In today’s tumultuous world it can be difficult to make decisions and know what is right. As Latter-day Saints, we have the gift of the Holy Ghost to help us. Through the Holy Ghost, we can know the truth of all things (Moroni 10:5).
Wilford Woodruff’s Experience
Wilford Woodruff was a great example of recognizing spiritual promptings and acting on them. He once shared,
While on my way east I put my carriage into the yard of one of the brethren in Indiana, and Brother Orson Hyde set his wagon by the side of mine, and not more than two feet from it.
Dominicus Carter, of Provo, and my wife and four children were with me. My wife, one child and I went to bed in the carriage, the rest sleeping in the house.
I had been in bed but a short time when a voice said to me: “Get up, and move your carriage.” It was not thunder, lightning or an earthquake, but the still, small voice of the Spirit of God the Holy Ghost.
I told my wife I must get up and move my carriage. She asked: “What for?” I told her I did not know, only the Spirit told me to do it.
I got up and moved my carriage several rods, and set it by the side of the house. As I was returning to bed the same Spirit said to me, “Go and move your mules away from that oak tree,” which was about one hundred yards north of our carriage. I moved them to a young hickory grove and tied them up. I then went to bed.
In thirty minutes a whirlwind caught the tree to which my mules had been fastened, broke it off near the ground, and carried it one hundred yards, sweeping away two fences in its course, and laid it prostrate through that yard where my carriage stood, and the top limbs hit my carriage as it was.
In the morning I measured the trunk of the tree which fell where my carriage had stood, and I found it to be five feet in circumference. It came within a foot of Brother Hyde’s wagon, but did not touch it.
Thus, by obeying the revelation of the Spirit of God to me I saved my life and the lives of my wife and child, as well as my animals.1
Three Characteristics of the Spirit
How can we learn to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost, like Wilford Woodruff did in this story? Three characteristics of the Spirit will help us learn to recognize promptings:
- He will speak in a still, small voice.
- He “leadeth to do good.”
- He will show the truth “in your mind and in your heart.”
He Will Speak in a Still, Small Voice
In Helaman 5:30 we read, “And it came to pass . . . they heard this voice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul.”
Wilford Woodruff also shared that the voice of the Holy Ghost was not an earthquake, lightning, or fire, but it was a still and small voice. When we hear a voice that pierces our hearts, we can know that it is the Holy Ghost.
He “Leadeth to Do Good”
The Holy Ghost will never lead us astray. The promptings that come from Him will only help us. Moroni recorded, “But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God” (Moroni 7:13).
We can know that we are receiving a prompting from the Spirit when it is something that is good, because all good things come from God.
He Will Show the Truth “in Your Mind and in Your Heart.”
The Holy Ghost will bear witness of truth to us in both our minds and our hearts. A prompting isn’t just a quick thought that comes to our mind—it is something that touches our hearts as well. The Lord instructs us in Doctrine and Covenants 8:2, “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.”
In April 2018, President Nelson shared the importance of recognizing promptings of the Spirit: “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”2
The Holy Ghost can teach, protect, comfort, and bear witness to us. As we learn to listen for a still small voice, recognize if the prompting is telling us to do good, and know it to be true in our minds and hearts, we will be able to better recognize promptings from the Holy Ghost.
1 Leaves from My Journal, p. 100, The Wilford Woodruff Papers, wilfordwoodruffpapers.org/leaves-from-my-journal.
2 Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” May 2018, Ensign, ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Maddie Christensen is the Public Relations Manager for the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in public relations. Maddie has always loved learning about Church history and enjoys learning from the writings of Wilford Woodruff. She is passionate about sharing his insights with everyone and is grateful to be part of such an incredible work.
The Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation’s mission is to digitally preserve and publish Wilford Woodruff’s eyewitness account of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and make his records universally accessible in order to inspire all people, especially the rising generation, to study and to increase their faith in Jesus Christ. For more information, please explore wilfordwoodruffpapers.org.