When I push the button and turn on my computer, the screen activates. And I can have communication with someone on the other side of the world, potentially in minutes. So why, when I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, there is no communication? Though there have been times in my life when I felt like ideas came to me from some sort of a God, they never really amount to anything, by any measurement known to man. Were they even Real communications from God in the first place, or was it just my imagination?
You remind me of a conversation I had with a Seventy some 10 or 15 years ago. He listed what he considered the top 10 most misunderstood or misinterpreted scriptures “in all of Mormondom.” Here is the relevant one.
20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. D&C 130:20-21
The reason why this scripture is so often misinterpreted is that it reads as if God is a vending machine. We simply insert the coins, push a button, and “poof” we get a blessing. This is NOT how it works. It works for a computer because a computer has neither soul nor divine power.
Is it conceivable that so glorious a blessing as divine communication should be bought with such a lowly price? Do we take no thought save it is to ask? (D&C 9:7)
Consider also that many times, the Lord gives us direction and still expects us to work for it. What happened to Nephi? “Go get the plates.” Well they tried and Laban chased them out and threatened to kill them. Most people would have called it quits. Laman and Lemuel did. But Nephi wasn’t most people.
Then they tried to buy it with all their worldly wealth. It was stolen from them, along with the threat of death. They’ve now lost everything and twice threatened with death, death, death, and death. And yet again… death.
It was not the Lord’s inspiration that told them HOW to do it. But they did their best. It was only after these trials — and most importantly, after these “failures” — that Nephi was truly led by the Spirit and given clear direction on how to accomplish the thing which He commanded them.
How does this apply to you? First, I don’t think that He will require such a sacrifice from someone “young in the gospel” before you’ve successfully landed some freethrows.
So, how do you practice your “free throws” per Elder Edgley’s analogy? You start small and go up from there. Crawl before walking.
To start with, you’ve already “learned to crawl” regarding communications of the Spirit or else you wouldn’t be at least trying to listen. But as you grow in the Spirit, you can find yourself not only open to deeper communication, but also greater levels of tests and trials that go along with it.
You need to start doing those things which don’t require “special communication.” Do the simple things that you know you’re supposed to be doing.
To develop your spirit.
- Study your scriptures
- Really listen to the talks and lessons in all your Church activities and meetings.
- Love your neighbor.
- Pay your tithing.
- Give a generous fast offering.
- Perform your calling the best you can with love for the work and dedication to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As you go through these to the point that you don’t really have to “force” yourself to do them, but have let them become a part of you, then you can have claim to the more serious spiritual promptings. But remember there will be a gradual growth in these communications and certainty therein.
As you seek counsel and listen, go ahead and apply what you really feel the Lord wants you to do. Then see what happens. Consider the failures as well as the successes. Were some successes because the Lord blessed you? Was the failure because you had failed on some level? Was there another way? Did you learn from the experience? Did Nephi?
With each experience (especially the failures — if they can be called such) you will learn to hone your spiritual ears more and more. But take baby steps.