Relief Society Lesson 12: Seek the Spirit in All You Do

Baltimore Sunrise by Aimee HickmanGuest Post by Trudy Rushforth

I was excited when I was asked to write this lesson plan. Seeking and living by the Spirit is one of the parts of the gospel that I really love. I think that it’s remarkable that we each have a direct line to the Almighty, unimpeded by any human intermediary.

With all of the varied expectations (family, friends, ourselves, our employers, church culture, etc.) pulling us in different directions, seeking the Spirit is essential. Also essential is allowing others the space to seek the Spirit for direction in their lives. Joyce Meyer, a pastor in the Midwest, has this to say on the subject: “Many people feel so pressured by the expectations of others that it causes them to be frustrated, miserable and confused about what they should do. But there is a way to live a simple, joy-filled, peaceful life, and the key is learning how to be led by the Holy Spirit, not the traditions or expectations of man.” [1]

My spiritual guidance might tell me to move to the big city and get a job in a downtown high-rise. Yours might tell you to move to the country and raise chickens. Your sister might be prompted to wait a few years before having children, or may feel prompted not to have them at all. Your neighbor may feel inspired to have children right away. Judging others is, in essence, saying that you don’t believe that they can receive spiritual inspiration. It’s saying that you would prefer that they trust in the arm of flesh (the prevailing culture or tradition) instead of trusting in the voice of God.

Overall, I found the lesson as outlined in the manual to be quite good, so anything I write here is intended as a supplement, not a substitute. There’s enough material to fill an entire meeting and then some, so some picking and choosing will be necessary, especially if your ward participates well in lessons.

One piece that is missing is that there is very little explanation about who or what the Spirit is. While this is a basic teaching that most people in the room will likely be familiar with, if there are people new to the church in attendance, it would be worth spending a few minutes on the subject to ensure that everyone is on the same page to start with. This should include mentioning that the terms “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit” (along with “Spirit” and “Spirit of God”) are generally used interchangeably in the church.

From the Life of Ezra Taft Benson:

The manual starts out with a story of President Benson receiving inspiration on who to call as a member of the stake presidency. Chances are, very few of those in attendance will ever be in a position to receive that sort of inspiration, so I would recommend asking the class to share examples of when they have received inspiration in their lives or for their responsibilities (family, callings, work, community service, etc.). Spiritual experiences can be very personal, and it’s hard sometimes to come up with the right thing to share in the moment, so depending on the sisters in your ward, it might be useful to ask a few to come up with things to say in advance.

Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson:

I. We should strive for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost

One of the signs of the last days is that there will be an abundance of the Spirit in the lives of people, and not just the people who have been regarded in the past as being those who are expected to experience revelation. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy … And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” [2]

When we are confirmed members of the church, we are told to “receive the Holy Ghost”. There is action on our part that is necessary to have the companionship of the Spirit. One important action is that of listening. Just like you wouldn’t want to spend time with a friend who always ignores you, the Spirit is much more likely to hang around when you listen to what the Spirit has to say.

II. If we are humble and sensitive, the Lord will prompt us through our feelings.

If we’re not careful, this section has the potential to devolve into a bashing session against thinking. While it is true that many people experience the Spirit in an emotional manner, the scriptures remind us that “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.” [3]

III. We obtain the Spirit through sincere prayer and fasting.

There are many women who, for a variety of reasons (medical conditions, pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc.) cannot fast from food, or who live in climates (such as the desert) where it would be dangerous to fast from water. If you feel moved upon to do so, consider discussing ways to experience the spirit of fasting without skipping food or water.

IV. Daily scripture study, including meditation on passages of scripture, invites the Spirit.

I love that this section includes an admonition to meditate on the passages of scripture. Some of my richest spiritual experiences have come by thinking deeply about what the scriptures mean. The manual offers several examples of how meditation on various passages of scripture moved the restoration along. This would be a great opportunity to ask the sisters in your ward for examples of lessons they’ve learned or revelation they’ve received by meditating on passages of scripture.

V. The Holy Ghost will abide with us as we honor, respect, and obey God’s laws.

Be careful not to give the impression that God requires perfection before blessing us with the Spirit. While we are often less able or willing to hear the voice of the Spirit when we’re in a state of open rebellion against God, God understands our mortal weaknesses and seeks to reach out to us and help us improve. The gentle nudging that we feel when we have strayed is the Spirit helping us get back on the right path.

 

[1] Joyce Meyer. BrainyQuote.com, Xplore Inc, 2015. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/joycemeyer565169.html, accessed June 14, 2015.

[2] Joel 2:28-29, emphasis added

[3] Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3, emphasis added

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6 Responses

  1. Joanne says:

    Thank you so much. I’m very glad you wrote this in time for me to prepare the lesson for this Sunday.

  2. Sara B. says:

    I’m also going to use the quote from Elder Ballard from Women’s conference. I think it ties in well.

    “One sister may be inspired to continue her education and attend medical school, allowing her to have significant impact on her patients and to advance medical research. For another sister, inspiration may lead her to forego a scholarship to a prestigious medical institution and instead begin a family much earlier than has become common in this generation, allowing her to make a significant and eternal impact on her children now.

    “Is it possible for two similarly faithful women to receive such different responses to the same basic questions? Absolutely! What’s right for one woman may not be right for another. That’s why it is so important that we should not question each other’s choices or the inspiration behind them.”

    http://news.byu.edu/archive15-apr-womensconference15.aspx

  3. Sara B. says:

    I like Elder Ballard’s remarks from women’s conference:

    http://news.byu.edu/archive15-apr-womensconference15.aspx

    “One sister may be inspired to continue her education and attend medical school, allowing her to have significant impact on her patients and to advance medical research. For another sister, inspiration may lead her to forego a scholarship to a prestigious medical institution and instead begin a family much earlier than has become common in this generation, allowing her to make a significant and eternal impact on her children now.

    “Is it possible for two similarly faithful women to receive such different responses to the same basic questions? Absolutely! What’s right for one woman may not be right for another. That’s why it is so important that we should not question each other’s choices or the inspiration behind them.”

  4. Mary says:

    Are you going to post for Chapter 13 Priceless Blessings of the House of the Lord? I am interested on reading your lesson for it.

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