Introduction ⎜ Part 2 ⎜ Part 3 | Part 4 ⎜ Part 5 ⎜ Part 6
This piece begins a 6-part series about leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hearing the voice of the Lord in their mind. In saying this, I don’t mean one of the definitions of the “voice of the Lord”—that of feeling truth by the power of the Holy Spirit. I mean another narrower definition, of actually hearing a voice in the mind.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all perfect personages that can speak, and they all speak the same truths under the same circumstances. In other words, the resurrected Lord Jesus isn’t going to say something to someone that the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit) wouldn’t also say. So although I am calling this blog series, “hearing the voice of the Lord in the mind,” it could be either the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, or an angel (the spirit of a just person made perfect or a resurrected being) that is speaking, since they all speak by the power of the Holy Ghost for the Godhead in unity. And the Holy Spirit is always involved in conveying that voice.
When the voice of the Lord speaks to the mind of a person, those words become scripture for that particular individual. (Only the canonized scriptures, or standard words, are written and binding scripture for members of the Church. When a Church leader or member speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost while giving a talk or lesson, that may be considered verbal scripture, but it is generally not written and is not canonized nor binding on members of the Church.)
The words spoken by the voice of the Lord to individuals are given to profit them, but may also profit others because of the inspiration in those words, and because some circumstances are broadly similar for many members. As the accounts in these blogs are shared, of the voice of the Lord speaking to someone’s mind, keep in mind that while they are inspired words to those individuals, they are not formal scripture to others. They can, however, be edifying and spiritually profitable for many. That is the very reason church leaders sometimes share them; they can be beneficial and inspirational to others. Sometimes doctrinal understanding is expanded, but most of the time direction or counsel is given relating to something specific: a trial or challenge or great need that arises, or an answer to a question. For instance, one good Latter-day Saint woman struggling with a great trial of her faith was told by a voice: “this is no more unreasonable than the requirement the Lord made of Abraham when he commanded him to offer up his son Isaac, and when the Lord sees that you are willing to obey in all things the trial shall be removed.”
A sublime example in the scriptures of the voice of the Lord coming into the mind of a prophet is found in the book of Enos. I have seen a number of talks given by Church authorities in which they have mentioned Enos’ experience and have taught from it. President Marion G. Romney especially loved to teach and testify about Enos’ experience praying all day and into the night, and then, because of his faith, hearing the voice of the Lord in his mind. There are many other examples of this happening in the Book of Mormon. D&C 130:14-15 is another example of the voice of the Lord being heard in the mind.
The below and the rest of these blogs in this series are accounts of occasions when the voice of the Lord has spoken to someone. I hope these can edify and inspire others, and perhaps help increase faith in Jesus Christ and help them in their own personal questions and problems.
We begin with a few quotations from church leaders explaining this doctrine and experience better than I have above, and then provide actual examples:
Elder Quentin L. Cook:
Although its [the Spirit’s] impact can be incredibly powerful, it most often comes quietly as a still, small voice. The scriptures include many examples of how the Spirit influences our minds, including speaking peace to our minds, occupying our minds, enlightening our minds, and even sending a voice to our minds.
Elder Neal L. Andersen:
Direction for a general conference talk often comes in the night or the early morning hours, when the talk is far from the thoughts of the mind. Suddenly, unanticipated insight and, at times, specific words and phrases flow as pure revelation.
Elder Richard G. Scott:
I know that God lives. I know positively that he lives. I know that God answers prayer. He answers prayer so clearly and concisely that we can write his counsel down as though it were dictated to our mind and heart, for I have done that.
Elder Harold B. Lee:
I bear you my testimony that I have that witness; I know that it is true and that Joseph was a prophet and the gift of prophecy is among men today. I know it and thank God that I have had a simple enough faith that from my childhood I too have had a theophany. I’ve heard a voice of an unseen spirit. I’ve received witnesses and testimonies that I could not have received except by that gift by which we too might continue to know the truth.
President J. Reuben Clark:
If I might be pardoned, I would like just to tell of a personal experience. I was standing at the bier of Senator Knox, a very dear, personal friend of mine. We had almost the relationship of father and son. And as I stood there, there came into my mind a voice, saying as distinctly as though it spoke in my ear, “This that you see here, is not Senator Knox; this is merely the flesh which housed his spirit, the spirit is gone.”
President Hinckley’s biography:
President Hinckley in turn was faithful to the scope and limits of his stewardship, forwarding many matters to the Twelve, for he was unwilling to move ahead on decisions of any magnitude without the full support of his Brethren. Nonetheless, at times the load he carried seemed overwhelming. One day, when faced with an unusually difficult situation for which there appeared to be no resolution, he dropped to his knees to petition the Lord’s help. He later related what took place: "There came into my mind the words, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ I knew again that this was His work, that He would not let it fail, that all I had to do was work at it and do my best, and that the work would move forward."
President Marion G. Romney:
Enos says, “The voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments.” (Enos 1:10.)
I can personally testify to this form of revelation because I have experienced it.
For example: I was once concluding a talk I had given at the funeral of a fine Latter-day Saint mother and was almost ready to say amen and sit down. There came into my mind the words, “Turn around and bear your testimony.” And this I did. I thought no more about the event for several months until my sister, then living in a neighboring stake, paid us a visit and told us this incident:
She said: “There lives in our ward a woman who for many years has taken no interest in the Church. Our efforts to activate her have been fruitless. Recently she has completely changed. She pays her tithing, attends sacrament meetings regularly, and participates in all Church activities. When asked what caused the reformation, she said: ‘I went to Salt Lake City to the funeral of my mother. During the services a man by the name of Romney spoke. After he had given an ordinary talk, I thought he was going to sit down; but instead he turned around to the pulpit and bore a testimony which greatly impressed me. It awakened in me a desire to live as my mother had always taught me.’”
Now I know, my brothers and sisters and friends, and bear witness to the fact that revelation from the Lord comes through the spoken word, by personal visitation, by messengers from the Lord, through dreams, and by way of visions, and by the voice of the Lord coming into one’s mind.
I know that God lives and that Jesus Christ lives. I shall not be more certain when I stand before them to be judged of my deeds in the flesh. The Holy Ghost has revealed these truths to me. I know that God can hear prayers; he has heard mine on numerous occasions. I have received direct revelation from him. I have had problems that did not seem to have a solution, and I have suffered in facing them until it seemed that I could not go further if I did not have an answer to them. After much praying, and on many occasions fasting for a day, a week, over long periods of time, I have had answers revealed to my mind in finished sentences. I have heard the voice of God in my mind, and I know his words.”
I know, for example, what Enos was talking about when he said, ‘the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, . . .’ He did not say it came into his ear, but that it ‘came into my mind again, saying. . . .’ I know what that voice is like, because I have had it come into my mind and give me names when I have had to select stake presidents. There is nothing mysterious about it to people who learn to be guided by the Spirit. The voice of the Lord has come into my mind, in sentences, in answer to prayer.”
In my own life, I have had answers, as a result of long periods of faithful fasting and prayer. I have had the answers of God come into my mind with the same distinctness that Enos had when the answer came to his mind and he said, “The voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying.” I have had that experience; sentences, names, have been given to me. I know this is true and in my soul is an absolute certain witness. I know if it were necessary for us to do it, we could go into our secret chambers or on the mountaintop and hear the voice of God as plainly as the Prophet Joseph did. I know that to be a truth.
I just talk to the Lord. And I want to testify that you can pray that way so you can hear his answer, as Enos heard it. Enos said that the voice of the Lord came into his mind (see Enos 1:10). I know that is possible because I have heard it on many occasions as plain as if it were in my ear; the voice of the Lord comes into my mind.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
May I just tell you one experience that I had? I have never told this to any person before, except my wife. Six months ago in the Solemn Assembly, where the First Presidency of the Church were sustained, as I sat down here behind one of these lower pulpits, the voice of the Lord came into my mind as certainly, I am sure, as the voice of the Lord came into the mind of Enos, and the very words were formed, and it said: “These are they whom I have chosen as the First Presidency of my Church. Follow them”—those few words.
Elder Glen L. Rudd:
In April 1973, President Monson and I were at the Davis North Stake conference in Syracuse to take care of their reorganization. The stake president had asked me not to give them another patriarch as they already had two and he felt they did not need any more. I explained I had nothing to do with that. However, when the fourth man came in to the interview with Elder Monson and me, Elder Monson shook his hand and asked him to go home and get his wife. When we were alone, Elder Monson turned to me and said, “As that man came through that door, I heard a voice say, ‘Make him a patriarch,’ So when he comes back we will interview him and do that.” The stake president was a little distressed, but Elder Monson was very firm to follow the instructions.
This article is cross-posted with the permission of the author, Dennis B. Horne, from the blog at truthwillprevail.xyz.
Those readers wishing to hear Elder McConkie’s account as he spoke of it in general conference can go to 1:00:27 in the audio file found at this link:
It is wonderful that this spiritual gift is not reserved for church leaders only, but is available to any member who is worthy and exercises faith, as with you. Having read this blog, a friend of mine emailed me saying: “I can say I have heard a voice on two separate occasions in my life that I can recall, and those experiences were indelibly etched in my mind.”
When I was a young man, and about to do something that was not sinful but could have eventually led to sinful things and wrong directions, I heard a voice in my mind say: “no”. I heeded it and was probably thereby saved from potential difficulties later.
Thank you. I’m an ordinary card-carrying member – mission, faithfully accepted/served callings – HC, Bishop, YM Pres 6X, early AM Seminary teacher, old mission, etc. Currently teach Pediatric Dentistry at the U of U School of Dentistry. Taught and teach Evidence Based Dentistry, etc.
Have had 3 distinct times in my life as per your article.
Thank you again.