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CES devotional: ‘Tuning our hearts to the voice of the spirit’

Published: Sunday, March 2, 2014

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“The Holy Ghost can do for us physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally and intellectually what no man-made remedy can begin to duplicate,” said Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, during a Church Educational System devotional on March 2. The broadcast — originating from the Brigham Young University-Idaho campus in Rexburg, Idaho — was translated into many languages for young adults of the Church around the world.

Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, speaks during a Church Educational System devotional on March 2.

Just as learning an instrument or a language is a process, learning the language of the Spirit is also a process, one that is vital for every one to learn, Sister Burton said. It is through recognizing the voice of the Spirit that individuals are able to act and do what the Lord would have them do.

“It is my deepest desire that we will increase in our ability to hear and understand the promptings of the Spirit and act on the promptings that we get from the Holy Ghost,” she said. “In order to do so, we must first learn to recognize His voice.”

Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, speaks during a Church Educational System devotional on March 2.

Sister Burton shared nine ways to help individual’s on their quest to draw closer to God and to hear His voice speaking to them.

“We can begin by recognizing that our Father in Heaven wants to communicate with us,” she said. “We know this because all latter-day prophets have taught the doctrine of personal revelation. … We do the small and simple things that demonstrate that He is first in our lives and that we want to receive revelation from Him.”

An institute choir from BYU-Idaho provides music during a CES devotional March 2.

1. Sincerely and humbly pray

“One way to pray sincerely is to learn to formulate sincere and heartfelt questions and humbly take them to the Lord,” Sister Burton taught.

Sister Burton asked questions that President Spencer W. Kimball once asked a group: “ ‘Do you want guidance? Have you prayed to the Lord for inspiration? Do you want to do right or do you want to do what you want to do whether or not it is right? Do you want to do what is best for you in the long run or what seems more desirable for the moment? Have you prayed? How much have you prayed?’

To pray sincerely means individuals intend to act on the answer they receive, she said.

2. Act promptly on spiritual impressions

Sharing a video of an incident from the life of President Thomas S. Monson illustrating the vital importance of responding promptly to impressions from the Spirit, Sister Burton spoke of the importance of acting, and following through with those things the Spirit directs.

An institute choir from BYU-Idaho provides music during a CES devotional March 2.

3. Search the scriptures daily

Quoting the words of Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Sister Burton said, “When we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures; for His words are spoken through His prophets.”

Sharing an experience she had when she was 20 years old, Sister Burton spoke of her need to get an answer to heartfelt prayers she was offering while wrestling with a difficult decision. While speaking with her father, he suggested she turn to the scriptures to help guide her decisions.

“I followed his inspired counsel and searched the scriptures,” she said. “After some time and continued earnest effort, I was blessed with an unmistakable answer to my prayer. After offering my best thinking and decision to the Lord, I sincerely asked for a confirmation of that decision and felt a quiet, peaceful assurance deep in my heart.”

4. Live the law of the fast

“In order to increase our ability to hear the voice of the Spirit, we would all do well to fast each fast Sunday and freely give our fast offering to help those in need,” she said.

Through fasting comes the spirit of prophesy and revelation, and the opportunity to be counseled by the Lord.

Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, speaks during a Church Educational System devotional on March 2.

5. Be worthy and worship in the temple

Drawing from the words of President George Albert Smith, Sister Burton said that “Each of us is entitled to the inspiration of the Lord in proportion to the manner in which we live a godly life.”

Sister Burton pointed out that President Smith didn’t say individuals have to be perfect to receive inspiration, just willing to give their best efforts to living worthily.

“Worthiness seems a small price to pay in order to open the windows of heaven,” she said. “As we keep our covenants and worthily partake of the sacrament, we are promised that we will always have the Spirit to be with us. But that comes after we promise and keep the covenant that we will always remember the Savior.”

6. “Trifle not with sacred things” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:12)

Individuals must recognize that revelation from the Lord is a sacred trust, Sister Burton taught. Quoting from the apostle Elder Richard G. Scott, Sister Burton said “inspiration carefully recorded shows God that His communications are sacred to us. … Such recording … should be protected from loss or intrusion by others.”

7. Be prepared to move forward in faith

Recalling when she and her husband were engaged and making plans for the future, Sister Burton said when faced with questions about school and what career to pursue, or wondering when they should start a family, they turned to council given by a living prophet who taught they could have children while they were getting an education and work all at the same time.

“We moved forward in faith,” she said. “It wasn’t easy. My husband ended up working three part-time jobs while he was going to school to allow me to begin my new career as a mother and nurturer. That course was in direct opposition to the logic of the world, even at that time. Looking back, we can now see how taking those steps of faith has resulted in eternal blessings, blessings we might have forfeited had we not heeded the voice of the Spirit through the Lord’s chosen prophet.”

8. Let the Lord decide the details of what He chooses to reveal and when He chooses to reveal it

“Perhaps some of you have had a similar experience to that which our six children have had as they have searched for worthy eternal companions,” she said. “Because hindsight is 20/20, they can now see that they each needed to have certain experiences in order to be able to recognize the Lord’s hand leading them to their eternal companions.”

Some of those experiences required years of patiently waiting and moving forward in faith, Sister Burton said. At times the heavens even seemed closed to them as they prayed.

“When the Lord’s timing conflicts with our own desires, trust that there might be some preparatory experiences the Lord needs us to have before our prayers are answered.”

9. Heed prophetic warnings

Sharing examples of prophetic warnings given by prophets today, Sister Burton taught that it is through tuning one’s heart to the voice of the spirit that blessings come.

“Of all the gifts our Heavenly Father could have chosen to bestow on His sons and daughters as we leave the waters of baptism, He chose to give us the gift of the Holy Ghost. …

“The voice of the world is loud, unrelenting, persuasive and persistent. Unless we learn to tune our hearts to the voice of the Spirit and refine our ability to seek, receive and act on personal revelation, we are on shaky ground at best. We need the voice of the Spirit to guide us away from all that is filthy, foolish, vulgar, violent, selfish and sinful. We need the Holy Ghost not only to lead us to everything that is ‘virtuous, lovely, or good report and praiseworthy’ but to help us cultivate a desire for those things in order to resist the pull of the world.”