President M. Russell Ballard released the following video and blog post this past week, detailing how he hears the voice of the Lord.
Since the early days of my life, I have sought to hear the voice of the Lord and understand His guiding hand in my life. A defining moment in my journey to understand His voice came while I served as a young missionary in England. This experience has shaped the rest of my life. I think of this moment as one of the first times that I have felt very, very close to heaven.
I remember walking down the side of the River Trent in Nottingham, England. I had been made the district president over 30 missionaries, and we were responsible for ministering to nine branches. We didn’t have the correct number of missionaries serving in our mission, so I didn’t have a companion at that time (sometimes that happened in those early days of missionary work).
As I was walking along that river, all alone, I said a prayer in my heart. I desired to feel some guidance from the Lord. I pled that He would be pleased with what I was trying to do. I asked, “Am I doing what you want?”
I did not hear a voice. I did not see any angels. But I had an impact within my bosom—within my heart—that has never left me. That moment was when I first learned what it feels like to be very, very close to heaven.
As a 20-year-old missionary, I learned a lesson from that experience: most things we hear from heaven are ultimately felt in our hearts. And then hopefully that feeling trickles up into our minds, where it helps guide us to follow what we hear. From this experience, and countless others, I have learned that we must be still to hear the Lord’s voice. The Lord made it pretty clear when He said, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
While technology has often been a blessing in my life, it can also be a distraction that places a barrier between us and our ability to hear the Lord’s voice. I tell my grandchildren that they should set aside quiet time each day to think about their lives and ponder what the Lord wants them to do.
Receiving revelation only comes, at least in my case, when I have those still and quiet moments. I have found I cannot connect with heaven in a mass of clutter. You have to find those quiet moments in your life when you can contemplate the things of the Spirit. In my experience, when I am in that mode and striving to be still, that’s when I get impressions. That’s when I get a thought that I know is from heaven.
For example, I give a lot of talks in my calling. I don’t usually write them out, except when I have to because of time limits. So, I usually think, “Well, what should I say?” Sometimes the answer comes in the middle of the night—a very quiet part of my day. And I won’t hear a voice but rather an impression of what the Lord is prompting me to do and to say.
Hear, Feel, Learn, and Know
I have also found that profound spiritual insight can come from reading and listening to the gospel being taught by those who are witnesses of the Lord, Jesus Christ. As I have heard their words, I’ve felt things that have made all the difference in my spiritual conversion.
I encourage missionaries wherever I go to recognize that conversion, reactivation, and even staying active in The Church of Jesus Christ always begins with what people feel more than what they know. One of the great blessings of hearing the Lord and feeling the power of the Lord is that the Holy Ghost can cause us to listen, feel, learn, and know.
I am eternally thankful for the shaping experience I had as a young missionary in England, because it taught me what it feels like to experience the Lord’s guiding hand in my life. Today, 71 years later, I can boldly testify that it is a privilege for us to be able to “Hear Him” in our modern world. May we each strive for quiet moments, free from distraction, to feel the presence of the Lord in our lives.