Framework for How to be Sensitive to Spiritual Promptings

How to be Sensitive to Spiritual Promptings

Many of you will know that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly referred to as the Mormons, or LDS.)  This post about How to be Sensitive to Spiritual Promptings will be especially relevant to those of you who share a faith in and love of Christ.
I believe in the importance of personal revelation.  I sincerely believe that God does communicate with us on earth, and is involved in every aspect of our lives.  Many people don’t share this sentiment, and even those that do often feel at a loss sometimes.
I decided to try to map out the framework that leads to sensitivity to spiritual promptings.  I do not think it is complete, and invite others to volunteer what has helped them gain or maintain a sensitivity to communication from God, but I offer this as a help and starting point.

Framework for being sensitive to spiritual promptings
I feel I should offer some explanation to this framework as well.
This tree diagram is designed so that each level feeds into the level above it.  Each level is comprised of the component parts of the level above it.  For example, “Scripture Study” is a building block to one’s “Knowledge of the Gospel” which is a part of one’s “Preparation” which is a part of one’s “Sensitivity to Spiritual Promptings.”
To manage the space, I put the lowest level under the level above them instead of to the right, and then colored them green.
Here are the details of what I was thinking:

Circumstance or Environment

I divided this category into aspects of an environment that promote one’s spiritual sensitivity, and aspects that distract from one’s spiritual sensitivity.

Promotions

Authority

As a member of the LDS church, I believe that God does give authority to people on earth to carry out His will.  Receiving a “calling” or other authorization from God to do something on earth will facilitate one’s sensitivity to Spiritual promptings on that topic.
I would also contend that not having authority will effectively prevent one from receiving communication from God.  God does things orderly so that we can recognize His hand sufficiently to return to Him.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

As a member of the LDS church, I believe that we can receive a special blessing after baptism that gives us the promise of the constant presence of God’s Spirit (often referred to as the “Holy Ghost.“)  Staying true to promises made to God during baptism greatly promotes one’s sensitivity to spiritual promptings.

Ordinances

Ordinances are actions or rituals prescribed by God for specific, divine purposes.  Examples of these include baptism, partaking of the sacrament (communion,) and receiving priesthood blessings (the priesthood is the name for the power and authority that God gives to His children on earth.)
Whenever one stands in or participates worthily in a sacred ordinance, God’s Spirit is always there.  When God’s Spirit is there, the doors of heaven are open to anyone prepared to receive what God has to offer.

Sacred Space

Some places are dedicated to God to be reserved for activities especially for Him.  In the LDS faith, we dedicate our chapels, temples, and some other places to be sacred spaces for the Lord.  Abiding in these locations facilitates the spirit.  I have felt this in chapels in church buildings even without a worship service happening.

Distractions

Audible Noise

There really is something to getting away from the constant noise, music, chatter, and chaos that has become regular in our lives.  We often describe communications or promptings from the spirit as whispers.  How can we hear or feel a whisper when we are being bombarded by powerful stimuli?

Mental or Emotional State

This can be a broad range of things, from being mentally distracted, to seeking communication with a pre-set desired outcome.  Seeking communication from God shouldn’t be to simply confirm what we want, though this sort of communication has its place.  We need to be mentally and emotionally ready to accept the communication that we receive, even if it’s contrary to our desires.

Available Tasks

This just ties in with being distracted.  If there’s a bunch of stuff that you can do instead of listen, you may succumb to them and miss the prompting.  This includes things like watching TV, doing work, cleaning, etc.

Preparation

Relationship with God

Prayer

Praying–talking with God–does so much to build a relationship with Him.  We really converse with our Lord, and doing so strengthens our relationships with Him as we find out more about who He is, and as He reveals more and more to us of who we are.
I do not believe you can truly have a relationship with God without sincere prayer.

Obedience

In John 14:15, it reads “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (KJV).  A relationship should be built on love, and following the things that God has told us shows our love for Him, and helps us trust in Him more as we see our lives and happiness improve through obedience.

Prior Actions on Promptings

Essentially, this is an extension or modification on obedience.  As we act on the promptings that we do receive, we increase our sensitivity to receiving more.  We will trust in God more and be more receptive to what God has to offer us.

Knowledge of the Gospel

Scripture Study

God has told us a lot already, and we should make sure we study out what God has already given if we want to receive more.  God has ensured that the most essential parts of His Gospel have been written and preserved, so study them carefully.

Direct Revelation

In an odd, circular logic/positive feedback sort of way, receiving revelation can aid receiving revelation.  God will reveal things about the Gospel that you need to know for yourself, which of course increases your knowledge of the Gospel, which makes you more prepared to receive spiritual promptings.

Priesthood Revelation

Here, Dallin H. Oaks has an excellent talk about the Two Lines of Communication.  He identifies the “Personal Line,” as well as the “Priesthood Line.”  The “Priesthood Line” is what comes through God’s prophets–think of Abraham, Moses, Noah, Peter, Jonah, and other big names in the Bible.)  Things that come from the “Priesthood Line” apply to everyone.  Indeed, nearly all of the scriptures are made of revelations through the “Priesthood Line.”
God has not finished His use of the “Priesthood Line” either.  He has much to say to us now, just as He did in ancient times.  See here for more on prophets, and here for more on prophets in our modern times.

Willingness to Act

Faith

Desire to Believe

Prophets existed in the American content in ancient times as well (God wasn’t just interested with His children in the middle east after all.)  One was named Alma, living about 74 b.c.  In the Book of Mormon, we have a record of a sermon he gave that talked a lot about faith (found in Alma 32)
In Alma 32:27, Alma tells us

“But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yeah, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.”

God gives us the choice on earth whether to believe in Him.  If we desire to not believe, we will be free to do so.  This means that one of the first steps to gaining faith, and consequently a willingness to act on the promptings that God gives us, is desiring to believe.

Personal Experiences

When we seek out the Lord, He will provide us with ways to increase our faith in Him.  Through these experiences we can increase our faith.

Exercise of Faith
In this life, it seems we can’t just stay still; at any moment, we either progress or digress.  Some use the phrase “use it or lose it.”  The same applies to faith.  We must put our faith into practice to be able to maintain it.

Humility
This relates to the mental and emotional states talked about above.  We need to be willing to accept what the Lord gives us, even if it’s not our desired answer.

Personal Risk

Physical Risk
Any type of risk detracts from our willingness to follow God’s communications.  If we feel that a commandment from God may put us in harms way (such as Jonah felt when he was called on to go to Nineveh) we will be less likely to be willing to follow the prompting.

Risk to Ego
Following spiritual promptings seems strange sometimes.  God often asks us to do things that we do not understand.  This threatens our egos as we put our selves at risk of embarrassment, confusion, or simply being wrong.  Humility is the antidote to this problem.

Need for Help

Loss
Loss, especially the loss of a loved one, often instills us with a need for divine guidance.  When we truly need, and recognize our need for God, we are often willing to follow Him.

Fear or Uncertainty
Fear is the opposite of faith, but in the face of fear, we have the chance to choose one or the other.  If fear can help us recognize our need for God’s help, we have a chance to put our faith in Him and receive His guidance.

Pain
Usually emotional, pain can and the desire for relief from pain can often help us recognize a need for God.  Like the other needs, it’s a bit of a negative based motivation, but us as humans often tend to forget our God without reminders like that.

What Else has Helped You?

I do not think that this frame is complete, but it’s a good start.  If you feel that you’ve been struggling to receive spiritual communication, you may start by looking at the framework, deciding where you’re weakest, and developing a plan on how to improve it.

But this is just my quick sketch.  What else has helped you receive spiritual guidance that I might be able to add to the framework?  Leave me a comment or email me at thedurfblog@gmail.com

Keep seeking truth.


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In Defense of Modesty
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