Welcome to Tween Talk for Latter-day Saints! This week, episode 9 of Tween Talk is about the Holy Ghost and revelation.
Tween Talk Episode #9
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Tween Talk 9 Transcript
Have you ever wondered if you’re really feeling a prompting from the Holy Ghost, or it’s just in your own mind?
Hey everyone, welcome back!
Someone asked this great question, so we’re going to answer it today. Remember, you can ask me questions, too! Just head over to the website savingtalents.com/podcast.
This person wants to know, what does the Holy Ghost feel like? How can I tell the difference between a prompting or my own desires and thoughts? What if I’m wrong?
This is a fantastic question! Without understanding how the Holy Ghost speaks to us, then how can we follow His guidance when we reach a division on our flowcharts?
We’re going to approach the answer to this question a little bit differently than usual, but we’ll still go with our doctrine, policy, and applications pattern.
Only this time, there’s not really much policy regarding the Holy Ghost, right? It’s not like we have Church rules or anything.
So we’ll first talk about who the Holy Ghost is – that will be the doctrine. What His job is in our lives.
Then instead of policy, we’ll talk about the things we should or shouldn’t do in order to be able to feel the presence of the Holy Ghost.
Lastly, the application part is when we’ll talk about all sorts of different ways the Holy Ghost can communicate with us. Honestly, the answer to this question can be kind of tough. Even a lot of adults who have lived in the Church their entire lives will wonder if they’re feeling the Holy Ghost or not!
Now, I know you’re probably wondering why we’re going to start by talking about who the Holy Ghost is, but that’s pretty important. And you’d be surprised at how much people DON’T know!
For example, I had friend in college who, until he was 15 years old, thought that everybody had their OWN Holy Ghost. You know those little angels in cartoons that sit on shoulders trying to get people to do good? That’s what he kind of thought – that we all had our own!
So to make sure that none of you are confused like my friend was – and no, I won’t tell you his name, in case he’s one of your dads or something – we’re going to talk really quick about the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. Kind of like a second counselor in a bishopric.
He is a SPIRIT (hence His name). He doesn’t have a physical body, but he IS a personage! He’s not some vague mist or ghost that just goes around all the time.
He’s got a lot of jobs, too:
- personal revelation (like when you have to make a decision and you pray about it to know what to do, or you’re searching for the answer to a question)
- teach us
- testify of God and Christ
- give us spiritual gifts
- sanctify us when we repent (remember talking about the Holy Spirit of Promise a few episodes ago?)
- lead us to do good, warn us of danger
When we say we “feel the Holy Ghost,” it means we are feeling His influence. We don’t have to be at a radio station to hear music playing from it. We just need to tune in wherever we are!
Now, don’t get confused between the LIGHT OF CHRIST and the HOLY GHOST.
The Gospel Topics section about the Light of Christ on the Church’s website is pretty detailed about the Light of Christ. I’m not going to read it all, but I’m going to summarize it, and I suggest you read it on your own.
Basically, the Light of Christ is the divine influence of Christ that goes everywhere. Basically, it’s your conscience. Everyone is born with an bit of innate sense of right and wrong, good and evil. It’s why even an atheist or societies who don’t know Christ will punish the same kinds of behaviors like stealing, murder, etc.
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith wrote that “if a man who has never heard the gospel will hearken to the teachings and manifestations of the Spirit of Christ, or the Light of Truth, which come to him, often spoken of as conscience … it will lead him eventually to the fulness of the gospel.”
When people follow the Light of Christ, or what their conscience says to do, they can feel the brief presence of the Holy Ghost to confirm that action. It’s why doing the right thing feels good, even when someone hasn’t been baptized and confirmed.
But the Holy Ghost isn’t a vague, abstract feeling. The Holy Ghost is a real, actual person! In fact, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “We should speak of the Holy Ghost as a personage as ‘he’ and [the Light of Christ] as ‘it,’ although when we speak of the power or gift of the Holy Ghost we may properly say ‘it.’
Once you have been confirmed, this gives you the GIFT of the Holy Ghost. I know at a lot of baptisms they give a blanket as a symbol of the Comforter, aka the Holy Ghost, but I actually think of the gift as more like a cell phone.
When I was in college, cell phones were just becoming a thing. (And yes, I AM that old.) My dad told me I could do it the old-fashioned way, which was by purchasing a CALLING CARD which would let me call long-distance from the phone in my dorm room.
But I told him that was really difficult and I’d honestly probably not call home all that much. My mom took my side, and I got a cell phone!
Now I could call my parents ANY time I wanted! When I was walking to or from campus was usually when I called, but I had full access to my parents, even though I was literally across the country.
After you’re baptized, that confirmation gives you that access to the Holy Ghost. You can feel Him because you’ve been given a phone that lets you talk to Him and Him talk to you at any time.
But just like a cell phone, it’s not always going to work. If you don’t charge the battery or if you go to place where you can’t get any reception, then your ability to communicate goes away.
And that’s the principle part – what conditions allow us to have communication after we’ve received the gift of the Holy Ghost.
First, we need to keep the battery charged. That’s OUR job! Things like saying prayers regularly, reading our scriptures, going to church, keeping commandments, all of that will keep our lines open and clear.
Second, we need to stay in places where we can get reception. This means avoiding sin. If we’re watching bad movies, hanging out with people who push us to make wrong choices, or we ourselves are breaking commandments, then that moves us further and further out of range and we won’t get any cell service.
Screaming at your siblings or your parents? Yep, takes you out of range.
Smoking or vaping (since we’ve already talked about those, right)? Those will take you out of range, too.
Skipping personal prayers and scripture study? Browsing your phone during church instead of being involved in lessons? Those will drain your battery instead of recharging you.
Now, I’m not going to go into a list of dos and don’ts about this. That’s what allll the other episodes in this podcast are for, right? And besides, it’s not my job to give you a list! We discuss the doctrine and principles, and then YOU figure out the applications.
But you get the idea, right? I mean, you’re smart. And we’ll talk about it other times.
But now, let’s get to the part you really want to know about – what does the Holy Ghost sound like? How does He talk to us?
Well, this is the hard part of the podcast!
Telling you about the Holy Ghost, about who He is, what His jobs are, and what you need to do to hear Him, that’s easy.
But HOW you hear him? The application?
Man, that’s rough, even for adults.
Elder Bednar did a great job answering it on a Face to Face, which is available to see on YouTube. Her’es a small part of that answer:
“I think we over-complicate this. I think we over-analyze it. Moroni teaches that all good emanates from Christ. So if you have a thought to do something good, it’s prompted by the Holy Ghost.”
When I was on my mission, I think it was the #1 question we missionaries all asked the mission president. “How do we know what the Holy Ghost is telling us to do?”
One meeting he said, “You know, as mission president, I’ve had lots of opportunities to spend time with apostles and general authorities and even the prophet. Do you think the hear the Holy Ghost differently than you do because they’re apostles?”
He waited a minute, and I realized yeah, I kind of always had assumed that once an apostle became an apostle, he like started hearing a super clear voice in his head all the time.
My mission president shook his head. “No, they don’t,” he said. “But they have spent decades over their lives striving to hear and recognize the voice the Spirit so that He is as recognizable to hear as a family member.”
“Each of you have the same capacity and potential to hear Him just as well as an apostle, if only you will practice as hard as they do and listen for Him as much as they do.”
Isn’t that incredible?
We have the exact same access to the Holy Ghost as the prophet does!
Now, the Holy Ghost isn’t going to tell us how to run the Church, right? That’s not our job, our stewardship.
But when comes to personal revelation and promptings and getting answers to questions?
The apostles don’t have it any easier than we do, except they’ve been working hard at it for so long!
It’s like practicing the piano. If you only sit down once a week for ten minutes, you’ll never be nearly as good as the person who sits down and practices for three hours a day.
But I promise I’m not going to just leave you here and leave you hanging with just that answer!
I want to share several experiences about the Holy Ghost that show how He can be felt in difference ways.
In Preach My Gospel, President Gordon B. Hinckley says, “That’s the test, when all is said and done. Does it persuade one to do good, to rise, to stand tall, to do the right thing, to be kind, to be generous? Then it is of the Spirit of God.”
One time I was on Facebook, and I saw a cool post with some data about the Church, comparing how long it took to get the first million members (like 50 years) to the last million members (like 5 years or something).
I thought, “That’s cool” and went to scroll, but then idea hit me to share it, so I did.
A friend from high school saw it and made a comment, which I thought was slightly unusual, so I sent her a FB message about it.
She ended up getting baptized and serving a mission.
Now, I did NOT have a strong impression to share it. There was no voice in my mind that said it. It was just a simple, casual idea.
Sometimes the Holy Ghost will feel like a warmth inside, like how it feels when you get a hug from someone who loves you.
Sometimes the Holy Ghost will make you feel like crying, but in a good way. That’s how my 8yo daughter feels.
Sometimes the Holy Ghost will make you feel so happy and excited, you don’t think you can hold still and you want to jump up and down for joy. That’s how my 5yo feels. He gets the biggest grin on his face.
And sometimes the Holy Ghost feels ALL these ways to you at different times, depending on the situation.
Sometimes the Holy Ghost sounds like an audible voice. But honestly, that’s not very common.
We hear SO many stories about someone hearing a voice warning them of danger they didn’t even know was there.
And we see people bear testimonies at church and they’re just sobbing, and you wonder if there’s something wrong with you that you don’t cry each time.
Does it mean you don’t have a testimony? Or that you haven’t felt the Spirit before?
Not at all. Most of the time, the Holy Ghost is just a quiet whisper. In the Old Testament in 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah is told to go up into the mountains.
You remember we talked about Elijah a couple of weeks ago, right? Just briefly, but he was one of the prophets who had priesthood keys and came to Joseph Smith to confer those keys onto Joseph.
So a pretty important prophet, right?
Let’s read about how HE felt the Holy Ghost. 1 Kings 19:11-12 say,
“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.”
So even the prophet Elijah, one of the greatest prophets in history, heard the Holy Ghost in a still, small voice.
So what makes you think the Holy Ghost is going to speak super loudly at you when He doesn’t even do that for a prophet?!
The Holy Ghost speaks quietly, and it takes time and practice to learn how He speaks to you.
Sometimes you can feel the Holy Ghost communicating with you when you DON’T feel Him!
You see, one problem that members who grow up in the Church have is that they’re just super used to feeling the Holy Ghost all the time, that they don’t even realize it!
I used to think that I had to be crying really hard or feeling super strong feelings of warmth or love, or else I wasn’t feeling the Holy Ghost at all.
One time in college, a friend of mine invited me to his birthday party. A lot of his friends weren’t members of the Church, but my friend was. I feel a little nervous about his party for some reason, but I wanted my friend to know I cared about him, so I went.
The moment I walked in the door, things felt WRONG. I felt extremely uncomfortable and everything just seemed dark. My friend came up all excited to see me, gave me a hug, and pulled me into the room to introduce me to his friends. Everyone was really nice, but I still just felt BAD inside. And it’s not because I didn’t know anyone – I’m pretty extroverted, so being in a room full of strangers doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
After about 10 minutes, I just couldn’t handle it. The feeling just kept getting worse and worse, like I was doing something wrong or bad, even though I wasn’t and no one else in the room was. I walked into his kitchen to try to walk off how uneasy I felt, and I saw a bunch of open beer bottles and other Word of Wisdom violations.
Suddenly the bad feeling made sense. I was in a place where the Holy Ghost wasn’t able to be.
I didn’t realize just how much I felt the Holy Ghost until I wasn’t feeling Him anymore.
Now, I think one big question is “how do I know it’s the Holy Ghost and not just the voice in my head?”
There was actually an awesome meme (are they memes if they’re serious?) that compared God’s voice to Satan’s voice (or the voice in your head.
You can see these on the blog, but they are basically just a table with a list of God’s voice on one side and a list of Satan’s voice (or the voice in your head) on the other side.
God’s voice: calms, comforts, convicts (like convert, not condemn), encourages, enlightens, reassures, stills
Satan’s voice: obsesses, worries, condemns, discourages, confuses, pushes, frightens, rushes.
If I am trying to make a decision, and every time I envision one of the choices in my head and I feel REALLY confused or REALLY anxious, then I know it’s not coming from the Holy Ghost.
But what about the times the Holy Ghost is telling you do something you don’t WANT to do?
That happens, right? Because God’s plan isn’t always going to be something we want because it’s uncomfortable or hard or scary.
After my husband graduated from college, he took a job in Texas, and we didn’t know ANYONE. We moved, and we had our first baby about two months later. Then my Crohn’s got bad, and I got really, really, really sick. I was in the hospital almost non-stop for 5 months. Different strangers from church were watching our baby.
And the doctors messed up a few times, and I almost died because of it.
So I took the baby and moved to Colorado to live with my parents. My husband’s boss told him he could work remotely from Colorado! This was before COVID, so working from home was a BIG deal.
We bought a house in CO and did that for 3 years. Then my husband started feeling like we should move back to TX, and my parents said they were moving to UT.
The idea of coming back to TX was TERRIFYING for me. I still wouldn’t know anyone, and what if I got sick again? We would be living in the same area, and the idea of having to go back to that hospital and those doctors just filled me with fear and dread.
But when I prayed about it, I also felt peace.
It’s kind of a weird feeling, to be scared but have peace at the same time.
The fear I had, the bad feelings about it that I had, they were crippling me. It was almost like I had no control.
And THAT’S when the bad feelings are from Satan.
But if you feel bad about a choice because the Holy Ghost is telling you it isn’t a good choice, then the bad just feels uncomfortable – it doesn’t overwhelm you or almost paralyze you from being able to act.
And that’s how I feel the difference.
But it’s taken me a long, long, long time to work it all. And the only way to do it is with practice. Lots and lots of practice.
So when an idea comes to your mind and it’s not a BAD idea – go ahead and do it.
Pay attention when you’re reading your scriptures or at church or hearing someone’s testimony.
Ask other people how THEY feel the Holy Ghost. They may say something different than the ideas I’ve said!
And sometimes when you’re searching for the answer to a question, it may seem like radio silence. Like there’s now answer at all.
I’ve had that happen before. Lots of times.
And we’re going to talk about that next time – what do I do when I pray about something, and it feels like there’s no answer?
I’ll see y’all then.