know. We must listen for those clear thoughts that come by the Spirit as the Lord speaks to us.
When I pray or seek revelation I try to calm my emotions. Like ripples in a pond, or static on the radio, emotions can cloud our clarity of thought. Sometimes we have no choice but to push through the emotions that make it difficult, because we are mortal. Perhaps this is where fasting under difficult emotional duress is effective, because fasting can create a sense of calm.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. [Peace be unto you.] He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. [revelation] Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalms 23:1-4
If you are having trouble hearing the voice of the Lord, cry out to Him in your private place and then find your peace of mind. Listen as long as it takes to hear those clear thoughts. Try writing the thoughts that come to you. Be patient. He rarely comes to us in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire from the sky. He speaks to us through a “still small voice.”