"How do we put ourselves in a position to receive the Holy Ghost?" was the question Mary Ellen Edmunds presented at Campus Education Week at BYU on Tuesday, Aug. 16.
She gave her talk the title of "Sweet Is the Peace the Gospel Brings: Finding Comfort from the Holy Ghost."
"Most of us have been in a situation where we have need of comfort," said Sister Edmunds. She noted that the reason she used the word "finding" in the title of her talk was because the Holy Ghost is willing to comfort individuals but they need to seek the help and guidance.
Sister Edmunds, author and former director of training at the Provo Missionary Training Center, said that as members partake of the sacrament and renew covenants and live well, they are promised that the Holy Ghost will be with them. She related the occasion of when Joseph Smith visited Martin Van Buren, eighth President of the United States. The Prophet was asked how the Church was different. In answer, President Van Buren was told that it was different because of the mode of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
"In order for the influence of the Holy Ghost to bless our life," Sister Edmunds said, "we need to desire for him to be with us. This is done through pouring out our heart to our Heavenly Father.
"[He] responds by letting us have the blessing of the Holy Ghost," Sister Edmunds said.
Another way to have the Holy Ghost present is through pondering.
"We live in a very noisy world," Sister Edmunds observed. "There is always something, it seems, designed to distract us from pondering and solitude."
She joked that people need to display a sign that says: "Pondering, Do Not Disturb," then place it on their doors so that they may separate themselves from others and reconnect with God. "Pondering, meditating, bring it on!" exclaimed Sister Edmunds.
It is not always easy to sit and ponder, she said knowingly, but the Lord does not give commandments without providing a way.
"We rest and have some solitude in order to better serve those who may contribute to our fatigue," said Sister Edmunds as the audience laughed.
One place to find comfort and solitude is in the temple. She recalled the experience of President Spencer W. Kimball and the revelation on the priesthood and how in the temple he would pray "with much fervency, great solemnity and seriousness."
"Prayer and pondering are connected," Sister Edmunds said. She mentioned Hymn #143, "Let the Holy Spirit Guide," and noted her call to the Southern Far East Mission. She laughed and said it was not Florida. One of the first things she learned in Mandarin was the Joseph Smith story. When her companion felt she was ready, Sister Edmunds was to relate the Prophet's sacred experience.
"I didn't want to be ready. You're not supposed to pray that no one will answer the door," Sister Edmunds said with a laugh. But she was ready and during the flannel board story her companion nodded at her to continue the lesson.
"That moment influenced the rest of my life," Sister Edmunds said. "I am so thankful for the Holy Ghost for that moment and for all the rest of my life."
Sister Edmunds advised those in attendance to record their experiences and share them when appropriate. She said Latter-day Saints are encouraged to comfort those that stand in need of comfort. She read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, which states that the "God of all comfort … comforteth us all."
"We are loaded with comfort," Sister Edmunds noted joyfully. She said the Holy Ghost has no more important mission than to bear witness that the Savior does live and is our Redeemer. "I know that my Redeemer lives, what comfort this sweet sentence gives."