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HOW TO ABLY IDENTIFY SPIRITUAL PROMPTINGS

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If a good feeling were present when teaching investigators, we learned as missionaries to stop and say, "How do you feel right now? That special feeling you have is the Holty Ghost telling you these things are true."

We need to identify those moments when spiritual promptings are felt so they never are ignored or become commonplace.I continue learning to identify the Spirit by reading the scriptures and likening them to my own life. I receive further insight from articles and stories in Church publications as well as other members' talks and testimonies of how they have been guided or influenced. I then try to recognize similar promptings in my life.

I feel there are no "coincidences" in our lives, but rather, quiet moments of direction. We must follow the good impulses we feel, so we do not desensitize ourselves to the Spirit by ignoring it.

I also record the special experiences and those times I have ignored a prompting. The latter often leads to renewed commitment to listen. By keeping a journal of spiritual experiences, I recognize them more quickly the next time and keep myself open for more. I also reinforce them in my mind and heart, and have them available as examples in moments of discouragement. - Sylvia G. Calkins, Laurel, Md.

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How we did it:

Others can help us

Family, friends and our spiritual leaders may help us to identify spiritual promptings. This kind of counsel helped convince me that personal revelation is for all Church members to enjoy. Peace and true joy accompany inspiration from the Holy Ghost and Satan can't use those two spiritual feelings to deceive us. - David S. Fowler, Ogden, Utah

Good thoughts, feelings

Many times the promptings of the Spirit come to us in ways we "think not of." The Lord gives us promptings to help us and bless others. Any time a good thought or warm feeling enters our heart and mind, it may be from the Lord. Promptings come in harmony with gospel principles and common sense. The best way to identify a prompting is through prayer. After we pray, the Lord will answer us with clear thoughts or through the scriptures and messages from Church leaders. - Henry D. Koch, Fordland, Mo.

Act on sudden ideas

When a sudden idea comes to mind, do not ignore or postpone it. I was prompted one day to visit some new neighbors and share the gospel. This prompting persisted for three or four weeks, so I picked up some roses to take to them and introduced myself. We talked about churches, and they said representatives from another church had been there that day, and my neighbor had asked them to leave and not come back. He said he wished I had come sooner. I sent the missionaries to them, and they were baptized into the Church. - Supora Thaxton, Northridge, Calif.

Private time helps

Privacy and some undisturbed time for meditation are valuable. On one occasion, after having no response to several inquiries for needed genealogy information, I prayed and pondered about the problem. In my mind, I felt impressed to write to the courthouse in Winterhaven, Calif. I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote the letter. In a few days the information I needed came in the mail. - Martha Nally, Phoenix, Ariz.

Keep the commandments

In 1 Nephi 17:45, Nephi reprimanded Laman and Lemuel because they were swift to do iniquity. Nephi said an angel had spoken to his brothers in a still, small voice but they were past feeling and that they could not feel his words. If we reverse this, the first key is to be slow to do iniquity, and keep the commandments. Then when the Lord speaks to us in a still, small voice, we can feel it in our hearts and minds. - Pamela Thornson, Sierra Vista, Ariz.

Obey Lord's will

First, we must earnestly strive to obey the Lord's will. He won't tell us if we aren't listening. Second, we must be prayerful and remember to ask if it is true. As it says in the Doctrine and Covenants 9:8, "your bosom shall burn within you." Third, the Lord can prompt us to do things that "appear" illogical. Remember even Joseph Smith encountered opposition from others. Finally, the Lord sends promptings only when they are necessary. Some situations require stronger promptings than others. The Lord knows each of us well and knows just how much knowledge we need. - Joanne M. Linnabary, Rives Junction, Mich.

Anxious urge or feeling

Most of the promptings I have received have come with respect to serving others - with genealogy, food storage and in callings. The promptings come as an anxious urge or nagging feeling, a thought or strong impression that speaks to my mind. If I ignore it, and the prompting comes again, I feel as though I'm fighting with my conscience and know it is time to respond. Finally, when I act upon it, I'm able to recognize it as a spiritual prompting because a feeling of peace follows. - Christine O. Thomas, Ft. Campbell, Ky.

Come as quiet thoughts

Spiritual promptings for me haven't been persistent or strong but quiet thoughts that come just as an idea. Once when I was teaching a Primary class, a substitute was to take my place while I attended teacher development. The Saturday night before, I felt I should prepare my lesson, but thought it unnecessary. The next morning the person who was to teach my class had an emergency, and my class had to be combined with another class. Since then, I have tried to be more aware of and follow these promptings. - Jacqueline Bly, Magrath, Alberta

`Sudden strokes of ideas'

The following quote by Joseph Smith has helped me: "A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it many give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus." - Garry Weiss, Cincinnati, Ohio

Immediately feel better

When I'm trying to find out what is the right thing to do, I list a number of things I could and should do. I prayerfully consider each item to determine the one needful thing. When I discover what God wants me to work on, I immediately feel better. It is crucial that I follow through without procrastination, or the opportunity may pass, and the promptings diminish. - Dean O. Smith, Saint Cloud, Fla.

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How to checklist:

1 Recognize it may come as an idea, thought or feeling.

2 Realize it will harmonize with the gospel, common sense.

3 Remember it may leave if you don't act upon it.

4 Expect it to be followed by feelings of peace and joy.

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WRITE TO US:

March 12 "How to draw closer as a family through family home evening."

March 19 "How to develop self-reliance and independence."

March 26 "How to improve the quality of your life."

April 2 "How to store important records."

April 16 "How to make time for exercise."

April 23 "How to raise a useful garden, especially with limited space."

April 30 "How to make Mother's Day memorable for your mother."

May 7 "How to grow old with a pleasant, positive disposition."

May 14 "How to prepare for natural or financial disasters."

May 21 "How to include non-member friends in a wholesome and positive graduation celebration."

May 28 "How to help your children entertain themselves during the summer."

Have you had good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.