I am having difficulty with expressing to someone how the Holy Ghost is able to be with those who are not members of the Mormon Church. I have searched the Mormon Church websites for literature, but am having difficulty finding something specific. I believe that I have experienced the Spirit of the Lord many times, in prayer, in church, and in fellowship with other Christians before I became a member of the Mormon Church. Though I do feel that it was fleeting and was not a constant companion, however, it was powerful and undeniable. What is the actual truth to this? What does the Mormon Church believe about this? How can I help convey it to a friend?
Your feelings about being influenced by the Holy Ghost were without question true feelings. One of the functions of the Holy Ghost is to act as a witness of the Father and the Son. As we read in the D&C 130:22-23.
The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.
A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him.
However, after a person is baptized into the Mormon Church he received the GIFT of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands of servants of the Lord who possess the Melchizedek Priesthood, and are thus authorized to bestow this sacred gift on the recipients. The instructions from the Lord to do so are recorded in D&C 39:23—
And again, it shall come to pass that on as many as ye shall baptize with water, ye shall lay your hands, and they shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and shall be looking forth for the signs of my coming, and shall know me.
The new member of the Mormon Church enjoys the blessings of the GIFT of the Holy Ghost. This means that the Holy Spirit will be the constant companion of the member as long as he remains worthy to receive the influence of this Member of the Godhead.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve aptly put it this way—
“Before and after baptism, all men are endowed to one degree or another with that Spirit which is the light of Christ. Before baptism they may receive revelation from the Holy Ghost for the purpose of giving them a testimony of the truth and divinity of the Lord’s work on earth. After baptism they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and it is then their right to have the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead if they keep the commandments. The testimony before baptism, speaking by way of analogy, comes as a flash of lightning blazing forth in a dark and stormy night; it comes to light the path on which earth’s pilgrims, far from their heavenly home and lost in the deserts and swamps of the world must walk if they are to return to the Divine Presence. The companionship of the Holy Ghost after baptism is as the continuing blaze of the sun at noonday, shedding its rays on the path of life and on all that surrounds it” (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.262)