What can I do to enhance my ability to hear, recognize, and follow the voice of the Lord? (from "Is It Revelation?" by Elder Gerald N. Lund)
There are many answers that could be given to that question: be worthy, pray always, earnestly seek the Lord, follow the General Authorities. But I should like to answer in a little different way.
The Lord’s voice is still and small and it whispers. If our lives are filled with “noise,” we will find it difficult to hear. We must find ways to reduce the inner noise in our lives and create times of inner stillness and quiet.
There are many sources of inner noise. Some are obvious. Sin can create tremendous inner noise. Anger and contention are a major source of inner noise. Other sources of inner noise are not necessarily bad in and of themselves. Physical tiredness, stress, busyness, apathy, and worry can all create inner noises of their own.
Even outer noise can detract from inner quiet. We often live in envelopes of outer noise. This is not a bad thing, but it may interfere at times with the quiet whisperings the Lord wants to give us.
Let me mention one other common source of great inner noise. When we desperately desire something, it creates a great rush of emotion within us. And high emotion can mask or cover spiritual promptings. Even if the thing we desire is a good thing, our “wants” may be so high that we become unwilling or unable to hear the Lord’s will in the matter.
Thankfully, the scriptures and the prophets teach us how to reduce inner noise and create times of quiet and reverence.
Reading and studying the word of God is a great source of inner quiet. You can feel things begin to change. The agitation melts away, and peace comes in its place. I have experienced that time and again in my own life.
Prayer is another source of inner quiet and serenity. I am not talking about the I-have-to-do-my-duty sort of prayers. I speak of prayers that are consistent, focused, and submissive to God’s will.
We can increase our own personal reverence. In sacrament meetings we can sit quietly and prepare for the covenant-making process offered there. We witness to God that we are willing to “always remember him” (see D&C 20:77, 79). If we keep that covenant, we shall always have His Spirit to be with us.
Finally, deliberately put aside the cares of the world, put aside the rush of our daily lives, and find a quiet place and a quiet time to sit and ponder and reflect and meditate.
If the voice of the Lord is still and small and it whispers, should it surprise us that His counsel is “Be still and know that I am God”? (D&C 101:16). There is great significance to that simple statement. Only as we are still can we learn to hear the still, small voice.
“The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. …
“Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening.”
—President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 53.