How can I use my gift of discernment to help others? Thankyou.
When I read your question, the words of Elder Bednar came to my mind: “There are times when people are silent in their screaming but you can only hear that if you have the gift of discernment.”
This is a very valuable gift that you have and you are wise to seek to understand and utilize it better. Pres. George Q. Cannon would tell you:
“One of the gifts of the Gospel which the Lord has promised to those who enter into covenant with Him is the gift of discerning of spirits—a gift which is not much thought of by many and probably seldom prayed for; yet it is a gift that is of exceeding value and one that should be enjoyed by every Latter-day Saint.” Quoted by Elder Bednar in “Quick to Observe.”
So you have this valuable gift and you want to use it, but how?
Your first step is to do all you can to learn about it. Remember the Lord’s counsel to O”liver Cowdery that he must first “study it out in his mind.” (D&C 9:7-8) So, first pray then start with the scriptures. Don’t limit your search to the phrase “gift of discernment” but also search under “discern” or “discernment” and notice the way the Lord’s prophets used this gift. For example when Ammon taught King Lamoni and he was able to discern his thoughts.
Next pray again and look to our modern day leaders. I’ve given you two great resources to start with (the face to face video and the talk “Quick to Observe“). There are others as well.
With this foundation in place you are ready to begin to “practice”. Spiritual gifts, like other talents, need to be developed. The more you ‘practice’ the more in tune with the Lord you will become. In his talk, Quick to Observe, Elder Bednar gives a wonderful example of how his wife utilizes this gift:
“Before attending her sacrament meetings, Sister Bednar frequently prays for the spiritual eyes to see those who have a need. Often as she observes the brothers and sisters and children in the congregation, she will feel a spiritual nudge to visit with or make a phone call to a particular person. And when Sister Bednar receives such an impression, she promptly responds and obeys. It often is the case that as soon as the “amen” is spoken in the benediction, she will talk with a teenager or hug a sister or, upon returning home, immediately pick up the phone and make a call. As long as I have known Sister Bednar, people have marveled at her capacity to discern and respond to their needs. Often they will ask her, “How did you know?” The spiritual gift of being quick to observe has enabled her to see and to act promptly and has been a great blessing in the lives of many people.”
You have likely had these same kinds of spiritual promptings already. But because the voice of the Spirit can be very soft, we sometimes don’t recognize it for what it is. Carol Lynn Pearson said that when she hears the Holy Ghost He sounds like her own voice, “only older and wiser.”
So when you are first learning to listen, be very careful. Remember what Sis. Hinckley said, “Never suppress a generous thought.” If you have a thought to call someone, or say hello…even if you are not certain that it was the Spirit, act on it (because it probably was).
You can further refine the process by asking the Lord very specific questions, “How can I help my sister (or friend, etc)?” Or you could ask, “I know Bob is struggling, what should I pray for on his behalf?”
By using both specific questions and more generic ones (please help me to know who I can help today), you will be given more opportunities to use your gift to serve the Lord.
Elder Bednar said, “The spiritual gift of discernment is the ability to see not just with the natural eyes but with spiritual eyes, to hear not just with natural ears but with spiritual ears . . . “ As you learn to exercise this gift, you can be a wonderful tool in the Lord’s hands to bless His children. You will also be blessed for your efforts.