July Young Women Lesson: How do I receive the gift of the Holy Ghost?

For the lds.org lesson plan, click here.

Invite the young women to think about the day when they were confirmed members of the Church and told to “receive the Holy Ghost.”  What does that mean?  Rather than being “given” the gift of the Holy Ghost (as we often say), we’re told to “receive” it.  How does that change things?

Read Moroni 7:16:

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

This scripture says that the Spirit of Christ is given to everyone – what is the Spirit of Christ?  How is this different from the Holy Ghost?

Read D&C 88:3-4:

Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.   This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom.

So this extra Comforter is the Holy Ghost.  And this scripture suggests that it’s also the promise of eternal life.  How does that affect what the Holy Ghost means to us?

When we’re baptized, we make sacred covenants and perform sacred ordinances that are required for exaltation – could the Holy Ghost also be the comfort of knowing that we’re on our way to salvation?  The comfort of an eternal perspective?  How do we incorporate that into our lives?

What other way can we receive the Holy Ghost?

David A. Bednar related the following in his October 2010 General Conference address:

These four words—‘Receive the Holy Ghost’—are not a passive pronouncement; rather, they constitute a priesthood injunction—an authoritative admonition to act and not simply to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26). The Holy Ghost does not become operative in our lives merely because hands are placed upon our heads and those four important words are spoken. As we receive this ordinance, each of us accepts a sacred and ongoing responsibility to desire, to seek, to work, and to so live that we indeed “receive the Holy Ghost” and its attendant spiritual gifts. “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift” (D&C 88:33).

He talks a lot about receiving the Holy Ghost and “its attendant spiritual gifts.”  What gifts does the Holy Ghost provide us?  (gifts of the Spirit)  How do women take this “priesthood injunction” to “act and not be acted upon” seriously and implement it in our lives?  What does it look like for women, specifically, to receive the Holy Ghost?

Read the following story, related by Sister Barbara Thompson of the General Relief Society Presidency in her 2011 General Conference address:

Sister Eliza R. Snow was given a charge from the prophet Brigham Young to help lift and teach the sisters of the Church. She “taught that individual women could receive inspiration to guide them in their personal lives, their families, and their Church responsibilities. She said: ‘Tell the sisters to go forth and discharge their duties, in humility and faithfulness and the Spirit of God will rest upon them and they will be blest in their labors. Let them seek for wisdom instead of power and they will have all the power they have wisdom to exercise.’”

Sister Snow taught the sisters to seek guidance from the Holy Ghost. “She said that the Holy Ghost ‘satisfies and fills up every longing of the human heart, and fills up every vacuum. When I am filled with that Spirit, … my soul is satisfied.’”

Emphasize to the young women that our injunction to “receive the Holy Ghost” implies both a willingness to both “seek for wisdom” and a willingness to serve, and that the Holy Ghost can provide both the gifts required to accomplish the work God has for us, as well as the inspiration to know how to use them.

Read D&C 46:11-12:

For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every [wo]man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.

Have the young women read D&C 46:13-26 quietly, and as they do, have them name the gifts of the Spirit and list them on the board.  Point out that verses 13, 15, 16 reemphasize that the gifts of the spirit come from the Holy Ghost.  These are extra gifts that God is willing to give us because of our willingness to make baptismal covenants.

How do we exercise these gifts of the Holy Ghost in our lives?  If we’re commanded to “receive the Holy Ghost,” how does this relate to our spiritual gifts (it means to practice them and use them!).

Do any of you have specific gifts mentioned in your patriarchal blessings?  How do we exercise our spiritual gifts?

Ask one of the YW to relate the parable of the talents, found in Matthew 25:14-30. How does this relate to us using our spiritual gifts?  (When we exercise the ones we have innately, we are given more.)

Have one of the young women read the following quote by Marvin J. Ashton from his October 1987 General Conference address, and as they read, add the gifts he mentions to the list of spiritual gifts on the board:

One of the great tragedies of life, it seems to me, is when a person classifies him- or herself as someone who has no talents or gifts…For us to conclude that we have no gifts when we judge ourselves by stature, intelligence, grade-point average, wealth, power, position, or external appearance is not only unfair but unreasonable…God has given each of us one or more special talents. Socrates made the famous statement, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” It is up to each of us to search for and build upon the gifts which God has given…

Let me mention a few gifts that are not always evident or noteworthy but that are very important. Among these may be your gifts—gifts not so evident but nevertheless real and valuable. Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.

We must remember that to every man [and woman] is given a gift by the Spirit of God. It is our right and responsibility to accept our gifts and to share them. God’s gifts and powers are available to all of us.


Relate a story of how you have recognized and come to act upon your spiritual gifts.  For example, I was not innately blessed with the gift of patience.  I have had to work very hard to develop it.  But the ability to be patient grew within me as I exercised my other talents, like listening, caring for others, prayer, and faith.  As I’ve developed more patience, I’ve been able to serve more, listen better, and serve God better.

It could be useful to have the young women take time and write out a list of spiritual gifts they feel they have, and also those they wish to develop.  Emphasize that it’s important to not compare ourselves to others in this area; so often we compare our own shortfalls to others’ strengths, which isn’t how Christ wants us to see ourselves.  Have them think of ways that they can receive the Holy Ghost in their lives, and specifically ways to act upon the promptings of the spirit and use the spiritual gifts they have been given.

Additional resources on the Holy Ghost at The Exponent (and fMh!):

Joseph Fielding Smith Relief Society/Priesthood lesson plan on The Holy Ghost

Lorenzo Snow Relief Society/Priesthood lesson plan on being Strengthened by the Holy Ghost

2010 Relief Society Lesson on The Holy Ghost

The Teachings of Chieko Okazaki: The Companionship of the Holy Ghost


Liz is a reader, writer, wife, mother, gardener, social worker, story collector, cookie-maker, and hug-giver.

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