The Holy Ghost binds us to the Lord, declared Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“By divine assignment, He inspires, testifies, teaches and prompts us to walk in the light of the Lord,” he said Sunday morning. “We have the sacred responsibility to learn to recognize His influence in our lives, and respond.”
The Lord, he added, has promised His followers that the Holy Spirit would fill their souls with joy.
“That joy comes as peace amidst hardship or heartache. It provides comfort and courage, unfolds truths of the gospel, and expands our love for the Lord and all God’s children. Although the need for such blessings is so great, in many ways, the world has forgotten and forsaken them.”
The sacrament covenant provides a way for people to enjoy the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Elder Rasband taught four ways to realize that priceless blessing:
1. Strive to live worthy of the Spirit.
“We must always try to obey God’s laws, study the scriptures, pray, attend the temple and live true to the Thirteenth Article of Faith: ‘being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and … doing good to all men.’ ”
2. Be willing to receive the Spirit
Elder Rasband said he began to understand this principle while serving as a young missionary in New Jersey. One July morning he and his companion followed up on a Temple Square referral and knocked on the door of Elwood Schaffer. Mrs. Shaffer politely turned the missionaries away. But before she could close the door Elder Rasband, acting on a prompting from the Spirit, stuck his foot in the door and asked if there was anyone else who might be interested in their message.
“Her 16-year-old daughter, Marti, did have an interest, and had fervently prayed for guidance just the day before,” he said. “Marti met with us and, in time, her mother participated in the discussions. Both of them joined the Church. Resulting from Marti’s baptism, 136 people, including many of her own family, have been baptized and made gospel covenants.
“How grateful I am that I listened to the Spirit, and stuck my foot in the door on that hot, July day.”
3. Recognize the Spirit when it comes
“My experience has been that the Spirit most often communicates as a feeling,” he said. “You feel it in words that are familiar to you, that make sense to you, that prompt you.”
Elder Rasband was on assignment last June in South America. Despite his tight schedule he was prompted to add to his itinerary a visit with members from Ecuadoran cities that had been severely affected by earthquakes. He was warned that the visits would not be easy.
With such short notice, he expected only a few local priesthood leaders to attend the hastily organized gatherings. But when he arrived at each stake center he found the chapels filled to capacity.
“Sitting on the front rows were the members who had lost loved ones and neighbors in the earthquake,” he said. “I felt prompted to bestow an apostolic blessing upon all who were in attendance, one of my very first given. Though I was standing at the front of the room, it was if my hands were on each of their heads and I felt the words of the Lord pouring forth.”
4. Act on the first prompting
“We must be confident in our first promptings,” he said. “Sometimes we rationalize, we wonder if we are feeling a spiritual impression or if it is just our own thoughts.
“When we begin to second guess, even third guess our feelings — and we all have — we are dismissing the Spirit; we are questioning divine counsel.”
Don’t “expect fireworks” after responding to the Holy Ghost, he added. “Remember, you are about the work of the still, small voice.”
By paying attention to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, “we will grow in the spirit of revelation and receive more and more Spirit-driven insight and direction.”