A look at President Nelson’s urgent, repeated plea: ‘Increase your capacity to receive personal revelation’

Since becoming President of the Church, President Nelson has spoken repeatedly in general conference about the importance of personal revelation

During his first general conference as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April 2018, President Russell M. Nelson taught Church members worldwide about “one of the greatest gifts of God to His children” — the ability to receive revelation through the Holy Ghost.

“If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation,” he said in his talk “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives.

As the Lord’s Prophet, President Nelson then offered a glimpse into the future with a warning and invitation: “Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory.

“But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.”

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks through video message during the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

In President Nelson’s most recent general conference message, “Think Celestial” — given more than five years later in October 2023 — he again pleaded with Latter-day Saints to put in the effort to learn how to receive personal revelation:

“There is no end to the adversary’s deceptions. Please be prepared. Never take counsel from those who do not believe. Seek guidance from voices you can trust — from prophets, seers and revelators and from the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, who ‘will show unto you all things what ye should do’ (2 Nephi 32:5).

“Please do the spiritual work to increase your capacity to receive personal revelation.”

In the 12 general conferences President Nelson has spoken in as President of the Church, he has repeatedly taught about personal revelation, explaining why it is essential for spiritual survival and how to increase one’s spiritual capacity to receive it.

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‘The heavens will open’

As part of his October 2018 general conference message to the women of the Church about gathering Israel, President Nelson invited them to read the Book of Mormon between then and the end of that year. One of the blessings he promised to those who study the Book of Mormon is increased revelation.

“As you prayerfully study, I promise that the heavens will open for you,” he said. “The Lord will bless you with increased inspiration and revelation.”

President Nelson told women they were “a key to the success” of the new Sunday schedule and home-centered, Church-supported curriculum announced earlier that conference. “Please teach those whom you love what you are learning from the scriptures,” he said. “Teach them how to turn to the Savior for His healing and cleansing power when they sin. And teach them how to draw upon His strengthening power every day of their lives.”

Women gather outside before the start of the general women's session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Oct. 6, 2018. | Crédito: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Speaking again to women in his October 2019 talk “Spiritual Treasures,” President Nelson taught more about drawing upon God’s power. “The heavens are just as open to women who are endowed with God’s power flowing from their priesthood covenants as they are to men who bear the priesthood,” he declared.

He added a “word of warning” after inviting women to study Doctrine and Covenants 25 and discover what the Holy Ghost will teach them about priesthood power:

“There are those who would undermine your ability to call upon the power of God. There are some who would have you doubt yourself and minimize your stellar spiritual capacity as a righteous woman. … My dear sisters, your ability to discern truth from error, to be society’s guardians of morality, is crucial in these latter days.”

‘Time is running out’

In April 2019 general conference, President Nelson spoke to the global Church about the Savior’s invitation to “come, follow Me” and the covenant path back to “our eternal home.”

“Now, as President of His Church,” President Nelson concluded, “I plead with you who have distanced yourselves from the Church and with you who have not yet really sought to know that the Savior’s Church has been restored. Do the spiritual work to find out for yourselves, and please do it now. Time is running out.”

Conferencegoers leave the Conference Center after the Saturday afternoon session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

President Nelson reiterated that sense of urgency in general conference a year later amid the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. He explained God knows that when His children are surrounded by uncertainty and fear, what will help them most is to hear His Son.

“It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now. … I renew my plea for you to do whatever it takes to increase your spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation,” he said in his April 2020 talkHear Him.”

When one’s greatest desire is to “let God prevail,” President Nelson said in October 2020 general conference, many decisions become easier and “many issues become nonissues.” But it takes consistent, daily effort to seek and respond to personal revelation. It’s a “spiritual work,” as he has said before, and it’s vital for spiritual survival in coming days.

“During these perilous times of which the apostle Paul prophesied, Satan is no longer even trying to hide his attacks on God’s plan. Emboldened evil abounds,” President Nelson said.

“Therefore, the only way to survive spiritually is to be determined to let God prevail in our lives, to learn to hear His voice, and to use our energy to help gather Israel.”

Nathaniel and Felicity Hancock, along with their children William, Cameron, Andrew and Hannah, watch from their home in Sandy as President Russell M. Nelson speaks during 190th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Sandy on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

How to increase spiritual capacity

In addition to explaining why personal revelation is essential for spiritual survival, President Nelson has offered many suggestions for increasing one’s spiritual capacity to receive it.

In his April 2021 general conference talk about faith and moving mountains, President Nelson gave five suggestions for developing faith and trust in the Lord. His final suggestion: “Ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, for help.”

“Faith takes work. Receiving revelation takes work,” he said. “But ‘every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened’ (Matthew 7:8). God knows what will help your faith grow. Ask, and then ask again.”

To those who have made temple covenants, President Nelson said in his October 2021 talk about strengthening one’s spiritual foundation, “I plead with you to seek — prayerfully and consistently — to understand temple covenants and ordinances.

“Spiritual doors will open. You will learn how to part the veil between heaven and earth, how to ask for God’s angels to attend you, and how better to receive direction from heaven. Your diligent efforts to do so will reinforce and strengthen your spiritual foundation.”

President Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tours the renovation work at the Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 22, 2021. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

A testimony that is not nourished daily can crumble “with frightening speed,” President Nelson warned in his April 2022 message titled “The Power of Spiritual Momentum.”

“Thus, the antidote to Satan’s scheme is clear: We need daily experiences worshipping the Lord and studying His gospel. I plead with you to let God prevail in your life. Give Him a fair share of your time. As you do, notice what happens to your positive spiritual momentum,” he said.

Six months later, President Nelson said in his October 2022 talk on overcoming the world and finding rest: “I plead with you now to take charge of your own testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel. Work for it. Nurture it so that it will grow. Feed it truth. Don’t pollute it with false philosophies of unbelieving men and women.

“As you make the continual strengthening of your testimony of Jesus Christ your highest priority, watch for miracles to happen in your life.”

Whatever questions or problems arise in life, “the answer is always found in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ,” he testified at the close of April 2023 general conference. “Learn more about His Atonement, His love, His mercy, His doctrine and His restored gospel of healing and progression. Turn to Him! Follow Him!”

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