'Follow guidance of Holy Spirit'

Staying close to and following the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit have frequently been mentioned by President Ezra Taft Benson in addresses given during the years of his apostleship and presidency.

He often discussed being worthy and prepared, and following inspiration once received.President Benson said: "The world has the light of Christ to help guide it, but we are entitled to a greater gift, the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the Holy Ghost to be fully operative we have to keep our channels clear of sin. The clearer our channels the easier it is to receive God's messages to us; and the more of His messages we receive and put into action, the greater will be our joy. If our channels are not clear of sin, then we may think we have gotten inspiration on a matter when it is really the promptings of the devil." ("In His Steps," 1979 Devotional Speeches of the Year.)

President Benson explained that guidance of the Spirit will not replace the need for personal effort.

"Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but He expects us to work out most of the details and methods. The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit. Less spiritually advanced people, such as those in the days of Moses, had to be commanded in many things. Today those spiritually alert look at the objectives, check the guidelines laid down by the Lord and His prophets, and then prayerfully act - without having to be commanded `in all things.' This attitude prepares men for godhood." (Conference Report, April 1965.)

He said that inspiration is often received through prayer. "When you pray - when you talk to your Heavenly Father - do you really talk out your problems with Him? Do you let Him know your feelings, your doubts, your insecurities, your joys, your deepest desires - or is prayer merely a habitual expression with the same words and phrases? Do you ponder what you really mean to say? Do you take time to listen to the promptings of the Spirit? Answers to prayer come most often by a still voice and are discerned by our deepest, innermost feelings. I tell you that you can know the will of God concerning yourselves if you will take the time to pray and to listen." (Conference Report, October 1977.)

President Benson also explained that it is necessary to recognize the Spirit. "We hear the words of the Lord most often by a feeling. If we are humble and sensitive, the Lord will prompt us through our feelings. That is why spiritual promptings move us on occasions to great joy, sometimes to tears. Many times my emotions have been made tender and my feelings very sensitive when touched by the Spirit." (Come Unto Christ, p. 20.)

President Benson once counseled students:

"Students, pray for inspiration and knowledge. Counsel with your parents. Let Sunday be the day to fill up your spiritual batteries for the week by reading good church books, particularly the Book of Mormon. Take time to meditate. Don't let the philosophies and falsehoods of men throw you. Hold on to the iron rod. Learn to sift. Learn to discern error through the promptings of the Spirit and your study of the truth." (Conference Report, October 1964.)

On another occasion, he discussed the importance of missionaries being guided by the Spirit. "A missionary learns that he must be humble and dependent on the Lord. He learns to pray with fervor and sincerity, not only for himself but for others, and to be led and directed by the Spirit." (Conference Report, April 1984.)

Regular temple attendance also facilitates receiving spiritual guidance. "Do we return to the temple often to receive the personal blessings that come from regular temple worship? Prayers are answered, revelation occurs, and instruction by the Spirit takes place in the holy temples of the Lord." (Conference Report, April 1988.)

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