President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the newly sustained First Presidency, began his remarks during the Sunday morning session of general conference on April 1 by expressing his simple hope for listeners: “to increase your desire and your ability to receive the Holy Ghost.”
Noting the opportunity he had to speak on the Lord’s Sabbath, in the general conference of His Church, on Easter, President Eyring expressed gratitude to Heavenly Father for the gift of His Beloved Son. “I am grateful to know that He atoned for our sins and rose in the Resurrection. Every day I am blessed to know that, because of His Atonement, I may someday be resurrected to live forever in a loving family.”
President Eyring said he knows those things the only way any can know. “The Holy Ghost has spoken to my mind and heart that they are true — not just once but often. I have needed that continuing comfort. We all experience tragedy during which we need the reassurance of the Spirit.”
President Eyring felt that reassurance as he and his father watched his mother take her last breaths. After a few moments, his father said, “A little girl has gone home.”
“He said it softly,” President Eyring recalled. "He seemed to be at peace, almost joyful. … My father had the companionship of the Holy Ghost at that moment to feel, to know, and to do what he did that day. He had received the promise as many have: ‘That they may have his Spirit to be with them’ ” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:79).
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead and a person of spirit, President Eyring said. “It is your choice whether to receive Him and welcome Him into your heart and mind.”
The conditions for receiving this “supernal blessing” are spoken every week but perhaps do not always sink in, he said. “To have the Spirit sent to us we must ‘always remember’ the Savior and ‘keep His commandments’” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77).
Recalling his experience visiting with his wife a tomb in Jerusalem where many believe the crucified Savior emerged as a resurrected God, President Eyring said, “More precious than a memory or a picture of the events of that day, more important is the memory of the Holy Ghost touching our hearts and His continuing affirmation of truth. More precious than seeing with our eyes, or remembering words spoken and read, is recalling the feelings that accompanied the quiet voice of the Spirit. Rarely, I have felt it exactly as the travelers on the road to Emmaus did — as a soft but clear burning in the heart. More often, it is a feeling of light and quiet assurance.”
At the moment the Lord’s authorized servant pronounces “receive the Holy Ghost,” “you and I have the assurance He will be sent,” President Eyring said. “But our obligation is to choose to open our hearts to receive the ministration of the Spirit, over a lifetime.”
The life of the Prophet Joseph Smith offers a guide, President Eyring said. “The Prophet Joseph set an example for us of how to receive continual spiritual direction and comfort through the Holy Ghost.
“The first choice he made was to be humble before God.
“The second was to pray with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“The third was to obey exactly. Obedience may mean to move quickly. It may mean to prepare. Or it may mean to wait in patience for further inspiration.
“And the fourth is to pray to know the needs and the hearts of others and how to help them for the Lord. Joseph prayed for the Saints in distress when he was in prison. It has been my opportunity to observe the prophets of God as they pray, ask for inspiration, receive direction, and act on it.”
Inspiration can help individuals minister to others. President Eyring said his bishop once said to him — at a time when his wife was under great strain — “Every time I hear of someone in the ward who needs help, when I get there to help, I find that your wife was there ahead of me. How does she do that?”
“She was like all who are great ministers in the Lord’s kingdom,” President Eyring said. “Great ministers have qualified for the Holy Ghost as a nearly constant companion. And they have qualified for the gift of charity, which is the pure love of Christ. Those gifts have grown in them as they have used them in serving out of love for the Lord.”
President Eyring testified that Heavenly Father "is at this moment aware of you, your feelings, and the spiritual and temporal needs of everyone around you. I bear testimony that the Father and the Son are sending the Holy Ghost to all who have that gift, ask for that blessing, and seek to be worthy of it. Neither the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Ghost force Themselves into our lives. We are free to choose.”
All those who ask with real intent and with faith in Jesus Christ for inspiration will receive it in the Lord’s way and in His time, President Eyring said. “God did that for the young Joseph Smith. He does it today for our living prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. He has placed you in the way of other children of God to serve them for Him. I know that not only by what I have seen with my eyes but more powerfully by what the Spirit has whispered to my heart.”